Book Report: I Miss Diet Coke Edition
Some behind the scenes book business for you, plus It’s Not NOT a Diet: Roald Dahl Edition.
Reminder: We are still collecting voice memos for an upcoming community episode of Burnt Toast. It started with this Friday Thread discussion: Who gets to call themselves fat? What’s your first memory of calling yourself fat or being called fat? How do you show allyship in the language you use around bodies? Send a voice memo to Corinne at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’ve never recorded a voice memo, instructions here. We’d love to include your voice!
I know I mention preorders in pretty much every newsletter, but it’s been awhile since I really caught you up on all things book launch. And we are now just two months out from pub day, and there are some very fun things going on! Which are also making me very busy (this week, anyway)! And as I’ve said before – this is the book that Burnt Toast built. So I’ve been wanting to tell you about them. Here we go…
As you read this, I will be gearing up for Day 2 of Audiobook Recording Week. I’m doing this from my home office, with my fantastic director Chrissy monitoring everything on Zoom. She stops me every time I stumble over a word, and also makes sure I’m pronouncing everyone’s names right and does a thousand other vital things. And then I just read and read, for six hours a day until we’re done! We do take bathroom/lunch/stretch breaks. I figured out at lunch today that my voice sounds better if I dance around to Lizzo for a few minutes. Which just seems obvious now I write it.
But Day 1 was intense and I deeply regret using the words “subsequent” and “prevalence” as often as I did in this book because wow, I am just never going to say those right on the first try. Also I could have included about a thousand fewer scientific studies and it would have been a badly reported book but way easier to read. Basically, I thought that because my bedtime story game is strong, I’d have this in the bag. As it turns out, my book is more Eloise than Goodnight Moon in terms of the reading stamina required.1
I have been, alternatively, very excited and very nervous to record my own audiobook. I didn’t do it for The Eating Instinct. I can’t remember why exactly but I think if I’m being honest that I didn’t feel ready to be the voice (or face) of a book and I didn’t start feeling ready to do that until after that book came out, for better or worse. So when they asked me about narrating the audiobook months before the pub date, I didn’t even really consider it. I now a little bit wish I had, because there are several very personal chapters in that book and it feels slightly odd to think about those words coming out of someone else’s mouth. But I also know that recording audio of any kind is highly skilled work—saying words, out loud, correctly, for so many hours! It is very hard!— and it took so much pressure off to know the manuscript was safe in the hands of the talented Julie McKay, who did such a beautiful job with it.
Having just thought all that through, it’s now hard to remember why this time I was suddenly very excited to record the audiobook myself. Some kind of author bucket list item? Also I have a podcast and people sort of know my voice now? Several early readers told me they could hear me reading to them in their heads as they read, which I guess is a good thing? Anyway! I’m doing it! It is hard but satisfying! I really do love thinking about people listening to this thing I made. The major looming stress, as all parents know, is whether my children will bring home a cold that destroys my voice. So far, so good and I’m drinking all the Throat Coat tea. Chrissy also told me to go easy on caffeine, so I’m skipping my morning Diet Coke this week which is a truly noble sacrifice, especially since she gets another cup of coffee every time we take a break so I have a lot of caffeine envy rn.
If you’re an audiobook person, I hope none of this deters you from preordering — I promise that Chrissy and the rest of the Macmillan Audio team are going to make it sound incredible! You can order it from Audible or the indie bookstore-friendly Libro.FM and Kobo.
The UK Version!
So many of you have asked about this and I am absolutely delighted to finally, officially, announce that Fat Talk has a UK publisher. Ithaka, an imprint of Bonnier Books, will be releasing the book in the United Kingdom, plus Australia, New Zealand and the rest of the Commonwealth on April 25 (the same day the US version drops!).
This version even gets its own cover, which I am so thrilled to show you.
This edition is a (very gorgeous quality!) paperback, but book itself will be exactly the same inside. (My mum was hoping they at least fix/anglicize the spellings but apparently British audiences are used to our funny American ways.) But it has been interesting to see how they think about positioning the book slightly differently, for their market. There’s a whole new cover, of course. And they picked a different subtitle: Coming of Age in Diet Culture rather than Parenting in the Age of Diet Culture. I love them both, and even went back to Holt (my US publisher) to say, do we like this subtitle better?? But Holt wants the word “parenting” on the cover, whereas Ithaka doesn’t, because parenting books are just a whole different animal over there.
The bottom line, as I’ve said all along, is that Fat Talk is a book for parents who want to understand and unlearn anti-fat bias for their kids, but it’s also for anyone who wants to reparent themselves around food, weight and bodies. So, British/Australian/etc readers: It’s go time! Preorder your version of Fat Talk from Amazon and Waterstones.
American readers: You can preorder your signed copy from my favorite independent bookstore, Split Rock Books (they ship anywhere in the US!). Or order it from your independent bookstore, or from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, or Kobo or anywhere else you like to buy books.
Nice Things People Are Saying!
Two other things are happening behind the scenes right now: I’m starting to do a lot of press for the book (at this stage, mostly podcast interviews because they work the furthest out, but we’ve also got some bigger media coverage coming, which I can’t talk about yet…). And, we’re starting to get reviews and blurbs!
