Author appearances have been part of destination spas since the 1940s, when proto-spa Rancho La Puerta was a gathering place for intellectuals and philosophers. But now it's a full-blown trend, according to The New York Times, which did a good job rounding up instances of spas that are creating book clubs, hosting authors, and otherwise encouraging their customers to connect over a good book.
New York City's Carlyle Hotel is holding a monthly literary group at the Yves Durif Salon inside its Sense spa. At the first gathering, "Fear of Flying" author Erica Jong discussed "Sugar in My Bowl," a sex anthology she edited.
Bliss Spa just started the "Paging Happiness Book Club," which is more of a buying opportunity. Bliss recommends one book every three months, then sells it on its website -- alone or packaged with some appropriate products, or even with spa treatments.
Their first pick is Gretchen Rubin's "Happier at Home," about the author's effort to make her home a happier place. She dedicated a school year--September through May--to creating a home that would both calm and energize her, and bring more happiness to the whole family.
You're not exactly sitting around discussing it with friends -- though you could suggest it for your own book club. But Gretchen will appear at the Bliss Lexington Avenue spa in December and answer questions on her blog after stops on "Today" and "Katie," at chain and independent booksellers, and at several locations of the store Anthropologie.
Other examples: The Lake Austin Spa Resort in Austin, Tex., has a monthly series called "For the Love of Books" and Canyon Ranch established a series of author appearances last year at its flagship Tucson location.
"It's more than hiding in a treatment room," said Heather Mikesell, executive editor of American Spa. "It's something you can share with your friends, so it brings more to the table."