Had a fun but strange day at BEA yesterday. Got there a little after ten to go the panel on Alternate Histories with Scott Westerfeld, Cassandra Clare, and Holly Black, and was nicely surprised to see that someone I work with was moderating it. Then wandered around a bit with Marie, meeting up with a bunch of other YA authors she knows for lunch (where major topics of conversation were DnD alignments, animal sex, and the closing of Donnell). Continued to get a bunch of exciting galleys, and then very randomly ran into an old friend I haven’t seen in years who is in no way involved with books but had been smuggled in by his high school prom date who he’d just gotten back into contact with. He was happy to follow me around for the bulk of the afternoon while we caught up.
But the strangest thing about this year’s BEA is that my job is hardly about books and programming these days, but I did the most “networking” of any year I’ve been. I met and kept running into a publicist who was doing an author program at my branch yesterday, I talked and talked about good kissing scenes (holding up the line for Lips Touch: Three Times to talk to the author and her husband the illustrator about how excited I had become about the book since briefly being introduced to them the day before, it’s all about the tension of not being able to kiss!) And then there was that strange lunch and a really awesome program that I think will come of it.
But really, I’m just excited about the books.
The day started off strong, meeting up with Marie to wait in line to get a copy of Catching Fire (who introduced me to Possibilities of Sainthood author Donna Freitas and said that she is a master of writing first-kiss scenes, which means that maybe I should scoot my copy of that higher up my pile) and snagging Shiver at the same time. Budget cutbacks mean that there isn’t so much stuff at BEA, which is probably for the best because I am easily distracted by shiny things that I do not need in my house, not at all. There are also a lot fewer galleys to go around, but I think the quality of what’s there more than makes up for it. I was hilariously, dorkily organized, but I think at least Marie appreciated it.
I also accidentally gushed at Melissa Marr a little bit, but I did just finish Fragile Eternity, so maybe my excitement was too close to the surface. I think I’ve always managed to keep that tendency in check; even while in the thick of my Nick Hornby love I smiled, thanked him, and moved on.
And, while I obviously love fantasy and the speculative fiction side of sci-fi, I don’t think it was entirely that bias that led to this stack of books, I think it’s a lot of what’s really being pushed for the fall. Though, there are a few adult books and a few realistic fiction books on my list to track down tomorrow.
Is it cheating if I say my favorite part about today was that it was held within walking distance of my house? I never get to experience the smugness of some of my Manhattan friends who always get to enjoy that pleasure (even though I am pretty full of smug-love for my neighborhood), but I certainly took advantage of it today. I took a long lunch (after stealing one of the prepared box lunches) back at my apartment and used the time to intricately plot out my next couple of days. I get better at BEA every time I go, even though every time I go it rains. But! I was very happy that a few of the ARCs I picked up today were on my big master list, and have been checked off and don’t need to be carted home from the Javits Center. I even started one, “Once Was Lost” by Sarah Zarr while I got a pedicure this afternoon. I wish every afternoon was so laid back (not that anything by Sarah Zarr should be characterized as laid back).
Seven books so far, and I was mostly as picky as I think I need to be. A few I knew I wanted to grab, and a few others whose covers or authors or editors seduced me.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow, and think I share enough interests with enough of the people I know who are going that I’ll have partners in crime for a good chunk of the day. It’s a shame that I’m really not doing much YA reader’s advisory these days (and I wish I could forget about the Hacidic mother with a picky 16-year-old at home who won’t read anything with romance, or violence, or fantasy in it) so I can’t even pretend this is for anything other than my own personal interest. Even though now that I’m supervising the Teen Central staff I can still claim a little bit of YA cred for myself.
What have I been reading lately? Well, some adult non-fiction like Danny Meyer’s Setting the Table and Quiverfull, a book about the Christian Patriarchy and Biblical Womanhood movements. And some YA fiction, of course. The real standout of which was Jellicoe Road. I loved it enough that I don’t even hate it for beating Tender Morsels for the Printz. I also read, but don’t think I wrote about, Ink Exchange. And now I’ve just started Fragile Eternity, Mellisa Marr’s third urban faerie book. I also enjoyed Fire, the follow up to Graceling. Though I didn’t want to get married and have babies with it as much. And I just finished Tap and Gown, the last book in the Secret Society Girl Series. But BEA’s this week, and even though everyone is broke and trotting out backlist titles to promote, I’m still looking forward to it. Going to the Editor’s Buzz panels is always a mixed bag, but I’ve found a lot of wonderful books that way that I otherwise would have completely missed. I won’t complain about free books. And hopefully it will get me fully back into the swing of readerly things.
We opened to the public today and the neighborhood’s enthusiasm for it was really cool. After so many weeks getting ready it was strange to finally let people in (it was strange enough once I wasn’t the only library person working there) and have them examine us and take out our books. It remains to be seen if my photo will end up in any of the papers tomorrow, but I did my small part to make it seem like a fun, cool place to hang out.
I’ve sort of been reading lately, I only have one YA book that needs reviewing and I’ve read a few adult, non-fiction books as well. It will be interesting to see how working with and supervising teen librarians will be different than working directly with teens myself, even though I’ll be covering their desk fairly often and even doing a video game program here and there.
*Edited to add:
Because of my hectic new schedule where I’m thinking about work and emailing about work as much from home as from work (I got my very own, not even open yet, branch and I just started on Monday), I am falling behind in my reviews but also reading. Who has the energy? Not me.
Wondrous Strange – Lesley Livingston
I liked this Shakespearean, urban fairy tale. If there’s a sequel I don’t know if I’d care enough to bother, but I did really enjoy it. A few weeks ago, and my memory is horrible.
Avalon High – Meg Cabot
How did I not know about this sooner? Arthur and his court reincarnated as American teenagers is the exact high concept I’m looking for. But it still had all the fun high school romance and angst stuff. Also, I could really relate to Ellie because all she ever wanted to do was float in her pool.
The Wordy Shipmates – Sarah Vowell
This doesn’t really have much YA interest, but I did read it and feel accomplished. Vowell can make nearly everything interesting just because of her infectious enthusiasm, and she almost succeedes here as well. But it’s still the Puritans arguing over the finer points of a religion I am only slightly interested in. I think I got as much from hearing her talk about this book in interviews as I did from reading it.
Violet in Private – Melissa Walker
I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the previous two in the series, but it was still pretty fun. I’m just sick of being teased with the resolution of the same “man vs. himself” plots that have been happening since the first one.
Evermore – Alyson Noel
I didn’t like this book. People who think Edward Cullen is the dreamiest might like this book. ‘Nuff said.
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Tagged arthurian legend, books, cabot, car accident, fairy tale, fantasy, livingston, new york city, noel, nonfiction, puritans, reincarnation, series, vowell, walker, ya
The Running Man – Stephen King
I had seen this recommended as a good readalike for the Hunger Games, that it deals with a lot of the same themes and ideas. Which is absolutely true. I also liked that it would appeal to guys. I found it a little hard to get into, and maybe it was a little ironic that I spent a few afternoons reading it while sipping a glass of wine in a fancy hotel lounge, but ultimately I enjoyed it. Ben Richards is compelling, and his fight-the-man attitude would definitely resonate with teens. And televised blood sport is not all that hard to believe.
The one huge caveat with this book is that the introduction reveals the denouement. You might as well read the last page as read the introduction. Thanks for nothing editors!
(I’m both sick and crazy busy with work stuff that I can’t talk about yet, but am dying to share with the world, and so I’m trying to get any kind of backlog of anything done because if I don’t do it now I’ll never do it. )