I know I was very quiet on the interwebs this weekend, but for good reason: I was attending the LA Festival of Books both Saturday and Sunday! It was my first time in LA, and the whole experience was on a far bigger scale than I had imagined, but after I got over the slightly overwhelming atmosphere, I had a fantastic time! I had so much fun, and visited so many different booths and panels, that I’ll actually be splitting my recap posts into three parts! And now we begin with…
Saturday I went with Veronica, and after we fought about three hours of traffic, we finally found a parking spot and made our way into the USC campus. We were a bit later than we had anticipated, so we headed straight to our first panel, Young Adult Fiction: Testing the Boundaries. We ended up being first in line, and waited about an hour before we were let in – snagging some excellent third row seating!
Our moderator was Aaron Hartzler (HILARIOUS, by the way – and he kept the whole mood of the panel very lighthearted and intimate), and the authors on the panel were E. Lockhart, Rainbow Rowell, Andrew Smith, and John Corey Whaley.
At first I had attended the panel just for Rowell, but then I read We Were Liars on Friday, and I could not wait to hear Lockhart talk about her book! Of course, she wasn’t able to say too much, but it was nice to be able to know what she was referring to at all the different parts, and it gave me a different perspective on the book too. I’ll admit right now that I wasn’t interested in Smith’s books before, and I’m still sure I won’t be reading them in the foreseeable future. However, I hadn’t heard of Whaley before, but now I would totally read his book after hearing him talk about it!
The entire hour was very relaxed, and all the authors were very comfortable with each other and with the crowd. We were laughing the entire time, but at the same time the authors had fantastic things to say about how each of their book pushes boundaries, whether it’s social class and interracial love (Lockhart), college kids and fandom (Rowell), horny grasshoppers (Smith), or cryogenically frozen heads (Whaley). Another common theme: they wrote the books that challenged themselves, whether in topic or style, and they weren’t writing for YA – they were writing for whoever wanted to read their book; it just so happened that they had young protagonists.
After the panel, Veronica and I ran over the signing area, and waited almost two hours in Rowell’s line! It was hot, and we were starving, but we finally made it to the front, and it was totally worth it!
Our next panels weren’t until 4:30 (I was going to the Tahereh Mafi panel, and Veronica was attending the Lauren Oliver panel), so we took our time and satisfied our physical needs before anything else. Which means… FOOD!!! They had brought in a bunch of food trucks, but most of the lines were super long, so we ended up picking the shortest line. And that ended up with us paying $10 for a cup of noodles with some veggies and chicken – very yummy, actually. I was also very glad that I had brought extra cash! With blood sugar returning to normal levels, we stopped being so grumpy and spent the next hour or so wandering around all the booths and stages. My personal favorite was the Mysterious Galaxy tent, where I found a signed copy of Dreams of Gods and Monsters! I had to skip her panel that was later in the day, since I was going to Mafi’s panel and signing, so OF COURSE I couldn’t say no to buying it 😉
Veronica and I had to split up after that, so I headed over to my next panel, Young Adult Fiction: It’s the End of the World as We Know It, with moderator Cecil Castellucci, and authors Tahereh Mafi, T. Cooper, and Lydia Millet. Now, to be honest, I didn’t totally enjoy this panel. Castellucci had a bit of a hard time with some questions for the authors, and it seemed like the authors didn’t know each other all that well. But, while the first 30 minutes were a bit rough, things really started picking up after they opened up the mic for audience questions. After Cooper flubbed an answer and mispronounced several words, he finally said, “My last meal was a vegan, gluten-free waffle, and I’m f***ing hungry!” It completely lightened the mood, and I could feel the entire room relax.
Another note: I totally hate audiobooks (you all know that by now), but when Mafi read an excerpt from Shatter Me… oh my god. There are no words for how stunning her reading voice is – I would buy every single audiobook if she narrated them! And I actually told her just that, when I saw her later at her signing!
So I had only brought my copy of Ignite Me, since I didn’t know there WAS a signing, but while I was in line there was a vendor one tent over, so I bought a copy of Unravel Me (since I don’t have a finished copy, just an ARC) and had that signed too.
And that was my first day! It wasn’t horribly busy, but it was nice so that I had time to adjust and figure out what was going on. But I had a blast, and even though I didn’t get home till 11, it was totally worth it! This was my final stack:
PS: come back tomorrow for my recap of Sunday!