In Which I Tell You About My Bookish Weekend At ALA

For those of you who follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may know that this past weekend I went to ALA Midwinter (American Library Association) because it was in my city. I figured I would share a little bit about my experience and let you know what books I brought home with me. There are some really excellent sounding upcoming releases! So let’s do this..


“But you aren’t a librarian…how did you attend?”

You would be correct. I am not a librarian (god, I would love to be) but ALA does allow other people (such as bloggers) to attend. I am so, so thankful to be allowed to go as a guest to this convention and get a taste of another facet of the wonderful book world.

“What did you do?”

Well, after an awesome cappuccino and chocolate croissant I moseyed on over to the convention center. Gotta start your day off right.


On the floor there were booths for different publishers, bookish things and a lot of library resources and technology. It was like the mecca for all things book nerdy. My 2 days involved:

1. Walking around to the various booths (totally sensory overload at first), talking to the various publishing representatives, learning what titles they were really pushing and figuring out which ARCs  I wanted to take home with me. I knew of MOST of the titles just because I always creep the catalogs but there was some terrific hand selling going on because some of the publishers sold me on books I had never heard of before. I loved talking to them about their past releases I loved and which new releases they were excited about. It was also fun to put faces to names of people I hadn’t met yet! But seriously..walking around those aisles, with all those books everywhere, just made me want to prance around making up songs about how much I love books.

photo(31)gfdSnagged me some pins from Rainbow Rowell

2. Meeting authors/seeing them again & chatting with them:  I got to see Rainbow Rowell again and meet Matthew Quick for the first time. I even snagged E. Lockhart when she was walking in the aisle for a picture and a quick (embarrassing) gush fest about how much I loved We Were Liars. It was also super cool because I randomly ran into Leila Sales (love her + LOOOVED This Song Will Save Your Life), Tiffany Schmidt, and OH YOU KNOW…just got to shoot the shit with DAVID LEVITHAN. As one does.

photo(34)E. Lockhart & I!

3. Hanging out with/meeting other bloggers! It’s always nice to see fellow bloggers again and meet others for the first time! That’s honestly my favorite part of these things. Everyone was so lovely and I wish we had even more time to hang out but it was fun to hang out with them and talk books, battle the crowds at Reading Terminal Market, wait in the Rainbow Rowell line etc.

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On Sunday night I went to my favorite indie bookstore in the Philly area (Children’s Book World) and saw Rainbow Rowell, David Levithan and Lucy Christopher and it was an AWESOME event and super packed. Few things: 1. Rainbow and David are hilarious together. 2. I teared up listening to David read from Two Boys Kissing 3. David reading and acting out a scene from Fangirl is hilarious. 4. Rainbow read a page from LANDLINE!! I need it. 5. Rainbow started crying while reading that page and I love her even more. 6. Lucy Christopher is the cutest human being ever and after listening to her read from The Killing Woods I can’t wait to pick it up.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetBook club loves Rainbow!!

I couldn’t go to the things happening on Monday but I listened to the Youth Media Awards live streaming. Can’t wait to pick up some of those books that won! Have you read any of them? Also, was very happy for Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan getting some love for their wonderful novels!

“How is ALAMW different from BEA (Book Expo of America)?”

Edit: I had a great comment that told me that ALAMW is even different from ALA Annual (which I’ve never been) this is her insight, “If you haven’t attended the summer Annual Conference, you should know that there is a big difference between the experience. The Midwinter Meetings is primarily a working conference, mostly meetings rather than programs and PD sessions. The summer Annual Conference is the one that publishers bring authors to for signings and events and there are long lines at the booths for the various signings. The exhibits are larger and the award ceremonies take place so you can register to attend the Printz Awards or the Newbery/Caldecott Award dinner for instance (or you can skip the dinner and sit in the back after dinner and listen to the speeches for free). It is still different from BEA, but much busier and with more opportunities than Midwinter.”

+ Well, obviously it was more so geared towards librarians. Even most of the people working the booths for the publishers were more on the school and library side of marketing so there were less familiar faces. There were less booths for me to check out because over half of it was specifically library type resources and technology (because obviously it’s a librarian convention). I saw a cool library vending machine thing though. This also meant, for me, acting like a guest and only taking what I knew I would have time to read because, while the publishers were HAPPY to give them to bloggers, I wanted to leave the things I wasn’t sure about/knew I might not have time to read for the librarians. That last comment, for the record, has nothing to do with anything anybody else did/does. It’s just a personal thing with how I went into this for myself. Also, I still have BEA guilt from my first BEA where I took too many books and still some sit unread.

