My Texas Book Festival experience.

The Texas Book Festival is an annual literary festival that takes place in Austin, Texas at the State Capitol. Though I’ve lived in Austin for three years now, I had not previously attended this festival (or any other local festival for that matter). This year, many of the authors lined up caught my interest. These included: Margaret Atwood, Chuck Palahniuk, Tavi Gevinson, and Sandra Cisneros. After studying the festival schedule and making birthday weekend plans, I decided to pick one author to see. I chose Margaret Atwood. She was scheduled to give a talk called “Margaret Atwood Goes First on The Heart Goes Last” at 10am on Saturday morning.

I read The Handmaid’s Tale this year and that was the first book I’d ever read by Atwood. I loved the plot and really appreciated her writing style. I’d also heard about her quite a bit this year through Book Riot articles and podcasts, and BookTube videos. Basically, though I’d read one book of her many works of writing, I appreciated the value of this opportunity. We made our way to the House Chamber that morning and found decent seats in the galley. It was a bonus that I got to see the Capitol as well. I had never visited before. I really enjoyed Atwood’s talk, and she had the audience laughing at her many jokes. In the short 45 minutes that she spoke, she talked about the Future Library project, the future and importance of libraries, using Wattpad to teach college freshmen, and the topics listed in this article.

After her talk, I waited in line to get my copy of The Heart Goes Last signed.

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I really enjoyed my experience at the festival and I look forward to attending many more. Do y’all have any festivals you enjoy attending? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. This has absolutely nothing to do with books, but I can’t resist sharing some happy news with y’all. I got engaged on Friday! I’m so happy and looking forward to making many more great memories with my partner, I mean, fiancé.

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Book club newbie: Part 2

I attended another book club meeting on Tuesday. I found this book club by searching the Austin Public Library website for clubs that met near me and had chosen books that I would be interested in reading. This was my first time attending a meeting with this book club. The book chosen for this month’s meeting was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I had never read Margaret Atwood before, so this was a pretty good excuse to start. The Handmaid’s Tale was fascinating and frightening.

When I arrived at the meeting I immediately noticed that I was the youngest person in the room. I would guess that everyone else in the room (there were 5 others) was between 40-65 years old. I noticed this right away because the meeting/brunch I went to a couple of days before was comprised of 5 people in their 20s & 30s. When I walked in the room, the facilitator said, “you’re new”. Through the introductions I learned that they had all been meeting for at least 3 years.  I felt a little intimidated by this but they were all very friendly and said they really enjoyed this book club because of the great book choices and great discussions. The discussion we had that night was indeed very political and complicated both because of the nature of the book and because the members were drawing on their own experiences, especially from the 80s when the Internet was becoming a thing. I felt a bit awkward because I was born in 1989 and could not always understand their references. I did my best to participate in the conversation with my own experiences and knowledge of the Internet & social media. I think I was able to connect the story to today’s society.

Overall, I enjoyed the discussion and the members of the book club all encouraged me to come to future meetings. The book they’ve chosen for August is Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan. I think that each of the two book clubs I’ve joined offer different experiences and both will help me expand my reading choices. I’m glad I decided to try these two book clubs out and I can’t wait to see what kind of friendships I develop through them.

Book club newbie: Part 1

Today, I went to my first book club meeting ever and it was pretty fun. I found this particular book club a couple of months ago through Meetup.com. I was looking for a book club that chose books within my areas of interest and also one that looked welcoming and fun. There are A LOT of book clubs in Austin to choose from. I found one called “The Breakfast Club – Brunch, Books, and Adventures”. Not too shabby, right?

The book we had to read for today’s meeting was Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read Americanah by the same author back in April and absolutely loved her writing so I was looking forward to reading this pick. I had my sister read the book so that she could join me on my first book club experience. I enjoyed Half of a Yellow Sun as well and had fun discussing it with the group. There were 5 of us in total who met at a restaurant called Moonshine Patio Bar and Grill. It was a buffet style brunch with plenty of delicious options.

I had a good time meeting new people and discussing our different perspectives on the book. It was definitely a more chill experience that I imagined it would be. This book club also has meetings once a month just to hang out, so I think this is definitely a good opportunity for me to make some friends. The next pick is We Were Liars by E. Lockhart and we’ll be meeting at a nearby coffee house.

I’ll be trying out one more book club this week. This one is hosted by my local public library so I’m sure it’ll be a different experience. Nevertheless, I’m excited to meet new people and discuss a great book. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

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I was visiting London for a few days last month with my sister and boyfriend, and we couldn’t pass up the chance to visit Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. The bus ticket package I bought for the tour gave us 3 hours to visit the studio, but we were there for a total of 6 hours. We took our time looking through all the displays and watching the many videos stationed throughout the tour. We each took tons of pictures, but I created the collage above with the pictures that seemed to really highlight the experience for me.

We got to see several sets from the movies including the Great Hall, the Gryffindor boys’ dormitory, the cupboard under the stairs, the Hogwarts Express™ King’s Cross Station, and Dumbledore’s office. We also got to see many of the costumes used throughout the films as well as makeup, masks, and wigs. We even enjoyed Butterbeer with our lunch at the studio (it tasted exactly as I imagined it would!).

The entire experience was…magical (see what I did there?). I loved learning all about how the movies were created. Most of all, it was amazing to see all the teamwork and creativity it took to bring the Harry Potter books to life. I would love to visit the studio again someday, I’m sure there’s a lot more to see. Plus, I wouldn’t mind having another pint of Butterbeer.