10 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. October 18, 2014


Readings ‘Round the Big Easy

New Orleans Museum of Art and The Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans celebrate National Reading Group Month!

Join us for a day of programs for book clubs, reading groups and all those who love reading.

Keynote Speaker:
Molly Travis, associate professor of English and Associate Dean in Newcomb-Tulane College. Travis will speak about the history of reading groups in the Greater New Orleans area.


All programs (EXCEPT Afternoon Tea with Authors) are free with NOMA admission.


  • 10:00 a.m.: Registration
  • 10:30-11:30 a.m.: Keynote Speaker Molly Travis: “The History of Book Clubs in the Greater New Orleans Area”
  • 11:45-12:15: Book Club Introductions and Book Talks
  • 10-1:30 p.m.: Book Swap Table


  • 12:30-1:30 p.m.: Lunch (on your own)
  • 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Author Spotlight
  • 2:30-3:30 p.m.: Book Signings and Sales
  • 3:30-5:00 p.m.: Afternoon Tea with Authors – “Speed Date an Author” (Café NOMA)

Afternoon Tea with Authors: $40 per person
Advance payment and registration required

Book club and reading group members and organizers, and those interested in reading should contact or 504-658-4117 for more information.


Molly Travis, Keynote Speaker
Molly Abel Travis moved with her family to New Orleans in 1989 to accept a faculty position at Tulane. She is an associate professor of English and Associate Dean in Newcomb-Tulane College. She has published essays on narrative theory, reception theory, media theory, and gender and race in 19th- and 20th-century American, British, and South African literature and culture. Her first book was Reading Cultures: the Construction of Readers in the Twentieth Century (1998). Molly’s current projects include a book manuscript, Imagining the New South Africa: Narratives of Nation in a Global Culture. She has been involved in numerous institutional efforts at Tulane to reform the undergraduate curriculum: she chaired the President’s Task Force on Teaching (1996-97) and the President’s strategic planning committee on the undergraduate experience (1998-99). In addition, she served as Associate Dean for Global Education (2010-13). Molly received the 1999 Tulane Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Molly has always been interested in readers’ responses to literature and began reviewing books for New Orleans women’s book clubs in her first year at Tulane, and has been lucky enough to continue her work with book groups since then.

Ann Benoit, author of New Orleans’ Best Ethnic Restaurants
Ann Benoit lives, loves, photographs, writes, and most importantly eats in New Orleans. A full-time book packager with an expertise in culinary books, she zealously pursues her second career of food photography and food writing. She is a member of the American Culinary Federation, the International Association of Culinary Professionals Food Photographers and Stylists, and the James Beard Foundation. Retired assistant attorney general for the State of Louisiana and former chief of the Antitrust and Business Litigation section of the Louisiana Department of Justice, she is the retired executive director of the Plaquemines Community CARE Center and retired chief of the Family Law division of the Pro Bono Project of New Orleans. She is a graduate of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law, Southeastern Louisiana University, and Mount Carmel Academy.

Over the course of the last 150 years, immigrants from Germany, Lebanon, Mexico, and more have contributed to the melting pot of New Orleans. Indulge in the best cuisine New Orleans has to offer with this book as your roadmap. Read summaries, view photographs, and try recipes for the Big Easy’s landmark restaurants as well as its hidden gems. Locals and tourists alike will savor the unusual flavors of the city and the highlights of the best international eateries in this detailed food companion to the South’s most diverse city.

Amy Conner, author of The Right Thing
Amy Conner is a semi-retired horse trainer, who used to co-own and co-manage the world’s largest alligator farming concern. She lives in New Orleans, but grew up in Jackson, so she knows whereof she speaks. The Right Thing, which was shortlisted in the Faulkner-Wisdom Writing Competition in New Orleans, is her first novel.

In her compassionate and lyrical debut novel, Amy Conner explores female friendship, loyalty, and the realities of class and race in a small Southern town. Through chapters alternating between 1963 and 1990, THE RIGHT THING follows two little girls whose lifetime commitment to each other bonds them into adulthood despite their differences: money and the lack of it, the hard realities of class and race in a small Southern town, and how those factors worked to shape their lives.

Laura Lane McNeal, author of Dollbaby
Laura Lane McNeal grew up in New Orleans where people laugh a lot, talk with their hands, love good music, good food, and will make up any excuse for a party. After receiving two undergraduate degrees from Southern Methodist University, she went on to earn an MBA from Tulane University. DOLLBABY is her first novel. For more information, please click here or follow Laura @llmcneal.

In DOLLBABY, McNeal brings the city [New Orleans] to life-its culture, history, people, and landscape. When eleven-year-old Ibby Bell’s father dies in a tragic accident in the summer of 1964, her mother unceremoniously deposits her in New Orleans with her estranged grandmother, Fannie. Far away from her quiet Pacific Northwest town, Fannie’s rundown mansion is like no place Ibby has ever been, and Fannie is like no one she’s ever met. At first, Ibby doesn’t know what to make of her new life, or Fannie’s black cook Queenie and her daughter, Dollbaby, who take it upon themselves to initiate Ibby the ways of the South and guide her through the eccentricities of her grandmother’s world.

