Cassie-la’s Nerdy and Literary Frolic in London, England

221 B Baker StKelly was lucky enough to spend two glorious weeks in London for her graduate work in the summer of 2012 and had plenty of literary adventures that only a library student could have. So when I went back to London for a second time I knew I had to make with the literary loving. Especially since my first visit there exactly ten years ago at the ripe old age of 16 I was more concerned with finding all the locations where the people I had been reading about in the historical fiction novels I was obsessing over had lived and died.

Although to be fair, this trip I did a little bit of historical death rubbernecking too. It is London after all.

In addition to taking in some more sites- having gotten all the super duper touristy stuff out of the way on the first go around- I was able to do some smaller stuff. I was also determined to fill my gut with glorious glorious Indian food and drink all the cider.

Even better, thanks to some frequent flyer miles from my mother who I was visiting, I got to fly the entire way Business Class which entailed drinking free food and alcohol in the Business Lounge and being waited on by my awesome flight attendants: Danish Jorah Mormont and the old man from Up.

So without further ado, here are the equally nerdy and literary highlights from my trip.

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Have Some Non-Fiction: Cassie-la Hunts for Villains in “I Wear the Black Hat” by Chuck Klosterman

I Wear the Black Hat Chuck KlostermanI Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) by Chuck Klosterman
: Non-fiction, humor, essays, villains, pop-culture, where does this man come up with these awesome parallels?
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary: Pop-culture writer Chuck Klosterman’s new book has taken a turn for the evil, exploring villainy in fiction and in real life in order to determine what makes a person a true villain. Whether or not he arrives at a conclusion about what constitutes a villain is a different thing entirely. Featuring Klosterman’s typical brand of wit, humor and penchant for essay-writing into one cohesive thesis, it’s good to see him back at what he does best. Even if his quirky footnotes have been replaced with brackets.

I happened to attend Chuck Klosterman’s reading/Q&A for his new book in Jersey City at an arcade slash bar (Barcade for anyone in the tri-state area) that was held by the eventually to be opened bookstore WORD, an offshoot of the popular New York based bookstore WORD in Brooklyn. Yes, they can only seem to function in hipster central but it was okay, I got to drink some alcoholic pear cider and listen to Klosterman talk with the assurance of a semi-entitled author even though he had a voice you would expect to hear emanating from a closed locker in high school.

And regardless of the $26 cost for a 200 page book and the fact that the signing was such a clusterfuck that I didn’t even take advantage of it, I was glad I went. Despite his hints of arrogance (some of which are deserved), Klosterman is a funny guy. He knows his pop culture, he’s supremely intelligent and even though I disagree that Kanye West will one day be a joke (because he currently is a running joke, see proof in my own writing HERE, HERE, and HERE) I’m in line with the majority of his beliefs. Except about Young Adult being the most underrated Diablo Cody film of the past decade. That would be Jennifer’s Body sir.

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LeakyCon 2012: Day Three

Faster than a sexy chupacabra, our last full day of LeakyCon was upon us. While we were excited for the day ahead and all the shenanigans that surely awaited, it was tempered by the knowledge that too soon it would all come to an end. But the encroachment of real life would not give us the wizard mopes. With caffeine firmly in hand, we set forth for more wonderful LitTrack panels, the hilarious Mark “Reads” Oshiro, and cosplay!

I Was a Teenage Author
Moderator: Maureen Johnson
Panelists: John Green, Holly Black, Margaret Stohl, Daniel Ehrenhaft, and Stephanie Perkins

Last year’s runaway favorite, this panel was repeated with some new faces and some familiar ones. Daniel Ehrenhaft read some “rock” lyrics from his days as a former song writer, complete with a song about McDonald’s. That boy was really wed to his job, even if he never stole the salad bar. Margaret Stohl read some truly painful teenage angst poetry, which was rife with ridiculous symbolism and metaphor. Thank you for all your readings about scratchy lamps and particularly about erect pens. John Green read from a story about fireflies and lost youth. Although somehow the reference to “‘Firefly’ metaphors” made the audience think immediately of Nathan Fillion and not the insect. Once again Stephanie Perkins read from her teenage diary about her then boyfriend and now husband Jarrod (happy face!) and Holly Black read from her ridiculous fantasy novella. Specifically about potions that could make you fall asleep for a few minutes OR FOREVER!

Hearing the ridiculous stuff your favorite authors wrote in their youth is a hopeful experience for any aspiring writer, that’s for sure.

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LeakyCon 2012: Day Two

Day two started off bright and early (well, early for people who watched vampires eat placentas until 3:00 AM) with the second annual Lit Day. Or rather “Lit Track” as it was called this year as the event was expanded to a whopping two days. Seriously, Lit Day = love.

