(Disclaimer note: I started writing this right after the event but lol, issues. But hey, better late than never, right? *nervous laughs*)
Finally the title says it all and I don’t have to put an alternative one. For the last two years, I have been attending Bookworms Unite as a mean to finally meet the bookish people that I adore very much. As I keep on reiterating, I was really bummed out that I missed the first one. Come the second year, I really had a blast because it truly was an amazing get-together. Yes, the games really do bring out your competitive side and getting books is always amazing. But the highlight of my first time attending Bookworms Unite was meeting the amazing people that I have always admired and only interacted with on social media. (Sure, winning cover guessing game, too. Let me be sappy, geez.) On its third year, it was obvious that Bookworms Unite is truly an event worth spending your day on. Despite zoning out, I still remember the awesome people and events that made me go “What an amazing day for book lovers.” Fast forward to a rainy Saturday on the 21st of July at the Rizal Library in Ateneo de Manila University, Bookworms Unite celebrated its 4th year.
It just keeps getting bigger every year, an indication that more and more Filipino readers in the metro (and even some braving the weather from the north and south!) gather together to share their love for young adult books. This year, Bookworms Unite is now officially a non-profit organization, co-organized by Hazel from Stay Bookish, Inah and Jem from The Bibliophile Confessions, JM from Book Freak Revelations, Miel from Bookish and Awesome, Danica from The Hogsmeade Reader, and yours truly. WAIT WHAT? PAUSE. How in the world?
Well truth be told, the previous hosts invited me to join them in organizing Bookworms Unite Year 4. I was honestly brimming with excitement the day they asked me because 1) I was more than happy to assist them with whatever I can do to make the event possible, 2) YEAR 4 IS HAPPENING THANK THE BOOKISH GODS, and 3) I will be able to meet and interact with tons of lovely bookworms yet again! So I gladly accepted their invitation and joined my co-blogger Hazel on the marketing team.
So what was it like hosting Bookworms Unite instead of being an attendee? Well let me break it down for you.
1. It was fun to be able to see the faces of the attendees as they walk into the venue. I assisted Inah with the registration so I got a good look on all the smiling faces and the excitement that radiated off each and every attendee. Some were shy as it was their first time attending, while the others cannot wait to enter and see what was in store for them. After being given the registration kit, everyone was basically glowing because the day is just starting and they already have books at hand.
2. The first half was basically a blur. Since I was on registration duty, I wasn’t fully able to get a good look on what was happening during the Truths and a Lie game because people were still coming in for the event. But with that in mind, everyone was settled once the YA Fall 2018 Preview started. Everyone was keen on knowing what the publishers have in store for us next. It was so cool to hear all the “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” as Ms. Honey from Penguin Random House explained the setting of Sometime After Midnight by L. L. Philips. Then when other titles popped up, it was clear what everyone was keen on getting their hands on come release day. Then everyone basically went around to accomplish Do It For The Gram, wherein they have to take a selfie with anyone who matched the prompt.
3. It was hard not to cry in front of everyone upon seeing the messages from the authors. Despite knowing that there will be author messages, I was basically teary-eyed when I saw Becky Albertalli on the screen greeting everyone in attendance. Becky’s books mean so much to me, but seeing her send a lovely message despite her busy schedule just made my heart grow two sizes. I treasure her too much. Same with Arvin Ahmadi (who is so awesome that he films while walking the streets of Rome? ARVIN HOW?) and Kara Thomas.
4. It dawned on me that I was basically clueless when I did pay attention to the games. I had little to no time to read this year because I’m almost done with uni. I was trying to answer along with the attendees but holy guacamole, I may have missed out on some amazing reads? I really have to remedy that immediately. (But haha who am I kidding?) Honestly props to the winners of YA Trivia. You girls sure know your stuff. Y’all are downright badass.
5. Who knew that it was so fun to see how people reacted to the new premise of Guess the Cover? This game will forever be my favorite out of all. I brought my team to victory in Year 2, and I anticipated this one the most come Year 3. For Year 4, the Queen is now a game master! *evil laughs* Oh how far we’ve come. The hosts decided to twist it to the next level. No cropped pictures – just us describing the covers. I will not tell the full story but I may or may not have been involved with the shenanigans that revolved around Guess the Cover Vol. 2. Teehee. Although it really was funny to hear that people still called dibs on me to be their teammate for the game. I appreciate the thought and the love. ❤ I didn’t get to crown my successor though, which was a total bummer, but each team who had the placed that day deserves a crown on their heads for a being a real trooper.
