It’s been a year since I last attended a book fair. It was the 2019 festival in Decatur, where an exciting and diverse group of authors converged to give talks and ultimately push their books on eager and willing readers. But any expert fair-goer will tell you that meeting Anne Rice or Cornell West is not the real draw. No sir. The true reason to attend any book fair in any city is to observe the bizarre behavioral quirks of well-read people.
Below I’ve assembled a checklist you can use when we are finally able to attend a book fair in person. For every check, you have to buy a book from an indie store.
__ A misunderstood teenager who believes they are a vampire/zombie hybrid.
__ A woman who insists on retouching her makeup in the middle of pedestrian traffic, right before meeting the author.
__ A man who is constantly fiddling with his black-rimmed designer glasses because he secretly hates them, but has to wear them to seem relevant.
__ Someone who is violently chewing their gum, minimum five chews per second.
__ A heterosexual couple that consists of one overly affectionate male. At least one hand has to be on his female companion at all times in order to qualify.
__ Someone who turns to their neighbor and loudly whispers, “This is a great talk!”
__ A person asking an author to sign a book written by another author.
__ A man who brought books from home to read during the sessions, you know, in case it’s boring.
__ A woman who felt the need to dramatically stop what she was doing to sketch an inanimate object.
__ Someone who uses the word ‘astral’ within 30 seconds of introducing themselves to you in the bathroom.
__ A man who presents an elaborate conspiracy theory concerning genetics and/or the Illuminati during a Q & A session.
__ A woman who is forcing her children to lug around 23 canvas bags filled with promotional giveaways.
__ A struggling writer who hasn’t seen the sun in 81 days.
__ A man with an ironic haircut.
__ Someone who laughs really, really loudly before the punchline.