This past weekend, I was able to experience my first major book event in Naperville, Illinois. This was a two-part book event featuring a literature conference on Saturday and a reader-based, fun experience on Sunday. I had so much fun during both days. Since this was my first event like this, I was able to learn so many new ideas and advice along with a broader social network in the book community.
This event was set up by my favorite indie bookstore: Anderson’s Bookshop (located in Naperville with two other new locations in La Grange and Downers Grove). If you are ever in the Chicago area, Anderson’s is such an all-around, great bookstore. They have a wide variety of book genres and bookish items to choose from. I always leave there with fun finds. One of the ways that sets them apart from other indies is that they host events for every type of reader such as conferences, author signings, and workshops for all ages. I have gone to a few author signings there, back when I was in high school, and they are so much fun. I absolutely recommend readers of all types to take a trip to this indie bookshop!
But back to the awesome conference…
The first day was the 12th Annual YA Literature Conference. This event was more focused on the ‘professional’ side, but this event was just as fun as the following day. When my mom and I (yes I went with my wonderful mother who is also an aspiring writer 🙂 ) arrived at the hotel, we were greeted with our name tags and an awesome Anderson’s drawbag and a table packed with bookish goodies. I was able to grab everything from posters to magnets to buttons to chapter samplers. I was able to fill my bag full! Free stuff! Woohoo!
We then proceeded to walk into the main conference room. We were some of the first people to show up so we were able to choose a pretty good seat. Then… it was time: bookstore. I will not tell you how many times I found myself in that room. There were so many books both from the various authors attending the event and a wide variety of randomly chosen bestsellers. Along with the expected books, there was a bunch of t-shirts, tote bags, and buttons with a variety of fun bookish sayings such as “Reading is sexy,” “I Read YA,” or “Fight Evil, Read Books.” By the end of the two days, I left with one tote bag, two shirts, five buttons, and nine books! Needless to say, my bank account was not too happy. *But it was worth it!*
I was not expecting to buy any books at all. The main reason I went on a large book buying spree was because I did not know that all of the authors were free for signings throughout the entire event. Each of the nine books (along with a few I brought on day two) I was able to have signed! This is the first time I have personally gotten a book signed. It was awesome!
More on the actual conference…
On day one we were able to experience more of the professional side of writing and seeing the process of becoming an author from their own points of view. So much inspiration was in that room. You would leave each day just wanting to sit down and start writing your first (or possibly next) book.
There were three break-out sessions where various rooms had a themed discussion with author panels. My mom and I first attended the discussion on world building in dystopian and fantasy-based genres. I learned a lot about their brainstorming techniques and how they come about putting their ideas down on paper. The second round we attended the discussion of how magic is used in realistic fiction and the ways they can be combined or separated. There was a final break-out round after lunch that day but the bookstore took a little longer than expected so we slipped back into the world building discussion which was being held in the main room. I enjoyed hearing the experiences all of the writers had whether it involved their books specifically or just their writing techniques. There were also keynote speakers that gave such great advice and inspiration as well. You felt so empowered when you left the first day. If you are an aspiring writer, this day would be a terrific and insightful experience for the next year to come.
The 3rd Annual YA Fandom Frenzy on Sunday was more of the ‘fun’ day. I can’t tell you how many times I could not stop laughing. We were lucky enough to be the very first people to walk into the door which meant that we were able to have first pick in where to sit. This was awesome because the first thing we noticed was that each table had a featured author. Very recently I came to the realization that I had gained a new favorite author after finishing Shadow and Bone. I knew Leigh Bardugo was going to be in attendance, but little did I ever think that I would be sitting next to her for the ENTIRE event! I was so excited when I saw her name up by the corner of the room. EEK! 🙂
There were so many wonderful, great authors at the event, but I felt so lucky to be able to hang out with Leigh Bardugo. In the short day that I spent listening and talking to her, I learned so much about gaining the confidence and gaining the knowledge and process of bringing a book into the publishing world. Such a wonderful experience.
Not only were there discussions, there was also SO MUCH FUN! Everyone was engaged in the bookish trivia. Seeing the authors react to each other showed just how tight and friendly the bookish community is whether it is with fellow readers, authors, publishers, or anyone in between. There is such a bond between everyone even if you had no idea who anyone was, and I was able get to have the chance to experience the openness just from one day of the YA Fandom Frenzy.
The entire weekend is something that I would highlyrecommend to EVERYONE! I saw aspiring writers, published writers, soon-to-be-published authors, readers, bloggers, and librarians soaking up every aspect like it was air. By attending this event I learned so much as a writer and reader that will forever impact me. If you have an opportunity like this in your area, you NEED to experience it for yourself. You will discover authors, books, topics, and friendships that you may have never known otherwise.
Authors that attended the event included:
- Marie Lu
- Leigh Bardugo
- James Dashner (Hilarious! 🙂 )
- Katherine Howe (Amazing historian)
- David Leviathan
- Ally Carter
- Renee Ahdieh
…and many many more!
Want to know more about Anderson’s Bookshop?
123 West Jefferson
Naperville, IL 60540
Mon – Sat: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sun: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
If you have any further questions regarding the event or anything in this post please feel free to leave a comment below! I’d be more than happy to answer them J
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