You and I, we’re sitting down at my dining room table. I’ve cleaned it as best I can but crumbs from dinner reside on one side of the wood, along with a jam smear from yesterday morning’s breakfast. I put a steaming mug of mint tea in front of you, and we warm our hands over the tops of our cups – which might just be one of the greatest simple pleasures on a cold day.
Because here’s the deal: we’ve come together, tasked with the request to plan the best dinner party known to man. Our bookish selves have more connections than Linked In has job resources, more retweeting compatriots than the current administration has dissenters.
We can invite any authors, preferably living, to join us around the table. So, who’ll it be?
I’ve got some ideas for you, and I’d love for you to chime in with your ideas, too!
Zadie Smith, author of Swing Time and White Teeth. The woman is brilliant; her knowledge of politics, of race relations, of religion, of relational dynamics are off the charts. I find I have to be in a certain space to really be able to enter into her books; while they don’t always make me laugh – which I really, really love to experience when I read – they do make me think, deeply. So, I’d sit there taking notes under the table while she talks, most covert in nature, of course.
Mallory Ortberg, author of Texts From Jane Eyre. Like I said, I need some funny in my life, and Ortberg brings it like none other. She’s sharp. She’s witty. She’s unapologetic in her opinions. Tasked with the much-needed sarcastic side-comment, I’d make it my goal to sit directly to her left and listen for every under-the-breath utterance – while I wipe tears of laughter from the side of my eyes.
Nicola Yoon, author of Everything, Everything and The Sun is Also a Star. Y’all know I’m going to need a YA author sitting at the table, because we’ve got to have that element of youth. While we must take life seriously, we need to be reminded that we must not take ourselves too seriously. So, this woman is going to sit at the dinner table with us, and when she begins to tell stories, we’re going to breathlessly listen for the poetic prose woven into each sentence.
Mike McHargue, author of Finding God in the Waves. Science Mike, brain behind The Liturgists (which is one of my favorite podcasts) is definitely taking a seat at our table. He, too, is brilliant. He seems to know something about everything (especially in the sciences), but will also naturally bring an element of faith and spirituality to the conversation. So Mike, pull up a chair.
Desmond Tutu, author of No Future Without Forgiveness, among others. Hey, you said I could invite anyone, right? So, the former Archbishop of Cape Town is joining our table. With him, comes reverence. With him, comes much-needed wisdom, especially within conversations of race and forgiveness – which the United States, at least, desperately needs to take steps forward in.
A bowl of questions would sit in the middle, words scratched on one side of each folded piece of paper. What’s giving you life right now, today? Would you rather have a sparkly unicorn horn growing out your belly button, or a chain of lima beans cascading from your ears? How do you find beauty in the midst of darkness? Who is God to you?
But eventually, we’d stop drawing questions from the bowl, and conversation would happen naturally, organically, as it always does.
We’d sit around the well-worn table, late into the night. We’d eat. We’d drink. We’d laugh. And at the end of it, we’d thank each other for a most delightful time together.
Don’t you think?
So, what (living) authors would you LOVE to see around your dinner table, in your living room, or at a conference event? Do tell! Also, Eventbrite posed this question to me – check out their conference management page and check out local events. It’s a great resource, readers included!
*Also, Amazon Affiliate links, included.