Book People Are The Best People

A year ago I went to a book festival. It was the first one I’d ever attended. YALLWEST is located in Santa Monica, California and after going last year, I couldn’t wait to go again. My second experience at YALLWEST was at the end of April this year, but a few months previously I went to the Tucson Festival of Books. At this point, I’ve gone to three book festivals and a few other small book events in between. Somewhere in the midst of the past year of my literary adventures, I realized something… book people are the best people. And by book people I mean everyone involved in these events. All the way from the authors, the event hosts and coordinators, the volunteers who help keep things organized, the donors who fund these events, and down to the readers of the books. There are even the social media specialists who promote the books and the events, and who have online giveaways and contests through. Book people, are agents of change.

What do we mean when we think of an agent of change? Honestly, it can be anything. Some people go on missionary trips, building houses and providing clean water for villages. Some people are caretakers for their loved ones who need them. And some people write and promote books. Being an agent of change can encompass any form of kindness extended to others, no matter how small. When I think about it, I think we have a responsibility to try and be agents of change for others.

YALLWEST is a book festival for young adult books. Think about the average young adult reader for a moment, and try to remember who you were around that age. These are our teenagers. Adolescents are so vulnerable to societal pressures at this stage in their lives. It’s our responsibility to provide and promote safe spaces where they can be comfortable with who they are. How better than to coordinate a book festival where they can escape to fantastic fictional worlds or face real world problems with strong young adult characters as their guides? To make it better, give them free books and the chance to meet the wonderful people who brought their on page heroes to life. Put this event in a beautiful city like Santa, Monica so that they also have an exciting destination to travel to and experience. So much good can come from events like these, and so much good does. Book festivals are organized by agents of change, and they move me to be one as well.


Now, I may not be the typical young adult reader but I thought this event was a blast, so much so, that I have now gone two years in a row and intend on going next year as well. Like last year, this year’s festival was quite a successful experience. I met tons of authors and acquired their signatures in my books, and with the help of a few friends who allowed me to be in two places at once, I was able to capitalize on the free book giveaways. With my 19 free books, in addition to the books I had packed in anticipation of getting them signed, I stuffed my suitcase and flew back to Arizona.

A travel mishap always makes for a good story especially when you are able to laugh at yourself, so here’s mine from this trip. When I got my suitcase (full of books if anyone needs a reminder) at the baggage claim, I discovered that somewhere during it’s time out of my hands, it lost a wheel. What was I to do? I begrudgingly had to use my big girl muscles and carry it (FULL OF BOOKS) through the parking lot all the way to my car. This, by the way, was after my flight was delayed and I was stranded at LAX for two extra hours. The walk to my car was unpleasant but it is so laughable now that I have to share it.

Getting back on track here. Once I was able to get home and examine the works of literature I hauled from California to Arizona I started thinking, “Oh this sounds so good, I bet so and so from work would like this!” or “Oh this is a sequel to a book that so and so was telling me about, I’ll have to let them borrow this!” My books are now all over Tucson, being borrowed by friends, family members, and coworkers as if the books haven’t done enough traveling. The book festival creates a snowball effect, because now as I’m promoting literacy and loaning out my books, I too am becoming an agent of change by sharing literature.

So here is my ode to book people. If you’ve ever written a book, promoted one online through any form of digital media or word of mouth, read a book and loved it so much that you suggested it to a friend, worked at a bookstore or library, volunteered at any kind of literary event, or simply gave a book a good rating on Goodreads, I thank you. For the countless others involved in keeping books alive (especially the bloggers), I thank you. For all the teachers across the entire globe, especially the English teachers who promote literacy and learning, I thank you.

And for the teenagers… I know life is so frustrating sometimes and at this point in your life everything might feel like the end of the world. I know because I remember. I promise you it gets better. You’ll get your braces off, the bangs you cut yourself will grow out, and you’ll realize it’s okay to make new friends and let old ones go. You don’t have to know what you want to be “when you grow up” yet, and it’s okay to tell annoying adults that when they ask you. You don’t have to have a date to prom, it might even be more fun if you go alone anyways, and you should never under any circumstances ever be embarrassed if you get good grades. Being a good student is kickass and you should be proud of it. You are cool if you care about school. Always be nice to your family, be goofy and have fun, and don’t forget to lose yourself in a good book from time to time.

The photographer told us to make funny faces. We panicked and this was the result.

Addendum: In practicing what I preach I want to use this space to continue promoting books and book people. My dear friend, who has accompanied me to all of the book festivals and book events I mentioned in this blog post (and was featured beside me in the above photos) writes a blog of her own. Check out From Jen’s Bookshelf for full reviews of many of the books we acquired at YALLWEST the past two years and more! You can also follow @fromjensbookshelf on Instagram for updates and fun bookish photos who’s production has been the subject of many of my travels. Perhaps you’ll read about those adventures here on Ciao Mariah soon.