6. It was a bit scary to mediate the Book Blind Date. Imagine being that one tribute who got to the Cornucopia first, and then everyone else follows. It’s like that one scene in Mulan where all of the Huns suddenly appear on the snow before Mulan hits them with an avalanche. It’s sort off similar to that. Though, I have to admit that it was slightly less chaotic than the infamous BBD during Year 3. Again, it was so fun seeing all of the attendees go and unwrap their new babies. *No, I’m not crying. You’re crying.*
7. It was exhausting, but it was so worth it. Yes, the event wasn’t perfect. There is always room for improvements. Planning can cause late nights, but in the end seeing how everyone had fun was enough satisfaction. While Danica and I were not able to speak during Sharing the Love for YA, the core hosts already made it pretty clear about what we felt about Bookworms Unite. We share the same sentiment. At the end of the day, nothing else can be felt but fulfillment.
Now onto the haul! I got a total of 7 books (basically the same number of books I donated for the book drive *face palms*) + tons of amazing swag courtesy of our partners and sponsors. Special thanks to JM for letting me read and review Pride and to Hazel for letting me have How Hard Can Love Be?. I’m just floored with excitement to read these books during my vacation after uni.
1. Interim Goddess of Love Book 1 by Mina V. Esguerra
2. How Hard Can Love Be? by Holly Bourne
3. Don’t Tell My Mother by Brigitte Bautista
4. Pride by Ibi Zoboi
5. Invisible Ghosts by Robyn Schneider
6. We Regret to Inform You by A. E. Kaplan
7. Smoke In The Sun by Renee Ahdieh
Handmade bookmarks c/o Sherinnah
Button pins designed by BU organizers
Smoke in the Sun pin c/o Penguin Random House
Love, Simon sticker from Hazel
Art prints, watercolor wreath, personalized bookmark and stickers c/o Kate Archives
Love, Simon, BNHA, and Tokyo Ghoul bookmarks, and Harry Potter stickers c/o of Jayson from Pandam PH
Of course the success of Bookworms Unite will not be possible without:
Hachette Book Group, Penguin Random House, National Book Store, Marauder’s Dispatch, and Pandam PH for sponsoring Year 4!
Ms. Honey de Peralta and Ms. Jennifer Javier, for your unwavering support in attending the event.
Karina and the The Oikonomos Nexus, for covering this year’s event.
Mr. Vernon Totanes, the Rizal Library Director, and Krystel Iris de Castro, the President of the Rizal Library Ambassadors, for opening their doors to us and for letting us hold this lovely event at their humble library.
Hazel, Inah, JM, Miel, and Danica, yay to us for organizing such a lovely day for readers. This event is really one that makes my heart swell.
And to everyone who attended Bookworms Unite Year 4! This event will not have been successful without your presence, participation, eagerness, and love for books. Thank you for bracing the rain and spent your day with us. Raising a glass for you all.
Before ending, I would just like to add and just in case you haven’t heard the news yet:
Inah, Hazel, JM, Miel, and I will be at the Philippine Readers and Writers Festival at Namayan, Raffles Makati for a panel and we will be talking about (well, you guessed it) Bookworms Unite!: Establishing an Inclusive YA Community in the Philippines for Readers, by Readers. We hope to see y’all again for this one.
Having been able to help organize Bookworms Unite Year 4 is still surreal for me. It felt amazing to be a part of a team of individuals who share the same thought of bringing happiness to other people by organizing such an event. As I said before, my biggest takeaway during Bookworms Unite is not the books I get to take home. Rather, it’s the new friends and being given the opportunity to finally meet the people that we have only known online for so long. To be able to feel that you are part of a wonderful community of readers is enough to get a fangirl giddy and happy. The hangover is real. Year 5? 🙃 We’ll have to see.
So the question remains: Are y’all still hungover, too? Will we see you at PRWF? *cross fingers*
P. S. Some of the covers featured in Guess the Cover Vol. 2 are also in this particular blog post of mine where I describe how you identify book covers. Lol.