There is way more to being a reader than just having your nose in a book. Of course, it's the stories and our love of them that identifies us as bibliophiles, but the way books become a part of our lives can reach so far beyond the page, too. Some of my favorite memories of books have nothing to do with actually reading them. From attending a Harry and the Potters concert in 2007, the night before the final Harry Potter book was released, dancing in the rain and witnessing Potter fans hugging and crying (yes, it was dramatic; but it was also so real) to spending time at the New York Public Library on 5th Avenue, writing or visiting exhibits... there are so many experiences books have brought me that have made my life richer, more fun, and so, so memorable.
There are so many ways that you can allow the reads you adore to seep into your life in bigger ways, from parties to signings, vacations to book store browsing. Below are 11 things I think every book lover should do at least once; all of them are sure to bring you tons of awesome memories in the process. And don't worry, you can always bring a book along with you.
1. Go To A Midnight Release Party
One of my favorite bookish memories ever is attending the midnight release party for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Yes, it was particularly special because it was a Harry Potter release and also the last Harry Potter release, but I think what made it so memorable was the atmosphere. At a midnight release everyone is as big a fan of the book as you, everyone is tingling with anticipation, everyone is discussing theories and fandoms, films and characters, and you'll feel more than ever like you're among your people. Though it seems like most midnight releases are a thing of the past, you can always organize your own, too. A big party celebrating a book that you love will be super fun, super memorable, and is a must for any book-lover.
2. Work As A Bookseller
I worked as a book seller in an indie children's book store for almost three years. And while there are tons of things I didn't love and don't miss about working retail, I loved sharing books with people every day. Being a trusted source of recommendations for customers, getting to meet tons of authors, access to all the ARCs your heart could desire... all of these are dreams come true for any book lover. I also met some of my closest friends there, and had a group of book loving pals for the first time in my life. Of course, book selling might not be a stop on the career ladder for you, but if you're someone looking for you are desperate to work with books every day, or to get your foot in the door of the publishing industry, bookselling might be a great choice for you.
3. Go On A Book-Themed Vacation
Finally making it to Harry Potter World in Orlando, Florida three years ago was like making it to my own personal mecca. The snowy recreations of places like The Three Broomsticks, Honeydukes and Hogwarts Castle were so realistic, if it hadn't been over 100 degrees outside, I might have felt like it really were Christmas in Hogsmeade. It was incredible not only get away from real life for a while, but to do so by living out some of my favorite book-related fantasies. Whatever book and bookish destination speaks to you, spending some time there will definitely be one of the most memorable trips ever.
5. Join An IRL Or Online Book Club
Joining a book club can be one of the most fulfilling bookish activities ever. If you join a club in person, you get to spend more time with your friends, which, with how busy everyone is these days, can be hard. If you join an online club, you'll be able to discuss books with hundreds, thousands, even millions of strangers, all book lovers like you, all invested in sharing stories and what they mean to us. A quick search will reveal tons of different book clubs, from Bustle's American Woman Book Club to Pottermore's new Wizarding World Book Club. Or, you can choose your own themes for an IRL meet-up. Whatever you choose, sharing reading with others can only enhance your bookish life.
4. Attend A Book Convention
Bookish conventions like BookCon, BookExpo America, Y'All West and more are some of the biggest events in the industry and you'll get so much out of attending them. From meeting up with book lovers IRL, to attending panels and interviews with luminaries and authors, to just grabbing stacks of all those ARCs you've been dying to read, these events are must-visits at least once in your bookish life. They're hectic and fast-paced, but also crazy fun.
6. Get Your Books Signed By Your Favorite Author
Some of my most cherished possessions are signed copies of my favorite books. My Baby-Sitter's Club books remind me of meeting my childhood hero Ann M. Martin. My signed copy of Becky Albertalli's Simon Vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda makes me chuckle at the Hamilton heavy conversation Becky and I had while I helped her sign stock at the bookstore where I used to work. Meeting your favorite authors is one of the most fun and exciting things you can do as a book lover, and now its easier than ever. Authors go on tours all the time to promote new releases, visiting chain stores and indies alike, as well as taking part in conventions and other book panels and events. If you're lucky enough to have a favorite author visiting your local store soon, you definitely won't regret going.
7. Visit Libraries Around The World
One of my favorite things to do is take my laptop and get some work done at the Rose Reading Room in the NYPL. Working among the gorgeous stacks, unbelievable painted ceiling, and, yes, with tourists snapping photos, just gives your hum drum work day a taste of the extraordinary. There are gorgeous libraries like this all over the world, and if you're lucky enough to have one where you live, or wherever you happen to be traveling, spending some time in one, soaking up the sacred bookish atmopshere, and really appreciated just how important libraries are to our culture and survival can really add another layer of depth and meaning to your reading life.
8. Spend The Day Visiting The Locations In One Of Your Favorite Books Or Bookish Films
Did I once spend the day visiting all of the sights in You've Got Mail, that '90s rom-com book-lovers dream of a film? Yes, I did. From Kathleen Kelly's front stoop to Cafe Lalo, I spent a memorable spring afternoon on the Upper West Side, living as ShopGirl did. And it was tons of fun. For everyone the book (or in my case, bookish film) will be different. Maybe you want to wander through Forks, Washington to relive your Twilight obsessed youth. Or you want to traipse through Prince Edward Island like Anne Shirley. Whatever the book, whatever the location, following in your favorite characters footsteps is an awesome way to spend a day.
9. Browse A Local Book Store That's Not Your Own
Buying books from your own local bookstore is crucial to keeping them alive. Living in New York I am lucky to have many to call my own, including the world-famous Strand Bookstore. But one thing I love doing in any new place I visit is to find one of their local book shops. It's so interesting to see what different staff member recommend to their community, the different books each store stocks, and to chat with book sellers from different cities. Plus, helping to support an indie store is a must for book-lovers, and grabbing a book as a souvenir from your visit is way better than a keychain or postcard any day.
10. Anonymously Donate Your Books
Sure, you can pass along unhauled books to friends and family. But one of the most fun ways to get rid of unwanted books is to do an anonymous book drop or donation. Leaving a book on a subway or park bench, bringing a huge box to a local used book store or Salvation Army, leaving a stack in on the sidewalk or in your building's lobby...just knowing that someone will pick up one of your books, perhaps finding a favorite in the process, not knowing where it came from is strangely thrilling. I've done this many times and it never gets old. Think of it as your random act of kindness for the day and you'll want to do it more and more.
11. Throw A Book-Themed Dinner Party
A Halloween Feast of pumpkin pasties in the Great Hall? Afternoon tea with a healthy glass of currant wine disguised as raspberry cordial? Turkish delight, Fried Green Tomatoes, marmalade sandwiches? There are countless book-related meals and treats you can share with friends and family for a bit of fun. Gather around the table, talk about your favorite reads, and spend time with your book-obsessed loved ones. Reading can be a solitary pursuit, but with small events like this, it doesn't always have to be.