Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Charleston, Orlando– while reading usually just metaphorically transports readers to new worlds, ardent bookworms take reading to a whole new level and actually travel across the country to meet authors as part of their reading experience. From book festivals, to individual author signings, to book release parties, the novel experience is no longer bound simply by physical pages.
“It is probably slightly a little bit weird to fly across the country to go to a book signing, BUT in my defense… I got nothing; I am the way I am,” said Isabella Plummer, a freshman exploratory major from Orlando. “Traveling and reading are my two great loves. Honestly, book signings are super fun, especially with friends, and they are great excuses to go to new places. I’ve gotten to visit Charleston, Miami, Atlanta, Los Angeles– all places I wouldn’t really have a reason to visit if not for these book signings. But even if these book festivals were just in Orlando, I would still love going, because it would mean getting to make awkward, fangirl-y conversations with authors whose books I love.”
Plummer’s first large book festival was Yallfest, a young adult book festival in Charleston. She later traveled to its sister festival, Yallwest, in Santa Monica, California.
“I found out about Yallfest through the power of the internet. And then it was announced at Yallfest that they were starting a sister festival on the West Coast. Through the exceptional generosity of my parents and the wonderful magic of graduation gifts, I went,” said Plummer.
Shannon Ware, a freshman exploratory major, also took the pilgrimage to Charleston to attend Yallfest. Combining panels and signings, Yallfest celebrates both the love of reading and those who aspire to become authors themselves one day.
“It was a little weird to meet the authors, and at first, I didn’t like it because I wanted to immortalize the story and pretend that, in a way, the characters I loved so much were actually real,” said Ware. “Meeting the author made me remember that the story was just a story. But in the end I was happy that I got to hear their voice in real life.”
Yet the love of reading doesn’t just manifest itself in traversing across the nation to meet authors. Senior Anna Morgan, double majoring in English and Classical Studies, transcends distance with her blog shelflife11.blogspot.com, where she reviews her current reads in conjunction with brief updates about her life, and how it relates to her reading experience.
“I love the ability to travel to another world that I get to create, and also the sense of camaraderie I get from meeting fellow book lovers and enthusing about our favorite titles,” said Morgan.
Near or far, reading no longer is just a cozy, solitary experience on a couch. For those who wish to pursue it, reading can take you literal miles away, or simply on an imaginative journey — available only a page away.