When I was in the 7th grade, my parents surprised me with last minute plans to attend The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. I eagerly scanned the website in search of authors I loved and squealed with delight when Cornelia Funke was scheduled for a signing. I was obsessed with Inkheart and The Thief Lord. The day of the festival, me, my mom, dad, and sister loaded up into our family-appropriate 1993 Mazda MPV and were on our way to the UCLA campus. I had my well-loved copy of The Thief Lord in tow.
Cornelia Funke wasn’t going to be signing for a few hours, so we decided to sit down for John Grogan’s discussion of his book Marley & Me.
I remember thinking, “What a weird title for a book.” And “what’s up with the cute dog? Did this middle aged man write a book about his dog? Talk about dog people.”
My teenaged judgement prattled on in my head until John Grogan himself got on stage to speak. I was still feeling judgmental but was immediately taken with his sense of humor and genuine love for his late dog Marley.
At the end, even my penny pincher mother asked if I wanted to buy the book and get it signed. I eagerly assented. Marley & Me is hardly a literary masterpiece, however, the story of how I discovered it and the book festival itself are both treasured family memories.
Before you ask, I did indeed get my copy of The Thief Lord signed, but the experience wasn’t as profound as the one with John Grogan because I would never have read Marley & Me without listening to his story.
Over the years, I began attending author events at my local bookstore, which gave me the joy of adding personalized, signed copies of great books to my collection along with fun (and sometimes cringe-worthy) memories of meeting favorite authors.
This be this past year, I was fortunate enough to attend five author events (Margaret Atwood, Ruta Sepetys, David Yoon, Christine Riccio, and David Sedaris if you were curious). However, author events can get expensive between ticket prices and purchasing books at list price, so here are five reasons to justify attending.
Books are paper. Authors are human.
Reading is an inherently solitary act. And authors tend to be otherworldly entities serenading us with their tales from across some void. But meeting them in person is exhilarating because when authors discuss their writing journey and inspiration, I get ideas for my own writing and reading life.
Put the Story in Context
I honestly believe that once published, books belong to their readers. However, I still love hearing authors explain where got their ideas from, because their lens is almost always different from mine.
Ask a Question and Connect
I detested speaking up in class, especially in ones where I got a “participation grade.” Fortunately, my master’s program shed me of the aforementioned shame, and I have since learned to speak up more. This skill has been useful because it has empowered me to have meaningful interactions with authors.
Meet Fellow Bibliophiles
Although many bibliophiles tend to be introverted, we tend to perk up when discussing our recent reads or groaning about our TBR piles. I generally go stag at author events, so my only option is to turn to the person next to me and ask what they love about the author. I’ve made some great connections this way.
Signed First Edition
I love reading books as much as I love collecting them. Although signed copies of new releases are fairly easy to nab, especially during the month of release, I still enjoy going to book signings to get my books personalized, which makes me feel like I’m part of the launch.