“I’ve seen YA readers laugh, cry, scream, go speechless, bring cupcakes, make t-shirts, share stories. I love our YA readers, and I love introducing them to their favorite authors,” said Becky Curtis, children and young adult events coordinator at Miami’s Books & Books.
Curtis loves her job, and with good reason. Books & Books is the only bookstore in Miami that regularly hosts YA events. They bring in debut authors and New York Times bestsellers.But most importantly, they connect books and readers together.
Books & Books was quick to understand the appeal of young adult literature.
“I think the attraction lies in the fact that there are no rules in the world of YA. You can read – or write – about the most absurd or serious things and there will still be an audience for it,” said Curtis.
Since then, Books & Books has held events for authors big and small, inluding Libba Bray (A Great & Terrible Beauty), Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver), Meg Cabot (Princess Diaries), and Sarah Dessen (The Moon and More).
Because of this enthusiasm, Young Adult literature is a very important part of the store’s business. Before 2011, the YA section didn’t even exist. Instead it was lumped together with the kidlit and middle grade books. Now it spans across the main room, right where the events are held.
“I think YA as a whole is so important because it opens the world of reading to so many people,” said Curtis.
Every author is both introduced and interviewed by a blogger, allowing for the event to be available for everyone through social media. For their particularly popular events, they love to live-stream through their website or ask a blogger to live-tweet the event.
“YA readers are the absolute best! They bring a palpable energy that I’ve only seen at YA events. Readers and true fans often know the books better than the authors. They live in these worlds; they know these characters like family members,” said Curtis.
Curtis finds it difficult to pick a favorite event, considering how many they’ve held.
“I thoroughly enjoyed enjoyed Lauren Oliver’s two events with us! Recently, I loved the Fierce Reads tour, featuring Gennifer Albin (Crewel), Anna Banks (Of Poseidon), Leigh Bardugo (Shadow and Bone), Jessica Brody (Unremembered), and Emmy Laybourne (Monument 14). This was one of the funniest events I have been a part of,” grinned Curtis.
Because events are so frequent, Books & Books has a large number of regular attendees that flock to both big and small events in hopes of finding more books to enjoy. Events normally consist of a panel of authors talking about their books and then opening the floor to questions. There is always a raffle or some sort of giveaway at the end for books or swag. Authors end the night by signing books and chatting one on one with readers.
The enthusiasm of young adult readers surprises Curtis at every event.
“It is an amazing thing to experience as a third party, and it makes me excited when booking all of these YA authors. It is a great job to have, and after every event we have, I walk away proud of the readers Miami has to offer the literary world.”
Upcoming events include Elizabeth Wein (Rose Under Fire) on September 18th, Simone Elkeles (Perfect Chemistry) on October 5th, and Marie Lu (Champion) on November 7th. To check out a full list of events and to learn more about them, visit Books & Books’ website or follow them on Twitter.