Last week I made the trek down to the Dumbo area of Brooklyn, smack-dab in the middle of two of New York’s most iconic bridges, to attend the launch of Rob Sheffield’s Turn Around Bright Eyes at powerHouse Arena. Having never been to a book launch before, I had no idea what to expect: would it involve mingling to the beat of background music, or more of a formal discussion with the author? It turned out to be an awesome combination of the two, with a tad of karaoke on the side.
While the bookstore’s stadium-like seating does justice to its name, every spot was taken as Rob began to read from his new book; he told the story of a professional karaoke singer who got paid $40/night plus bar tab to perform the hell out of other people’s songs. He then took questions from the audience, not quite settling toughies like “Tswift or Whitney Houston” (“Both have great karaoke songs”) or “Private versus public karaoke” (private is more of an intimate experience, he argued, while public makes you feel like a rockstar). He even confessed that his least favorite song ever was “One of These Nights” by the Eagles. Throughout it all, his passion for music shone through and he kept us laughing.
Then the karaoke began! Rob started us off with an absolutely killer rendition of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” which is where the name of his book comes from. I caught it all on video:
People were then able to choose from a list of favs like “Love is a Battlefield” or “Hey Ya.” After a few songs, Rob took the opportunity to sign some of his books. The line was long but that didn’t stop him from having a conversation with each and every one of us eager fans.
In short, it was a great night at powerHouse Arena—or, as Rob put it, “this majestic cathedral of reading, and books, and all that is awesome.”
This article originally appeared on Zola Books.