Bay Area Book Festival Recap

Alternate Title: Why Are YA Authors The Most Adorable People Ever?


Day 1

  • I was woken up at 6 AM by the exhibitors putting up their booths on my street. Normally I do not react positively to being woken up early, but I figured it was for a good cause, so I didn’t really mind.
  • The first panel I went to was on writing for children. The authors discussed including messages in their books without seeming overly preachy, the fact that children tend to be more open to learning about different experiences than older people, and the necessity of letting characters solve their own problems.
  • I explored the booths a bit–entered raffles, tried some free chocolates, etc.
  • The first author I saw on the YA stage was Amy Spalding. I haven’t read any of her books, but the excerpt she read from Kissing Ted Callahan was funny and adorable and I got a bit of a Stephanie Perkins vibe from it.
  • The Bay Area Book Festival had this BEAUTIFUL thing called the Lacuna Project, which is basically a large tent-shaped structure containing shelves and shelves of free books. For obvious reasons, I spent quite a bit of time there, and picked up some books which I will talk about at the end of the post.
  • Back to the YA stage! Jenny Han was probably the author I was most excited about from the line-up, and she did not disappoint. She talked about how she, too, had written letters to boys she used to love, though hers were a little angrier than Lara Jean’s. She also said PSISLY was definitively the last book she would write about Lara Jean (a decision which I agree with; the series ended in an excellent place) but she has considered the possibility of writing a novella about another character. As I’m writing this recap, I’m realizing I should maybe have taken better notes, because I don’t remember everything, but she was generally pretty awesome. Also, her signing line was SUPER LONG, but very much worth it.
  • Lauren Oliver talked about how her writing developed throughout the years, from her parents giving her writing assignments to the stories recapping actual events in her life that she wrote in middle school to various fanfiction to the two 800-page novels which had no plot whatsoever. She also gave writing advice, the big one being “write every day”. The only Lauren Oliver book I’ve read so far is Delirium, which I didn’t like very much, but my issues with it all had to do with the plot. I think Lauren Oliver’s writing is beautiful, and I can’t wait to read the rest of her books, including Liesl and Po and Before I Fall, both of which I got signed. (Lauren Oliver said that out of all her books, she loved Liesl and Po the most, so I’m especially looking forward to this one.
  • While I was waiting in Lauren Oliver’s line, I heard a little of Frank Portman’s presentation, which consisted of songs that I’m assuming appeared in his books. I read King Dork in middle school and remember absolutely nothing about it, but I have to admit that the songs stirred my interest a little, because it was just so different from all the other presentations, and because the songs themselves were quite funny.

Day 2

  • Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling very well Sunday morning (which probably had something to do with my sitting out in the sun all day and forgetting to eat until like 5 PM–make better life choices than me, kids!) so I didn’t go to Morgan Matson, Virginia Boecker, or Tamara Ireland Stone’s presentations on the YA stage.
  • But I did make it to Tamara Ireland Stone’s signing! I bought a copy of Every Last Word (the only book I spent money on all weekend–YAY SELF CONTROL!) and talked to her for a little bit. She recognized me from an event at Books Inc where we’d previously met and gave me an awesome journal and was generally sweet and wonderful. (For the record, I am reading Every Last Word right now and liking it very much and feeling sort of nostalgic for my high school’s spoken word club.)
  • Tricia Stirling was the last author I saw. Now, as I mentioned before, I’d already made an agreement with myself to only buy one book, but Tricia Stirling made that resolution very difficult. She read a scene from her book, and her writing was lovely and haunting, and her book is about a complicated mother-daughter relationship and a girl struggling with the darkness and the light in her. I managed to resist, but I do plan on reading When My Heart Was Wicked as soon as possible.
  • The last thing on the YA stage was a performance of the book Oakland Tales by a group of high school students. All of the kids had so much energy and enthusiasm, and I loved watching them perform. I also loved the idea of Word for Word, a program which brings books to life in collaboration with high school theater programs.
  • I went back to Lacuna and picked up some books I’d missed the first time and then I went home and screamed in delight a little. This weekend was amazing–I can’t wait for next year.

Book Haul

EXHIBIT A: “Free Books by The Queens of YA/MG Lit? Don’t Mind If I Do!”

  • First Test by Tamora Pierce
  • Page by Tamora Pierce
  • Squire by Tamora Pierce
  • Magic Steps by Tamora Pierce
  • Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce
  • The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
  • Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley
  • Spindle’s End by Robin Mckinley
  • The Changeover by Margaret Mahy
  • Memory by Margaret Mahy
  • Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones

EXHIBIT B: “My Favorite Author Said Something Nice About This Book Once So I Clearly Need to Get It”

  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
  • Raised by Wolves by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • all the books in the above category, especially those by Margaret Mahy

EXHIBIT C: “I Read This Book Years Ago and Liked It, Might As Well”

  • Dreadlocks by Neal Shusterman
  • Rage by Jackie Morse Kessler
  • The Discovery by KA Applegate
  • all the Tamora Pierce books in the above category

EXHIBIT D: “Signed Books, Hell Yes!”

  • P. S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

EXHIBIT E: “The Journal Tamara Ireland Stone Gave Me Because She Is Awesome” 

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