#BEA13: My Feet Still Really Hurt

This was my first ever visit to BookExpo America and I really enjoyed my time there. First of all, it was nice to go to a big library/literary event that was only a subway ride away. I got to listen to authors and librarians talk about books and writing and Tumblr, wander around the booths, and see library buddies without having to hop on a plane or empty my bank account. Second, I knew that I was going to get to hear Rainbow Rowell and Sara Farizan talk and my pathetic little librarian heart was beating like a little over-caffeinated hummingbird in my chest. It was an awesome day, but yo, my dogs are killing me. I wore sensible shoes and everything, but the floor of the Jacob Javitz Center was unkind to my old, brittle librarian joints.

First, I headed off to the panel I was most excited about: Young Adult Buzz Authors. There, I listened to five extremely talented young YA authors talk about their latest books.

This is an awful picture. Sorry. Don't hate me. From the left is Sara Farizan (in the red blazer),  Cristin Terrill,  Anna Jarzab, Amy Rose Capetta (who I must say is the most delightful looking elfin creature I've ever seen), and Rainbow Rowell.
This is an awful picture. Sorry. Don’t hate me. From the left is Sara Farizan (in the red blazer), Cristin Terrill, Anna Jarzab, Amy Rose Capetta (who I must say is the most delightful looking elfin creature I’ve ever seen), and Rainbow Rowell.

As you know, I was super excited to listen to Sara Farizan read from If You Could Be Mine and Rainbow Rowell read from Fangirl (which I waited on line for almost an hour to get an ARC of, but it was TOTALLY worth it and I can’t wait to read it as Eleanor and Park rocked my literary universe). Before Sara read from If You Could Be Mine, she said, “It’s not meant to offend. It may offend, but that’s OK.” I got absolute chills. It was so meaningful to hear the author herself read aloud from this book that I adore so much. In case you wondered, Sara has great hair:

Can you see how I'm kvelling? I'm kvelling.
Can you see how I’m kvelling? I’m kvelling.

Rainbow Rowell is far too charming in real life, just like you knew she would be. Fangirl deals with the world of fan fiction. She said that if she knew of fan fic when she was a teen, she would have written Wham/X-men fic. I die. She’s like the best friend you always wish you had.

It's kind of apt that her book is called Fangirl, because she's in the presence of her like biggest Fangirl ever. Also, her nails match her book cover.
It’s kind of apt that her book is called Fangirl, because she’s in the presence of her like biggest Fangirl ever. Also, her nails match her book cover.

Kind of on a whim, I attended a panel called Libraries+Tumblr=Connecting Readers+Writers. I’m super glad I went. It gave me a new plan of attack for Libraries Changed My Life. U GUISE, I think I have been Tumblr-ing wrong. Also, I need to think about how having a Tumblr for my library would work. We’ve all read that teens and tweens are leaving Facebook in droves, or not joining at all. In fact, my notes from this panel said: “Fuck Facebook, Facebook is for olds.” So, you know. Keep that in mind when thinking about social networking and tweens/teens.

Next, I went to a Writing Genre for Boys panel that I felt kind of iffy about, but I left the talk feeling like I really learned something. I was hesitant because I have very mixed feelings about stereotyping what people like to read based on their gender, but at the same time, I’ve been taught in library school that getting boys to read is very difficult (though I’ve never really known that to be the case). I even asked a question about whether the authors had conflicted feelings about gender stereotyping and if they thought it was important to break out of the gender binary (I asked the question in a really convoluted manner, insisting that “girls like fart jokes, too!”). I was glad to hear that panel speakers Jon Scieszka, Jack Gantos (who is really a dapper dresser. I had no idea), and Christopher Krovatin had similar thoughts. Scieszka mentioned that many boys aren’t reluctant readers, but are just typically really picky (and aren’t we all really picky readers? Who wants literature thrust upon you? We all want to be in control of our own reading choices). One of the speakers said that we need to consider more types of materials as valid reading choices, whether they are comic books or Mad magazine. In fact, Jack Gantos talked about having to hide his Classics Illustrated magazines from his mom “like they were child porn”, because she called them “moron books”. And he grew up to be freaking Jack Gantos. So let your kids read comics, alright?

Writing Genre for Boys panel.
Writing Genre for Boys panel.

When asked how to gets boys to read, Jon Scieszka offered great advice: Let them make a choice. Let them be a part of that choice. I think that’s just important for librarians, teachers, and parents to be reminded of in general. Children and teens need to be present when choosing the literature they read. It’s nice and all to pick books for them, but I think more kids need to wander the stacks and find things they are personally invested in reading. We need to be supportive of whatever that choice is. Scieszka also talked about how we need more positive role models for boy readers, that is, more men reading publicly.

I made a point of not bringing home too many books from BEA, considering that I should be concentrating on Rainbow List-ing and not acquiring more titles to plague my tiny apartment. I went from booth to booth seeking LGBTQ titles, and it was very depressing to hear that most publishers didn’t have any (or maybe they didn’t know what LGBTQ was? I’m not sure). My little gay book search was pretty discouraging.

Ooh, but I met a librarian with a similar affliction to mine! Remember when I talked about how patrons always think I look like that blonde chick from Criminal Minds? Mamaroneck librarian Emma Caywood has the SAME PROBLEM! What are the odds?

We should form a support group.
We should form a support group.

Do you go to BEA? See something totally incredible that I missed out on? Let me know!

~Love and Libraries, Ingrid

10 thoughts on “#BEA13: My Feet Still Really Hurt

    1. I hope she wasn’t creeped out by my extra-enthusiasm.
      I can’t wait to read Fangirl, and since it’s forbidden non-Rainbow List reading (isn’t weird that Rainbow Rowell isn’t on the Rainbow List?), it’s extra sweet.

  1. Erica Findley

    Thanks for making the point about including young readers in choosing what to read. I’m not a boy, but I think this is what got me started. In my elementary school library the librarian pointed me to the Sci-fi and basically said ‘I think you’ll like those. Take whichever one you want.’ That got me really excited and I think instilled in me this motivation to read what I picked and keep coming back for new stuff.

    1. “Take whatever you want” is the best readers advisory ever. And this just proves it’s not a boy/girl/trans* thing. We all want to be in charge of our reading materials. Reading is personal!

  2. I had the same problem finding good Spanish novels for teens…. I did talk to some publishers so that’s a plus…

    Red Green was one of my favorite author signings. 🙂
    Though as I was getting a copy of James Dashner’s new book for my former boss I told him that my boss was a communist when he said he must be an awesome boss…. I got a great pic of him laughing at that.

  3. The few times I even got the chance to actually talk to someone, they just shrugged their shoulders and said, “ummm…” when I asked about the queer books or books with diverse characters. Very disappointing.

    Would love to hear more about the Tumblr event! I couldn’t will myself to go back on Friday so I missed it, but was hoping I could find a recap.

    1. I mean, I guess I was ignoring the social media aspect of Tumblr and was just using it as a blogging platform. Someone from the panel said they’d put up the PowerPoint presentation. (Wait, here it is!)

      I’d love to see more publishers embrace books that speak to the LGBTQ experience and LGBTQ POC. Get on it, people!

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