Sometime in late 2008 or early 2009, I discovered a podcast called Books on the Nightstand. I subscribed and quickly became hooked by the discussion about books that the two hosts, Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness conducted.

The podcasts first episode was in March, 2008. Originally the podcasts were every two weeks, but, due to popular demand, by July, 2009 the podcast became a weekly must-hear-podcast.

Michael and Ann also promoted discussion on Good Reads where many BOTNS devotee left messages about books. An obvious comaraderie developed between the listeners and the hosts and amongst the listeners, too. Wouldn’t it be nice if some of us could meet somewhere.

In June, 2010, Ann and Michael, prodded by their audience, announced a book retreat in Manchester, Vermont for the following April. I was so grateful, then, that they announced 10 months ahead. I would have time to save the money.

I invited a local friend to accompany me. She too was thankful for the long notice.

On Thursday April 7, Ruth and I left our small town in a rental car (the punch line ended up being, “how many Ohio does it take to operate the windshield wipers in New York state?). We arrived after the festivities started in our Inn.

About 75 listeners, 9 authors, a number of publishing professionals and two nervous hosts took over the Inn at Manchester and two other bed and breakfasts for an experience that someone (not I) “Booktopia”.

The experience kept me emotionally high for months. Remembrances of books, new friends, the marvelous sheets at the Inn (rumors had circulated prior to the experience), the marvelous independent book store, for some that it was an outlet town, and the meals (oh, Frank’s pancakes!) almost kept us content until take two.

Another April, another Booktopia. But, also, two more opportunities, June in Oxford, Mississippi (and I thought I didn’t do heat) and then Santa Cruz, California last October (where the earth literally moved).

Each time, I met old friends (some had been the cyber variety), made new ones and hardly slept. I didn’t want to miss anything. A different friend accompanied me to Mississippi and now she has the Booktopia bug.

This week, she, Anne, and I are going to infect another friend, Deeann. The trip to Vermont starts Wednesday.

The Booktopians have been filling the Vermont Booktopia thread with comments about arrivals, the sheets at the Inn at Manchester, which author sessions they will be going to, the sheets, Frank’s cooking, the sheets, and how many of the books of the presenting authors have been read. Oh, yes, and the sheets!

My stomach ached earlier today. It truly brought a smile to my face as I remembered that every year for at least three years, I would end up in the doctor’s office just before school started because of a stomach ache. I would so excited (in a good way) about going to school I telegraphed my enthusiasm to my stomach. School is starting on Thursday.

I’ve been counting down, making Ann and Michael nervous, since day 10 by putting book covers on my Facebook page with the appropriate number of days to go in the title (yesterday’s was The Six Wives of Henry the VIII).  (And, Ann and Michael, I thought of it days before I started doing it, so I was very kind to you.)

Tonight, I also changed my Facebook photo to one that was taken last year in Vermont. I quickly received several comments from fellow Booktopians, so I shared my stomach story. I quickly received a reply from Dawn, who prescribed, “Read two books, and call us in the morning!”

How can I not love this whole experience!