I never really thought of myself as a bibliophile, a bookworm, or any of the other words used to describe book lovers until I literally jumped at the chance to attend Book Expo + Book Con for the first time ever last weekend..
Armed with a trusty media pass, I spent four long days in the Javits Center hauling around multiple tote bags full of books, smiling in the faces of some of my favorite authors and celebs, and making tons of bookish friends. To say it was an amazing experience would be an understatement. Of course I didn't enjoy standing in a shit ton of lines every day, but everything was more than worth it.
First up was Book Expo, a trade event featuring authors, publishers, librarians, educators, and people like me! Definitely the calm before the storm, but don't be fooled; librarians are fighting for autographs too. Therefore I arrived for the day around 6:30 am. I was dying to see Gabrielle Union and get a signed copy of her new book, and knew that the free tickets would be gone if I showed up any later. And score I got one.
Next, I headed to the Adult author breakfast where I heard from my favorite horror story writer ever Stephen King and saw some tear jerking photos of former President Barack Obama from Pete Souza, his White House photographer. I spent the remainder of the day roaming around the show floor snagging free totes and books and listening in on panels.
Favorite moment of the day: Learning exactly how to sell the book I plan on writing to Hollywood. :)
Thankfully I got to wake up a little later for the second day of Book Expo! I even managed to make it to work before heading to the center for more time on the show floor, where I bought more books. #SorryNotSorry. Then came time for my favorite panel featuring Nicola Yoon, Stephen Chbosky, and R.J. Palacio in discussion about adapting their best-selling novels into movies. I even conquered my fear of public speaking and asked them a question about each of their writing process.
Favorite moment of the day: Getting a photo with Nicola Yoon, one of my fave authors, after the panel. (Fun fact: I met her back in 2015 when Everything, Everything first came out, but I'm so happy to have actually gotten to talk to her and take a photo this time around.)
Book Con officially begins, which means lots and lots of bookish fans (i.e. this is the event for the public). Bright and early Saturday morning I hopped on the train and headed to the convention center. Luckily I got there pretty early, around 9 am. Had I have come a second later I might have been way in the back of the line. Seriously, five minutes after arriving I looked behind me and the line had wrapped around the building outside.
The day started with a much-needed panel on diversifying love in fiction, featuring some awesome romance writers. Multicultural romance definitely isn't new and I'm happy to see authors embrace that fact. Afterwards I did some more book shopping (I know I have a problem, fight me.) and got these super cute enamel pins (pictured above!), a graphic Power Rangers novel, and came this close to buying a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cookbook. Next, I headed to my final chat for the day, a conversation with media maven, author, and trans activist Janet Mock, who was absolutely amazing. And even more gorgeous in person!
Favorite moment of the day: When Janet Mock reminded the mostly non-minority audience that what's happening in America isn't anything new for people of color. Newsflash: We've been dealing with racism, sexism, and more since the beginning of time and long before those pink hats hit the scene. #RememberThat
Be proud of me: I completely skipped going into the showroom. By that point I had all the books I wanted and was tapped out from standing in lines. So, instead I spent my whole day in panels listening to authors and even made a new friend! Well, actually a few. We all bonded over what turned out to be the most hilarious game of audiobook Jeopardy featuring Sarah Dessen, VE Schwab, Kami Garcia, Nicola Yoon, and Holly Black. This audience vs author game show was definitely, umm....unforgettable and sitting front and center the four of us couldn't stop laughing.
After a few more sessions I made my way to the main stage for the final chat featuring Kevin Hart and Charlamagne tha God. I had met Kevin Hart earlier that morning (and discovered that we're basically the same height, lol). He was amazing, and not just because he was funny. He was so down to earth and humble that it's impossible not to like him after listening to stories about his childhood, family, and the early days of his career. It was the perfect end to a great weekend.
Favorite moment of the day: Obviously meeting and listening to Kevin Hart! His best quote: "Imperfections are what make you perfect." Super simple, but deep and much needed.
Crazy fan lines aside, I wouldn't trade the experience for the world and I am definitely interested in attending again. And hopefully I'll be an author myself by then. Hey, a girl can dream right?