Chantel Guertin on Author Diversions

In my early twenties, I decided to become an au pair in a tiny town in France. I could barely speak the language (or was too self-conscious to try) and was incredibly lonely. One day in the attic of a bookstore, I found a handful of used books–in English. That afternoon I sat on a park bench reading Jerry Seinfeld’s Seinlanguage, laughing out loud, not caring what anyone thought. While Seinfeld may be a comedian, that he also wrote a book got me thinking about side projects–the side projects of authors.

I’ve come to love searching out what my favourite authors do when they’re not writing their next bestseller. Here’s a sampling of my favourites.

Chantel Guertin always wanted to be an author, but got sidetracked by beauty mags (where midday manicure appointments are totally legit). Now, she’s the author of two bestselling novels and an editor at The Kit. Follow her @chantelguertin

1. John Green and Brotherhood 2.0

When YA author John Green and his brother received matching video cameras for Christmas, they challenged each other to a project: Every day for a year, they’d use video messages to keep in touch. No texts. No emails. Five years later, their Brotherhood 2.0 videos from their 365-day project have been viewed over 70 million times, and morphed into

2. Meg Cabot and 9/11

Bestselling author Meg Cabot is best known for being the author of The Princess Diaries–which Disney made into two movies–so if you’re over the age of 15, you may never have read any of the 50+ books she’s penned for teens and kids. Neither have I, but I’ve got her blog bookmarked. Most entries are laugh-out-loud funny. This post, however, is an exception. Her recap of the events of 9/11, as she witnessed from her apartment in the village is poignant.

3. JK Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech

I suppose we can’t all be so lucky to have JK Rowling give the commencement speech at our university graduation. Get a second chance at a memorable grad ceremony by watching JK Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech. Speaking on the topic of the upside of failure, Rowling’s talk is enlightening, inspiring and worth the watch.

4. Nora Ephron and The White House

Maybe you’ve heard of a few little films Nora Ephron wrote: Julie & Julia, When Harry Met Sally, and Sleepless in Seattle. She’s also an author of both fiction & non-fiction, but long before she was even a writer, she was an intern in the White House. In this New York Times column, she recounts her stint during JFK’s presidency. This line makes me crack up: “Also, I had a really bad permanent wave. This is an important fact for later in the story, when things heat up.”

5. Jennifer Weiner and The Bachelor

Full disclosure: The Bachelor is my guilty pleasure. Sure, each season is as predictable as the red rose Bachelor hands out in what is always “the most dramatic rose ceremony ever.” But it’s also comforting. Even more comforting is knowing I’m not alone. NYT-bestselling author Jennifer Weiner, who is brilliant and intellectual, isn’t afraid to admit she loves it too, and live-tweets every Monday night. Even if you’ve never seen an episode of the show (or never will), her #bachelor tweets are worth the minute it takes to scroll through them.