Adventures at BEA in a Small Nutshell

Is it possible to cram this huge experience into a nutshell?

Highlights of Book Expo America

    Whether you want to admit it or not, words are inherently limited compared to the full emotional capacity of your thoughts. Then again, the best writers have the ability to deceive you into thinking otherwise. For example, Shakespeare causes you to have what many call a “numinous” experiences, which literally means that transcendent moment when your mind departs from its superficial hold on reality, and goes beyond it. BEA was a celebration of the accomplished league of writers who write books that have this devastating ability to leave us speechless or transport us somewhere beyond the words on the page. Its hard for me to take what was such a rich experience, and grind it down to something simpler. How can I do what these writers did when trying to convey the stellar awesomeness that pervaded the air of BookExpo America? (Yes, that sounds very absurd to people who aren’t bibliophiles). What is the secret behind the intoxicating sensation of being in BEA? Its akin to that same rich experience of reading an engrossing novel. Once you’re done, and you’re left staring at the walls of your bare white walls of your boring mundane life; you wish that you had another wonderful novel to lead you on another wild adventure once again. Much like a novel, BookExpo America was fleeting For the two rather successful days I was there though, it was very mesmerizing, and very educational. I might not be able to completely articulate my experience, but I’ll try nonetheless.
Picture with Erin Morgenstern, author of the recently released Night Circus.

Random House Booth&Power Reader Breakfast

        Over the course of two days, I repeatedly returned to Random House‘s stand because they hosted many great signings during BEA this year. Last year, I was able to meet Chuck Palaniuk at this same stand. The stand this year in particular seemed to be even better than last year; a few of the author among the litany of other well-known writers that appeared at this stand that I met were Erin Morgenstern (author of Night Circus), Chris Bojahlian (author of  the upcoming release:Sand Castle),  and Justin Cronin (author of The Passage  and  its upcoming sequel: The Twelve). While the longs were pretty long for both Erin Morgenstern and Justin Cronin,  the lines moved speedily, and I still was able to have some small coherent conversations with the writers when meeting either three of them. The most impressive thing about Justin Cronin’s signing was that I got both the upcoming second book in his vampire horror series, along with the previous installment in the series. Since I had never read his books before but have seen them mentioned everywhere on horror fiction blogs and forums, I was really stoked about reading the novels because they looked like they were the alternative to the latest trend of romantic, brooding vampires. By the way, I love these sorts of vampires, but its also nice to be reminded of their other dimensions as well.

                     About the breakfast itself, I had a fantastic time there and I felt a little pampered. The event itself took place early in the morning and at the Random House publishing house itself. In the foyer of this building, I felt transported to another world, as I stared at the shelves of book fancifully displayed along both walls. On these shelves, I spotted an old hardcover edition of Interview with the Vampire,and copy of The Wolf Gift. Getting to the breakfast itself involved taking an elevator with all the other bloggers who had gathered for the breakfast. Entering the lavishly decorated room with weird spiked balls hanging on the far reaches of the room, I was stunned by the  exciting sight of  a little espresso bar in the middle and the table that featured an array of very good breakfast foods. During the whole of the event, I conversed with bloggers, people who worked for Random House, and several writers whose books were recently released by Random House. Everything was remarkably casual, and I think the other bloggers attending were just as overwhelmed in a very good way. Many of the writers in attendance wrote for The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and even The Daily Show.  There was also an inspiring speech about the power that bloggers have to encourage people to read. One of the writers,Charles Duhigg (writer of The Power of Habit), wrote a novel about the psychological components of habits and intriguingly spoke about the neuroscience of habits that are explored in more detail his novel. Of course, the event ended with a bag of complimentary books from the publisher, but the experience itself yesterday morning at the Power Reader Breakfast was the most rewarding part.

