Cindy Burnett has always had a passion for books. As a child, she stayed up late into
the night with a flashlight under the covers immersed in her latest read. Books were her
most loyal companion, as she and her family moved frequently when she was young,
landing in Houston, Texas; Westport, Connecticut; Rio de Janeiro, Brasil; and then back
in Houston. Following college at Northwestern University and law school at Duke, she
practiced health care law until she had the first of her three children. After volunteering
at her kids’ schools for over fifteen years, she decided it was time for her to pursue a
personal passion: books.
Around that time, a friend mentioned a Facebook group where authors and readers
come together to discuss all things bookish. Cindy joined and was thrilled to discover a
whole new online world related to books. Soon after, she created a “bookstagram”
account (a book account on Instagram) to share her thoughts on books using the
moniker Thoughts from a Page. She also started working at Murder by the Book, an
independent bookstore in Houston, and attended BookExpo in New York City.
Wanting to share her love of reading with her friends, she hosted an event for Houston
author Katherine Center. She had a great turnout followed by lots of inquiries as to
when she would host her next event. Cindy believed there was a niche to be filled
and approached her close friend Krista Hensel about hosting a regular salon-style
author event. Thus, Conversations from a Page was born (using a variation of the
Thoughts from a Page name).
For Conversations from a Page, Krista and Cindy host authors at Krista’s home for
coffee and light bites. They pair authors together, most often with books in different
genres. Cindy interviews the authors, focusing on his or her inspiration for writing,
the origins of the books’ cover and title, and the portions of each book
which resonate with her most. In the casual setting, the authors mingle with guests
before and after, singing books and chatting with readers. Notable authors that she has
hosted include Elin Hilderbrand, Mary Laura Philpott and Mary Kay Andrews.
Although the pandemic has forced Conversations from a Page online through Zoom, the
two women have started a monthly newsletter and an online book club called “As the Page
Turns.” Nine to ten times a year, a devoted group of readers from around the country
gather on Zoom to discuss a book which they have all read in advance.
Following the launch of the literary salon, Cindy began writing two columns for The
Buzz, a large Houston publication. She writes a weekly online column called Page
Turners that highlights new releases, favorite books by genre, reader recommendations,
and author interviews. In a monthly print column called Buzz Reads she selects her top
five book picks for each month. Each month, she also reviews a book or two for
Bookreporter, and frequently drafts historical fiction and nonfiction round-ups for She
Cindy’s interviews with authors at her literary salons and at Murder by the Book,
prompted friends to suggest that she expand her love of books into a podcast. Her initial
reaction was to refuse, based on her lack of time and knowledge of the podcasting
world. However, once the pandemic hit, stressed by the world’s grim news, she found
herself in need of a distraction. After months researching how podcasts work and what
was needed to make a successful podcast, she took the plunge and launched the
Thoughts from a Page podcast.
Cindy’s podcast uses her signature interview format, similar to that of her literary salon.
Initially, she relied on authors she knew personally, with an airing schedule of two
episodes per week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. While she had to work hard to fill the first
few weeks, the podcast took off quickly and Cindy is now booked up many months in
Listeners report that they love hearing the author’s book recommendations at the end of
each interview. Cindy has found many great new reads and authors to interview that
way. The most listened-to episodes are Judithe Little discussing her historical fiction
novel The Chanel Sisters, Alice Henderson discussing her mystery A Solitude of
Wolverines, and Lisa Gardner talking about her new mystery Before She Disappeared.
Cindy never tires of talking about books. Weekly messages from readers request book
suggestions, share their personal favorites and some just want to talk books.
While Cindy enjoys reading across a wide range of genres, her go-to’s are historical
fiction, mysteries, contemporary fiction, and narrative nonfiction. Jane Harper, Amor
Towles, Fiona Davis, Nick Petrie, and C.J. Box are her must-read authors, and her
favorite books are A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, The Lost Man by Jane
Harper, A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
and The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai.
With each new addition to her bookish activities, Cindy finds that she learns more about
the book world and reaches a new group of readers and lovers of literature. She is
always on the lookout for her next great reading adventure.
By Kathie Bennett