+ There were less people & I thought the whole vibe was way more calm. I really felt like I wasn’t crowded at any booth I went to and actually had time to talk to people at the booths. I wasn’t constantly feeling like I was bumping into people. It was just very calm and pleasant. The swarm of people was just not as much especially when books were put out. At BEA you can get trampled & I didn’t feel that way here. When a book drop happens at BEA, those books are gone so quickly. I would see some books still out at ALA when I walked past again.

+ There were definitely more books available at the booths. At BEA there were really stringent drops of books it felt like and not many just freely handed out. ALA was different in that regard I think. Even huge titles that would have been gone in 2 seconds at BEA were there an hour later.

I got quality chatting time with publishers. One of my most favorite things is actually TALKING to the people manning the booths and telling them titles I loved from them recently and hearing what they are excited about. At BEA it’s so busy and they don’t get as much time to talk to you but ALA was totally different so it was definitely a huge thing that I LOVED about ALA. Met some really wonderful people!

+ There were less signings. The only two signings I went to were for Matthew Quick and Rainbow Rowell. At BEA there is a huge area with a ton of signings lines and signings scheduled all day. There isn’t that at ALA. So at BEA you might split your time between the floor and then be sitting in signing lines but there were barely any and there isn’t a designated spot like at BEA. So, I had a lot more wandering time than I do at BEA which was a good and bad thing. I felt less stressed about getting to the signing line and being super structured but I definitely love meeting authors so I missed that here plus there was a little toooo much free time.

+ Obviously at BEA there are way more events going on at the same time so I would just kind of go to the conference and then come home. At BEA I was never in the hotel room because there is always some sort of party or signing or event of some sort going on! But again, this is more of a professional development kind of convention so it made sense.

“What books did you get?”

Day 1

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Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg — I liked Take A Bow and her newest seems like another super cute contemporary this time exploring guys and girls being just friends + if that is possible.

The Here & Now by Ann Brasheres: NEW ANN BRASHERES! Had to pick this up. She trades in traveling pants for time travel! FUN!

We Are The Goldens by Dana Reinhardt: I had never heard of this one but that rep from Random House sold me! You know from my post about the 10 things on my reading wishlist that I want more sister stories so YAY!

The Cracks In The Kingdom by Jaclyn Moriarty: I liked A Corner of White — it was one of the strangest books I had ever read — and I knew I wanted to read the sequel so I was very happy to see this one there because I’m very interested to see where this story goes.

The Killing Woods by Lucy Christopher: As I said above I heard Lucy read from this and I’m super intrigued. Sounds dark!

The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt: I really enjoyed Going Vintage by this author. It was really cute and fun but still gave some food for thought. This one sounds cute + love that, like Going Vintage, this has familial relationships as a focus.

Wish You Were Italian by Kristin Rae: This one was on my most anticipated debuts of 2014 list and boy was I happy to see this one!! Can’t wait to read it — romance & Italy? YES PLEASE.

Far From You by Tessa Sharpe: This one was another on my most anticipated debuts of 2014 list! I love me a good mystery and this sounds like one! It seems twisty and complicated as the MC, who is sort of blamed for the death of her best friend, comes home from rehab and realizes everyone is looking at the wrong things to solve her friend’s murder.

Nantucket Red by Leila Howland: Sequel to Nantucket Blue!

The Scar Boys by Len Vlahos: This one looks like an excellent coming of age story and is already out actually!

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley: Historical fiction! I’ve been waiting for a YA book to be set during the civil rights era and this sounds really good. Doesn’t come out until October however!

The Good Luck Of Right Now by Matthew Quick: Matthew Quick’s newest adult novel! SIGNED!

Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid: Another pick from my most anticipated debuts of 2014 list!! This was high on my priority list and I was so happy to see it there! Road trip! Some sort of intrigue and mystery that is alluded to!

Searching For Sky by Jillian Cantor: This is Jillian’s first YA novel (she wrote Margot which is an adult fiction novel) and it was on my most anticipated releases of 2014 list! The summary says it’s a “reverse dystopia” and so I’m reallyyyy interested!

Day 2

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Half Bad by Sally Green: This one was on my most anticipated debuts for 2014 list so I’m super stoked to have it in my hands. WITCHES. The more I hear about it, the more I can’t wait to read it! I don’t read paranormal often but it seems like my kind of paranormal.

The Rules For Breaking by Ashley Elston: I liked The Rules for Disappearing and this is the sequel! Witness protection program!

Sekret by Lindsay Smith: History with a dash of fantasy! Russian espionage! HECK YES.

The Summer of Letting Go by Gae Polisner: The lady at the booth sold me on this one as I had never heard of it. It’s about a girl whose little brother drowns and she basically stops living until she meets a little boy who she swears is her brother’s reincarnation. Sounds heartbreaking.

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith: This sounds like the strangest book I have ever heard of and I’m not even clear as to what it is about but it sound irreverent and awesome!

