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Book Expo America 2016: 10 Non-Bookish Highlights From My Trip

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Although Book Expo America is a lot about books, for me (as an only slightly-connected publishing industry person) it’s also a chance to see many of my bookish friends. Book bloggers really are my tribe, so seeing them is always a highlight of the trip. In generally chronological order, here are some highlights of the conference that were not entirely to do with books:

1. Surviving the Chicago L for Book Riot Happy Hour on Tuesday night!

Every year, the Book Riot crew gets together for a “family dinner” to hang out and have some fun. This year the dinner was at a bar called Headquarters in downtown Chicago — a bit of a hike from the Hyatt near McCormick Place, the conference center. Despite pouring rain and a lot of anxiety about navigating public transit, I made it to the bar and had a lot of fun meeting other contributors and seeing old friends.

The walk back to the McCormick Place Hyatt on Tuesday night was pretty creepy.

The walk back to the McCormick Place Hyatt on Tuesday night was pretty creepy.

2. Lunch on Tuesday before the show started!

Florinda (The 3R’s Blog) is my blogging BFF and my usual BEA roommate. We get along really well, and I love getting to hang out with her. We grabbed lunch in the cafeteria of McCormick Place on Tuesday and managed to meet up with Julie (Julz Reads), Marisa (The Daily Dosage) and Katie (Words for Worms) for lunch. There was a lot of squealing.

3. Meandering the show floor with Julie!

The first hour or so on the show floor Wednesday afternoon is pretty chaotic. Publishers often do some big galley giveaways right away, so it can be a crowd to get in. Julie and I had a couple of the same books we were looking for, so we walked together for a bit. Then we heard that Hatchette was giving out copies of Emma Donoghue’s new book, The Wonder, so we scooted back over and managed to snag the last two galleys that were sitting on a floor. Score!

4. Book Blogger Happy Hour!

Book Blogger Happy Hour, another event Julie helped spearhead, was a huge success! About 20 of us ended up at a bar a short walk from McCormick place where we had dinner and drinks. I honestly can’t even remember who all was there, but I was excited to get this picture with Julie and Katie (thanks for letting me steal it off Facebook, Julie).

katie, julie, kim

Katie (Words for Worms), Julie (Juliz Reads) and me at Book Blogger Happy Hour.

5. Interviewing Leigh Bardugo! 

Through Book Riot, I got the chance to interview Leigh Bardugo, author of one of my favorite fantasy series, The Grisha Trilogy. She’s also written a pair of books — Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom — set in the same world with different characters. I’ll have more from that interview up on Book Riot soon.

6. Breakfast and dinner with Candace (Beth Fish Reads), Sheila (Book Journey) and Florinda!

One of the true highlights of the trip was spending so much time with three of my best blogging friends, Florinda, Candace and Sheila. They’ve all been blogging about as long as I have, so we’ve been friends for years. We started out Thursday with breakfast at The Spoke & Bird (so good!) and ended with dinner at Lou Malnati’s for Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It was so great!

breakfast and dinner

Florinda (The 3Rs Blog), Candace (Beth Fish Reads) and I having drinks after our long walk. Thanks for the picture, Shelia!

7. Walking along the Lakeshore Trail after dinner!

After a couple of days of rain, Thursday ended up being just gorgeous. After dinner, the four of us decided to walk back to our hotel (about two miles) along the lake shore in Chicago. It was a beautiful night, with lots of stops to take pictures and explore. When we got back to the hotel, we celebrated with a drink before heading off to bed.

when book bloggers travel

When bloggers travel… you know there will be a lot of pictures!

8. Snagging two big biographies of famous ladies!

There were two big biographies I learned about when we got to the show, one of Shirley Jackson and the other of Queen Victoria. I managed to get one of the last galleys of the Shirley Jackson biography when I talked to an editor at the booth — apparently they had a couple squirreled away and he felt like it was ok to give me one. I also camped out in front of the Penguin Random House book with several other bloggers to get the Victoria biography when it was dropped in a giveaway. It’s a little silly to do that just for a book, but it was a lot of fun.

9. Jeff O’Neal and the rest of the Rioters!

By late Friday morning I was pretty beat and not really sure what I wanted to be doing. As I was standing in line at Starbucks, I ran into Jeff, one of the co-founders of Book Riot who recruited me to write for the site when it first started in 2011. It was so great to talk with him, wander the show floor a bit, and make plans to hang out when I’m in Portland later this summer. And of course it was so great to see many of the other Book Rioters around the floor — Rebecca, Amanda, Alice, Rachel, Cassandra, Aram, Greg, Jessica and a bunch more I’m missing.

book rioters eating lunch

Me, Alice, Cassandra and Jessica having lunch at McCormick Place. Rioters in the wild!

