This past weekend I attended BookCon in Chicago (May 14th). It was my first time attending the event, and I knew I could not pass up the opportunity given its closer location this year. Many BookTubers have given both positive and negative reviews of the event, so I went into it having low expectations. However, I’m pretty satisfied with how it turned out.
[THIS IS A VERY LONG POST, JUST WARNING YOU. You can skip to the bottom to see the books I got & read the TL;DR if you’re not in the mood to read a long post. Otherwise, thanks in advance for reading my ramblings :)]
Quite a few people complained about BookCon’s disorganization in the past, and I think this year they did better. I guess I would only complain about the amount of booths packed into the convention center which made it tricky to quickly locate the booth you were looking for.
I went to BookCon with my sister and dad, and we planned on arriving around 8am, since many people stressed getting there early if you were planning on getting wristbands for autographs. Of course, we ended up getting there much later (around 9:30) and had to deal with the wristbands being gone for the authors we were hoping to meet. However, given the time we arrived, there were still a few good ones left: my sister and I got the last couple Nicola Yoon wristbands as well as a wristband for Aimee Friedman. I actually had not yet read a book by either, but have heard great things. My dad grabbed a wristband for Dav Pilkey because my brother used to read his books as a kid.
Then after waiting in line for what felt like forever to actually get into the convention, my sister and I quickly ran to the Simon & Schuster booth where Jenny Han was doing a free photo. It was awesome to meet her as we both loved her To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before books (which I must pause here to tell you how excited I am that she decided to write a third installment–AH!). At the booth they had these adorable Lara Jean and Peter K. paper-doll sticker sheets:
Later on, we also got to meet Morgan Matson (also at the S&S booth). She was super sweet and gave everyone free pouches for her new book, The Unexpected Everything, and ice cream.
Afterwards, we attended a panel with Veronica Roth, Lauren Oliver, Sabaa Tahir, and Melissa de la Cruz. The panel was about good vs. bad in novels, and was somewhat interesting; however, due to sitting towards the back of the room, it was very hard to hear what they were saying. It seemed that either their mics were too low or they spoke too quietly, but either way we decided to explore the show floor more than attend panels.
On the show floor, we stumbled upon multiple free books and accessories. Penguin Random House had a section where about every hour they handed out free ARCs, chapter samplers, and other swag:
Epic Reads also had a booth, where they gave away some free books (but the line was way too long for me to join). I picked up some more book swag from their booth:
I additionally picked up a BFG poster and pin from Disney:
Later, we stopped at Owl Crate’s booth which had a wheel to spin to determine what you won. We both won a Harry Potter Patronus lip balm and they also gave away multiple stickers and pins:
Earlier in the day, we were able to meet Christine, Jesse, and Kat, from BookTube which was amazing. Christine is my absolute all-time favorite BookTuber so it was awesome to meet her and take selfies with all three of them. I also got Christine to sign my copy of Divergent as it’s the first book review I watched of hers and how I found out about the BookTube community. Sasha and Natasha were also there doing a signing but their line was miles long so I decided not to wait in it. As for the autographs we went to, Aimee Friedman was so sweet and gave away a copy of her novel, Two Summers, and by the time we got in line for Nicola Yoon, there were so many people ahead of us that we didn’t end up getting our ARC of The Sun is Also a Star autographed because we were planning on running to the Booksplosion panel. However, we did not end up being able to go to the panel because they capped the capacity at 500 people.
Throughout the day, many tote bags were given to us (we have about 4-5 of the Epic Reads bags):
Bookmarks & quote cards from various booths:
Lastly, at the end of the day, we went to the Epic Reads lounge and since it was near the closing time, they were giving away old books on their shelves. So I asked for a recommendation, and I was given 99 Days by Katie Cotugno, and my sister got I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore.
And now, onto the books!!
- The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (ARC, on sale in November)
- Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow (ARC, on sale in August)
- I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore (given by Epic Reads from their lounge)
- Two Summers by Aimee Friedman
- Doreen by Ilana Manaster
- Remember to Forget by Ashley Royer
- I’m Judging You by Luvvie Ajayi (ARC, on sale in September)
- 99 Days by Katie Cotugno (given by Epic Reads from their lounge)
- The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (ARC, on sale in July)
- Dog Man by Dav Pilkey (ARC, on sale in August)
- Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm (ARC, on sale in August)
- Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame
- Dark Matter by Blake Crouch (ARC, on sale in August)
TL;DR: Overall, I had an enjoyable experience at BookCon and if it was back in Chicago again I would go. If you’re questioning whether this event is worth it (like I was), I’d say to try it at least once to have the experience (and get awesome free things).
- Meeting authors & booktubers
- Free books/ARCs
- Opportunity to meet other readers
- Variety of interest in terms of genre and age
- You basically get to make this event what you want it to be by choosing what to go to
- Needing to arrive by at least 6am to get in line for autographs that are super popular
- Waiting in lines in general
- Too many things (panels, signings, giveaways) scheduled at the same time so limited to doing one thing
- Packed convention center
- Bad audio during panels
Thanks for reading guys! I made this review to help those who are wondering what BookCon is all about and what it has to offer us readers. Hope it helps!