Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Sunday Salon: The L.A. Times Festival of Books

Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend the Festival of Books in L.A. The drive to the UCLA campus takes me about an hour and fifteen minutes with no traffic. Several book bloggers were planning to be there, so I was super excited to meet them and also to attend a few panels. Basically, there's nothing more fun than a weekend of books topped off with some book blog talk. ;)

I've already put off writing this post for so long because I feel there is so much to share. And since so many others have already blogged about the experience, I was trying to think of how I could put a fresh spin on it. So I'm just going to break it down into sections and share my highlights with you.


Meeting so many book bloggers was a definite highlight. I love how even though it was our first time to meet, I felt like I already knew them already. They are just as fun and wonderful in person as their online personalities. :) I do have to say I didn't realize Natasha was SO tiny, but other than that, everyone was just how I expected!

Having the chance to talk books and blogging with them was fun as well as talking about all those other things we don't talk about online as much. I enjoyed taking in the panels, having the chance to share dinner and also chill in Jill's suite later on Saturday night. I learned that quite a few of us feel overwhelmed by the community's explosion and sometimes the demands of blogging (as Tracy called it, our unpaid job), but ultimately are truly thankful to share our voices in this way. I'm excited to meet even more bloggers at BEA in New York and only wish I could meet you all. As it is, I don't think we'll be getting much quality time in New York with so many things to do and so many of us being there!


I really enjoy hearing from authors even if I have never read a thing they wrote and plan never to. There is just something so interesting about an author's perspective about what they do and why. While I was really excited to see S.E. Hinton who was an influence on me, I also looked forward to hearing from a bunch of authors I had never heard of.

I attended the Social Media panel first and will blog on the major idea from it that I agree with at a later time. I also attended the YA panel Problem Child which featured authors Laurie Halse Anderson, Nate Powell, Jacqueline Woodson, and Suzanne Phillips (couldn't find website). Guess how many books I've read by these authors? That's right, zilcho. Still enjoyed it, though, I have several of Anderson's on my TBR, am definitely interested in Swallow Me Whole by Nate Powell, and recently bought After Tupac and D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson. Lisa and I had to leave this panel early to head over to Window on the World. Long story short, as a result of this panel, I bought The Elegance of the Hedgehog and began frantically looking for French lessons in order to refresh my fading ability.

Sunday, I attended a panel on Middle Grade Fiction. I have an interest in kids literature and young adult literature and want to learn as much as I can about it. I loved this panel so much, it really made me wish I had a book in me to write for this age group. I enjoyed all the authors humor and insight, but I also enjoyed it when an ESL teacher said she uses middle grade fiction with her students and it has vastly improved their linguistic ability. I use children's books with my adult students and they are excellent tools. But I'll be writing more about that at a later time.

Finally, I attended the S.E. Hinton panel. I was totally and completely obsessed with her books the minute I discovered them and so I was really excited about this. I loved hearing from her. She is absolutely down to earth, gracious, and so funny! I really do want to read her latest books now, as well. I was genuinely touched when audience members got up and thanked her for all that The Outsiders had meant to them. When one audience member asked her if she ever tired of living in the shadow of The Outsiders, she responded that the response to this book has been such that she feels The Outsiders was a story that was meant to be written and she got picked to write it. I loved that! I really wish I had a free week where I could go back and enjoy her books all over again.


One last fun thing about the festival was the chance to go around to all the booths. Authors would be signing at bookstore booths, and I was able to snag some gifts I can't really talk about right at the moment! I also tried to give out some of my business cards, but let's face it, I'm not all that bold! Plus, sometimes I found you have to explain what a blog is!

I did meet author Judy Blundell in a booth, and also bought some autographed books without seeing the author. You can see my book loot below.

I think that's it for now! I had a grand time and hope to do it again! I think there should be books festivals every month!


This is how happy Natasha looks when she's twittering with you!

My Book Loot. As you can see, I got a lot of middle grade and YA because those are the kinds of books I don't get for review as often. I have no idea what that David book is---it was randomly passed out to me.

Questions? Please ask because I want to know what you want to know!!

In case you missed it, I also blogged about the Festival of Books here, and shared a vlog here.

