I have never owned a book that was signed by its author before, but all of a sudden, I now have two: Futility Closet by Greg Ross and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. This weekend was the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which is where I got one of those signatures, but the second just coincidentally came up and arrived at my house the day before. Both of these experiences were just so awesome that I felt the need to write about them.
Futility Closet by Greg Ross
Futility Closet is a website that brands itself as “an idler’s miscellany of compendious amusements” and features a collection of interesting puzzles and facts about all sorts of subjects that its creator, Greg Ross, has collected over the years. The website has been around since 2005, though its first book full of Ross’ favorite finds was published just last year. I’ve been following posts on this site for several years now and it is still my go-to for doses of random but entertaining information. It’s just such a great site for those who love to learn and I really encourage you all to check it out!
Anyway, the website began featuring a weekly podcast, each with a Futility Closet challenge. The challenge on the second podcast was to take any place name and invent a useful new definition for it. The winner would receive a copy of the Futility Closet book.
I contributed two answers:
- Boise – To feel like you are forgetting something but not be able to figure out what it is you are actually forgetting
- Sacramento – A useless party favor given out during weddings that people feel guilty about throwing away
My definition for Boise was a result of me thinking that the word “Boise” sounded like a fun verb and attaching that name to a feeling that I experience pretty often. For Sacramento, I tried to be more playful as “Sacramento” could be a combination of the words “sacrament” and “memento”. The actual definition came after that. In the following week’s podcast, Greg Ross selected “Boise” as his favorite entry and I won! I was really excited that someone who runs one of my favorite sites on the internet liked something that I came up with.
The book arrived on Friday with Ross’ signature and a message saying “Congratulations, Alvin! Thanks for listening!” Ugh, so awesome. I rarely win contests!
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
As I mentioned earlier, this weekend was the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The day before, I was browsing the festival website and found out that John Green would be appearing for an indoor discussion with book critic David L. Ulin. I’ve read his books Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars and I also love watching his videos for Crash Course and Mental Floss on YouTube so this was really exciting for me. I immediately went to try and get tickets online for the event but found that it was sold out. The website mentioned that they would have some tickets available on the day of so I figured that I would need to bust a mission to get to USC early enough to still get one of the remaining tickets. I left my house around 8:30 AM, even though the festival didn’t officially start until 10:00 AM, and…success! I managed to get a ticket and it seems like I arrived just in time as they marked the event as sold out at the ticket booth about ten or fifteen minutes later.
There were a ton of people who came out to see John Green and I even ran into my friend inside Bovard Auditorium, where the talk was held. The interview was great and it made me like John Green even more. Seriously, I want to be like him when I’m older. He really is a great role model.
Afterwards, John Green was scheduled to do a book signing so my friend and I met up to get in line, which was massive. A bunch of folks who were not able to get into the discussion event were already lined up, but the line grew much, much longer once everyone else was out of the auditorium. It took my friend and I three hours of waiting to finally get our copies of The Fault in Our Stars signed, but it was totally worth it. I even got to tell John Green about how I love watching him on Mental Floss. He said something back, but I was in such a disoriented blur (partly due to me hardly getting any sleep or nourishment the whole day and partly due to me being in John Green’s presence) that I don’t even remember what it was.
I think John Green stayed until everyone who was in line got a signature, which is another reason why I admire him so much. When (I am not going to use “if”) I finally publish a bestselling novel, I want to do the same.
So that’s the story of how I wound up with my first two signed books on the same weekend. The theme for this year’s Festival of Books was “inspire your fire” and I really am inspired to work harder to get something published.
Maybe I will be signing my own books one day.