Moveable Book Feasts
The opening this weekend of the Brooklyn Book Festival marks the launch of what we at Shelf Awareness think of as the fall book festival season. In the coming weeks, fairs devoted to bringing books, authors and readers together include the National Book Festival, sponsored by the Library of Congress and held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (September 24-25); the Texas Book Festival, held in Austin October 22-23; and the mother of all book festivals, the Miami Book Fair International, which, marking its 28th anniversary, takes place November 13-20. There are also book fairs this fall in Boston, Baltimore, West Hollywood, Minneapolis, Connecticut, Kentucky and Ohio. (For more information on these and other fairs, check out our website listing.)
Only six years old, the Brooklyn Book Festival is already a sterling example of what these fairs have to offer. The Festival "proper" takes place this Sunday and features vendor booths and a full schedule of concurrent readings, signings and panels. As if that weren't enough, starting last night, a series of "bookend" events began in the borough, including "an evening of wine and literary talk" with author Jay McInerney at the Brooklyn Winery; PEN American Center's Literary Pub Quiz; concerts; an independent book publisher party; and Community Bookstore's 40th anniversary party tomorrow. Altogether nearly 300 authors are participating in the Festival, including Russell Banks, Jonathan Safran Foer, Joyce Carol Oates, Larry McMurtry, Jennifer Egan, Terry McMillan, Edmund White, Wallace Shawn, Jon Scieszka, Mo Willems, John Sayles, Terese Svoboda, Susan Isaacs and more.
Like other fairs around the country, the Brooklyn Book Festival is a full community effort, supported by local bookstores (which are hosting many "bookend" events), publishers, authors groups, cultural and arts organizations and the city government. Hotels have even jumped on the bandwagon, offering discounts to out-of-towners.
Book festivals are a great place to meet authors, learn about books, discuss issues and mix with other booklovers. We'll keep you updated about individual book festivals as they approach.
Happy reading! --John Mutter