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Book Group Expo

I just got back from the Book Group Expo in San Jose. It rocked. Mostly.

I got to meet (and chat with!) Andre Dubus III (House of Sand and Fog and The Garden of Last Days), Jennie Shortridge (Love and Biology at the Center of the Universe), Garth Stein (The Art of Racing in the Rain), Diana Spechler (Who By Fire), Kathleen Kent (The Heretic’s Daughter), Brunonia Barry (The Lace Reader), Michelle Richmond (The Year of Fog and No One You Know), and Annie Barrow (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society).

The Book Group Expo had a bunch of “Literary Salons” where certain authors were on a panel with a moderator, and theoretically the moderator would moderate for 15 minutes, and then open up the discussion to audience questions for 45 minutes. BGE tries to set itself apart from other panels with the amount of audience participation, but most moderators talked for 30-45 minutes, rather than the touted 15. The success of a panel definitely depended on the amount of preparation that the moderator put into it. Apparently, all you need to be a moderator is to be an author yourself and you have to read the books of your panelists. I have news for you, BGE: An author does not a good moderator make. Some authors were good moderators, but not all. Hopefully they’ll do a little better prep with their moderators next year.

Some highlights:

I met softdrink at the Expo. We’d arranged it beforehand, but I was a little nervous, wondering what I would do if we didn’t really click. I totally shouldn’t have worried because we got along great. We’re even talking about going to the LA Times Festival of Books.

I was talking to one author, Michelle Gagnon (I’m linking to a part of her website that has her picture because I think she’s super cute) (we were talking about In the Woods and The Likeness, which we both LOVED), when this woman walks up and starts talking to Michelle because this woman thinks she knows Michelle from somewhere. I’m holding The Little Giant of Aberdeen County, and the conversation comes around to this book and the woman says that she has that book coming to her in the mail. It doesn’t come out until January, so I figure she’s GOT to be a blogger. I asked her if she was a blogger, and she said yes, so I asked where she blogs, and she said caribousmom!! I was like OMG NO WAY I’M TRISH FROM HEY LADY!!! (if you could please imagine me saying that in a very high-pitched-I-haven’t-graduated-high-school kind of way) That was so cool. She has great pictures on her site…I left my camera in my car in my haste to gather up all my books, so her pictures will have to do. Though I am lifting this one picture of all of us:

From left to right: me, softdrink, Michelle Gagnon, and caribousmom.

Softdrink and I had cocktails with a bunch of people, but I ended up mostly talking to Garth Stein. Here’s a picture of him:

Pretty hot, yeah? Hang on, don’t go anywhere. I have to tell Garth something, because he may stumble upon this post (don’t think I didn’t make cards and hand them out to anyone who made eye contact with me).

*clearing throat* Um, yeah, Garth? You may or may not want to continue reading. Not that it’s inappropriate, I just feel kinda weird. I don’t know if you want to read about me dissecting the behavior of the women who would talk to you. But if you do want to read about that, then by all means, please continue. Either way, though, just know I agree YOU WERE TOTALLY SCREWED OUT OF YOUR REVIEW IN THE NY TIMES. You can’t see me, but I’m totally giving them the finger.

Okay, so I talked to Garth for most of the time we were having cocktails. And he’s cute, yeah, but I’m very happily married. So I sat back and watched how the women interacted with him, and it’s nothing short of fawning. And lest you think I misconstrued their behavior, let me remind you I got 18 out of 20 on the fake smiles test. I’m good at reading people.

ANYway, we ended up going to dinner with Garth Stein, Carol Fitzgerald (co-founder and president of The Book Report Network (she runs Reading Group Guides and, among others)), Esther Bushell (who makes a living as a book group facilitator — how cool is that??), Joshua Henkin, and someone from Harper who I spent a lot of time talking to and forgot her name. Dinner was so much fun, as softdrink and I got to eavesdrop on the shop talk, which is oh so cool.

I met so many great authors, some I knew of before, and some I learned about at the expo. I will be featuring many of those authors and their books here, as you can’t be naive enough to think I didn’t buy anything at the expo. 😀

| Tags: , , , , , , 23 comments »

23 Responses to “Book Group Expo”

  1. Alyce

    That is just so cool! I’m trying not to be too jealous over here, but I’m glad you had such a wonderful time!


  2. Wendy

    Great post, Trish…and you were polite enough to leave out the part that I totally butted into your conversation about In the Woods!!! But, now I am glad I did 🙂 So great to meet you “in the flesh”… and wow, that *is* a hot photo of Garth! His wife must now be used to all these drooling women, don’t you think?