Welcome To The Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz: This is one I have never heard of but the guy at the Disney booth made me want it because he said it was scary! I keep looking for good horror so maybe this will fit the bill!

The Secret Sky by Ati Abawi: I said in my reading wishlist post that I SOOOO wanted books set in different countries and NOT from an American perspective and as soon as the rep from Penguin started telling me about this one and how it is set in Afghanistan I was SOLD. SO SOLD. I think I scared her with my excitement.

The Storied Life of A.J Fickry by Gabrielle Zevin: I was speaking with the lady at the booth about another book and she pulled this one out and coincidentally I’m listening to another book from this author right now. She said this was an adult one but definitely has crossover appeal.

Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan: AHHH. Companion novel to I’ll Be There!! I almost cried happy tears of joy to see this one there.

Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson: This one has been on my radar for a bit so I was pleasantly surprised to see it there! Love that it’s a male perspective and there are runaway teens involved because I haven’t really read anything with that.

So that was my ALA experience! Let me know if you learned about any books from what I got + if you are excited about any of the ones I picked up! Let me know if you have any questions about ALA or my experience!

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. AHHHHH Looks like you had lots of fun! Love your outfit as well! ALA seems like a really different experience from BEA in the way that it’s more calm and a lot more books for grabs. I went to BEA last year for the first time and it was crazy and a little insane. I definitely wasn’t prepared for the madness.

    I’m so excited for Better off Friends since it’s rare to have platonic girl/boy relationships. Plus, it seems comedic and a perfect read for this cold weather that we’re experiencing right now.

  2. Sounds like such a fun weekend!! We are the goldens sounds really good and so does chapel wars! seems like the general consensus from people is that it’s calmer than BEA! I am still super excited to go to BEA this year! (for the first time!) Enjoy all the new books!!!

  3. ALA sounds like it was a fun experience! I really wish I could have come down for the day and gone to see all the bloggers, and hang out with my favorite Philly girls 🙂 But I’m glad you had an amazing time AND that you got an amazing haul!

  4. Glad you enjoyed your visit to ALA Midwinter Meetings. If you haven’t attended the summer Annual Conference, you should know that there is a big difference between the experience. The Midwinter Meetings is primarily a working conference, mostly meetings rather than programs and PD sessions. The summer Annual Conference is the one that publishers bring authors to for signings and events and there are long lines at the booths for the various signings. The exhibits are larger and the award ceremonies take place so you can register to attend the Printz Awards or the Newbery/Caldecott Award dinner for instance (or you can skip the dinner and sit in the back after dinner and listen to the speeches for free). It is still different from BEA, but much busier and with more opportunities than Midwinter. Thanks for not being a “greedy” blogger. The publishers pay more to produce a galley than the finished book, so we all need to be sensitive as to how many we pick up. Love your report of your conference experience. I am a middle school librarian and a blogger and reviewer for Booklist in print and online:

  5. Great post! As someone who has never been to a conference, but has been toying with the idea, this was so interesting!

    Obviously I haven’t read many of these books, but I did just finish A.J. Fikry and it was really good. A love letter to books and booksellers, really.

  6. I am going to midwinter next year and I am already SO excited! I love reading these recaps!

    Also I didn’t know about Nantucket Red, that is great news!!

  7. Oh my gosh, ALA seems like heaven for bookworms! I’d love to go to it or BEA someday. I am so jealous that you got The Here and Now by Ann Brashares! It sounds like such an interesting book!

  8. Looks like you had a great weekend! You picked up some excellent books – Half Bad is one I’m really looking forward to!

    I’d love to do something like this. I don’t think BEA is in the cards for me this year, but maybe next year.

  9. I had NO idea bloggers could attend ALA! I need to seriously do some research into going to the next conference…this sounds like a blast!

  10. FUN!!! Looks like an AWESOME weekend 🙂
    Super jealous that you have that copy of Half Bad by Sally Green, lol! I actually did my W.O.W (Waiting on Wednesday) on that book! I’m anticipating it’s debut as well! xoxo

  11. Sounds like you had an awesome time – so jealous! Nothing ever comes to Cleveland 🙁 We need love over here, too!

  12. kai charles (Fiction State of Mind) says:

    I’ve done both the midwinter and the ALA annual and midwinter is always pretty laid back. If you ever can an annual is a must! I brought more books at the annual but I didn’t mind because they were really cheap 🙂 I haven’t been to BEA but do to its size I’m sure they have restrict the books they give out more than a midwinter confrence 🙂

  13. Thanks for this recap, Jamie! So helpful in deciding which conferences I go to…although I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be allowed at ALA since I’m not an American blogger. I love that it’s laidback, though – I’m going to BEA for the first time this year and I’m a little scared…

    Anyway, great book haul, too – I’m desperately waiting for the new Ann Brashares and Matthew Quick – can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Very curious about The Chapel Wars, thanks for introducing me to it!

