IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Sarah Jessica Parker started her own book imprint. What's she looking for in a read?

If she could, the SJP Lit founder said she'd "be in a book all day."

Sarah Jessica Parker may play an iconic writer onscreen, but in real life, she's more of a reader.

"Books change lives," she says. "Books are often people’s best friends. They are the best companions. They’re deeply loyal."

For years now, Parker has taken her love of reading a step further by working directly with authors as a publisher. She started her own book imprint, SJP Lit, with independent publisher Zando in 2022. She previously launched SJP for Hogarth in 2017.

TODAY.com sat down to talk books with Parker and author Alina Grabowski, who published her debut novel "Women and Children First" with SJP Lit.

Grabowski describes the attention around her book, which came out on May 7, as "surreal."

"So many books are coming out today, and I think especially as a debut, it’s really hard to get attention on your book, because you’re competing with so many excellent novels," she tells TODAY.com.

"To have someone like Sarah Jessica, who’s really respected as a reader and for her literary tastes, is amazing, because it opens up a whole audience that I don’t know if I would have access to otherwise. I feel very lucky."

Sarah Jessica Parker and Alina Grabowski on TODAY.
Sarah Jessica Parker and Alina Grabowski on TODAY.TODAY

She couldn't have found a more enthusiastic cheerleader than Parker, whose goal in the weeks ahead is to “shine a white hot spotlight on this book and this author.”

She calls her books a "huge responsibility."

"It's enormously exciting. And I just feel like really, my job is to do everything I can to amplify it when the time comes," Parker says.

When asked what she looks for in potential literary fiction books for her imprint, Parker simply points at her copy of "Women and Children First."

"What I’m looking for is a singular voice, someone who feels confident enough to be themselves as a writer, to not feel that there are reference points that they need to draw on in order to feel safe, or to be a commercial success," she says.

Parker says her instincts as a publisher are similar to hers as a reader.

“I love women’s stories. I’m not exclusively interested in them, but I seem to be drawn to them, and I think that’s because for so long, I didn’t see them as much in contemporary fiction, so skillfully and masterfully offered," she says.

“Women and Children First" weaves together ten women's perspectives to explore the impact of a teenage girl's death in a fictional Massachusetts small town.

During the writing process, Grabowski drew on her memories of growing up in a similar setting and encountering new perspectives when she left.

She was heartened by the early critical and audience responses to her book.

"What’s contained in this book is everything that’s been important and interesting to me over my entire life," she says. "To have people connect with that is incredibly meaningful."

"Women and Children First" book cover.
"Women and Children First" book cover.Amazon

As a publisher, Parker hopes to facilitate connections between authors and readers.

"I feel a responsibility to have the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder with a writer like Alina," she says.

"It’s a wonderful opportunity and responsibility, and it’s a thrill to talk about somebody else’s work," she continues.

In fact, she'd prefer to talk about books, period: “It’s the easiest conversation to have.”

Beyond her publishing imprint, Parker chronicles her voracious reading habits on Instagram with piles of books.

"Books become these very important possessions in people’s lives," she says. "The experience of reading it, and the memory of it, the sort of sadness that can accompany it that you want to feel — you know, pushing on a bruise and being part of the characters' triumphs, or sitting and standing with them when it’s a heartrending story."

Parker’s enthusiasm for disappearing into a book hasn’t dissipated.

“It’s a thrill to connect with readers like me who, if they had their druthers, they’d be inside of a book all day,” she says.