Shadow Mountain  Booth  at BEA


     Whenever the In-booth signings at the stands of the major publishing houses became too crowded, I always wandered back to the Shadow Mountain booth. In the past, I have read Brandon Mull’s Fablehaven, which they are responsible for publishing. I always liked the colorful cover designs of those books. From the other books that I received from the Shadow Mountain stand, the covers were just as flashy, and detailed. While many readers scoff sometimes about their noble endeavor to “not judge a book on its cover,” I think cover design has an unconscious effect on us. I certainly find myself paying more attention to books with appealing covers over those with uninteresting ones. Of course, some of my favorite books have very boring covers. Luckily, the quality of Brandon Mull’s writing was just as excellent as the covers for his books.Another thing I like about this publisher was the fact that a lot of their novels were bursting with creativity, such a series of books about the under-appreciated Janitors. These books remind me of Brandon Sanderson’s witty children’s books about the villainous librarians (weirdly called Alcatraz). Anyways, I’m very excited to hopefully feature some of these books in the coming months on my blog.


Mountain of ARCS

         Instead of going through a detailed list of the books that I received, I’ll just state here that I received many ARCs, and more of them this year are much more pertinent to the types of books I specifically review on this blog. I don’t have enough energy to completely go through all the books and give them the attention that some of them deserve. In the coming months, I hopefully will review some of these books. I’ve been aspiring to involve several more reviews on here, and write more condensed reviews. I think that might be great improvement, compared with some of the lengthy, rather verbose reviews that normally are  featured here. In June, I am going to strive to experiment with different forms of reviews and try to find a much more effective way of writing them.

Fellow Bloggers

    Sadly, I lost my ID badge with several business cards from other bloggers that I met over the last two days. Its a shame because I really want to acknowledge the existence of these people’s blogs on here. I think my greatest lesson from this year’s BookExpo America was that blogging is not a private activity, and other bloggers should not be viewed as competitors. I think a lot of bloggers, including myself, forget that book blogging is not inherently a competitive activity. We are not going to be rewarded the Book Blogging equivalent of the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. We’re here to share our love of books over the internet, and I think this year was the year that I acknowledged that my blog has been failing to mention other bloggers or trying to reach out to other book bloggers in the blogging community. In June, I have made it my goal to do just that: connect with other bloggers. I’m thinking of doing a post to show off blogs that I really like, which are not necessarily just scifi/fantasy blogs, because just focusing on those blogs is just another way of building another wall around my blog. 

Pigeons at the Train Station

       It sounds unexpected, and even could be  the premise of lunacy, but there was a pigeon fluttering around the Amtrak Lounge at Penn Station yesterday. If anything, this pigeon might have been a pathetically hilarious sight, but it also reminded me to not take everything so seriously. Doesn’t the word levity suggest lightness? Well, the bird was certainly metaphorically lightening my mood after a very tiring day. I wasn’t miserable, or simpering by any means. I had a highly memorable experience, but your weary body is going to force yourself to feel rather cranky. That is the body’s way of alerting you to its exhaustion. I thank the pigeon trapped in the Amtrak Lounge for reminding me that life inevitably has its frustrations and growing pains. We might very well feel trapped just like the pigeon, aimlessly gliding around the Amtrak lounge. Sometimes my blog work feels a bit trapped and sterile, but at the same time I need to write in a way that isn’t always exceedingly serious, but something that has an ounce of humor. Thank you once again to this pigeon for making me smile and laugh, while my sore body waited for my train home!

Be on the Lookout for more updates tomorrow!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    You lost your pile of business cards? That's horrible. And yes, that's the part of your post that stuck out to me.It was great meeting you, by the way. Did you ever find Esther? You weren't the only one wandering around looking for her? We saw several more people doing it.By the way, did you know your captcha's on?


  2. Justin B. says:

    Hi! I do remember you!Yes, it was pretty horrible to lose my business cards because there were so many blogs I wanted to check out once I got home. There are probably a few cards though floating around in my bag. No, I never did find Esther, and even notified people at Macmillan that she was an impossible find. I'm glad I wasn't the only one wandering around in search of her.Yes, I'm aware captcha's on, and I might get rid of it. I still will moderate comments because of spam issues in the past.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s