Saturday, October 16th, was the second annual Boston Book Festival and I was proud to be able to attend. Last year’s was so fun, I knew I couldn’t miss it. My friend Holly was also able to go with me and this year, we had a new friend Diane come along. None of us had a plan and were very happy to just make it a day of discovery. I forgot to take Copley, my blog mascot lobster along and I didn’t want to bring my camera, so this will just be a quick wordy photoless run down of what we did.
Finding out that President Obama was going to be only a few blocks away convinced us that we didn’t want to drive in; we hopped onto the Red Line of the T from Braintree, exited at Boston Common and walked over to Copley Square. More than a few minutes late, we entered the first event we came to: First Time’s A Charm at the Church of the Covenant featured authors Justin Cronin (latest book The Passage), Joshua Ferris (latest novel The Unnamed), and Jennifer Haigh (debut Mrs. Kimble, latest The Condition) and hosted by Helene Atwan. I was impressed with everyone – I have not read any of their works, but Holly has told me Mrs. Kimble was VERY good and so I think I will possibly recommend it for our next book club choice. They all discussed how the writing of a novel and the marketing of it are so disconnected by time, that it is a difficult process to balance. Many of the questions from the audience were about “HOW to be a WRITER” and scheduling and all the blahblahblah that I wonder about people who think all they have to do is pick the brain of a successful writer and then apply the advice. Just write and practice the craft and be good. And persevere. Am I right!? NO formula, no get-rich-by-being-a-writer schemes. Lots of luck and lots of skill. Typical of any success story, really.
We then wandered over to the Boston Public Library to show photos I have taken of a 1960 edition of To Kill A Mockingbird. Unfortunately, the book MUST have “First Edition” printed or else you can’t get the thousands of dollars. I was told mine was hardly worth the 50¢ I paid at the Beatrice NE Library Book Sale. Still, it’s in good shape and I pass it along to a niece who I hope will cherish it.
After that, we found an early seat at the Global Hotspot: The Middle East event at the Trinity Church Forum. I had never heard of any of the authors but I’ve already added their books to my tbr. Haleh Esfandiari was a gorgeous ‘grandmother’ (her self description) who had spent 105 days in an Iranian prison on suspicions of being a spy and wrote about it all in My Prison, My Home. Along with freelance journalist Nir Rosen who writes about the relationship between the U.S. and Iraq, Thanassis Cambanis (new book, A Privilege to Die) and host Noah Feldman (Harvard Law professor), the authors discussed Lebanon and Israel, the Hezbollah, and other topics concerning this troubled area of the world. This was one more example of how complicated everything seems to be; the event was well-attended and we listened to respectful and interesting questions from the audience. I feel smarter for attending.
“Assume everyone in power lies.” -Nir Rosen
We walked the booths and looked for fellow bloggers; I was only able to *find* the Book Club Girl at the Harper Perennial booth – so fun to have real live person / faces to attach to Tweeters that I follow. I really meant to go back and buy some books but … oh, ok – I’m trying to limit how many books I have unread in the house! Other finds of interest were a braille alphabet book mark and a digital talking book machine that would be awesome for our Special Ed students (I often substitute teach in this department at our high school) and a flyer about how/when to donate books for prison libraries.
I also submitted a sentence to the Union Park Press creative writing project. Have yet to see how that story turned out but am sure that my contribution was not anything impressive. It will be online soon, though. woo hoo!
We tried to attend the Internet or Not session featuring Nichaolas Carr, Eric Haseltine, William Powers and Andrew McAfee but it was full. We failed to take not of the time and forgot that the afternoon crowds are HUGE! We had this same problem last year. Se we slipped in to a session on Justice featuring Dambisa Moya (wow! Very impressive speaker, she wrote Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working and How There Is a Better Way for Africa), Nobel Prize Winner in Economics Amartya Sen, and Harvard prof Michael Sandel (I got the impression his classes would be amazing), host Joel Z Hyatt.
“We are caught in a trap of political imperatives.” – Dambisa Moya
Another session a bit over my head but intellectually stimulating nonetheless. We had to laugh at the volunteer who was encouraging us to crowd in so others would have a place to sit, “Please scoot and make room! Do it for BOOKS! Do it for the sake of READING! Please scoot!! Yay BOOKS!”
Authors I missed (if only I had had a better plan) are Tyler Florence, Daphne Kalotay, and Francisco Stork. and many others! Next year?! I was flipping through the author pages of the program guide and saw Jerald Walker and was thinking, “Hey! He’s that professor at Bridgewater State College that my English teacher friends all rave about!” but the blurb says he is at Emerson College. Come to find out – yep, same guy. I’m looking forward to reading his latest book, Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption.
Maybe this year, the BBF wasn’t quite as exciting as last (mainly due to last year I met Dawn of She is Too Fond of Books and she’s just the kind of gal who really knows how to zing up an adventure), but I had a great day with friends, enjoying the big city, and talking about books. You can bet I will be going again to the next one.