Welcome to beautiful San Francisco -- home of #YASummerShowdown participants, SF FYA! Steph is here today to tell us what makes the San Francisco book club so special. Take it away, Steph!
(With apologies to Jay Asher, this list is 13 reasons why SF FYA is the book club you wish you had as a teenager. You all wished you had a book club as a teenager, right?)
I remember the first time I nervously walked into Two Sisters Bar and Books, copy of The Raven Boys in hand, ready for my first meeting with SF FYA. I had just moved to San Francisco a few months earlier and was looking for a way to get myself out of the house and hopefully find some people to talk YA books with. What I was not expecting was to find some of the coolest people I've ever met, and am now proud and honored to call my friends. You might have noticed by now that we’re little (okay, very) enthusiastic. That’s because we have a lot to be enthusiastic about. There’s no way to be humble about it: We love our book club, and we have some very good reasons why:
1. Location, location, location
As previously mentioned, we don’t just meet at a bar, we meet at a book bar. That’s right, a book bar. Two Sisters Bar and Books is full of good old books, craft cocktails, tea, and a convenient window seat. The window seat is so coveted, many of us show up early just to stake it out. It's been over a year since we started meeting here, and now the managers and bartenders know and love us, despite our taking up a lot of space. Two Sisters is also notable for its excellent deviled eggs, which we often in book club toasts. You haven't lived until you’ve toasted with deviled eggs.
2. The Hot Man Slideshow™
A must for pre-gaming book club events, the Hot Man (and occasionally woman) Slideshow™ is a carefully curated visual treat featuring the best photos of the hottest guys we could find on Google Image Search and Tumblr. Whether it’s Idris Elba, Alexander Skarsgård, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, or a living bookshelf made out of balancing naked dudes that you fancy, the Hot Man Slideshow has eye candy for you. It goes really well with Jennie’s endless supply of penis-shaped confetti and even better with a showing of Magic Mike or Austenland. On a side note, the dearth of women in the slide show is based on the tastes of current club members; it could easily become the hot people slideshow—all are welcomed here!
Everyone can use a little Shirtless Ryan Gosling.
3. The best laid plans
See that? That’s one of at least 5 email chains I have in my inbox about Summer Showdown alone. Gmail actually created new chains because they were getting too long. In addition, we have a Pinterest board, a Google doc for brainstorming, and a spreadsheet all devoted to helping us keep track. I know this sounds like big talk, but I’m not trying to be intimidating: this is just how we roll.
When it comes to great ideas, FYA SF doesn’t just have them, we plan them. While working on prom earlier this year, we actually had a prom committee who would meet for happy hour, both to come up with ideas and to enjoy each other’s company. And that’s the thing: we do this for fun. We don’t operate District 13-style with a “meet your committee hours” quota. We’re just naturally a little type A, and we thrive on making fun come alive through surveys, spreadsheets, and cocktails.
4. We have a unicorn. A floating unicorn.
It has deflated, but it will rise again!
5. California knows how to party
San Francisco’s always got something going on for the YA fan, lady nerd, or bookish sort (not that these are mutually exclusive categories). We’ve had write-ups featured on the FYA main blog about some of our previous outings to Disney sing-a-longs in the Castro and erotic badfic competitions at a local bookstore, and that’s just scratching the surface. As you’ve seen on our Tumblr, recently some of us went to John Green’s Mental Floss Trivia Night Fundraiser. Earlier this month, we planned an outing to see Harry and the Potters with Hank Green in concert. Of course, there’s always Litquake, a huge literary festival with a great YA component. Also coming up for us is Outside Lands, a giant outdoor music celebration in Golden Gate Park. We’re still disappointed that the Summer Showdown doesn’t go on long enough for us to hold our Emergency Kanye West dance party to a live Kanye West performance.
Hanging out at the Beauty and the Beast Sing-a-Long
6. The dinner here is never second best
San Francisco has an amazing foodie culture, so it would just be downright out of character if we, too, didn’t eat well at FYA SF events. Good thing so many of our members are really creative chefs! We’ve served such delicacies as roasted grape crostini, toast with radish butter, bacon-wrapped pineapple, honey and black tea pound cake, and, of course, cheese from the excellently named Cowgirl Creamery.
Jennie even has a vintage punch bowl.
7. We get by with a little help from our friends
Whether it’s a shoulder to lean on you need, or a posse to back you up, FYA SF is there. On June 14th, a bunch of us trekked up to North Beach to visit Jennie, who was selling her handmade jewelry at the North Beach Festival, the oldest street fair in the city.
We also got to enjoy some Cajun food and frozen custard because, as I’ve said, we’re suckers for tasty business.
