When I started this blog, several weeks ago, I promised that I’d try to feed it regularly and care for it properly. So far, I’ve written three whole posts, and they’ve all been about me. My life, my rescue animals, my garden, my philosophy. Well, that’s what I thought it was supposed to be about, but I’ve already had enough of me to last a while. I mean – I pretty much love being me. I love taking care of critters and planting stuff and writing stories. I love my family and living on a farm and milking goats and all that. But I’m ready to talk about somebody else.
I have a long list of people I’d love to talk about for one reason or another, and the first is Kathy Patrick, over in Jefferson, Texas.
For those of you who don’t know, Kathy is the creator of the biggest “reading and discussing” book club in the world. The woman is a dynamo, and when she gets an idea – look out. Things start to happen.
Back in 2000, Kathy was in between jobs, tossing about for something to do, and she came up with the notion of incorporating her two passions: doing hair and reading books. The result was Beauty and the Book (the only hair salon/book store anywhere) and the Pulpwood Queens Book Club.
The shop is a marvel – full to bursting with books and movie posters and baubles and oh-my-God Wonderful Stuff. There’s an autographed door that authors, famous and unknown, have signed. And you might brush against some lovely hanging gown or masquerade costume. Feathers for your hair? She’s got ‘em. As small as the place is, you’ll never see it all, even if you go back every week, because Kathy keeps rearranging the mix, and more keeps coming in. It’s a tiny treasure hunter’s paradise – so much so that you don’t even see the beauty salon paraphernalia until Kathy points you to a chair and informs you that “We’ve got to do something with your hair”.
As for the book club? It started out with just a handful of members, and now there are well over 500 chapters – all over the United States and in fifteen foreign countries. There’s even a chapter in a women’s prison in Alaska!
Every January, hundreds of women (and a few men, mostly spouses) congregate in Jefferson for what’s known as Girlfriend Weekend. A two day extravaganza where readers and authors come together to talk books and play dress-up and party. It’s one of those “You can sleep when you get home” kind of things, and by the time the ladies pack up to leave, they’re already talking about what they’re going to wear next year.
But while you’re there – oh, while you’re there – book nuts are getting to visit with their favorite authors (Pat Conroy, anyone? How about Fannie Flagg? The list goes on.) And new authors are making friends with prospective fans. In the meantime, there’s a book room set up where attendees can buy books and have them signed on the spot – and, everywhere you look – there’s food. Glorious food.
Then there’s Kathy. Running the show. Welcoming the world the same way she welcomes a friend (or stranger) into her shop. With a dazzling smile and open arms.
So, yeah – let’s talk about Kathy Patrick. Warm. Beautiful. Outlandish. Magical. And the best friend readers and writers ever had.