Editor’s Note: This story was originally published on Omaha.com
* * *
By Gary Wasdin
Recently, I had the pleasure of attending the annual BookExpo conference in New York City where publishers unveil their exciting new books. It’s kind of like Disney World for nerds. Authors are on site to meet with the public and sign autographs, publishers give away advanced reading copies of highly anticipated novels, and librarians and booksellers run around like giddy schoolchildren trying to live in the moment. It is a high-energy event and certainly evidence that people still love to read. It makes me happy to know that people are still excited by books and authors.
There truly were a handful of high-profile faces at the conference. For some, the highlight was meeting a young author named Nicole Polizzi, who was signing copies of her book “Baby Bumps.” Never heard of her? Ask your kids to tell you all about Snooki.
Jim Carrey was signing his new children’s book “How Roland Rolls,” the story of a wave worried about its life ending when it reaches the shore, and learning about being a part of a much grander thing — the ocean. It’s a heavy topic for young kids and Carrey put a lot into making it work. Interestingly, he chose to self-publish the book, joining a massive wave of authors creating a new world of book development and distribution.
Traditional authors drew equally large crowds. Amy Tan made an appearance to talk about her new book, “The Valley of Amazement,” her first since 2005. Erica Jong talked about the 40th publication anniversary of “Fear of Flying,” and E. L. Doctorow unveiled a new novel, “Andrew’s Brain.” Many fans lined up to get a sneak peak at the latest work by one of our most brilliant writers today.
BookExpo is a celebration of writers of all kinds, and it serves a valuable role in introducing us to new authors that may become household names. Discovering these authors is an amazing experience. There is comfort in curling up with the latest work from an old favorite, but nothing can match that thrill of discovering someone new. It’s like stumbling onto a secret treasure and being torn between wanting to keep it all to yourself and shouting out to everyone about the amazing work you’ve found. I almost always end up sharing with anyone who will listen.
Paula Daly has introduced her first novel and it’s an amazing read. “Just What Kind of Mother Are You?” is an exciting thriller that kept me reading straight through to the end. I read a snippet of another exciting novel, “The Affairs of Others” by Amy Grace Loyd, which will be available in August.
My absolute favorite new find is Tim Federle. Reading his recent young adult novel, “Better Nate Than Ever,” was like reading my childhood journal, had I been industrious enough to write a journal. Read it and you’ll understand me and my obsession with Broadway. Federle was at BookExpo with what may be my favorite book of 2013, “Tequila Mockingbird” — a collection of literary cocktails. Let’s face it, at the end of a long week who doesn’t want to come home to a refreshing Are You There God? It’s Me, Margarita?
Summer is the best time to rekindle your love of reading. There are thousands of authors (old and new) for you to enjoy, and Omaha Public Library staff will gladly help point you to something that will capture your interests. While you’re at it, sign up for our 2013 Summer Reading Program at your branch or omahalibrary.org. There’s something for everyone, and a love of reading can be rewarded with fun prizes.
Gary Wasdin is the executive director of the Omaha Public Library.