Whatnot with Kate Gavino

Whatnot with Kate Gavino

Here’s a little whatnot.

Kate Gavino is a fixture at book readings in the New York City area. So much so that she keeps a map of the events she attends (below), and now she has a book coming out about those readings, titled Last Night’s Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors, which comes out on October 27.

I recently caught up with Kate and we talked for a bit. So here’s some whatnot about inspiration, process, … and shoes.

When Kate Gavino moved to New York and started working in publishing, she found it amazing that she could see her favorite authors for free at bookstores.

“I read very widely, so I would visit bookstore websites and see all these amazing authors were coming, so I started attending like maybe one a week. On a busy week, maybe two,” she says.

Gavino had always doodled during the readings. But in September of 2013, she attended a reading by Junot Diaz, and his words compelled her to begin a blog.

“Because of the quote that I drew, which had a lot to do with bearing witness to what you’d seen, and that struck particularly true to me since I’d always considered myself an observer. And it kind of inspired me to start posting the drawings I was doing at those readings because I wanted to share my experiences with other people. So that was a very important reading, since that’s what inspired me to start the blog.”

Gavino’s blog, titled “Last Night’s Reading,” features a portrait of an author along with a quote from the reading by that author. And now that blog has inspired a book with the same title.

“… once I started the blog, I would probably go to about three or four a week now. And it’s sort of just become my routine, where I love seeing my favorite booksellers and other people who work in publishing who attend those readings. It’s sort of just like seeing my community every time I go to one, so it’s probably my favorite parts of my week.“

Although Gavino attended art school at Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute, she actually studied creative writing instead of visual arts.

“It was just something that I always did as a hobby, and I think that’s why the blog marries two of my biggest interests, which is reading and drawing. And a lot of the quotes that the authors say to me that stick out the most usually relate to writing, so the blog really is like combining two of my favorite things.”

To prepare for her blog, Gavino will draw a few sketches during the events, but will then go home to create the illustration which she’ll usually post on her blog the next day.

“It usually doesn’t take me too long, at the most, 30 or 45 minutes.”

She also records the readings on her phone, in case a quote doesn’t present itself immediately during the event. But that’s rare.

“Usually when I’m at a reading, like the quote that I want to use will jump out at me… for the most part, I usually know what quote I’m going with once the reading is done.”

Gavino has attended some non-traditional events in unorthodox locations, like hundreds of beach balls flying around the New York Public Library, or a reading in the catacombs of the Greenwood Cemetery. But for the most part she sketches authors with their best quote of the evening. Oh… and shoes.

“I’m really short. I’m 4’11”, so whenever I go to… I really try to get to readings early so I can get a good seat so I can see the author, so at most readings I’m usually in the first or second row,” she explains. “So I usually get a good view of the author’s shoes and the entire outfit. I’m particularly fascinated by fashion, so that’s just something that has always stuck out to me. And so I appreciate when the author wears a good pair of shoes at a reading.”

Something to keep in mind for tonight’s reading.

Last Night’s Reading: Illustrated Encounters with Extraordinary Authors by Kate Gavino (Penguin Books | 9780143127314 | October 27, 2015)

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Beth Golay

Beth is a reader, writer, marketer and Books & Whatnot founder. Even though she knows better, she's a sucker for a good book cover and will positively swoon if a book is set in appropriate type. @BethGolay