Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Few Impressions from the LA Times Festival of Books

If you're looking for The Wind Done Gone discussion, it's not here. I haven't even cracked the spine of the book yet.

I spent a glorious bookish weekend at the LA Times Festival of Books. I got to see lots of my book blogging friends, meet a few new ones, and also fawn over authors. I love the weekend because I get the chance to hear from a variety of different writers on a bunch of different subjects. It's a bit like book church, the chance to be with people who love what I love (books), hear new perspectives, contemplate my life, and get new ideas.

I do have a few observations I'd like to share. I don't really have pictures, because I didn't take any. I do apologize.

1) Authors can be a little like rock stars. The John Green and David Levithan panel was a definite highlight even though I felt a bit old. They were so funny and smart and the hour flew by. What really impressed me were the screaming fan girls though. Seriously, whoever says books are dead didn't see the girl in the row in front of me swoon when John Green came on stage. Also, the most heartfelt expressions of gratitude to authors I hear are to authors who write books for teens. (I remember last year being deeply touched by what people said to S.E. Hinton) A girl in this panel told these two authors they make her life better. Writers of young adult fiction may get grief for not writing "true literary masterpieces" but clearly what they do makes a profound impact on lives. It makes sense, the books I read at that age linger in my memory.

2) I find it pretty rude for authors to sign books and not look at you or really acknowledge you. I recognize that they are sitting at a table with their fellow authors, but I don't care for the feeling of being dismissed. For some reason this has always really bugged me.

3) I recommend if you want to talk about book blogs, not mentioning that the majority of them are written by younger women that "really didn't understand my book." (which was about a 17 year old girl)

4) Everyone wants to know how to define YA.

5) I came away from the Festival of Books really invigorated by the fact that people are still interested in spending a day on this subject. I love that it's crowded, I love walking around and discovering new independent presses, having the chance to meet an author I've read and loved since high school, hearing from people on a variety of subjects from faith to otherness to lives in transition. I love books, still believe in their power, and trust that there will always be a group of us who choose to live our lives and make sense of them through reading the narratives of others.

Next up? Book Expo America!


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