For folks not in the industry: Reviews are published in media outlets and as an author, you have absolutely zero control over whether people say nice things or not. They are terrifying! Blurbs are nice things that you, as the author, specifically ask certain people to say about you, because they are a colleague/a name that people will recognize on the cover. Also terrifying! Blurb asking is largely understood to be one of the worst parts of book publishing. It brings up all your middle school anxieties about sitting with the cool girls. I get asked to write a ton of blurbs, so I know firsthand that saying no almost always has nothing to do with the person asking and everything to do with how busy or maxed out I am, bandwidth-wise, when the request comes in. But that doesn’t mean I don’t obsess wildly over who to ask and whether they say yes or no when I’m on this side of it.
Anyway, here are some very nice things people are saying, either because I asked them to, or because they just wanted to:
“With Fat Talk, Virginia Sole Smith hasn’t just given us a great book for parents of fat kids. She’s given us an indispensable resource for adults preparing kids of all sizes to navigate a world full of bodies, biases, and appearance-based judgment. If you’ve ever longed for a conversation about fat kids that’s rooted in facts, candor, and empathy, this is it. Fat Talk is a must-read for any adult who wants to build a kinder, more accepting, and more just world for the kids in their lives.”
―Aubrey Gordon, cohost of Maintenance Phase and author of “You Just Need to Lose Weight”: And 19 Other Myths About Fat People
“Fat Talk is the book I wish my parents had when I was growing up.”
―Julia Turshen, New York Times bestselling author
“Making meaningful social change―especially when it comes to America’s insidious diet culture―can feel like slow, Sisyphean work. It requires not only questioning the complex systems we live within but also imagining new, better solutions. Lucky for all of us with bodies, Virginia Sole-Smith is a visionary. In Fat Talk, she generously guides grown-ups toward unlearning everything we’ve been taught about weight and worth and teaches us to show young people that they are always enough just as they are. Everyone should read this book.”
―Angela Garbes, author of Essential Labor and Like a Mother
“I am extremely grateful to Virginia for writing Fat Talk. It’s a fearless and game-changing addition to the conversation about kids, food and weight, and a book that all parents need to read.”
―Emily Oster2, author of Expecting Better and Cribsheet
“If you have ever held a piece of food or briefly glimpsed a part of your body and felt a complicated thing, you need to read this book. Fat Talk is about parenting―but also about living―within and outside of the nefarious stories we’ve been told about food and bodies and how and why they relate to health; about the dangers of restriction and the freedom and the power that can come from loving ourselves and one another on new and better terms.”
―Lynn Steger Strong, author of Flight and Want
"If you've ever struggled in your relationship with food and your body—and especially if you're trying to raise kids to be resilient in the face of diet culture—this book is essential reading. Virginia offers a nuanced and deeply reported look at the many unintended consequences of the rhetoric around 'childhood obesity,' and presents a powerful case for rethinking the conventional wisdom about weight and health. At a time when the world feels increasingly cruel to fat kids, this book will be a beacon of hope to many."
—Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CEDS, author of The Wellness Trap and Anti-Diet
"I am absolutely obsessed with this illuminating, thoroughly-researched, and compassionate book. Revolutionary!"
—Bethany Rutter, author of No Big Deal and Welcome To My Life
“A thoughtful and intuitive book that is not just for parents.”
“This compassionate manual by journalist Sole-Smith (The Eating Instinct) suggests ways parents can help their children “recognize and reject” anti-fat bias. [...] The eye-opening research upends conventional assumptions about what a healthy body looks like, and readers will appreciate the affirming tone. The result is a striking challenge to fatphobia.”
So What Happens Next?
We’re working on the book tour schedule now, so I should have event dates and registration links to share with you soon. I’m also delighted to share that I’m now represented by the Tuesday Agency for speaking gigs, so if you’re interested in having me come talk (about the book, or more generally, about the issues I write about here) to your school, workplace, or other organization/event venue, get in touch.
GoodReads is hosting a Fat Talk giveaway, which you can enter here. And if you’re a GoodReader, while you’re there, please mark the book as “want to read” (or if you’ve read an early version, leave a rating and review!). That pleases the algorithm gods mightily.
We’ve also got a preorder giveaway coming up, so save your receipt if you’re preordering now! And if a preorder isn’t doable for you, but you’d still like to support, ask your local library to preorder the book and place it on hold when they do.
Thanks, friends. I quite literally wouldn’t be doing this without you.
It’s Not NOT A Diet: Roald Dahl Edition
As you likely heard, Puffin Books, the imprint of Penguin Random House that publishes Roald Dahl, announced two weeks ago that they were releasing newly updated editions of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, and so on, after working with a sensitivity organization called Inclusive Minds to remove racist, sexist and otherwise biased language.
The backlash was swift and intense—Salman Rushdie got super mad—and on Friday, Puffin announced that they would offer both the edited versions of the books and The Roald Dahl Classic Collection, which retain all of the original language.
But the real issue with Puffin’s attempt to clean up Dahl’s language is not censorship: It was just a crappy effort. They didn’t actually achieve their goal of making the books less biased—at least when it comes to anti-fatness.