This past weekend was my first Bookcon. Going into it, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I mean, I knew from talking to one of my friends from grad school that there were ARCs to get, books to have signed, authors to meet and fangirl over, and a ton of people. It sounded a lot like the Supernatural convention I attended two summers ago and like a more intense, more readership-oriented AWP. So, I was prepared, but perhaps not prepared enough.
The original plan was to get up at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday morning because the commute from our Airbnb in Brooklyn was roughly an hour away. We had taken the midnight bus into NYC and arrived around seven in the morning on Friday. That left us cranky, exhausted, and somehow jet-lagged, so I slept in on Saturday. It was maybe a mistake because I missed out on V.E. Schwab signing tickets, but I wound up with a King of Scars sampler. I mean, it’s not an ARC (I would have died right then and there because the Six of Crows duology is my favorite series period. And Crooked Kingdom is my favorite book.)
I knew there would be a lot of people, but when we were waiting in line outside of the Fierce Reads fan experience booth, I didn’t realize just how many people were there. How many people had come all the way to NYC to see their favorite authors, to attend panels, to snag an ARC or twelve, to fangirl in the lobby, to cry at The Hate U Give panel with Angie Thomas, Amandla Stenberg, Sabrina Carpenter, and director, George Tillman Jr. IT WAS INSANE. Like, it took all I had not to sob during that panel because Angie Thomas is legit the sweetest, kindest, most passionate human being I have ever met.
There was just so much to do at Bookcon–like spin wheels to win prizes, camping out in front of the Penguin Random House booth when they dropped that 2019 Spring ARC and had to call in security–that it was almost overwhelming. But I was there on a mission–to get an ARC of What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera–so I knew what my goals for the weekend was. I went in with a group of friends, but didn’t see most of them throughout the conference.
One of my favorite parts of the conference was getting to meet all of the authors. That morning, my friend and I waited in line at the Fierce Reads booth and managed to snag tickets to play the Plinko game for ARCs. She walked off with the one I was dying to get, and I got Heidi Heilig’s upcoming For a Muse of Fire. After that, we had an awesome experience where there were five authors and they sat us at tables. For eight minutes at a time, one author would sit with us, answer questions, sign books and take pictures. So, in an hour, I got to meet and chat with Adam Silvera (whose History is All You Left Me was such a comfort source for me while writing my own novel about grief), Angie Thomas, Becky Albertalli, Julie Kagawa, and Soman Chainani.
Later on, I had a signing with Marie Lu and nearly cried when I got that Wildcard sampler. Like, I need to get back into Emika’s world ASAP. But she was so kind and listened to me babble on and on. I also somehow managed to squeeze in getting one of Nova Ren Suma’s ARCs, as well as Adele Griffin’s.
At the end of the day, we attended the Booksplosion panel. It wasn’t until grad school that I was introduced to the Booktube community, but once I started watching, I was obsessed. Christine, Jesse, and Kat are so cool, and I’ve always just loved the way they talk about books. Their panel was interactive and they are somehow even funnier in person.
Then there was an event outside of Bookcon, but one of my best friends is obsessed with thriller novels. Ruth Ware just so happened to be doing a signing at the Barnes & Noble in Eastchester, so after the already extremely long day at Bookcon, we took an Uber an hour out of the city to her event. We didn’t make it in time to hear her talk, but we got to talk to her and have our books signed. There’s just something about watching someone else meet their favorite author that makes me appreciate the literary community even more. I was an emotional wreck pretty much all weekend.
The final day of Bookcon came with a hint of sadness. It went by so quickly.
I met Tomi Adeyemi in the morning. It was one of the first things I did besides spin the wheel at Owlcrate and get tickets to play Plinko to win another ARC. She was so amazing. Like words cannot describe how much I loved Children of Blood and Bone, how that book took me out of my reading slump and then put me back in it because pretty much nothing can live up to it right now. I can’t say this enough because every author I talked to was genuinely happy to be at Bookcon, to sign books, to talk to fans, to let them get emotional when they said how much their books meant to them. And that’s pretty much why I love the YA community so much.
After that, my friend and I just happened to be told by an Ampersand booth worker (shoutout to that lady, she was the real hero of my day) that Veronica Roth was doing a signing. We got tickets, and even though I had no idea how to tell her how much her books helped me, it was an awesome experience. And an excuse to buy The Fates Divided.
The afternoon was devoted to Becky Albertalli, who I may or may not have teared up in front of. I loved Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, but Leah on the Offbeat outdid my expectations. I devoured it in a few hours. It made me laugh, it made me so happy to see Simon happy, to get in Leah’s head, but it also did important things: it made me comfortable, it reminded me of myself. I’ve never related to a character like I did Leah, and when I told Becky that, I honestly thought I was going to lose it. Because Leah is so real. She is flawed, but she is human. She is scared, but she is brave. She is angry and emotional, but she is still lovable. And those were things that really resonated with me. If only I could’ve been this eloquent while talking to her, GOSH. I mostly just blubbered and felt uncomfortable, but it was such a day.
I know this post–like always–is insanely long. But I had to share with you all this incredible experience. I can’t believe I have to wait a whole year for this weekend again.
- The Fates Divided by Veronica Roth (signed)
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera (signed)
A Room Away from the Wolves (ARC) by Nova Ren Suma (signed)
Tell Me No Lies (ARC) by Adele Griffin (signed)
The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli (won at the Owlcrate wheel, gave to friend, and repurchased for the signing)
Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (pre-owned but now signed)
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (pre-owned but now signed)
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (free gift at Harper Collins)
The Reckless Club (ARC) by Beth Vrabel (middle-grade novel handed out)
For a Muse of Fire (ARC) by Heidi Heilig (won at Epic Reads)
Legends by Marie Lu (signed)
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (pre-owned but signed)
Warcross by Marie Lu (pre-owned but signed)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (had to buy again bc I lost my original copy but now signed)
Broken Things (ARC) by Lauren Oliver (won at Epic Reads)