Before heading up to NY for Book Riot Live (or book nerd camp for grown-ups, as I’ve decided to call it), I spent an evening at the Free Library of Philadelphia listening to a conversation with Patti Smith. She was on tour to promote her new memoir M Train, but spoke a bit about Just Kids as well.

I’d re-read Just Kids in a sort of semi-preparation for the event and was experiencing a flurry of mixed emotions. I loved Just Kids the first time I read it. I’ve proclaimed (often) that the book changed my life and when that thing about listing your 10 most important books was all over Facebook, you better believe that it was on my list.

And so, when I re-read it (with pen in hand to underline all the lines that changed my life) I felt a little bit let down. Much of the language is poetic, and I still find the evolution of her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe beautiful and inspiring, but something was missing — I didn’t feel the same stirring in my soul as the first time I read it and I found this troubling.

Hearing Patti Smith speak was lovely, but the amazing (for me) moment came during the audience Q & A at the end. A woman stood up and said that Patti Smith had been a great role model for her as an artist, a mother, and a feminist and asked her what advice she would give to a young girl growing up right now. Patti Smith started talking and I found myself taking fevered notes on my phone:

  • Do the best that you can
  • Think for yourself
  • Don’t judge based on superficial things
  • Feel yourself as an individual
  • Connect with the world, but remember who you are [when] unconnected

In hearing this advice I was able to identify why Just Kids meant so much to me when I initially read it and why it didn’t hit as hard upon re-reading.

I will be the first to admit that I definitely don’t have everything figured out, but I can say with some amount of confidence that I’ve begun to figure myself out. I think reading Just Kids had a lot (though admittedly not everything) to do with that; it showed me the merits of embracing my “authentic self.” The process of being who I want to be — quirks and bizarre enthusiasms and all — began long before I read Just Kids and continued after, but I think that the book helped something click in my brain. And so when I began my re-reading, that switch was already flipped and the book didn’t feel as revolutionary.

Without this revelation, I’m not sure how I would feel about this book right now. In acknowledging what I took from it the first time, I feel like I can still call it a book that is important in my life. And it’s entirely possible that I’ll pick it up again some time in the future and have other, entirely different feelings about it. I believe that I have changed a lot as a person, especially in the last 5 years, so it makes perfect sense for the way I experience books to change.

I don’t have to give up books that meant a lot to me at the time just because I’ve grown and changed. And that realization has been particularly freeing.

Book Riot Live!!

November 10, 2015

Book Riot Live was in New York this past weekend and I had such a blast that I’m having trouble adjusting to “regular life” again.

It was exciting to meet Rioters and spend time with so many glorious book nerds. The atmosphere was incredibly positive and inclusive and representative of why I love the bookish community so much. One minute you’re geeing out with other fans about an author and their work, and the next moment you’re geeing out with that author.

All of the panels that I had the opportunity to attend were fantastic and really echoed the values that I’ve come to associate with Book Riot — enthusiasm for all kinds of books and fandom, inclusivity and attention to diversity, and devotion to inspiring thoughtful conversations about important topics in the bookish community. My main complaint about Book Riot Live is that there were too many interesting panels happening at the same time and I hate choosing! Clearly next time around there should be some Book Riot time turners so that attendees can go to everything.

This weekend at Book Riot Live was fantastic. I learned about (and bought) so many new books, connected with other enthusiastic book nerds, and met some amazing authors. Now it’s time to sit back, brew some tea (or, let’s be honest, open a bottle of wine), and dive into my pile of newly acquired books. I probably have enough books and recommendations to last until Book Riot Live 2016. Probably…

And now, I bring you some of my favorite photos from the weekend. Follow me on Instagram (@poindextrix) for future real-time book nerd-dom!

Posing with my badge. I also got a wizard/activist ribbon from the Harry Potter Alliance!

Posing with my badge. I also got a wizard/activist ribbon from the Harry Potter Alliance!

The pigeon's name is Reginald. We became fast friends.

The pigeon’s name is Reginald. We became fast friends.

