Every year, librarians, authors, publishing professionals, educators and students convene at ALA Midwinter, a conference held by the American Library Association. The ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world, and their mission to enhance learning and ensure access to books and information for readers of all ages is one they take very seriously. This year, Teen Board member Grace P. had the opportunity to attend and participate in a teen feedback panel. Along the way she picked up dozens of books and had some great interactions with popular YA authors. Although her TBR pile is now nearing a record high, she took some time to answer questions for us about her awesome experience. Read on to learn more!
Teenreads.com: Who did you attend ALA Midwinter with?
Grace P.: I attended ALA Midwinter with a few of my friends from my Teen Advisory Board at my public library as well as our teen librarian.
TRC: What were you looking forward to the most at the conference?
GP: I was looking forward to getting to tour the exhibit hall the most, and it ended up being an unforgettable experience. I knew I was going to get a few books while I was there, so I was super excited to come home with some new books!
TRC: What events did you attend? Which was your favorite? Why?
GP: I was able to do three main things while at the conference: explore the exhibit hall, have lunch with YA authors and participate in a teen feedback panel. I absolutely loved the luncheon with a bunch of really amazing authors! I got to personally talk to around eight authors, including Jeff Zentner (THE SERPENT KING) and Jennifer E. Smith (HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN).
TRC: Were there any authors who surprised you or shared something unexpected? Who and why?
GP: I have heard Jeff Zentner speak a few times now, including at the teen lunch at ALA, and whatever he says always resonates with me. He asked our table if any of us were writers ourselves, and I said that I only write nonfiction (like reviews and opinion pieces). He went on to say how that totally counted as being a “writer," even if I didn’t count myself as one among such talented and published YA fiction authors. For some reason that really made me think about how I write in my life, and what counts as “writing." I still have not read any of Jeff’s books, but I cannot wait to jump into GOODBYE DAYS!
TRC: What was your best unexpected encounter with an author or fan?
GP: The best unexpected encounter that I had would have been Crissa-Jean Chappell, author of SNOWBIRDS. She ended up being at the author luncheon without us knowing in advance. I had heard such great things about SNOWBIRDS, and I was thrilled to get a signed copy of her book before its release and get to meet her!
TRC: And of course, the books! Tell us some of the books that you came away wanting to read after ALA Midwinter.
GP: I ended up coming home with 40 books from ALA! I’ve never had to carry so many books at once in my life, so that was an experience, but it was totally worth it! Most of the 40 were ARCs with release dates as far as September 2017. The books that are at the top of my TBR now are TRAITOR TO THE THRONE by Alwyn Hamilton, GOODBYE DAYS by Jeff Zentner, THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas and THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED by Becky Albertalli.
TRC: What book would you encourage your friends to read after your hearing from the author?
GP: I would recommend reading THE THING WITH FEATHERS by McCall Hoyle. I had a wonderful encounter with the author when she happened to be signing ARC copies in the exhibit hall. The book doesn't release until September 2017, and I encourage everyone to read it when it comes out! It has excellent reviews so far, and the author was so nice!
TRC: What’s your best memory of the day?
GP: My best memory of the day was walking around the exhibit hall and approaching publishers. I was able to ask for any book that the publishers had ARCs of, and I scored by getting 40 books! It was such a surreal experience, like being in a book lover's paradise --- I had never seen so many books at once. My friends and I had books handed to us as we walked by publishers. I will never forget the feeling I felt when I realized there were so many books that I could get for free that were just feet away.
ALA Midwinter is one of my best book events that I have been to! I will be reading all of the books that I received for many months to come, and I will not forget my wonderful experience! I will hopefully be able to go to another ALA conference sometime in the future!