Hillary Clinton Talks Politics, Resilience, & Books at BEA 2017
Billed as An Evening with Hillary Rodham Clinton by Book Expo America, the nation’s largest book trade convention, pant-suited Hillary Clinton walked on the Main Stage at Jacob Javits Center before a filled-to-capacity audience whose standing ovation and boisterous cheers greeted her, as she made her way to her seat next to a round coffee table. The last time the nation expected to see her at Jacob Javits Center was in November 2016, for her presidential election victory party. Instead, she lost the election. Several months later, on this inaugural day of June, she was victorious. Indeed, the first question asked by one in the audience, “Do you know how much you mean to us and how much we love you?” seemed to frame the evening.
For the next hour, she spoke with passion, conviction, laugh-out-loud humor, and deep pathos about topics ranging from being the first woman nominated by the Democratic party for president to her painful loss in her historic bid for our nation’s highest public office in 2016 to her Wellesley College speech in 1969 and her upcoming memoir to be published by Simon and Schuster this September.
In an engaging, thoughtful, and sometimes surprisingly vulnerable and other times lightly playful Q & A, with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Cheryl Strayed, Hillary Clinton left me feeling that perhaps this history-making woman and politician has always lived a life of extraordinary challenge; a life that has helped her build up her resilience, almost like an inoculation helps one build up immunity. Indeed, “resilience” was one of the recurring themes of the hour-long talk.
In a response to Strayed’s question about her upcoming memoir, Clinton said, “in a way that I think is not just about me and not just about an election, but about resilience, about getting back up when you’re knocked down, because everybody is, where you find the courage to do that, and what helps you along the way. And it’s proven to be an extraordinary, very personally meaningful but painful experience; it really is painful.”
I was pleased to discover that reading books is one of the ways that Hillary Clinton faces life’s adversities and builds her resilience, particularly a life that has overwhelmingly been spent in the public eye. Clinton called writing her as-yet-untitled memoir a "very painful" experience, but one that is "not only good for my mental health...it's important for us to come to grips with what we need to do for the country in the future."
In the hour-long talk with Strayed, Clinton never voiced the name of the man who won the 2016 presidential election.
Here are some highlights of the book-focused Q & A with Hillary Clinton:
1) Hillary Rodham Clinton autographed book label: All attendees received this keepsake from the evening
2) Clinton’s Favorite book growing up: The Nancy Drew Mysteries.
3) Among her top favorite books: The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Hillary Clinton noted she was surprised to learn this book is also a favorite of former First Lady Barbara Bush.
4) Reading immediately after her 2016 presidential election defeat: Louise Penny mysteries
5) Just finished reading: The Jersey Brothers, by Sally Mott Freeman.
6) New, picture book version of her 1996 children’s book: It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, shares her vision for children in America. To be published September 2017.
7) Daughter Chelsea’s new children’s book: She Persisted, by Chelsea Clinton. The picture book tells stories of 13 historical women who faced opposition but persisted in pursuing their goals.
8) Hillary Rodham's Wellesley College address in 1969:
9) Her new political group -- local, grass-roots organization for activism: Onward Together
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