Friday, June 5, 2015

Event Recap: Openly YA

Books are often solitary things. They don't always have to be. But the crux of reading is that it can't always be enjoyed in a crowd like a movie. So often, you find yourself tucked into a corner in your favorite reading spot (you know the one) grinning like a fool about something your new favorite character just did.

But when you get the chance to go to a book event--well, that changes things. Instead of being alone, suddenly, you're in a movie theatre hysterically laughing at a well-timed joke with a hundred other people. You can experience a book together. You can be introduced to an author for the first time or get a sneak peak (the trailer) of a new book together.

Book events are majestic.

And while book events that are packed and buzzing with people are amazing, it's the quiet ones, small intimate settings that are my favorite.

Yesterday I went to Books and Greetings in Northvale, NJ for the Openly YA NJ stop and felt so comfortable and at home with the authors, laughing a little too loudly and heart soaring at the wisdom that was shared.

Adam Silvera (More Happy Than Not), Will Walton (Anything That Can Happen), James Dawson (This Book Is Gay) and David Levithan (Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story) read from their book and signed copies.

This was a treat for me because I had just missed Adam's launch party at Books of Wonder the night before. :( But this more than made up for it.

Listening to the group read from their stories (including the dramatic reading of Hold Me Closer) was perfect. It's my favorite thing about book events, actually. I feel like the author knows--and by this point probably despises--the words they've set down and so when they share them, they're sharing so much more than just the initial story. They've fought for those words, you know?

And listening to Adam read from More Happy Than Not or Will share the first bit of Anything Can Happen or grin manically and laugh at the witty opening of This Book Is Gay with James (because, dude, he's freaking hilarious) was so much than just hearing their words. And maybe that's the post book-event high talking (you know the giddy feeling when things are just HAPPY?) but I think I got a deeper understanding and connected so much more to what they were reading just by hearing the authors themselves read it. Does that make sense to anyone else?

I wish there had been video of the group's interpretation of Hold Me Closer because it was gold but alas, there is not. I will say this though, thank you for making me laugh. After post-BEA work craziness, I needed it.

I was also struck by the openness and poignant answers the group shared when answering questions. They were quick to laugh but also quick to be honest about their experiences growing up in neighborhoods where coming out as gay was hard or how Will Walton intended his book to be his coming out to his parents. It's my hope that sharing stories like this for generations to come that no child will have to feel afraid to be who they were meant to be and want to be. Stories are how we begin to understand and empathize and I believe all these books are so important to open up discussion about the LGBT+ community and how we can support them.

I'm so happy that I was able to go to this event and cannot wait to read these books. I'll keep you updated on them--I'm sure I'll have wonderful things to say.

If you can, take a look at these titles and the rest of their tour.

And, many thanks to Kenny at Books and Greetings, who is one of the kindness booksellers I know. If you're ever in Bergen County, NJ, this is a quaint, welcoming bookstore you must stop at!

**Please ignore my bad picture taking skills. I will get better. 

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