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May 24, 2016

My (First) BookCon 2016 Experience --- Guest Post by Teen Board Member Kate F.

By Kate F.
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For the past three years, readers and authors alike have looked forward to BookCon, an event where storytelling and pop culture collide. Each year, authors, publishers, celebrities and creators converge with readers to discuss the latest trends in storytelling and the future of reading with fellow booklovers. In addition to panels and signing opportunities, BookCon features Q&As, storytelling podcasts, special screenings, literary quiz shows and, of course, the chance to meet fellow readers and make tons of new friends. Teen Board Member F. attended BookCon in Chicago this year and told us a bit about her experience --- and even shared some photos!

This year was my first time at BookCon and it was quite possibly the highlight of this year so far. My parents decided to get tickets for Emily, Grace (my sisters) and myself as a Christmas present and we have been eagerly awaiting May 14th ever since. With our suitcases in hand, we headed off for Chicago. Here is my 2016 BookCon experience.

The first thing to note about BookCon is the lines. We got up and arrived at the convention center around 7:15am on Saturday, the morning of the event. We went to get in line for wristbands, which are required to get into many of the signings. By the time we had arrived, the line stretched from the large concourse hall, along the bridge connecting another building to the Hyatt, and down an escalator, where the line continued to wrap around the room. The growing looks of horror on my mom and sisters’ faces as we continued to pass person after person waiting in line was priceless and I was pretty stunned too. Throughout the day we talked to other people at BookCon, some of which had arrived at five o’clock in the morning and still had to wait in line. The madness continued when we got into the wrist banding area, where the wristbands were being distributed. People were physically pushing each other out of the way to get their tickets. Despite it all, we managed to snag wristbands for Laini Taylor’s signing, who wrote the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy.  

Directly after receiving my wristband, I reported to the Penguin Lit Lounge where I participated in the Penguin Teen VIP Trivia Challenge. One hundred teenagers received invitations to attend the challenge to meet with authors David Arnold, Tahereh Mafi, Richelle Mead, Ransom Riggs, Ruta Sepetys, Sabaa Tahir and John Corey Whaley and participate in a trivia game. We were all split up into teams (I was on team eight!) and had the authors rotating around to groups as our coaches. The team I was on was lucky enough to have Tahereh Mafi, who was promoting her upcoming novel FURTHERMORE, and Sabaa Tahir, promoting her upcoming novel, A TORCH AGAINST THE NIGHT. Although my team did not win, we all received a bag with two books! We were also able to take a picture with the authors present.

After the Trivia Challenge, my younger sister and I met Alexandra Bracken, author of The Darkest Minds series and PASSENGER. I have wanted to meet her for a while, and she is incredibly sweet! From there, we explored the showroom, which was absolutely ginormous. All the major publishing companies had booths set up and a lot of other fun booths were set up as well. Practically everywhere we turned we were being offered tote bags, bookmarks, pins and other bookish swag. There are also lots of cool posters (like the cover for EMPIRE OF STORMS by Sarah J. Maas!).

While we were exploring the show floor, my mom went upstairs and waited in line for my sisters and I to see the Friendship is Magic panel with Sarah J. Maas, Susan Dennard, Alexandra Bracken, and surprise guest Victoria Aveyard! I cannot express how much I loved listening to all the ladies on the panel. They brought up brilliant points about the portrayal of female characters, not only in literature but also in television shows and movies. It was truly an inspiring and empowering panel that went beyond the page and made everyone think about gender roles in society.

We had some time to kill in between the panel and our Laini Taylor signing, so I figured why not hop into Susan Dennard’s signing line? I’ve met her three times by now and she was absolutely wonderful every time. After waiting in Susan Dennard’s line, I went over and waited in line for Laini Taylor. Laini was wonderful as well, and special thanks to her for continuing to sign past her signing time despite having to run to her panel! Post line-waiting, we retreated into the Epic Reads lounge for a much needed break. The lounge was decked out in Epic Reads swag, water stations and very comfortable coaches. They also had “lounge copies” of Harper Collins novels. Margot, one of the lovely ladies behind the successful Epic Reads Tea Time chats, told us to take a book we wanted home with us. Needless to say we did not argue with her!

The expo came to a close, and we trudged outside with our arms full of tote bags and books. It certainty was not easy fitting everything into a taxi, but we managed! Overall, BookCon was an incredible experience, one I hope to attend again. Sadly, BookCon will be returning to New York next year, but I encourage everyone who is able to attend to go!