  3. Jen Forbus


    If you end up going to the LA Times Book Festival, let me know. I’m making a trip to LA in April to visit my sister and go. Would love to meet ya!



  4. Chris@bookarama

    How cool that you ran into other bloggers! And your Garth comments are too funny 🙂


  5. Ti

    I’m jealous. If you guys hit the Festival of Books let me know. That is very close to me!


  6. Heather J.

    I’m glad you had such a good time – and I’m totally jealous! I SO wanted to be there. 🙁

    I had dinner with Carol Fitzgerald when she was in Baltimore earlier this month (still haven’t blogged about it … shame on me) and she’s quite a character, wouldn’t you agree?!


  7. tanabata

    Oh my! Those eyes!

    That’s so cool that you met up with other bloggers, both planned, and accidentally! And got to see all those authors!
    Green with envy over here…!


  8. mellymel

    LUCKY! (said in my best Napoleon D. voice)


  9. Michelle Gagnon

    Hi Trish! It was so great meeting you, and it was hilarious witnessing the caribou’s mom encounter. I should start a sideline of bringing people together, don’t you think? I’m hoping I wasn’t one of the moderators who ran over, we started late and I no longer own a watch (and figured pulling out my cell phone mid-pnale might come across as-well-tacky) so it was a bit of a guess-timate…anyway, hope to see you again soon! I’ll be at LA Times and BEA next year.


  10. Bonnie

    Thanks for sharing about your experiences at the Book Group Expo!!! It was so neat to read about your hobnobbing with the authors!! How cool that you met other bloggers!!!


  11. lisamm

    Can you say JEALOUS!!???? OH my. How totally fun. That’s amazing that you met Wendy by accident!! What a great pic of all of you together. You and Jill and Wendy look so dang happy. Like you, I would be nervous to meet my online friends in person!! I’m going over to their blogs now to see what they have to say.. and I am totally in for next year!! And you know, I live in the LA area and always go to the Festival of Books!!

    Jennie Shortridge and Garth Stein are friends IRL.. was she there for the cocktails and conversation too? What’s she like? He is so cute, I can imagine the effect he has on women in person.

    Jealous, jealous, jealous!!


  12. Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit)

    Sounds like a great time had by all. I want to hear more about the fawning! LOL That must have been a sight to see!


  13. Jeane

    That sounds like so much fun. How cool that you met some fellow book bloggers!


  14. Dawn

    Yes, a great pic of the 4 of you – it sounds like so much fun!

    Now, that pic of Garth … I’m a very happily married woman, but … OMG! I think I would have been tongue-tied all thru cocktails and dinner!

    So, tell us, what did you pick up when you were there?


  15. Florinda

    I’m a regular at the LA Times Festival of Books. From what I see in the comments here, you’re going to have to let quite a few of us know if you make it down our way for that next spring!


  16. Bookfool, aka Nancy

    How utterly cool! Garth has great eyes.


  17. Kim L

    I’m totally jealous. And I have been wondering when it will happen that I will run into another blogger some random place. How cool, anyhow!


  18. Stephanie

    I tell you, we need to have a book blogging convention so we could all meet! I’m totally jealous!


  19. Jana McBurney-Lin

    Wasn’t that a great party? As an author, I felt honored. As a partipant, I was always learning. I was lucky to go to salons with great moderators.
    I also had some fun coincidences–I not only got to be in a salon with an author who happens to be a professor at my daughter’s college (John Nathan–Living Carelessly in Tokyo and Elsewhere), but I ran into an author who I’d only known on Facebook. 🙂


  20. Book Blogger Retreat? « Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

    […] 31, 2008 by trish Jill and Wendy and I had so much fun at the Book Group Expo, and after I blogged about it, some people said we should do a book blogger retreat, which got me thinking. It WOULD be fun to do […]

  21. Literate Housewife

    This is so incredible! Thank you so much for sharing. It’s nice to get to see some of the bloggers I’ve been reading. 🙂


  22. Jana McBurney-Lin

    Sorry you missed our panel:) I’m not sure about the Festival of Books at the moment. However, our salon will be doing a repeat at the South San Francisco Library on November 22 at 1pm, if you can make it.


  23. Interview with Diana Spechler, author of Who By Fire « Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

    […] met Diana Spechler at the Book Group Expo a little over six months ago. I had so much fun talking to her that I made sure I got a copy of her […]

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