I’d been mulling over the idea of attending the ALA annual conference since January, when I found out it was going to be at the Anaheim Convention Center! I had pretty much decided I could not go, though, since I would have barely been back from my 6 weeks in Europe by the time it was time to pack up again and drive to California. My decision to just go for it came totally last minute, and was completely spontaneous! I’m so, SO glad I decided to go, though, because it was seriously one of the highlights of my life thus far.
My mom and I decided to road trip it, and have a fun little vacation around the conference. My birthday was on the 22nd, so we thought it would be a great way to celebrate! We left home on the morning of the 21st, and drove to Las Vegas to stay in Bally’s before waking up on the 22nd and driving the rest of the way to Anaheim to make it in time for the grand opening of the exhibition floor at 5:30. We were going to make it with hours to spare, but due to the major chemical spill on I-15, we were delayed for 2 hours and I ended up being about 20 minutes late to the conference. I rushed in and immediately met Magan from Rather be Reading, who I just love. I also met her two roommates, Jennifer from Novel Thoughts and Christin from Portrait of a Book. Her other room mate (Lena from Addicted 2 Novels) flew in later that night. We spent the evening meeting publishers, authors, other bloggers, and finding awesome reads! After the conference, my mom and I went to BJ’s in Huntington Beach for a birthday dinner. We totally pigged out on yummy foods, and I even got a candle in my pizookie. Then we went back to the hotel, and I completely crashed.
I woke up the next morning to find out my mom had been throwing up all night from the shrimp dinner she got at BJ’s the night before. Ugh! I was so sad for her. Luckily Magan was sweet enough to come get me from my hotel so my mom could keep the car in case she needed to go get anything throughout the day. Thanks, Magan!
The rest of my time at ALA was like this (haha): woke up super early, stood in line outside the exhibit doors before they opened, either stood in signing lines or constantly walked from booth to booth meeting people and getting amazing books, being completely weighed down by said books, meeting reps, pubs, authors, and bloggers, getting completely exhausted and weighed down, and having an amazingly awesome time for the entire weekend. Seriously, I loved everything, and was even ok going on very little sleep.
Awesome bloggers I met:
Magan from Rather be Reading
Christin from Portrait of a Book
Jennifer from Novel Thoughts
Lena from Addicted 2 Novels
Jen and Espe from Late Bloomer Online
Georgia from Eve’s Fan Garden
H.D. from Reading Writing Breathing
Katie from Katie’s Book Blog
Lauren from 365 Days of Reading
Liz from Consumed by Books
Lisa from A Life Bound by Books
And… SO MANY MORE! I’m so sorry if I forgot to add you to my list. ALA is such a huge blur of amazingness, and I can’t remember all the wonderful people I met!
Amazing authors I met:
Tahereh Mafi, Rae Carson, Rachel DeWoskin, Stacy Bierlein, Jessi Kirby, Nick James, Janet Gurtler, Attica Locke, Leigh Bardugo (again!), Deb Caletti, Talia Vance, Alexandra Bracken, Dan Kronos, Marlene Perez, Kinsey Leavitt, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu, Laini Taylor, Lex Hrabe, Thomas Voorhies, Katherine Grace Bond, Miranda Kenneally, Katherine Applegate, Michael Grant, Marissa Meyer (again!), Gennifer Albin, Tamara Ireland Stone, Lisa Schroeder, Malinda Lo, Rachel Cohn, Jessica Khoury, Kami Garcia, and Morgan Matson.
Can I just say how awesome, nice, and likeable authors in general are? I had so much fun talking to all of them! I also met my favorite Macmillan person, Ksenia, who was so sweet. We spent a lot of time discussing books and life. I met Ms. Feiwel of Feiwel & Friends (an imprint of Macmillan), which was so cool! She’s super nice. And I met great people at Simon and Schuster, Penguin, Capstone, Random House, Scholastic, Little Brown, Harper Collins, and more! Bookish people are the best. It was so much fun standing in line and talking books with librarians, library pages, bloggers, authors, and publishers. The final attendance number was 20,134 people! OH MAN! I have never been in a room with so many book lovers!
