You’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?
- My Accidental Jihad by Krista Bremer
- This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
- Byrd by Kim Church
- The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
- The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
- A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
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.
It’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.
- Green Girl by Kate Zambreno
- Spillover by David Quammen
- The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
- American Rust by Philipp Meyer
- Orfeo by Richard Powers
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!