Thank you for reading… now go start a new book!


6 thoughts on “Book People Are The Best People

  1. Hi Mariah!

    I find your topic exciting, and I feel your passion for these book events in your post. Your use of stories about your travel, such as the travel mishap, gave variety to the blog post. If you wanted to make the stories more animated, you could use descriptive language like having “screaming arms” by the time you got to the car, or that you felt like Sisyphus by the time you got to your car, with a lingering fear that you found a similar car in the wrong parking lot. I have had similar experiences!

    I can’t say that I recall your career goals at the moment, but I think you should look into a Library Science degree after your MA in English. The American Library Associate has sections and groups dedicated to Young Adult Literature, and there are jobs out there where book people get to work with other book people and get paid to do it! ALA has a group/section called YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association), and they bring library science people together in conferences and such. And if you like working in the higher education setting, I have seen jobs at Universities with large Education programs, and they wanted librarians for their children’s, young adult, etc collections. Just an idea!



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  2. Mariah–Book People indeed! There are many attempts here to reach multiple audiences and the enthusiasm you bring is infectious. Have you thought about going more overt with a direct address of who the Book People are in your blog post? Maybe as subheadings? The multiple audience pieces that pop up threw me a bit in the beginning.
    I love the details that you include here about the conventions and the way you try to connect the ideas from our reading to the shaping of the post. This is hard to do. Agents of change. This means changing the discourse, yes? Not just talking up and talking about books and blogs but also engaging with their ideas and which books we talk about.

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  3. Mariah,

    YALLWEST sounds like a fun book festival! Your blog was fun to read and appealed to various audiences—teachers, teenagers, and people who love books. I especially liked your advice to teenagers! Too often they are afraid to be smart; smart is cool!

    The pictures added interest and aesthetics to the post. You picked great pictures because I could see the excitement on your faces. Adding the links to your post on YALLWEST and to Jen’s website was helpful. I looked at your YALLWEST blog and am envious that you got to meet some of the authors that my students love to read. Spreading literacy and the love of reading is being an agent of change.

    My only suggestion is to include more of our readings into your post.

    Your post was lively and fun to read. It made me want to go to a book festival even though I have been to a couple, and I remember it is kind of like Black Friday, a lot of lines that take too long.
    I have enjoyed reading your blogs for this class. You have a fluid writing style, energy, and intelligence that are evident in your blogs. Good luck this summer. After class ends, I am going to take your advice and read a good book! =-)

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  4. I love this! I agree, book people are the best people! I had never heard of book festivals before. This sounds like my kind of vacation. Similar to you, I have had a habit of acquiring books and then lending (let’s be honest, GIFTING) them to friends and family. I hadn’t thought of it as being an agent of change, but I suppose that fits! I know that somewhere in Afghanistan there are several trade books floating around that I sent there. I hope the covers are well worn from being held and enjoyed by lots of readers. I often feel a twinge of guilt (not enough to stop me, though!!!) when I leave a bookstore with my arms full of books because the money adds up. But maybe now I won’t feel any guilt because I will see it as investment into my community! Thanks!!!!

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  5. Mariah,

    Your writing is vivid and shows your enthusiasm for your subject. The repetition of “I thank you” was effective and showed humility and graciousness.

    Your images (and the design of your front page, consisting of photos to sell each entry) are effective. One suggestion: try to use a few more that are not posed. I think readers will get a stronger sense of the environment that you describe so well.

    Using the quick anecdote about the lost wheel helps show your personality–which is a strength in your blog. Going forward, I think readers would enjoy these more and more.


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  6. Mariah,

    How cool! By the way, tell your friend “Go MU!” (I LOVE Monster’s, Inc. I have my MU hat in my suitcase for my NY trip 😉 ). I would have never thought of book festivals as an agent of change, but you are so right! And you definitely are an agent of change because I have to check a book festival out now! I don’t read too much…but I do have quite a bit of books. I’m not an avid reader…I’m an irresponsible reader. Meaning – I love to read so much that once I get started on a book, I avoid all my other responsibilities because I want to stay stuck in the book. So, for now, I’ve held off on my book reading until I finish with NAU (two more classes!!) Reading is definitely an escape and I have about ten books (memoirs) I’ve started but had to put away for now because they are too distracting. I also love that you didn’t have to go very far to be that agent of change. We don’t have to travel far. I always think I can’t make a difference in the world unless I make it my life, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Great for those who are brave enough to do it, who have that drive, but we all have the potential without being rich to travel the world to do so. We just need to figure out where to begin, and sometimes that is enough. Nice work!

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