Sitting in front of a packed main stage crowd on Thursday evening, Hillary Rodham Clinton chatted for an hour with memoirist Cheryl Strayed about politics, reading, and what audiences can expect from her forthcoming book, which will be published by Simon & Schuster in the fall.
Simon & Schuster CEO and president Carolyn Reidy introduced Clinton and Strayed to an audibly thrilled audience of booksellers. The crowd let out an excited "ooohhh" upon hearing that Strayed would interview the former secretary of state and presidential candidate.
The conversation began on an emotional note, with Strayed reading a question from the audience: "Do you know how much you mean to us and how much we love you?" Clinton, visibly moved, responded in kind: "I have to tell you, as booksellers, I hope you know how much you mean to me."
Clinton has two books coming out in the fall from S&S, an illustrated edition of It Takes a Village and an as-yet-untitled collection of personal essays. It was the latter that received the most attention from Strayed. Clinton described the collection as "a really unvarnished view of what I think happened [in the election'." The comment led to a number of quippy—if rather tame—exchanges between the two women, as well as a few barely veiled digs at President Donald Trump.
"Someone else could run for president tomorrow, or in four years, and they won't have the same experience," Clinton said, explaining the motivation behind writing her upcoming book. Strayed remarked, "Somebody else please run for president tomorrow," and after the applause died down, Clinton responded: "That's a long tomorrow."
Strayed also joked that Clinton should title the book—which will, in part, chronicle the events of the 2016 presidential election—as Really Wild, referring to her own blockbuster memoir, Wild, about Strayed's experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Later, referring to Clinton's penchant for hiking in the woods near her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., Strayed asked Clinton: "Are we going to go hike the Pacific Crest Trail together this summer?"
"That would be great," Clinton responded. "I would love that."
"It's a date," Strayed said, adding that, should Clinton go with her title idea, "we'll do a whole publicity campaign on the Pacific Northwest Trail." Clinton responded: "We'll set up pop-up bookstores along the trail!"
Clinton was vociferous in her support for booksellers. Asked what she thought of the role of the independent bookstore in today's culture, she responded quickly, "Oh, it is more important than ever." She added: "I love independent booksellers and the stores that so many of you own, run, and work in.... I hope it's true, what I'm hearing, that independent bookstores are on a real upward trajectory."
Strayed also asked if, now that Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, is an author in her own right, the two might consider working on a book together. Clinton, to applause, admitted the thought hadn't occurred to her, but now that Strayed mentioned it, she would consider the possibility.
An avowed fan of mysteries, Clinton mentioned Louise Penny and Jacqueline Winspear, among others, as some of her favorite authors. Growing up, she said she loved The Brothers Karamazov—also a favorite, she noted, of Laura Bush—and called the Nancy Drew series a huge inspiration as a child. Drew, Clinton claimed, "was, dare I say, a little bit of a role model."
Asked, toward the end of the evening, what advice she might have for the first female president, Clinton quipped: "Read my book." Elaborating on the comment, Clinton said: "I want her to fully understand what she is getting herself into."