Festival Newsletter: November 2017

Dear Friend of the Festival,

We do it “to live twice,” as Anais Nin wrote. Her paramour Henry Miller recommended it “to give our souls a chance to luxuriate.” Gustave Flaubert called it “a perpetual orgy.” Ian McEwan said it allows a person to “be so engrossed that you barely know you exist.”

Yes, we are referring to our favorite four-letter word: R-E-A-D.

Noteworthy: 10 Lit Links Worth Reading

1. In 2017, authors hear their detractors. Loud and clear. 2.Looking for your 2018 goal? Why not try reading 100 books in one year? 3.Ease your Thanksgiving travel woes by reading — everyone else will be doing it. 4. But maybe think twice before rereading an old favorite. 5. Male savior complexes in literature are anything but complex. 6. Writers with Twitter accounts seem to think that when it comes to characters, less is more.7. Speaking of, were you there those few historic minutes when the POTUS Twitter account fell silent? 8. Our beautifully odd Bay Area literary community provides us something brand new: a literary wrestling match. 9. Books that actually teach you about food (one of the less controversial mealtime topics). 10. There’s nothing new about fake news.

Counter to popular belief, millennials (20-36 year olds) actually read more books than people from other generations. And it’s not a trend we can explain away with smartphones — these millennials are reading more digital books than others, but also more print books.


Check out this Pew Research Center 2016 survey about who’s reading in America:

One for the Books: Here’s What We’re Thankful For

More than 20 hours of festival audio recordings are now at your fingertips. Check out the Bay Area Book Festival podcastavailable now on iTunes — where you can experience the conversations, laughs, and insights from some of our favorite sessions from 2017. We’re releasing more each month, so feel free to indulge yourself during your Thanksgiving travels; there will be new episodes for you in December.

The exhibitor applications for the 2018 outdoor fair have been rolling in since the application went live Nov. 1. What’s in store for festival shoppers? Here’s a tiny smattering: East Bay Booksellers, the new store that took over from the former Diesel on College Ave., is joining the family with a great display for your browsing pleasure! Get inspired by four-time exhibitor Eastwind Books. Study creative writing with Berkeley’s own Left Margin LIT. Hot off the presses: Ulysses Press is one of the top 10 fastest growing small publishers, and Chronicle Books is the big publisher that makes everything wonderfully personal. More sneak peeks next month!

If you want to exhibit but haven’t yet signed up, do so soon! Within two weeks of the application going live, we had three times the sign-ups as last year — and almost a quarter of the spots are already gone.

The next generation of Great American Authors may be reading this newsletter right now. This one’s for you: our 2018 Young Authors Writing Contest is underway! All high school students in the Bay Area are eligible to submit an entry for consideration (with past winners getting recognition in publications like the SF Chronicle). Forget getting your foot in the door — why not kick that door down and get published before graduation?

The Fine Print: Here’s what we’re reading

“Promise Me, Dad” by Joe Biden
The former vice president reflects on his highly visible grief following his son’s death in 2015. Biden binds his tale together with his political journey — reflecting on and explaining his decision to not run for president in 2016 — but this brand new memoir is, at its core, a book about a father’s love.

You can hear Biden read an excerpt here, and check out the NYT review here.




“My Absolute Darling” by Gabriel Tallent
The headline of the NPR review describes the book as “hard to read, harder to put down” and, well, that pretty much says it all. Tallent’s debut novel doesn’t hold back; it tells the gut-wrenching, heartbreaking story of a young woman whose life has been marked by loss, paranoia, and abuse.

Like we said, it’s not a light read. But if you want a book that’ll stick with you for a while, look no further.

A Poem for You Right Now

An excerpt from “Ode to Thanks” by Pablo Neruda

The world is a threatening place
makes the rounds
from one pair of lips to another,
soft as a bright
and sweet as a petal of sugar,
filling the mouth with its sound
or else a mumbled
Life becomes human again:
it’s no longer an open window.
A bit of brightness
strikes into the forest,
and we can sing again beneath the leaves.
Thanks, you’re the medicine we take
to save us from
the bite of scorn.
Your light brightens the altar of harshness.

Read on!

Bay Area Book Festival