Last weekend was ALA Annual, and what a whirlwind it was!
This was my first experience with ALA, so I had no idea what to expect. My blogger friends who have been to BEA, ALA Midwinter and ALA Annual told me that ALA Annual is somewhere in between the other two: unlike Midwinter, there are lots of author signings, which makes for lines and a bit of craziness—but it’s still not nearly as hectic or crowded as BEA.
I found myself feeling relatively laid-back about the conference because there were only a handful of books that I felt like I absolutely had to have (and I got them). My mom was with me too (as she always is at pretty much every book event I go to), which meant that I could occasionally be in two places at once. (Thanks, Mom—you’re the best!) I still wasn’t good about going to the panels and such that they had set up on the stages, though—I kept forgetting to look at that schedule and then I’d realize after the fact that I’d missed something I really wanted to see. Sigh. One of these days, I’ll get it figured out.
Dinner with Awesome Bloggers
The best part of ALA was that I got to hang out with some of my blogger friends a bit. My mom and I went out to dinner with several (I’m listing them from the pic from left to right, back to front): Katie @ Katie’s Book Blog, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight, Michelle @ Pink Polka Dot Books, Holly @ The Fox’s Hideaway, My mom! (AKA Gay—she does have a name, so I suppose I should use it), Cassi @ My Thoughts Literally, Me! (I have a name too, but I think you know it), Lauren @ Shooting Stars Mag (and Lauren’s sister Kari, who took the picture for us!). Lauren is the wonderful one who coordinated the whole thing, so thank you, Lauren!!
Also, Zoey @ Uncreatively Zoey and Sabrina @ The Forest of Words and Pages weren’t at the dinner, but they were at ALA with Shannon and Holly and I got to meet them and chat with them, so they definitely deserve mentioning. And I also spent some time with Brittany @ The Book Addicts Guide and got to say quick hellos to Whitley @ Reading with a Vengeance and Heidi @ YA Bibliophile. (Plus, authors Liza Wiemer and Clara Kensie, who I met back in December).
Meeting up with other bloggers and book-loving people is the highlight of these types of events for me!
I tried to be careful about not picking up books that I wasn’t truly interested in (preferably books I was already interested in before I even went to ALA), and for the most part I was pretty darn successful. Sure, a few books slipped in there (especially when there were times that they were doing two signings at once—you don’t really want to say, “No, I’d just like your book, I’m not interested in yours“), and I did pick up a few for the kids that I hadn’t been planning on, but I didn’t come back with tons of “extra” books.
Here’s what I did end up with:
MG/and most of the Graphic Novels
Adult (including one Graphic Novel)
One thing that I was surprised (and delighted) to find out was that the publishers had lots of ARCs that weren’t mentioned for signings or whatnot, and usually all you had to do was ask in order to get one. This is one way that ALA is a lot different from BEA. Because of that, I came away with some gems I wasn’t expecting, like Otherworld, Ringer, This Darkness Mine, If There’s No Tomorrow, The Magic Misfits and One Dark Throne! (I was especially excited about that last one because they didn’t even have a display copy of it, but I figured it didn’t hurt to ask, and it paid off!!!)
The one I already read:
Lots of these books called to me, but for some reason I felt compelled to instantly start reading Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed as soon as I got it. It’s the only book I actually started reading while still at the conference. Loved it, by the way!
There were many author signings. Here are just a few that I was most excited about:
- Carrie DiRisio for Brooding YA Hero — I’m on the street team. If you didn’t see my post about my love for the concept of this book, you should read it!
- Mary Weber for the Evaporation of Sofi Snow
- Emery Lord for The Names They Gave Us — I may have cried when I talked to her (this book was very personal for me and I read it at a time I really needed it)
- Sharon Cameron for The Knowing
- Neal Shusterman for Scythe — Is anyone surprised to see his name on this list?
(In the picture at the top of the page you’ll find—from top to bottom, left to right: Carrie DiRisio, Courtney Stevens and Eric Smith, Emery Lord, E. Lockhart, Neal Shusterman, Chelsea Sedoti, Maureen Goo, my mom and me 🙂 , Kristin Cashore, Maggie Stievfater, and my dinner from Umami—hey, it was really yummy!)
All in all, I feel like my first foray into ALA was a smashing success! I can’t wait to go again, and I think I’d like to check out a Midwinter at some point because I hear that the environment is even more laid-back, and you can really talk to the publishers about what’s coming down the pipeline.
Watch my monthly wrap-up round-up giveaway because I’ll be adding ALA books to my giveaway/trade list as I read them!
But for now, you can enter to win a signed copy of We Were Liars by E. Lockhart! This is open in the US only (sorry!). Just follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter to enter!
Did you go to ALA? If you have a wrap-up post about it, be sure to link me up in the comments so I can come visit! If you weren’t there, does this sound like the type of conference you’d be interested in?