Conventions are a glorious place that allow people of all walks of life to celebrate the things they love. Unfortunately, over the years, things have been not so great for convention-goers around the globe, as harassment, elitism, and generally being a jerk have become more common occurrences.
That’s where books like Charisma +1: The Guide to Convention Etiquette for Gamers, Geeks, and the Socially Awkward comes in. In it, author Jessica Brawner goes over some of the more basic rules (some unspoken, some per the conventions themselves) of attending conventions and making the best of things while there.
I’m a bit torn about this book. On one hand, a guide like this is incredibly important. Having many of the common sense “rules” in one place is handy and good to reference. It’s a book that needed to exist, and after reading it, I was a much better convention-goer for it. It has many really helpful rules from multiple perspectives, and Brawner obviously has enough experience to where they should all be taken seriously (that should be with or without the experience, but knowing first-hand brings some additional credibility to it). It’s basically The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Convention Going, which is a high compliment.
On the other hand, it’s a bit of a tough read. This isn’t necessarily the fault of the book or the author even. When a “guide” book comes along, there is an imaginary line that is instantly drawn between being helpful and being preachy. While I absolutely believe that was not the intention of the author, struggling against that internal feeling was rather difficult, especially at first. Its chapter structure made it a bit hard to follow, as well, as it’s divided by larger talking points, but then topics within that kind of jump from subject to subject without any division, which makes it a bit tougher to digest.
Overall, though, this is an important book on an important subject. Anyone reading this review either has or is likely interested in going to a convention, and having something that will at least serve as a suggestion for how to behave in these incredibly populated events is a terrific thing to have. Brawner should be very happy with the work she put in, and more people should really be reading this.