And many of the awesome blogger friends I met up with blogged about it as are there posts:

Books on the Brain
Book Chatter and Other Stuff
Shelf Life
3 R's blog
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
Fizzy Thoughts (she has several in-depth looks at the panels, too!)
Hey Lady!
(If I missed yours, let me know!)


bermudaonion said...

It looks like everyone had such a good time. It makes me even more excited about BEA!

Stephanie said...

Looks like fun! Can't wait to meet up at BEA!

Molly said...

I LOVE to hear authors talk about their writing process and I hope I have that opportunity at BEA.

I so enjoyed reading your perspective on this fun event.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

The LA Festival is the one I've always wanted to visit....maybe next year!

Anonymous said...

Great wrap-up! And I bought On Gold Mountain, too. I should mention that at Book Group Expo the chances of scoring free books is higher. :-D

Deborah said...

looks like you had a blast!!

On Gold Mountain is VERY good! I use it all the time when I do research on Chinese Americans.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

I do look so happy! I'm hoping to get up a post today (it's been a week sheesh!). Did you take a photo of the two of us? The two I have my eyes are closed in both! Would love a copy if you have one.

Luanne said...

How wonderful to attend such a great event and to attend with some great bloggers!

Teddy Rose said...

I'm so glad that you all had such a good time!

Florinda said...

Glad you finally had a chance to recap, Amy - it was quite a weekend! If I had gone back on Sunday, I would have seen you again at the S.E. Hinton/Jane Smiley panel. It was great meeting you, and I hope we do it all again next year!

susan said...

I would have sold my first born to have met Jacqueline Woodson. Clearly, I'm a huge fan. After Tupac is a good read, but maybe not the best introduction to her work. She writes for children, middle grade and YA. I'm on a mission to read her entire body of work and she's very prolific- 22+ titles to her credit. Please stop by my blog. If you'd like to know more about Woodson, I could probably tell you more than you'd like to know. I highly recommend: Feathers, Locomotion, If You Come Softly, The Maizon series and The Dear One.

If you're interested in learning more about YA, you have to read Anderson's Speak. Every teen blogger that hasn't read it, feels lame for not having read it. LHA is huge with teens.

Ti said...

I think it's cool you got to hang out in Jill's suite. I would have loved to myself but I was getting sleepy. Us old folk need our shut-eye. LOL. That pic of Natasha is too cute.

Stephanie said...

So glad you had a great time!! It's funny, because when I think of SE Hinton, of course, The Outsiders is the first thing that pops into my mind. Maybe it's a generation thing, but damn. That book MEANT something to me as a kid. In all actuality I think it's the first book I ever read that really AFFECTED me. It's hard to describe what that book meant to me. I'm so glad to find out she's still writing!!

As for Halse Anderson, I have not yet read Wintergirls. But I have read both Speak and Twisted. FANTASTIC books!!

Again...I'm really glad to hear you had a wonderful weekend!

Jenny Girl said...

How awesome! Glad you had a wonderful time and received some books. Meeting other bloggers is also very cool. So glad it was fun and thank you very much for sharing.

Don Lafferty said...

Good stuff, Amy.

Sometimes I feel like I'd be better off breaking events like that up into multiple articles just 'cause I feel like I have soooooo much to tell the people who couldn't make it.

I'll be sure to check out all your blogger friends too if I'm not already connected.

Thanks for an awesome update.

Meghan said...

I loved The Outsiders. It's so awesome that you got to meet S.E. Hinton. Like I've said on everyone's post - it looks like you had so much fun! I can't wait to go to a book festival myself. =)

Ana S. said...

It sounds like you all had such a great time! I love the pictures. I wish I could have been there!

TexasRed said...

So good to hear about the panels you attended and teasers about upcoming information.

Very jealous that you are within driving distance of such a great gathering. I'll have to fly out to check it out next year (on the upside -- can probably include a visit to the in-laws at the same time).

S. Krishna said...

Sounds like SO much fun! Thanks for the write-up.

Helga Marie Bee said...

looks like you guys had a great time! Thanks for the recap for all of us who did not get to attend!

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