The Booktopia Asheville Experience

Booktopia1You’ve likely seen the tweets, but now you need all the dirt on #BooktopiaAVL. If you’re not familiar with Booktopia, it’s a series of weekend retreats for booklovers hosted by Michael Kindness and Ann Kingman of the Books on the Nightstand podcast. Each year, Booktopia brings an amazing list of authors  to three different cities and this time around I was lucky enough to squeeze into the Asheville event at Malaprops Bookstore along with the Jennifers from Book-alicious Mama, Jenn’s Bookshelves and Literate Housewife. So, who joined us?

Booktopia Asheville

Each Booktopia event has a participant cap in order to keep the weekend intimate, which ends up making it truly special. Throughout the day, the authors speak in small sessions (with spoilers welcome!) that end up being more like conversations than traditional readings. If you’re not a regular listener of Books on the Nightstand (you should be, it’s one of my favorites!), Ann and Michael regularly include these talks on their podcast following each Booktopia. I won’t spoil that for anyone wanting to listen, but there were some great moments from the sessions I was in.

  • Denise Kiernan is hilarious and passionate and SO full of knowledge. Her discussion of The Girls of Atomic City touched on so many important corners of history and had me itching to read everything she writes.
  • Ariel Lawhon’s (1) session showed just how fully she absorbed herself in the characters of her novel The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress. She also shared an incredible story that detailed the real life connection she developed with the family of one of her characters.
  • As we turned over pieces of Anthony Marra’s (2) novel, it became clear what a treasure he is. I realized that part of my love for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena goes to Anthony for his willingness to buck trends and do what was best for his story.
  • It was so much fun to be in a session with E. Lockhart (3) talking about We Were Liars where spoilers were allowed. It seems like everyone has been really great about keeping the secret for those who haven’t read yet, but hearing how the book came together without having to tip-toe was wonderful.
  • Wiley Cash (4) made a direct parallel between author readings and Hell, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard a story come to life the way This Dark Road to Mercy and A Land More Kind Than Home did when he read. We were also treated to a fantastic discussion of Southern fiction and a bit of Wiley’s new novel.

Booktopia AshevilleIt’s never stopped a bookworm before, but I’ve completely run out of space in the library my husband and I just put together upstairs. That leaves me doing some pretty consistent culling and (attempting to) limit the number of books I bring in. I usually fail miserably, but managed to keep the purchases under control this trip. I did come home with a few books I’d been dying to get my grubby hands on and kept one (What We See When We Read by Peter Mendelsund, which was out of stock) on the wishlist.

Next year’s Booktopia locations are still up in the air, but I definitely plan on going if possible. It’s a weekend full of great books and bookish people, all in a cozy setting…what more could you ask for? The events sell out crazy fast, so if you’re interested in being there I’d highly recommend signing up for the Booktopia mailing list to keep up with the latest announcements!

  • God, it sounds so great. I can’t imagine a better weekend. So glad you had fun and hopefully met lots of new bookish people!

  • Jenn Lawrence

    What a fun weekend! It was so great to share it with you & the Jennifers! Enjoy your books; I can’t wait to hear what you think of SPILLOVER!

  • Right Tanya? So need to consider hitting up one of these events. Bring the Canada in! ;-) It sounds like such a great experience and a weekend filled with books and bookishness! Here’s to hoping the locations for next year can be considered by us down here in these parts.

    • I could be on the wrong side of the country, but they host an event in Vermont every year…so if you’re close to that border it might not be much of a stretch!

  • Ti Reed

    I’ve never even heard of Booktopia before you guys made the trip! Looks like you had fun. I caught some of the pics on FB.

  • This sounds like SUCH a fun event!! Loved hearing all about it, thanks for sharing!

  • Emily@Asthe Crowe Flies

    I’m entirely jealous that you attended a Booktopia weekend, and the one in Asheville to boot. Malaprop’s is one of my favorite bookstores in the US, and though I don’t know Asheville well at all, I kinda fell in love with it during my two visits. Also, Ann and Michael are two of the best bookish people I know — they’re my sales reps for Random House, and the fact that they put together their Booktopias just blows me away.

    • It was my first time in Asheville, but I fell pretty hard for the city AND Malaprops – I love how much community there is around that store and all of the booksellers were wonderful. All the work Ann and Michael put into the weekend just knocks me out, too. And yes, yes, yes on Wiley Cash! I’m so glad he’s coming to Richmond next month so I’ll be able to round up some locals to see him, too.

  • Emily@Asthe Crowe Flies

    Also, Wiley Cash? Sweetest guy in the business.

  • Tanya M

    I’m so jealous, a book event in Asheville! Asheville is one of my favorite places to go and I am definitely signing up for the mailing list. I have The Wife, The Maid and the Mistress, we are giving away a copy of My Accidental Jihad during our Travel the World in Books Readathon and I’m on the blog tour for This Dark Road to Mercy! How was I NOT THERE?!?! Total fail on my part. It looks fabulous, though I hope next year is in Asheville again :)

    Thanks for the recap, it looks like such fun!

    • You should definitely listen for the author talks since you’re reading all the books, it made all of them even more wonderful! I hope next year’s events end up being somewhere close enough for me to go, too!

  • Ok, that did it! I’m going if it’s even REMOTELY close to me next year.

  • Jennine G.

    What a great group of authors! And thanks for the link…I signed up to keep informed about next year’s events! If one comes at all close, I want to go!

  • Jennifer Conner

    Great write up. I so miss Asheville, Booktopia, and some of the best fellow bloggers there are in this world. :) It was so great to finally meet you in person.

  • Words for Worms

    This sounds like so much fun!

  • I would have loved to listen to Denise Kiernan- Girls of Atomic City was so full of information but still personal.

    Apparently, Booktopia was here a year ago or so which means it won’t make it my way for another decade. Sigh…

  • AnnabelSmith

    Wow, this sounds like such a great initiative. And 2 of the authors (Marra & Lockhart) have written books that are high on my reading list – lucky you. I see you just bought American Rust too – I loved it – will look forward to your review.

    • I couldn’t resist American Rust! I’m such a huge fan of The Son, so I have to dig back into that backlist.

  • Kat C

    I’m just getting into literary fic so BOTNS has been a great podcast for me. I didn’t really understand what Booktopia was, but now I see and it looks super cool. I had no idea e. Lockhart was going to be at one, I loved We Were Liars.

    • It’s definitely something that’s easier to understand when you’re there or have someone explain it to you…but totally worth going to if you have the chance!

  • It sounds like you had such a great time! I loved Constellation of Vital Phenomena, so I’m very jealous you got to hear Marra read. I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to attend a Booktopia event next year.

    I’m really looking forward to hearing what you think of Green Girl! I need to just go ahead and buy a copy already.

    • I knew Green Girl was going to be one of my Booktopia purchases after reading about it in Bad Feminist and hearing about it all over the place in a span of a week or so. Very excited to get to it soon!

  • Sounds wonderful! My bookshelves couldn’t handle the additions — I’m trying SO HARD not to acquire too many books. And I know I couldn’t have resisted buying books if I’d gone to this.

    • It was a definite struggle for me! Part of the cost of the weekend is returned in the form of a giftcard to the host store, so I had a little bit of an excuse ;)

  • What a fantastic group of authors! This sounds like such a good time.

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