As some of you may know, I attended BookCon in New York for the first time this year. I’d known about it for quite some time now, but what with university, I barely had time to read over the past few years, much less keep up with new releases, so there wasn’t really much motivation. Late in January this year though, I was more or less caught up with the major titles (let’s pretend my gigantic backlist doesn’t exist), and it made more sense to consider attending.
Prior to BookCon, I hadn’t really attended any book related events before. The closest thing was probably when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows released in 2007. Being 11 at the time, I of course didn’t attend the midnight launch party or anything, but I distinctly remember dragging my dad out of the house at 6 in the morning to the closest Borders to grab me a first edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. That copy still holds a place of pride on my shelf today, by the way, but my point being, I didn’t really have much of an idea of what to expect.
After watching dozens of videos and reading an endless number of blog posts, I thought I had a reasonable game plan, and a workable schedule. I kept my expectations low, just testing the waters this year – especially since this was also my first time in New York in more than a decade and I didn’t really want to be running around in an unfamiliar city before dawn. And considering my shoulders were killing me for nearly a week after BookCon from lugging around all those bags full of books, I’d say it was a successful first year.
The first day, I showed up at around 8:30 and on Sunday, just before 8. I wasn’t near the front, but I wasn’t all that far back either, and made it onto the show floor within about two minutes of the first line being let in. And I’m really glad I took my time getting there, because I never would have made it through the entire day had I not paced myself. The crowds were…pretty much what I expected, and once I learned to take the long way around the Simon & Schuster and Penguin booths, I was fine. It did get a bit overwhelming once or twice, but I just found a quiet spot away from the madness to take a breather. Lesson number one I learned was if there is a scheduled event at say 12:00, you need to line up at atleast 11:00 or even 10:00, depending on how popular it is to even stand a chance of making it before the line gets cut off. Once I figured this out, my list got cut down to nearly half the size because I had too many items too close together, and as I was there on my own, I had no one to stand in the lines for me like so many people who came with friends or family seemed to be doing. Still, the often nearly two hour long wait times were worth it, and I managed to get a couple of ARCs I really wanted.
Overall, my experience was a positive one. My schedule might have needed a little more fine tuning, and I did spend a lot of unnecessary time trying to find booths on Saturday, since the maps made no sense to me at all, but I had a couple of major goals for the weekend, and all were accomplished. The ARCs and swag were absolutely amazing of course, but the major reason I wanted to go was to meet my favourite authors. Living in Canada, it’s quite rare that authors come by Toronto for book tours and NYC is usually the closest they come. I was especially excited to have managed to get tickets to meet Cassandra Clare, Sandhya Menon, Victoria Aveyard and Tamsyn Muir – and of course, acted like a complete fangirl while talking to them, but they were all so sweet! And when I was too tired to stand anymore, I checked out a couple of panels which were actually a lot of fun. The Great Book Debate was really interesting and turned out to be quite funny too!
So would I attend again? Absolutely. It was madness and chaos, but my kind of chaos. Just the energy of being in a place with so many other readers, discovering new books and genres – there’s nothing quite like it. It’s far too early to say yet, but if things work out when it comes to scheduling and getting time off, I’m definitely interested in going back next summer.
And to end this post, here’s a list of the books I picked up over the weekend. I kept my purchases to a minimum, only buying the books for the autographing sessions as I had to fly home with rather limited luggage space. I also want to add a special thank you to I Read YA and Scholastic – I was unable to to pick up the ARCs at the event as they ran out, but they were kind enough to ship me the books (international at that), and I nearly screamed when I saw the package in the mail! The ones I’ve already reviewed are linked, but since most of these aren’t out for several months, the reviews will be up closer to the publishing date. Let me know if you’re excited to hear about any of them in particular, as I’m still working my way through this pile.
Mind Games – Shana Silver
Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir
Eclipse the Skies – Maura Milan
The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neill
The Candle and the Flame – Nafiza Azad
Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly
Technically, You Started It – Lana Wood Johnson
I Wish You All The Best – Mason Deaver
The Dark Corners of the Night – Meg Gardiner
The Heartwood Crown – Matt Mikalatos
The Friend Zone – Abby Jimenez
The Last Wolf – Maria Vale
As Good as the First Time – K M Jackson
Crazy Cupid Love – Amanda Heger
Duchess by Design – Maya Rodale
The Duke I Tempted – Scarlett Peckham
The Bittersweet Bride – Vanessa Riley
Wicked & the Wallflower – Sarah MacLean
Chain of Gold – Cassandra Clare
The Beautiful – Renee Ahdieh
Of Curses and Kisses – Sandhya Menon
Call Down the Hawk – Maggie Stiefvater
MacTrump – Ian Doescher & Jacopo de la Quercia
Stepsister – Jennifer Donnelly
The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali – Sabina Khan
The Music of What Happens – Bill Konigsberg
Last of Her Name – Jessica Khoury
Girl Gone Viral – Arvin Ahmadi
Havenfall – Sara Holland
The Evil Queen – Gena Showalter
Have you attended BookCon, either this year or in the past? I’d love to hear about your experiences!