Book Expo Highlights

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Photo credit Andrea Schwalm/Big Huge Labs.


I came home from Book Expo, the publishing industry’s annual trade show, with a suitcase full of books–including a raft of personally-inscribed future bestsellers from Anne Burrell, Kate DiCamillo, Neil Gaiman, and Jon Scieszka

Each afternoon as the event wound down for the day, the Javitz Center would disgorge another serpentine bolus of bowed, tottering bibliophiles from each exit. The lucky ones got to drop their wheeled-suitcases off at area hotels before heading out to author receptions around Manhattan each evening. I, on the other hand, feared I would stroke out right there on the corner of 11th Avenue and 47th Street, mere steps away from my rooftop cocktails and drawing session with Mo Willems.

Mo Willems. Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm.


It was great!

Pigeon tattoo at Mo Willems/Disney event. Photo: Andrea Schwalm.


Overheard while waiting in a book signing line after glimpsing The Oatmeal’s distinctive cover art:

First woman: “I had him personalize it for Gracie–what a nice man! We’ll read it together tonight when I get home!”

Long pause. Sound of pages turning rapidly…

Second woman: “I paid a man to take his balls away yet he still tries to screw animals four times his size…Hmmm. Well, Gracie is a very mature eight…”

Dr. Ruth at Book Expo. Photo: Andrea Schwalm.

The day’s highlight was receipt of a personalized copy of Sexually Speaking: What Every Woman Needs to Know About Sexual Health signed by Dr. Ruth Westheimer. As a child of the 80’s, prior to the ubiquity of earbuds, I spent many a deliciously illicit Sunday evening with my clock-radio volume turned low, listening to Dr. Ruth discuss reciprocity and condoms on WYNY. And now here she was, looking and sounding the same as I remembered, sharing her memories as a cub scout leader to her sons back in Switzerland.

Inscription. Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm.

She wishes me well!

Anne Burrell at Book Expo. Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm.

Food Network “personality” Anne Burrell was  a “let’s keep it moving, enough with the chit-chat” kind of author during her book signing but her love for people comes through in her writing. Every single recipe in Cook Like a Rock Star, from “orecchiette with broccoli rabe pesto and sausage” to “tarallucci with salty caramel” reads like a personal embrace. I have a soft spot for recipes titles that take up half the page, listing every ingredient–or that use bacon in a surprising way…

Tori Nighthawk at Book Expo. Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm.

This is a 15-year-old young woman named Tori Nighthawk who was at Book Expo in order to promote her gorgeously self-illustrated picture book Don’t Judge a Bird by it’s Feathers. She wrote the book because she wanted to tell kids “Even if you are not the most beautiful, well dressed kid at school, if you are positive, happy and passionate about your interests and your goals, people will gravitate to you.”

Interesting… Photo credit: Andrea Schwalm.
Things I covet. From Photo credit Andrea Schwalm.

In the bookend moments of recent days I’ve dipped into Billy Collins’ newest collection of poetry, Aimless Love,  finished Kate DiCamillo’s luminous Flora and Ulysses, and devoured the delightful Nick and Tesla’s High Voltage Science Lab by  Science Bob Pflugfelder’s and Steve Hockensmith. Next up on my nightstand is John Carter Cash’s debut middle-grade novel, Lupus Rex. Then, perhaps, A Beautiful Truth. This to-be-read pile has emerged from my suitcase, slowly taking over my living room, spilling over the edges of every flat, empty surface like a clutch of fat, solemn cats.

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