New York City. “The City.” I feel like this is one place where everyone in the US dreams of living at some point in their life. I did. When I was gathering college brochures my sophomore year of high school, NYU was at the top of my list, as were a few other New York universities. Because that’s where the art is, right? You’re able to really experience everything. You can make money by singing on the street or something; you can write in little coffee shops; you can hang out in parks and experience all sorts of variety. It’s all so magical and life-changing and living there helps you to become a well-rounded, intellectual person.
God, I love the idea of New York.
There’s also this thing called BookExpo America (BEA) and it’s been hosted in New York city for the past five years or so. Ever since I became a book blogger, in the long-ago days of late 2010, I’ve heard of this magical publishing industry event where you meet actual publishers, editors, authors, and they give you free books to review. Some of them are even signed.
And yes, book bloggers are able to go. (So are educators, for those who are interested.)
I was drooling over it last year in 2012, when they had guests like John Green (OMG!!!), Eoin Colfer, and Jeffrey Eugenides. These are just a few names, of course. Hundreds and hundreds of authors go to this event every year. And when I told my godmother, Mickey, about it her response was, “We need to go.”
So, that’s how this trip happened. Mickey and my mom started giving me reviews to post on my blog and became my official co-bloggers; late last year we bought our tickets, booked our flights, and booked our hotel. And for the next five months, I stalked the BEA website to see who would be there and what books were coming out.
(More pictures to come — Mom needs to send me the ones from her camera, but here is my Flickr account for the ones I have and ones that Mickey sent me.)
I made a prioritized list of who to see and what books to get, asking my mom and Mickey for their input on who the “must see” authors were. We went to those “must-haves” and then wandered about for the rest of the day. Generally, my mom and I stayed from opening at 9 AM until about 1 or 2 in the afternoon and then went off to do New York things. Mickey had already been to New York, so she took full advantage of the event and often didn’t leave until it ended.
I got all of the books I really wanted and even attended a Neil Gaiman talk on Day 3 of the conference (the last day). That was probably my favorite event because of the energy in the room. It’s so weird, because whenever I talk about him with many of my friends and family I get, “Uh, who’s that?” But in that room, everyone loved him as much as I do and when he walked in, I suddenly understood how mobs happen. There was so much excitement and energy, I couldn’t help but get caught up in it. We oohed, ahhed, and vigorously applauded EVERYTHING he said. And when I looked at the people around me, their faces were full of the rapture I was experiencing.
And the weird thing is: Neil Gaiman is really as awesome as you’d imagine him to be. There’s that typical thing people say about being disappointed when you meet one of your idols. I’ve found this to be true. John Barrowman wasn’t nearly as great as I thought he’d be (he was still cool, but not to the extent I dreamed), and I generally am only really impressed by people who I think are pretty cool, but I don’t idolize so much. I was so NOT disappointed by Neil Gaiman, though. His speech on “Why Fiction is Dangerous” was funny, moving, and so very, very intelligent. If you ever have a chance to see him live, DO IT. (You can watch his talk here — so good!)
Overall, BEA was an amazing experience. Overwhelming, exhausting, and so, so worth it. The three of us loved it, and I think attending every couple years or so would be do-able. Not every year, because it really was one of the most tiring events I’ve been to. There’s just SO MUCH happening, all related to books — the one addiction I will never break. A lot of events, a lot of emotions, and a lot of meeting people. *happy sigh*
To be continued … (next post: my thoughts on New York City)
I hope you’re all enjoying the start of summer! My summer officially starts in 3 days, and I CANNOT WAIT. I’ll be in Southern California starting July 17 until July 31 — maybe later, but I need to work out some school and work stuff before I commit to staying longer. So, if you’ll be in the Lancaster area around then, be sure to send me a message so we can hang out!