It’s not all fun and games though. Back in March, the construction site across from my apartment complex caught on fire. I had to evacuate my apartment and was stuck in limbo for 3 days, not knowing when my cat and I could return home. On the final day, despite my being exhausted beyond belief I kept my date with FYA SF. Book club welcomed me with hugs, words of encouragement, and the company of friends who were willing to listen to me rant about my horrendous week.
This is a group of people who know how to be there for each other, to celebrate with you, and to offer support when you need it.
8. You’re never alone; you’re never disrespected:
On a related note: Feeling lonely? Need someone to go to a movie/shopping/concert/shoot arrows with? Someone from FYA SF is probably around. Beyond that, a friendly note is always a tweet or text away. It might sound a little silly, but knowing FYA SF is always there to support my twitter transit rants or give me fashion advice for my prom outfit, makes the world a little brighter.
9. If you wannabe our lover, you gotta get with our book club
Online dating sucks. Seriously, if you’ve never signed up for a dating site, you’ve spared yourself the grief of 1,000 bad dates and 10,000 bad messages. Enter FYA book club. We haven’t actually shown up to save a member from a date yet, but we’ve definitely served as each other’s get-out-of-bad-date cards. We’re also planning to somehow get people to pay us to critique their messages because, seriously, people need our help.
10. We Have Royalty
At our meeting on June 21st, Colleen, our Prom Queen, declared Annie the Duchess of Scunthorpe. As with actual nobility, no one’s quite sure what this duchy really entails, but in the short term it meant homemade meringues and hugs all around. Our queen is benevolent.
The Queen and the Duchess
11. Park, as in Eleanor &, is in our book club. No, seriously:
The guy on the right is our Token Boy Mike in his 1986 yearbook. He was one of only three Asian-American students at his high school in Omaha, Nebraska. He was a bit of an outcast, listening to too-cool-for-school music like The Smiths and Joy Division that he got contraband from a friend whose sister lived in New York City. His one question about Eleanor & Park is, in fact, just where Park got his music from. All you could find in Omaha was John Cougar.
Mike even had his own Eleanor, and as in the book, they had to part ways because it was the only right outcome. But he has never met Rainbow Rowell.
12. We're awesome people
Really, that’s what makes all this enthusiasm possible. FYA SF is full of really amazing people. Here are your core contestants in #YASummerShowdown, in all their splendor:
Sahiti often jokes that she’s Leslie Knope. When she’s not hanging out with us, she's out saving the park world and tweeting about park life (and awesome trees).
Annie, writer of all our song lyrics, works for the arts commission. She has props for every situation imaginable and is the party girl queen.
Ania is a scientist, creator of the Lady Garden (aka, what happens when book corsage making gets out of hand), and the hostess with the mostest (you should see her bar set up!).
Then there's Amanda, a YA writer and incredible knitter who rocks Tilda Swinton hair.
Erica is a school librarian who sews gorgeous dresses and boasts an amazing costume trunk.
Britt teaches adorable 5th graders and has serious geek cred. She missed out on our prom only because she was participating in a glow-in-the-dark 5k run (You read that correctly: glow-in-the-dark).
Gussy has an arsenal of vintage beauty, sews ridiculously cute skirts, and is as good with a bow and arrow as Katniss.
Jena is a fabulous graphic designer, action movie buff, and co-runs a church (a really cool one).
Meghan is an environmental science expert and the ultimate provider of unicorn party paraphernalia and birthday crowns.
Diana teaches preschool and brings the magical growth powers she uses on her students to book club, where she uses them to mega-grow ideas.
I should note that although we're a close-knit group, we're not a closed group. If you find yourself in the Bay Area and want to hang out with the greatest YA book club around, you should hit up our Goodreads page and see when our next meeting is. We'd love to meet you (and we'll save you an egg)!
13. Oh yeah, and one of us is secretly a dragon.
Can you guess which one? It's so secret I’m not even entirely sure I know.
So as you can see, FYA SF is the embodiment of the very spirit of YA: we’re so much fun, full of true friendship, no stranger to the joys and disappointments of romance, prepared to tackle dystopian forces, packing a wallop of magic, and, of course, we've got lots of not-so-hidden depth.
(Oh yeah, and when it comes to Summer Showdown, we're in it to win it. We love all you other book clubs, but you can't beat the competitive spirit of the Barbary Coast).
Thanks for stopping by, Steph and SF FYA! You can check out their website (!!), find them on Goodreads, or just show up at Two Sisters for their next meeting! And follow their #YASummerShowdown progress on the #SFFYATumblr!