- Walking onto the exhibit floor for the first time. It was so huge, and there was so much to look at! I was in book heaven.
- Meeting Magan, who I have been wanting to meet since I started chatting with her on Twitter months ago. And adoring her as much as I thought I would.
- Picking up my very first book, and feeling like I was stealing it.
- Meeting my Arizona gals (Jen, Espe, and Georgia) and walking around laughing, sweating, and discussing being book drunk.
- Georgia worrying that her glued-together flip flops might not make it through the day.
- Standing in Tahereh Mafi’s signing line and getting the 19th ARC, when they only had 60 total to hand out.
- When I found Ksenia, she knew who I was immediately, and was so excited to see me that she gave me a huge hug!
- When I met Leigh Bardugo again, and she remembered me as “the eyelash girl” and then hugged me. (and gave me nail polish!)
- Walking down the rows of booths and hearing, “I remember That Artsy Reader Girl!”
- Finding out people have heard of my blog. I swear, I feel like I’m in my own little world here on the blog sometimes. It’s nice to know my thoughts are reaching others!
- Watching H.D. (Reading, Writing, Breathing) do warm-ups and stretches in line before the exhibit doors opened. He had a specific book in mind, and just HAD to get it. Watching him power walk to Harper made me die laughing.
- Talking to a librarian from Mississippi about how hot it was in the convention center, and watching her wipe sweat of her face before saying in her Southern drawl, “It’s like ‘nawlins in here!” (Nawlins = New Orleans) I used to live in Louisiana, so I know what that feels like!
- Going up to one of the ladies at Harper, asking if they had Hidden by Sophie Jordan, and watching her smile before finding it in a cabinet for me! AHHH! So excited to read this one!
- Talking about books like they were drugs: “Hey, do you have this book?” “Yeah, a few… but don’t tell anyone.” There was so much whispering and subtle book exchanges going on. It really felt like we were dealing drugs! HAHA!
- Getting the last copy of Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Boys.
- Almost tripping on the carpet as I went from one booth to another (some booths had thicker, cushionier carpet, so the differing ground levels made me trip!).
- The last day, when pubs were giving away finished copies of books they had on display that I really wanted… and the nice guy at Harlequin who gave me my picks early because I wanted them so badly, and did not want someone else to get them first.
- Sitting in hour-long signing lines to get a book I really wanted and meet that author, making me realize I love reading more than I thought I did!
- Going back to the hotel completely dead tired and worn out, sleeping harder than I ever have, and waking up with SO much energy to go out again!
- The convention center was so hot for most of the weekend that people were dripping sweat, and their hair was wet. On the last day, they must have figured out the AC, because it was SO cold, and a lot of the pubs and reps were wearing jackets.
- Seeing Molly Ringwald!
- Smacking into so many people with my bags, apologizing profusely, and having them smile at me and say, “Oh, don’t worry. I’ve been to BEA, so I’m way used to this.” They were so nice!
- Speaking with humble authors who got teary when you told them how much you loved their book(s).
- Being in one room with thousands of bookish people like me, with so many people to talk to. We all had so much in common, and had read all the same books!
And here are a bunch of pictures I took of the exhibit floor!
These aisles had all the books! We sat here in the lobby every morning to line up for the doors to open.
(I did not take this photo. Credit goes here.)
I really had so much fun, met so many wonderful people, and came home with a TON of really exciting books! I’d like to thank all of the publishers for being so generous. I really had no idea what to expect when I signed up for ALA, but they were all so nice and always ready to recommend a book they thought I would love. I met some friends, and made quite a few new ones. Bookish people really are among the nicest in the world, and I was sad to leave such a huge book club and come home to real life. I’m already saving my pennies for ALA 2013 in Chicago! Check back for my ALA Book Haul post! I’ve had many requests for a vlog, so be expecting one soon!