Lithographs made temporary tattoos of lines from The Handmaid's Tale for the Book Riot Live tattoo chain. They saved the first line for Margaret Atwood.

Lithographs made temporary tattoos of lines from The Handmaid’s Tale for the Book Riot Live tattoo chain. They saved the first line for Margaret Atwood.

This is my line.

This is my line.

Speaking of Margaret Atwood, she had some great things to say at the "Writing What You Don't Know" panel.

Speaking of Margaret Atwood, she had some great things to say at the “Writing What You Don’t Know” panel.

The shelf for the Harry Potter Alliance's apparating library was overflowing with fantastic choices.

The shelf for the Harry Potter Alliance’s apparating library was overflowing with fantastic choices.

A peek at my purchases post-cocktails at the Strand.

A peek at my purchases post-cocktails at the Strand.

Liberty and Rebecca show off their big spoon/little spoon shirts at the taping of the All the Books podcast. They're kind of fantastic (the people and the shirts).

Liberty and Rebecca show off their big spoon/little spoon shirts at the taping of the All the Books podcast. They’re kind of fantastic (the people and the shirts).

Speaking of amazing people, did I mention that I met and took a picture with Margaret Atwood at the cocktail party at the Strand?! Because that happened!

Speaking of amazing people, did I mention that I met and took a picture with Margaret Atwood at the cocktail party at the Strand?! Because that happened!

Another awesome thing: In what will probably be the best idea I'll ever had in my life, I got some of the women of Book Riot to sign my copy of Bitch Planet.

Another awesome thing: In what will probably be the best idea I’ll ever had in my life, I got some of the women of Book Riot to sign my copy of Bitch Planet.

And here's my full book haul! Lumberjanes (books 1 & 2), Nimona, Bats of the Republic, Life After Life, I Capture the Castle, And Sometimes I Wonder About You, Faceless, All Fall Down, Saga (book 5), Bitch Planet (book 1), A Darker Shade of Magic, Housekeeping, and The Handmaid's Tale.

And here’s my full book haul! Lumberjanes (books 1 & 2), Nimona, Bats of the Republic, Life After Life, I Capture the Castle, And Sometimes I Wonder About You, Faceless, All Fall Down, Saga (book 5), Bitch Planet (book 1), A Darker Shade of Magic, Housekeeping, and The Handmaid’s Tale.

 

 

I’ve been a terrible book blogger recently in that even though I’ve continued to consume loads of books, I haven’t been writing about them (I have, however, continued to post stuff on Instagram and twitter, so you should clearly follow me @poindextrix on both #shamelessselfpromotion).

But since I’m about to embark on what I can only describe as a book nerd-dom bonanza, I thought I better pop in with a quick update (with the obvious fingers-crossed promise that I’ll be better about updates in the future).

Last week I went to a Free Library of Philadelphia author event in which Ruth Reichl talked about her new book My Kitchen Year. She was fabulous, this book is fabulous — and gorgeous — and I’ll hopefully start making things out of that and tell you about it soon.

But tonight. Tonight I’m heading back to the Free Library to see Patti Smith talk about her new memoir M Train. You may remember how much I love her first memoir, Just Kids. For those just joining us: the answer is a lot. A whole lot. M Train talks more about the later years, the less Robert-centric years, I take it. I’m incredibly excited to read it and super excited to meet/see/breathe the same air as Patti Smith and hopefully get her to sign my copy of Just Kids, which I just finished re-reading.

Crazily, I won’t even have time to come down off of my Patti Smith high, because as soon as I leave the library, I’m heading up to New York for Book Riot Live. When people ask me what my plans are for this weekend I’ve been saying I’m going to a book nerd convention, and I think that’s describing it pretty accurately. It’s not like BEA in that this is way less industry-centric. This is an event for readers and it’s mostly about what readers love and care about and I’m so excited in case you couldn’t tell by my complete incoherence.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I think it’s going to be fantastically bookish in the best ways. If you’re at Book Riot Live and see/recognize me, come say hi!