The D Word: Diversity
Moderator: Kate Schafer Testerman
Panelists: Rebecca Sherman, Jennifer Laughran, and Maureen Johnson

Kelly and Cassie-wa had big plans of waking early, showering, grabbing breakfast, and getting to this panel on time. They made it to the last 20 minutes (we blame it on Twilight). Which they were kicking themselves over, because it was such a fantastic group of authors and agents. The panelists frankly discussed problems in the publishing industry, like how does one change an industry that says black people on covers results in fewer sales? Authors want to write stories that speak to their readers, but how can they do this when others are worried about the finances? Maureen Johnson lightened the mood (of course) by talking about how one could reveal aspects of a character without it being too overt. Like how could JK Rowling have revealed Dumbledore was gay without it being awkward in terms of narrative. Her point was that JK couldn’t write about Dumbledore’s dating profile on or anything like that. Diversity is an incredibly tricky concept to define and create authentically. Really thought-provoking and excellent discussion was happening, and then some over-eager Ravenclaw raised her hand. She prefaced her question by saying it may be too advanced for the panel (oooof), and then blathered about privilege. Kelly and Cassie-wa cringed a little, but the panelists were pros and answered with ease.

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San Diego Comic-Con 2012: Cassie-la’s SDCC Recap

This year as a belated birthday present slash sort of business trip, I was lucky enough to get sent to the nerd mecca that is San Diego Comic-Con… International. I know, I don’t like the addition of international either. Founded in 1970, the four day and now five night event has become known as the ultimate pop culture convention specializing in movies, television shows, and to a lesser extent books and comic books. Of course that didn’t stop me from making my journey as literary as possible at America’s largest convention.

Within this post you will find me squeeing over the fact that I got to meet and get an autograph from author Margaret Atwood, detailing just what it was like to be a zombie in the first ever Walking Dead: Escape San Diego obstacle course, and discussing how the literary nerd in me died when I got to hang out with Amber Benson and Bill Willingham at various after parties. Not to mention meet and network with a variety of like-minded individuals. See: nerds.

In an effort to cater to the fact that this is a literary blog, all literary themed panels, encounters, and other such nonsense will be highlighted in bold. If you however are also interested in television related media, all that will be available for your reading pleasure in the non-bolded sections. Especially you “Community”, “Legend of Korra”, “Firefly” and “Supernatural” fans!

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Kelly’s Literary Adventures in London

Oh hey there. So it’s been a few months since I’ve posted – grad school kicked my butt for 16 weeks straight. After which I went almost immediately to London for a summer class on libraries and archives in the United Kingdom. I spent two glorious weeks in “class,” if one can call attending tours of libraries, museums, and archives (with supplementary lectures and biscuits!) class. Yet the library gods have deemed it credit-worthy, and I am certainly not complaining.

Besides getting credit for drinking cider and visiting awesome libraries, I was of course thrilled to be in England for literary reasons. It’s the land of Shakespeare and Austen, Phillip Pullman and JK Rowling. London permeates the texts I’ve read throughout my life, and even the streets are filled with constant reminders of literature. Metal placards are placed casually on the sides of buildings, proclaiming my favorite authors lived and worked around me. Yeats worked in a house around the corner from my hotel, which is now a shop of some kind. Freaking Yeats! Walking around London was this weird collision of fiction, history, and the present, and I’ve tried to articulate some of my favorite/nerdiest moments below.Read More »

BookExpo America: Cassie-la’s BEA 2012 Wrap Up

BookExpo America is a four day event in New York City celebrating all things bookish. From physical books to digital publishing, the conference unveils the hottest titles for the fall, and is the biggest book trade fair in the United States. The event is open to industry professionals like bloggers, book retailers, librarians, and the press and is the go to place for ARCs (advanced reader copies), getting author autographs, and meeting tons of contacts in the book publishing world. Networking and book appreciation is what makes BEA so wonderful and exciting, you will never find yourself in such a literary centered environment. Reading isn’t weird at BEA, it’s recommended.

Besides getting to meet authors, network, and connect with fellow book enthusiasts, BEA is all about the swag. In the two days that I walked the floors of the Javits Center, I picked up 12 books, 3 totes, 2 pins, 1 wand, 2 preview samples, and 1 attache case. Unlike some other BEAers, I was very selective with what I picked up. Not only did I not want to drag too many books around with me, but I didn’t want to take books home that I would never read. Especially if other book lovers really wanted that book which held no interest to me. It’s surprising how people are so willing to just grab books willy nilly that they will most likely never read.

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