The Brooklyn Book Festival is the largest free literary event in New York City, presenting an array of national and international literary stars and emerging authors. One of America’s premier book festivals, this hip, smart diverse gathering attracts thousands of book lovers of all ages to enjoy authors and the festival’s lively literary marketplace. 

With over 200 different stalls from indie publishers, authors, literary organizations such as the Jane Austen Society and the Kurt Vonnegut Library; as well as booths selling literary style clothes, book marks, and other book needs. Then, there were panels throughout the day accompanied by author signings. Open from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM, there was just not enough time to do everything, see every booth, and meet every author. Sacrifices had to be made.

This year, the festival took place on September 22nd. This was my second time going, but my first getting everything out of it and more. I went with three of my friends, one being the awesome blogger Christine at Readerly Musings.

My did we have fun. Christine and I got there long before my other friends, allowing us to listen to the first ever YA panel on the main stage with Francesca Lia Block, David Levithan, and Lauren Myracle where they discussed banned books, the effect it has on the authors, and the people who defend their work. It was nice to hear an author’s perspective on the ridiculousness that is the banning of books. Which was even better, in my opinion, was that all three of them have been banned before, coincidentally on the same year. I got to understand what it takes emotionally to withstand such negative reactions and press. Lauren Myracle even said she got many e-mails asking her if she was a pedophile and the like.

What was nice, was how they spoke about the people that would go to battle for them: the librarians who wanted to keep their books on the shelves, the teachers who believed the books were important to their curriculum and should not be regarded as something vile and banned worthy.

David Levithan told a nice story how he met some parents who would leave his book, Boy meets Boy, by their son’s bed or on the table to say they know he’s gay and it’s ok. Of course, some of the sons went the “passive aggressive way” as Levithan put it and left the book so there parents could see. Lauren Myracle had a heart-warming story, too, about a concerned father not from what she wrote, but asking for advice to connect to his teenager daughter, and thanked her. I would say best first panel I went to.

Following that panel, each author was available for signings. Unfortunately, my photos did not upload so I can’t show you the pretty author pictures, but rest assured they exist. I had David Levithan (my second favorite YA writer) sign his latest book Two Boys Kissing and the tenth anniversary edition of Boy meets Boy. To say I was fan girling it with him would be very apt. I gushed. And, Francesca Lia Block signed her latest book Love in the Time of Global Warming. This was all new to me since last year I wasn’t really aware authors were available for signings. 

It was tough to make it to all of the stalls, but Christine and I covered almost all of them. And, I left stumbling with all my bags filled with books. (Another post on that to come).

I finally got to meet poet and writer Tao Lin. He was definitely unfazed by being an author/public figure a person would want to meet. He shrugged A LOT, which I find both delightful and disarming. He was kind enough, beyond kind really, to give me a copy of his first book of poetry you are a little bit happier than i am that I have wanted for a long time. I couldn’t believe he did that. So, I delightfully devoured it in one sitting (only 72 pages, but still).

To say I had a great time would be an understatement. I spent too much money, my arms hurt from carrying my boatload of books, and I spent too much money. I am happy with every single purchase I made. I just couldn’t resist and don’t mind. Thankfully, this is only a once a year thing or I really will be broke with no shelf space.