    And I just wanted to say…I so appreciate what you said about only taking ARCs you’re definitely going to read – I feel like I’ve been way more selective in requesting ARCs because it really does suck if you take one and don’t end up getting your review up on time. I always feel like I’ve let the publisher down…

    • There is nothing stopping anyone from attending Midwinter except for money. Seriously, it cost $35 for an exhibits pass. Doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, librarian, or just a reader. It’s all about how you act once you’re there.

  14. This looks such a great event! I’m feeling a bit envious of this and your amazing pile of new books!

  15. YAYYY!! Indeed it was a great weekend even though I needed massive foot/shoulder massages after lol! Cannot wait to dive into the rest of my book pile

  16. Happy reading . I want half bad and far from you so bad . * mad cackle *

  17. Sounds like you had a blast! I would have loved to have seen David Levithan and Rainbow Rowell together. Also, We Were Liars was so wonderful so I’m jealous you got to meet E. Lockhart 🙂

  18. That sounds so much fun!!! I’m really loving all the books you got (especially Just Call My Name. I think I screamed when I saw that because I SO DID NOT KNOW THERE WAS A SEQUEL TO I’LL BE THERE. Really excited though bc I loved that book) and I can’t wait to see what you think of them. Happy reading!

    ps. your outfit was suuuuper cute. I loved the polka dots!

  19. It was so nice meeting you!! Love that picture of us! I’m going to snag it if that’s cool with you. 🙂 See you at BEA!

  20. Glad you had a great time! ALA conferences are great and it’s amazing how well put-together they are. I went to annual last summer in Chicago and went to some great sessions in addition to the exhibit hall. YALSA does some great pre-conference sessions if you ever land your dream job of librarian 🙂

  21. What an awesome experience! I am extremely jealous!
    Missie @ A Flurry of Ponderings

  22. I am so so so glad you went/that we were able to hang out. It was a true highlight for me.

  23. Ooh I didn’t realize that even a library event could be awesome fun for bloggers. That is so great that you got to attend and chat up the amazing publishers. And wow what a haul!

  24. How fun! ALA midwinter is a ton of fun. Loved seeing all the fun you had and the goodies you got. I can only imagine how cool it was to hear David read from Two Boys Kissing. That book brought me to tears.

  25. So glad you had a great time and a successful experience. Thank you for posting the differences with BEA, I was very interested in that.

  26. Great recap! I love the photos with all the authors. I’m so psyched that you met Matthew Quick. FORGIVE ME LEONARD PEACOCK was one of my favourite reads.. So goood!

    “At BEA you can get trampled & I didn’t feel that way here. When a book drop happens at BEA, those books are gone so quickly.” Oh my gosh.. I’m scared.

    I like that you mentioned that you think before picking up a book. There’s only so many books one can be read in a year and it sucks that it just sits there. I’m more picky this year than ever when requesting..I also read more e-ARCs b/c it’s so much more convenient. Thanks for the wonderful post!

  27. See, part of my career aspiration is to one day be a librarian because I am awesome at programming and getting people to attend things and have a lock down on community outreach, including working with people with low literacy levels, so I’d like to attend an ALA to network, ask questions, and also, be in the company of good people.

    Also, I love the sound of the atmosphere. Laid back forever.

    ugh, BEA.

    Sorry, hahaha.

  28. It was so great finally meeting you in person! <3

    While I adore BEA, I have to say that I loved the relaxed atmosphere of ALA MW. It was so nice to actually be able to talk to reps and authors without feeling pressured to run to the next thing.

  29. Sounds like a dream trip! Oh and that cappucino looks delish!

  30. Lucy Christopher did a workshop and lecture at my uni last year. It was a proper little fangirl moment for me because I really enjoyed ‘Stolen’.

    Damn, I really need to go to something like this.. All the books. The people. THE BOOKS! *pines*

  31. I want to go to ALA, either MW or summer one time. I absolutely hate BEA, too many people and way too much chaos for me, but I always thought ALA, especially MW, sounds more my speed.

    I really liked The Scar Boys and Better Off Friends so I hope you enjoy those. I am massively jealous (in a good way!) that you got The Chapel Wars and especially Lies We Tell Ourselves, I can’t wait for that one!

  32. Just four words honestly, YOU ARE SO LUCKY!

    That looked like so much fun… Rainbow Rowell, the bloggers, THE BOOKS!!! You got some awesome ones!!! 🙂

  33. ALA sounds interesting! By the way I’m just curious, did they sell books there with a normal price or what?

  34. That looks like it was so much fun.


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