Last weekend, my town had a book festival that I volunteered at. This book festival has the particularity of inviting, each year, a different country to showcase the literature of that country, and of course, its authors.
This year’s highlighted country was Italy.
My initial intention was to show you the books I got during the festival. A book haul of sorts if you will. I didn’t even get that many because it was the last weekend of the month and I was kind of broke, but the occasion seemed so special that it felt “good” to show these books. I usually don’t post book hauls on this blog, because frankly, sometimes it can feel almost indecent. I’m trying to cut back on book buying, but still, I’d rather show you the books I actually read and have an opinion on, instead of showing brand new books that may take years to get read. But that’s a personal preference. I am very well aware that book hauls are extremely popular among the BookTube and book blogging communities.
And so this “festival haul” idea I had evolved in my head as the days passed. I started by posting pictures of it on my personal Facebook. I don’t post that much on Facebook, so it seemed “innocent” enough. But then I posted one picture on Instagram, and then another the next day, and then I created a draft with the pictures on Tumblr, and I still had the idea to show the pictures here… And then I started to feel bad about it…
Because I usually don’t make a big deal out of book hauls, why did I feel the need to post this one on almost every single social media platform I’m a member of? The answer was quite obvious and it didn’t take a lot of time to figure it out: the signatures.
I don’t know about you guys, but meeting authors doesn’t happen all that often for me. So when I do get to have a book signed, I have this weird urge to show people. It almost becomes a source of pride. I guess that’s my groupie side coming through…
Let me give you a little back story on how this festival works, and my tasks as a volunteer:
Each volunteer is assigned an Italian author, to welcome them, show them to their hotel and around the festival, where to eat, where their signing booth is, and escort them to the various meetings and conferences around the town. That’s our main mission. We also get to do these things for the French authors and editors invited to the festival, but it’s not as intensive. This year I was also a “team leader”, which means that I had a bit more responsibilities and needed to make sure that all volunteers were where they should be when they should be and things like that.
All things considered, I was very good with my book buying during this festival. As a thank you, all volunteers got a book as a gift, so that was one out of the way that I just had to get signed later. Then, the author I was in charge of, Michela Murgia, was really nice and really interesting to listen to (I attended some of the talks she gave, and I found that she had really great things to say) so I decided to get one of her books. And then, I fell in love with the illustrations of Roberto Innocenti and I found on his table copies of A Christmas Carol that he had illustrated. Truthfully, I would have probably never bought that book (any of those really), but I like the story, I like his drawings, and he was there to sign books, so I got it.
Why are signed books so attractive? Three years ago, at this same festival, I went a little crazy and bought way too many books just because the authors were in front of me and I could have them signed. Most of them still lie unread on my shelves. As a result, I tried to be mindful of this this year. I guess I was successful on that front, but it brings us back to my initial question: Why the need to showcase my signed books?
Well, as I said, a certain sense of pride I guess. First because I was happy to be a volunteer, to be involved in the festival, making sure that everything ran smoothly, being a guide for certain authors, etc. And then because each time I got a book signed, I had a little moment with the authors —they were all extremely nice by the way—, and when you’re a bookworm, seeing how much an author is happy to sign his book for you, having a little bit of a conversation… It’s just so nice. It’s a dumb and simplistic way to say it, but it’s true. And I guess it works both ways: it makes the readers happy to meet the author and it creates a special bond with the book, and it makes the authors happy to see that readers are interested in their books, willing to queue sometimes to get it signed. Sometimes they just say “thank you” to you more that you say it to them.
So there you go, that was my Comédie du Livre book haul, complete with my random thoughts on book hauls.
If you made it through, tell me if you ever met an author or got a book signed, and if you feel differently towards your signed books.