Michael D. Moffitt, author of Grandad’s Dictionary: Reflections on Life in America
Michael Moffitt was born in Chicago, IL and grew up in Pass Christian, Mississippi. He returned to Chicago to study Engineering at Northwestern University and earn an MBA at the University of Chicago. He spent over 40 years working in printing and publishing, returning to New Orleans in 1994 when he purchased Century Graphics Corporation with a private equity group. Moffitt has been president of four corporations, including Century and has managed his own consultancy. He holds several patents related to image processing technology and in 2003 published a text on mission-driven management for printers. Moffitt has served as a Commissioner of New Orleans City Park, President of the Vieux Carre Property Owners (VCPORA), Residents and Associates and a director and Treasurer of the New Orleans Museum of Art. He currently resides with his wife Brenda in New Orleans.

Granddad’s Dictionary is a book of challenges, questions, and riddles to individuals about themselves and about our civilization. It invites the reader to think unconventionally about morality, politics, and the meaning of American tradition and experience. The book is organized as reflections on sixty-five words, but the reader will find the sum greater than its parts. It argues that optimism, respect for all citizens, and financial and moral discipline can be the sources of a future far beyond our expectations. But this is not a recipe book. It challenges readers to question conventional wisdom and create their own personal and public policy recipes. It challenges us to look back to our origins and to look ahead to the possibilities of the twenty-first century. Granddad truly offers a unique perspective with great clarity.

Tom Piazza, author of City of Refuge
Tom Piazza is the author of eleven books, including the novel City of Refuge, which won the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, the post-Katrina manifesto Why New Orleans Matters, and Devil Sent The Rain: Music and Writing in Desperate America, a collection of his essays and journalism. He was a principal writer for the first three seasons of the innovative HBO drama series TREME. No less a literary critic than Bob Dylan has said, “Tom Piazza’s writing pulsates with nervous electrical tension—reveals the emotions that we can’t define.” Tom is also a well known writer on American music. He is a three-time winner of the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for Music Writing, and the winner of a Grammy Award for his album notes to Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues: A Musical Journey. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Bookforum, The Oxford American, Columbia Journalism Review, and many other periodicals. He is at work on a new novel, entitled A Free State, forthcoming in 2015 from HarperCollins.

“To read City of Refuge is to realize that this is what fiction is for: to take us to places the cameras can’t go. The novel’s characters—and what happens to them—are unforgettable, and so is the portrait of New Orleans, the city Tom Piazza clearly loves with all his large, generous heart.” -Richard Russo

Michael Pitre, author of Fives and Twenty-Fives
Michael Pitre is a graduate of Louisiana State University, where he was a double major in history and creative writing. In 2002, he joined the Marines, deploying twice to Iraq and attaining the rank of Captain before leaving the service in 2010 to get his MBA at Loyola. He lives in New Orleans.

“The corrosive psychological effects-and the dark humor-of modern conflict are hauntingly captured in Iraq War veteran Pitre’s powerfully understated debut. Named after a procedure by which Marine convoys maintain the proper distance from a possible roadside bomb, the novel moves in oddly unsettling rhythms between present-day New Orleans, where members of a bomb-defusing unit uneasily reunite, and Iraq, where they had to contend not only with lethal potholes and a nebulous enemy, but also Blackwater-like contractors who couldn’t care less about their well-beings. At the heart of the novel is a gangstarap-loving, increasingly vocal Iraqi translator nicknamed Dodge, who goes to work for the Americans even as his father and brother plot to kill them-not because they hate them but as a way of hastening their exits from the country.” – Kirkus Review

Katy Simpson Smith, author of The Story of Land and Sea
Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She attended Mount Holyoke College and received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She has been working as an Adjunct Professor at Tulane University and is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835. She lives in New Orleans.

Set in a small coastal town in North Carolina during the waning years of the American Revolution, this incandescent debut novel follows three generations of family-fathers and daughters, mother and son, master and slave, characters who yearn for redemption amidst a heady brew of war, kidnapping, slavery, and love.

Rebecca Snedeker, author of Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas
Rebecca Snedeker is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and writer whose work supports human rights and creative expression in her native New Orleans. Most recently, she collaborated with Rebecca Solnit and a host of contributing cartographers, writers, visual artists, and researchers to create Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas (University of California Press), a book of 22 imaginative maps and essays. Snedeker has produced several feature documentaries that take place in New Orleans, including By Invitation Only (PBS), Witness: Katrina (National Geographic Channel), and Land of Opportunity (ARTE). She is the recipient of a residency from A Studio in the Woods and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Unfathomable City is a brilliant reinvention of the traditional atlas, one that provides a vivid, complex look at the multi-faceted nature of New Orleans, a city replete with contradictions. More than twenty essays assemble a chorus of vibrant voices, including geographers, scholars of sugar and bananas, the city’s remarkable musicians, prison activists, environmentalists, Arab and Native voices, and local experts, as well as the coauthors’ compelling contributions. Featuring 22 full-color two-page-spread maps, Unfathomable City plumbs the depths of this major tourist destination, pivotal scene of American history and culture and, most recently, site of monumental disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Compact, lively, and completely original, Unfathomable City takes readers on a tour that will forever change the way they think about place.