10. Meeting so many of my other favorite bloggers!

I hesitate to even start a list because I am SURE I am going to miss someone awesome and I am too lazy to pull out my business cards, but… I was so excited to meet Alice, Kerry, Julienne, Jenna, Shaina, Stacey, ShannonCatherine, Annie, Melissa, Caitie… book bloggers are my people, and I am so excited to have met all of them and more.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links through Amazon. If you make a purchase through any of those links, I will receive a small commission.
{ 23 comments… add one }
  • BermudaOnion (Kathy) May 19, 2016, 7:49 am

    Being with so many bookish people is always the highlight of BEA. I’m glad y’all had so much fun!

  • Katie @ Words for Worms May 19, 2016, 10:10 am

    Awww I love this post! Meeting you and other bloggers was easily the best part of the whole BEA experience for me. Plus we look darn cute in that photo. Yay for us!

  • Leah @ Books Speak Volumes May 19, 2016, 10:48 am

    Seeing other bloggers is always my favorite part of BEA. I’m glad so many people were able to go this year; it sounds like you had a great time!

  • Florinda May 19, 2016, 10:55 am

    Just because I was there for a lot of this doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy reliving it from your perspective! It was a great week and I’m still nursing the hangover (and missing my breakfast companions!). Also, that creepy walk made for a very cool photo!

    • Kim May 21, 2016, 2:59 pm

      It was a pretty stellar photo op, even if I was totally creeped out.

  • Sarah's Book Shelves May 19, 2016, 10:57 am

    It sounds like so much fun and reading all these posts has definitely made me wish I could’ve gone!

  • Trisha May 19, 2016, 2:56 pm

    I adore the picture of your walk back; it’s beautiful and totally creepy. It was nice to see you at BEA even if it was only for like 5 seconds. 🙂

    • Kim May 21, 2016, 3:00 pm

      Yes! I didn’t know you would be there, so that was unexpected and fun. Glad we got to hang out for a bit.

  • Beth F May 19, 2016, 4:20 pm

    Love all of these. AND sooooooooo happy we were able to spend so much time together

  • tanya (52 books or bust) May 20, 2016, 4:07 am

    You claim this was a non-bookish post, but it’s still pretty bookish to me – and that’s exactly how it should be. If i ever make it to BEA the main thing i want to do is meet up with other bloggers!

    • Kim May 21, 2016, 3:03 pm

      That’s true, but more bookish as it related to experiences with other bloggers rather than when I was being bookish by myself. Or something. Either way, books and book bloggers all tied together for a fun trip 🙂

  • rhapsodyinbooks May 20, 2016, 6:26 am

    Great wrap-up!

  • Julie @ JulzReads May 20, 2016, 2:52 pm

    All the blogger love is giving me the warm fuzzies! It was so nice spending some QT with you and snagging some great books. You rock!

    • Kim May 21, 2016, 3:03 pm

      Back at you! I loved having someone organized to wander the floor with 🙂

  • Justice @ manuscripts & marginalia May 21, 2016, 9:48 am

    Yay! I’m so glad you had such a blast; your post gives me such book envy *and* makes me miss Chicago like crazy! Can’t wait to hear about more adventures!

    — Justice

    • Kim May 21, 2016, 3:04 pm

      I definitely could have used more time to just explore Chicago — I was glad for the pizza, but also wanted more!

  • Unruly Reader May 21, 2016, 10:22 am

    So glad to meet you, too! And I’ve added those journalists’ memoirs you suggested to my TBR’s “Must Read Soon” section.

    Great wrap-up post of a terrific event.

    • Kim May 21, 2016, 3:05 pm

      That’s great! If you want more recommendations in that vein, let me know and I will put on my thinking cap.

  • Jenny @ Reading the End May 21, 2016, 6:59 pm

    Hey look, it’s Alice! And so many other awesome bloggers! I’m jealous as hell of everyone who went to BEA — I truly don’t mind about the convention itself, but meeting other bloggers is the best. I loved meeting you that time I met you! And I’ve had such universally great experiences meeting other bloggers. So glad you had a wonderful time at BEA!

  • Lisa May 22, 2016, 10:22 am

    As with all blogging things, the books would be great at BEA but meeting other bloggers is the part I think would be the greatest!

  • Kailana May 22, 2016, 10:46 am

    Looks like you had a great time! One year I would love to go just to meet bloggers. 🙂

  • Jennine G May 22, 2016, 6:47 pm

    I’m I love these BEA posts. So glad you had so much fun! Thanks for letting us live it vicariously!

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