My First Trip to New York and BookExpo America 2013 Part 1

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.

The Event:

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(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.

Neil Gaiman on stage

Neil Gaiman on stage

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!)

I went a little overboard on the Neil Gaiman pics.

I went a little overboard on the Neil Gaiman pics.

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*

All the books I got at BEA -- and this was from not staying the whole time and actually passing on some books. Yeah. A booklover's dream, that event.

All the books I got at BEA — and this was from not staying the whole time and actually passing on some books. Yeah. A booklover’s dream, that event.

To be continued … (next post: my thoughts on New York City)

PS

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!

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Finally, an Update!

I’m sure you’re all super disappointed that I haven’t been updating you on my glamorous new live in Evanston/Chicago. No longer! Now that I have non-writing workshop undergrad classes (English class requirements for  my teaching credential even though I already have a BA in English — ugh), I have time to write!

I know what you’re thinking: wait, what? How do classes add to your free time? Well, if you’ve spent a lot of time with me at pretty much any point in my life, you know that I don’t find many lecture classes helpful, so I don’t pay attention in a lot of them. (If you’re a former professor and reading this, I TOTALLY focused 100% in your class on what you were saying and stuff. Seriously. I did.) Usually it’s when the professor stands in front of the class and talks non-stop for an hour and a half (or longer) that I stop caring.

bored

The one class I’m blogging in is supposed to be a comparative literature course focusing on ancient Japanese literature. So, when class starts, the professor tells us all the summaries of the things we’re supposed to have read over the weekend And, okay, it is 200-300 pages per week, so even I don’t do all of the reading, but still, it gets ridiculous. And then, to make it more annoying, she teaches us Japanese vocab. even though we’re reading all translations and there aren’t any quizzes or tests. It’s a “just for fun” thing that takes up about half of the class time. Anyway, the point is that this class bores me, so I’m going to be writing some blog posts while it’s in session.

I didn’t do much  last quarter — between adjusting to this new city, work, and school, I didn’t have much chance to do a lot of fun, outside-of-the-apartment things. There were, however, two major events that were exciting for me. I went to two book signings, one with Cory Doctorow and one with John and Carole Barrowman.

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Me with the brilliant Cory Doctorow

Cory Doctorow is an award-winning sci-fi author, and I went for his new novel Pirate Cinema. I had a lot more fun than I thought I would. The only thing I’ve read by him was a steampunk short story (an amazing one, but I can’t remember the title, unfortunately), so I guess I didn’t know what to expect. All I have to say is that if you ever have a chance to hear Cory Doctorow speak and/or read, do it. He’s incredibly intelligent, well-spoken, and NICE. I had a lot of fun at this event and was grinning about it even a few days later. He spoke a lot about Creative Commons licensing, which is always very interesting. And, if you are interested in his work, you can buy them, but he also offers them for free on his website as PDFs, Mobis, PRCs, etc. Here’s his Pirate Cinema page.

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He signed it! And added a very cool skull and crossbones.

Some of you may know John Barrowman as an actor. He plays Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood and is now in the CW show, Arrow. He and his sister wrote a children’s fantasy book called Hollow Earth, and as a Doctor Who/Torchwood fan, I skipped poetry class to get his signature on a book and see him in person.

Waiting in line to get my book signed -- there are the authors!

Waiting in line to get my book signed — there are the authors!

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That’s John Barrowman and he’s signing my book!

Me thanking him. Happy!

Me thanking him. Happy!

Because of his popularity, this wasn’t as intimate as the Doctorow reading, but it was still a lot of fun.

Answers to common questions from friends:

1) He is MORE handsome in person and has striking green eyes. Even on a regular basis, I have issues with remembering how to breathe, and I definitely forgot to breathe when we made eye contact.

2) He is as hilarious and charismatic as you imagine him to be.

3) His sister is just as awesome.

Alright, enough of being a bad student. Back to my boring class. :/