Nerd Out & Get the Word Out: Boston Book Festival 2010

By Melanie Yarbrough
They have Woodstock and Lillith Fair, Burning Man and even a Strawberry Picking Festival. And finally, last year, Boston started its annual book festival, for the rest of us.

This Saturday, October 16th, marks the second annual Boston Book Festival in Copley Square (which means a great view of the Boston Public Library!). They’ve posted the schedule and description of events here, and I thought I’d share what I’m most excited about. Ready, set, nerd out!

10:30 AM – Guided Open Mic

Cloud Place 647 Boylston Street

Shane and I fell in love with Steve Almond after he did a reading at Harvard Bookstore a while back, promoting his two books that he printed on HB’s print-on-demand machine, Paige M. Gutenborg. (They’re great collections of essays, stories and letters. Check back soon for a giveaway of the hilarious Letters from People Who Hate Me.) The titillating description from BBF’s website:

Steve will be on hand to talk about what makes a good reading – from how to pick the right excerpt to how to perform that excerpt like a professional. To participate, please bring a FIVE-MINUTE excerpt of your fiction, poetry or non-fiction to the session and sign up for a reading slot when you arrive. Please note that a five-minute reading usually consists of no more than 600 words. We will hold readers to a very strict five-minute limit. Presented by Grub Street.

11:30 AM – The Tendencies of Technology

John Hancock Hall at the Back Bay Events Center 180 Berkeley Street

The event’s description starts out: “The recent changes that technology has made to books, reading and the way we relate to each other are unprecedented and transformational.” While Shane’s the one who’s usually most interested in analyzing the way technology’s changing the way we read (as I hole up in the corner with a book and a typewriter), I must say I’m pretty excited to experience a real-life, more-than-140 character discussion on technology. Also, it’ll be cool to put a face to NPR’s John Hockenberry, who’s moderating.

12PM – Writer Idol

Old South Church Mary Norton Hall 645 Boylston Street

Grub Street organizes another great event: Place the first 250 words of your unpublished manuscript in a box, an actor picks at random and acts it out on stage, winner crowned at the end. Let’s up the ante: The panel of judges consists of Esmond Harmsworth, Sorche Fairbank, Ann Collette and Caroline Zimmerman, all agents and/or editors with years of experience reading unsolicited submissions.

1PM – Fiction: Reality Bites

Church of the Covenant 67 Newbury Street

Three authors reading their work that delves into the dark side of human experience! I’m super-stoked to see Allegra Goodman, the author of one my most favorite short stories: “La Vita Nuova.”

Plus, who wouldn’t want to rub elbows with host Nicole Lamy, the Boston Globe‘s book editor?

2:30 PM – One City One Story Town Hall Discussion

Church of the Covenant 67 Newbury Street

Finally, the moment we’ve all (or TTTR, at least) been waiting for! Boston’s first-ever One City One Story, Tom Perrotta’s “The Smile on Happy Chang’s Face,” will be the topic of discussion for Boston residents from Mattapan to Southie and back! Tom Perrotta and Mayor Menino will start off the discussion, and Inside Arts editor-in-chief Alicia Anstead will moderate.

To download the story and get more deets on this exciting Bostonventure, check out Shane’s preview of the event.

4 PM – Fiction: The Web of Relationships

Boston Public Library Rabb Lecture Hall 700 Boylston Street

From BBF’s website:

Three authors discuss their very different takes on essential human connections.  Ann Hood’s novel, The Red Thread, is an engaging look at five couples and their quest to adopt babies from China. Brunonia Barry’s The Map of True Places, her second novel after her triumphant The Lace Reader, explores personal tragedy and identity. Joanna Smith Rakoff looks at the post-collegiate struggles of a group of friends in her debut novel A Fortunate Age. Hosted by founding editor of The Drum, Henriette Lazaridis Power.

And last, but most definitely not least:

6 PM – Keynote by Joyce Carol Oates

Trinity Church Sanctuary 206 Clarendon Street

Need I say more? But, for those of you who answered “yes”: She is a recipient of the National Book Award for her novel them, the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, and she has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize as well as the Nobel Prize. I fully agree with The New York Times when they called her “a dangerous writer in the best sense of the word, one who takes risks almost obsessively, with energy and relish.”

I’m over the moon about that last one.

Gonna join us?

If you’re going to be at the Boston Book Fest and want to meet up or send us an account of your experience or favorite sessions, send us an email!


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One thought on “Nerd Out & Get the Word Out: Boston Book Festival 2010

  1. I always think it’s a good idea to put a face to radio personalities, but it’s almost always a disappointment in the same way that movie adaptations of books are…

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