No one reads books any more, right? While we’ve been hearing for years now,the 9th annual Boston Book Festival, which takes over Copley Square in October, clearly proves otherwise.
“Reading a book is a solitary pursuit,” says founder Deborah Porter. “One of the nicest things about it is the atmosphere, this coming together of people who are part of your tribe. All these people who read books in one place creates this wonderful sense of community.”
That tribe includes the authors presenting their work this year, among them local writers Dennis Lehane (“Gone Baby Gone,” “Mystic River”), and Tom Perrotta (“The Leftovers,” “Election”).
“Dennis and Tom have supported the festival from the beginning,” says Porter.
The theme for this year’s festival is “Where We Find Ourselves,” and that can be taken literally or metaphorically. The event, which launches with a reading on Friday night at Old South Church, is free. Porter admits that holding a free festival isn’t a good business model, but she didn’t start the festival for financial gain.
“Nine years ago, Boston was one of the few big cities that didn’t have a major book festival,” says Porter. “I thought the ‘Athens of America’ should have one.”
Check out a few, can’t miss highlights from this year’s event, courtesy of Porter.
The Book Revue: “The Friday night kick-off event is usually a one person keynote affair. This year we’ve opened it up to have several authors presenting. Among those, Leland Melvin, who was an NFL player and an astronaut serving on the Space Station, will read his poetry.”
Thriller: “Dennis Lehane lives in L.A. now, but he’s returning to talk about his new book on our thriller panel. It’s about a journalist who has an on-air mental breakdown, and then his marriage implodes. It’s very much about the internal, psychological violence. It’s new territory, I think, for him.”
Murder: “’Fact of a Body: A Murder and A Memoir’ is by local writer Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich. She was a law student assigned to a death penalty case, and the man was a pedophile. In the process of investigating this murder she draws on her own experience of sexual abuse by her grandfather. It is a complicated, but fascinating book.”
Sex: “It’s almost a second theme for the festival, but we have three authors looking at sexuality, and how things are changing. The issue of transgender people, for instance, and now it’s recognized, how many people does that affect? Campus rape and how that’s being dealt with is another topic.”
If you go:
Oct. 27-28, Copley Square, Boston, bostonbookfest.org