Last weekend, I found myself in one of my favorite cities to visit — Boston! I’ve been to Boston before, and each time I visit I find something new and exciting to love about it. From the food to the sights and everything in between. Boston has so much to offer, and this past weekend it offered books, books, and even more books.
This past weekend just happened to be the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference. And I found myself in the midst of it all.
While I didn’t participate in any of the big, important meetings I did have an exhibit hall pass that allowed me to, not only pick up some new and exciting books, but also let me sit in on some panels and discussions.
I decided that the best way to approach this post is to break it down by day. Starting with ….
Friday, January 8th …
Mom and I packed up the car in the wee hours of the morning and started our four hour journey up I-95 North. Even though – for me – Friday wasn’t a conference day I wanted to get up there relatively early. Why? I wanted to hit up Primark – a store that I discovered a few years ago when I visited London. And I was super excited about that.
A few hours into the drive mom and I made a pit stop at Georgie’s – an old school diner in Connecticut. I had been to Georgie’s once before, and knew that I would have to make it a point to go again. Heading up to Boston was the most opportune time! The atmosphere is charming, the service is great, and the food is simply yummy!
After our hour stop it was full speed ahead to Boston. It took us longer than either of us had expected (that’s what happens when you stop for an hour) but the perks of taking a bit more time was the fact that our hotel room was ready … early! Woot woot! We stayed in the financial district, which was about a 15 maybe 20 minute walk to the Boston Convention Center. Ideally I would have preferred to have stayed closer to the convention center, as to not to have to lug bags of books around.
But that’s what I get for booking a hotel a mere week and a half before the actual conference, right? Seriously though, the hotel we stayed at (The Langham Bostom) was beautiful, and I’d stay there again in a heartbeat.
After a few relaxing moments in the hotel room, mom and I immediately headed out to find Primark. It was closer than I had anticipated, and much easier to find as well. (For those of you who don’t know me, I’m not great with directions, and tend to get lost easily.)
Since this isn’t a clothes haul post, I will not go into detail about the items I purchased. After spending some time (and money) in one of my fave stores, mom and I at a late lunch and headed back to the hotel. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning was taking a toll on us.
The rest of the even I spent lounging on the comfy bed, planning the weekend that lay ahead of me. ALA weekend!
Saturday, January 9th …
Admittedly the bed was glorious … but the pillows not so much. (I think EVERYONE has heard me complain about them by this point.) Running on only a few hours of sleep and pure energy my girl goal was to find nourishment.
At the recommendation of our hotel, I found myself at Flour Bakery – a super cute bakery a few minutes from the Boston Convention Center.
In Flour Bakery I not only found a comfy atmosphere full of other ALA attendees, but I found quite possibly the most delicious french toast that I have ever eaten. And the coffee was top notch too.
Fully charged, I was ready to tackle my first official day of ALA Midwinter. That is, I was completely unsure as to what to expect. The only book conference I have ever attended is Book Expo America, and from what I had been told the two conferences are completely different. And I quickly found out that they were.
As soon as I walked into the exhibit hall floor I seriously had to stop and take a moment, and gather my bearings. Not sure what was what and where was where I immediately looked up! Each isle and booth was clearly marked, and this direction-less girl was happy about that.
Strictly by chance the first booth I stumbled upon was Macmillan’s booth. I was one of the fortunately attendees to pick up a copy of the highly anticipated Summer Days and Summer Nights. I’m still kind of shocked that I was able to get it.
From Macmillan I walked and wandered the floor at my leisure, picking up books that struck my interest (I was trying to show restraint people, I opted NOT to bring my trusty suitcase and instead only used my oversized tote — big mistake on my part).
Me showing restraint mean that within the first hour and a half my oversized tote bag was 3/4 of the way full!
Saturday I was lucky enough to attended a few buzz panels where I had the chance to learn what upcoming books the publisher’s were excited about. I also went to Robin Talley’s panel where she talked about her latest book What We Left Behind and the importance of representing authentic LBGTQ characters.
It was a really great panel – Robin Talley was engaging and thorough. What We Left Behind was a book I wanted to read going into the panel. After, it’s a book I REALLY want to read.
Another highlight of my Saturday was that I met up with Nicole from Nicole’s Novel Reads. Nicole isn’t just a fellow blogger, but she’s a friend and my last Secret Sister! It was so great to take a break from the exhibit hall floor, grab a cup of coffee (or chai tea in my case) and just chat!
Soon after our break, Nicole and I headed in different directions and I soon called it a day. Between the lack of sleep, the high of the exhibit hall floor, and dragging not one but two bags around I was wiped out.
Day one of ALAMW16 was a success! Not only did I pick up some great, highly anticipated books but I also learned about what’s new and exciting. Beyond that I bumped into and chatted with some friends/fellow bloggers (like Andi from Andi’s ABCs and Sajda from Across the Words)
Sunday, January 10th …
Once again … exhausted but ready for the day ahead of me. I knew that Sunday was going to be even more relaxed, even though I had more on my schedule.
Sunday I was planning on attending two signings and attending three or four panels. The first part of the day I spent walking the exhibit hall floor, once again picking up some highly sought after books.
After meandering, chatting, and picking up some great titles it was time for the first panel of the day. Presented by Scholastic and Simon & Schuster they both discussed upcoming books that each publishing house is coming out with. It was a really great to see what the publishers are excited about, and to get a sense of what was coming up in the book world.
After the panel I took a break – to cool off (because it was super warm in the Convention Center at least to me), to grab some food, and to take a minute to sit since my shoulders were starting to hurt as were my feet.
Before I knew it, it was time for another panel I wanted to get to but last minute I decided to skip it in favor of heading to my first signing of the day. I’ve been super excited about this signing so I kind of figured a lot of other people would be excited about too. And getting their early proved to be to my benefit – I was first in line to meet Jesse Andrews. This was great, and all part of my master plan since there was another signing I was super excited about getting to with not one but two authors – Anna-Marie McLemore and Ann Jacobus.
Being first in line really helped, I was able to get my books signed and chat briefly with author Jesse Andrews and was able to quickly make it to the other time with plenty of time to spare. After meeting Anna-Marie McLemore and Ann Jacobus (both of whom were super sweet!) it was time for me to call it a day.
Even though there was one panel I really wanted to go do, I decided I’d skip it. I was so tired, like eyes drooping tired. I took a taxi back to my home away from home and chillaxed for a few hours – waiting for the rain to pass so mom and I could find some place to eat for dinner (we ended up back by the convention center at a Mexican restaurant).
My last day at ALAMW16 was a success in my opinion. I got to chat with both friends and publishers, grabbed some books, made it to some fantastic signings, and of course took in some great panels.
Before ending this post I just want to take the time to say Thank You to ALA for putting together such a great conference, to the publishers/publicists for being so kind, so friendly, and so generous, to the authors who signed books and even more books. The weekend was a blast, and one that I’ll remember for a long, long time.
For a full list of the books that I picked up at ALAMW16, check out my Goodreads shelf.