A couple of weeks ago, my friend, blogger and writer Baddest Mother Ever, invited me to attend a very cool book tour event with her. I was immediately in because “book” and then “TOUR” so YUP. Lucky for me, it was Luvvie Ajayi’s book tour in support of her first book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. We were going to get to meet Luvvie in a pre-event reception, hug her neck in a photo op, and get our books signed. I was thrilled because one of my favorite kind of books is Autographed Books. (Other favorite kinds of books include Book I Am Reading Right Now and The Next Book I Am Going To Read.) I also detected an ulterior motive in the invitation, in that Baddest Mother Ever has been complaining that her TBR list is too long because every time she reads my blog, she adds another book to her list. Since she’d already read I’m Judging You, she was heading off my next book recommendation at the pass and neutralizing the Bookreasons impact to her list. I SEE YOU, BADDEST.
I could not wait to read I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual and meet Luvvie Ajayi, because I am always looking for new, highly qualified life coaches. I need an army of life coaches. It’s because in my head, I operate with sophistication and grace. I’m manners personified and I know exactly how to react in any situation because of my inherent maturity and genteel upbringing. In my head, I’m Jacqueline Kennedy. On the outside, I’m also Jacqueline Kennedy, assuming Jacqueline Kennedy swore like a drunken sailor, had a laugh loud enough to peel paint, and had the personality that is commonly associated with the first, cranky stage of a hangover. I try to have couth, I really do, but I am just naturally couth-repellent. I’m often told that I’m the “mean friend who’s really nice!” Ooops. Whenever I hear that, I cringe and put another notch in my “Failed At Keeping My Mouth Shut” belt. It’s got a loooot of notches. The only way I can justify my blundering style is to say that when you interact with me, you’re getting unintentional authenticity. You’re also getting a lot of F-bombs, but you should probably have expected that authenticity comes with F-bombs, so that’s on you. Basically, in most social situations, I’m Godzilla, and the world is my Tokyo.
Godzilla: (Stomps on Tokyo)
Godzilla:(Stomps on Tokyo)
Godzilla: (Stomps on Tokyo)
Tokyo: FFS GODZILLA
Luvvie Ajayi is an authentic truth-teller too, but considering that she’s built a successful career from authentic truthtelling, I was hoping I could learn from her how to be less Godzilla and more like one of those Disney ballet hippos from Fantasia. Luvvie is a blogger, pop culture commentator, activist, and digital strategist who has made a name for herself on the Interwebz with her savvy, forthright commentary on everything from Game of Thrones to race relations to technology. She’s channeled her insight and humor into her first book, I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual. I’m Judging You is a collection of humorous essays explaining exactly what we’re all doing wrong and how she’s judging us for it. She’s knowledgeable, experienced, frank, and funny, and her book is so entertaining and illuminating I barely noticed it was slapping me upside the head with solid life coaching.
Baddest and I arrived at the venue, got our books, and found the lounge where the meet and greet was transpiring. After meeting Luvvie, engaging in some low-key fangirling, AND GETTING MY BOOK AUTOGRAPHED YES THANK YOU, we took our seats for the main event of the evening: an interview with Luvvie conducted by author Denene Millner. All the salient questions were covered: Luvvie’s background, the germination of the idea for her book, her writing process, and how her life has changed since her book was published. I was especially interested to hear how she has personally driven her own book tour after receiving the minimal amount of support from her publisher. From an initial two city tour to seventeen stops-and counting-Luvvie used the power of her network to drive potential readers to her book, landing I’m Judging You on the New York Times bestseller list. It’s the kind of change that social media is driving, a circumvention of the usual routes by which a book does or does not succeed.
When the interview concluded, Luvvie took questions from the audience. It’s worth mentioning that this event was sold out with a 200 person waiting list. Luvvie has been a presence on the Internet since 2007, when we used stone tablets and chisels to enter logon IDs. As a result, her fanbase is deep. It wasn’t surprising to see that she had a full house there to support her first book. What was remarkable, though, was the thread that tied together the questions that the audience asked. One by one, the people chosen to ask a stood, took the microphone and initiated their question by telling Luvvie when they first found her. “I’ve been following you since 2007.” “My friend told me about you and I’ve been reading your newsletter for years.” “I was one of your first followers on Facebook.” “I saw a keynote address you did a few years ago and I’ve been a fan ever since.” Some people told intensely personal stories about struggle, and hardship, and how much it meant to have Luvvie’s words as a touchstone. Most everyone talked about the importance of the laughter and pure entertainment that they found in their Luvvie corner. I’m Judging You is a first book and will be the first time many people read Luvvie Ajayi. But to the community of fans that grew up reading Luvvie, it’s the next stage in an ongoing conversation they’ve been having for years.
Godzilla: I like autographed books too
Tokyo: You don’t say
Godzilla: (stomps on Tokyo)
Tokyo: Godzilla can you stand still for like five damn minutes
While making me delicate or refined is probably beyond even Luvvie’s powers of transformation, watching the members of Luvvie Nation reaffirmed for me why I love the written word so much. Words help us connect, and the digital age, for all of its flaws, has amplified the potential and the power of that connection. Luvvie Ajayi is currently taking the power of that potential on a book tour. Thanks for inviting me, Baddest. I liked being Luvviejudged. And – your break is over. Next week, I’m going to recommend some James Joyce.
Immediately upon finishing I’m Judging You, I washed all my bras. You’ll understand after you read the book.