It was definitely a completely different experience this time around. The first time around, I was a volunteer at the very first one. This time, I could relax because I was just there as a participant and could take it all in. I completely enjoyed the keynote with Veronica Roth and Rae Carson. It was fun waiting in line with other fans and meeting fellow librarians. The authors spoke about the role of female characters in young adult literature and what drives them to write which I thought was very interesting. I got there early enough to get a wristband for the Veronica Roth signing line. The great thing about that was that I was assigned a half hour window in which to show up for my signing. This made it possible for me to attend panels.
Speaking of panels, I really only got to go to two or three. I went to the panel on Fantasy and Dystopian Fiction. However, I missed on the others that I wanted to go to in order to stand in lines to get author signatures. I had to give up on the Ally Condie line after about 30 minutes because I was so hungry. Decided to eat lunch with a friend instead. I personally think too much was crammed into one day. There honestly wasn’t enough room for the long line in the signing tent. In order to get Rainbow Rowell’s signature, I stood in a line while she was still giving a talk. The room where she was speaking was full. I know this was a free book festival however, with the huge draw that it received this year, I sincerely hope that organizers will consider a larger venue next year. Perhaps one that can accommodate everyone more easily.
I really did enjoy the excitement about books. While I was in line for Rainbow Rowell, I got to talk with some of the best people. They were all very nice. I especially liked talking to a few of the teens that were still in high school. We talked at length about books, music and school plans. I just thought how amazing it was that these girls were waiting in line to see an author and not some pop star.
While I was waiting in these lines and going to these panels, I noticed that there was a definite shortage on minority authors in attendance. A few minority groups were represented but there were no African-American authors. I was a teen librarian in an urban library for almost a year. I know that there are a ton of African-American and Latino authors who write great books that kids love. I read quite a few of them. I really wish that the diversity of the young adult literature landscape had been accurately represented at this book festival. I hope that in the future organizers can make an effort to include more minority authors in their billing. I would like to see more writers of color represented at this festival in future years.
All in all, I had a great time at the book festival. I really enjoyed seeing old friends and making some new ones. Loved being able to finally meet Rainbow Rowell, of whom I am a such a huge fan. I also loved being able to visit my hometown for such a great event. Hope it continues to get bigger and better.