Bay Area Book Festival 2018

My family moved up to the Bay Area last December and I've slowly been settling in. Because making the transition from So Cal to Nor Cal with my family of five has had its share of bumps if you know what I mean. One of my biggest regrets about moving from Southern California is that I was no longer just down the road from the LA Times Festival of Books. I went last year and thought I'd died and gone to book heaven! The panels are just superb and bring in some really big name authors.

Feeling sorry for myself that I'd missed out, I went searching for some more local bookish events and discovered the Bay Area Book Festival happening near me in downtown Berkeley. Like many other book nerds, going to new events by myself is a bit daunting but I really, really wanted to try it out so I pulled on my big girl panties and trekked there for Saturday.

The first panel I attended was Realistic Young Adult Fiction with Jesse Andrews, Alexandra Ballard, Annie Barrows, Maurene Goo, and moderated by Regan McMahon.
Mostly I was there for Jesse Andrews, author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (which I adored) and Maurene Goo but all the authors were fascinating and well-spoken and I've added their books to my TBR pile. Thanks to Maurene Goo, I left that panel craving tacos and so excited to read her latest The Way You Make Me Feel.
 I brought my 10 year old with me on Saturday (future book nerd training, right?), not really sure if it would have as much to interest kids as the LA Times Festival, but we were pleasantly surprised.
 There were 20 or so tents with activities and crafts for kids where he spent time making buttons, building, and the one he spent the longest at, the make your own pinball machine. But if you ask him what he liked the best, he'll tell you the food trucks! 
We also allowed plenty of time to stop by the Half Price Books tent where they were giving out free used children's and YA books all day long. We loaded up a bag and my son thought that was the coolest thing ever.
 After a quick bite, we headed to the panel Tackling Issues with authors Katherine Applegate and Jen Petro-Roy on Hard-Hitting Middle Grade Fiction. My son read The One and Only Ivan in school this year and was really excited to meet the author and get his copy signed.
Both authors did a fabulous job and had so many treasured book suggestions and stories to share.
We called it a day after that last panel but we had such a great time, I made plans to head back up for the second day by myself.

I arrived early on Sunday morning to attend the What Makes a Family? panel with authors Nidhi Chanani, Chris Crutcher, Abdi Nazemian, Mitali Perkins, moderated by Lesley Mandros Bell. I was so excited to attend this one to hear Chris Crutcher -- but realized once I got there that I had forgotten my copy of Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes for him to sign! Oh well. The authors were so captivating that I even forgot to take a picture, and once again, I went home with more books on my TBR. I'm sensing a theme here.

Next up I headed to the panel A Free Trip to Another World: Fantasy in Young Adult Literature with authors Shea Ernshaw, Lexa Hillyer, Laura Sebastian, Wendy Spinale, Leslye Walton, moderated by Ben Schwartz. All of these were new to me authors, but I had heard of a few of their debut books and wanted to go listen. Plus, FANTASY. So you can be sure I was gonna be there.

Each of their stories were unique and I can't wait to dive in, but the most interesting part of this panel was hearing how each author plots and edits their stories. Several even shared some of their stories about how they became published and I always find that so fascinating. 

Lastly, I attended the session The Empire and the Resistance of Sabaa Tahir interviewed by Ben Schwartz. This was probably my second favorite session. Sabaa is such an engaging speaker who immediately made the audience feel like we were all just sitting down for an informal chat. And props also go to Ben Schwartz for his awesome job at moderating. He introduced thoughtful questions and helped facilitate their discussion in such a careful way, it was truly impressive. 

Basically I had an incredible time and was very impressed with the festival overall. While not as large as some festivals it had a great intimate feel. I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the speakers and moderators and plan to return next year!

No comments: