BBF 2018: What to Know Before You Go

Our trucks have rolled into Copley Square, we found Paddington Bear at Back Bay Station, and the tenth annual BBF will kick off all over Boston this Saturday, October 13. We hope you’re as excited as we are: read on for some essential tips to help you make the most of your day at the BBF!

No ticket? No problem! It’s true that our two ticketed events–the 10/12 kickoff keynote with Michael Pollan and the 10/13 “On Leadership” session–are completely sold out. We are not maintaining a waiting list for either event, but the good news is that if you didn’t purchase tickets in time, we have more than 100 other events that are absolutely free and don’t require tickets or registration. Admission and seating at all these events is first-come, first-served, so we recommend you arrive early for sessions that are especially important to you! Need help navigating our online schedule? Visit this brief tutorial.

We’re not just in Copley anymore! After a successful pilot in East Boston last year, we’re expanding our neighborhood festivals program to include both East Boston and Roxbury. Offering unique presentations, performances, and workshops in each location and featuring an exciting mix of nationally known and locally grown literary talent, these all-day events mean that no matter where you live or work in Boston, on 10/13 there’s a BBF near you!

Plan ahead if you plan to drive. This year, we’re partnering with ParkWhiz to help BBF attendees find and book the best deals on parking near the festival. You do need to book parking in advance in order to take advantage of the ParkWhiz deals, however, so take a few minutes and have one less thing to worry about as you head into the city (especially since the Red Sox will also be kicking off the ALCS at Fenway on Saturday evening!).

Arrive early and dance with us. BBF 2018 presenter and Daybreaker founder Radha Agrawal will help us kick off the BBF with a morning dance party outside in Copley Square. Chameleon Cold-Brew will be there to get all those early birds energized and ready for Boston’s biggest book party!

And stay late and raise a glass with us. This year our perennially popular capstone event Poems & Pints, produced with Mass Poetry, is at a new and bigger venue–furniture store Room & Board! In addition to readings by five amazing poets, there will be live music by novelist and songwriter Robin MacArthur, plus seasonal beers and pretzels! You better believe that this is where you’ll find us at the end of the BBF day–save us a seat where we can put our feet up!

Bring a tote bag (or buy one from us!). Thanks to our partner booksellers, book sales and signings follow all of our sessions, so bring a bag (or buy a tenth-anniversary one at our merch booth!) to stock up on new finds (not to mention goodies from our 75+ exhibitors on Copley Square!). Our merch booth will also offer beautiful keepsake books commemorating our tenth anniversary and featuring essays by authors like Tom Perrotta, Stephanie Burt, and Nic Stone, brand-new BBF journals, and tenth-anniversary posters–plus BBF umbrellas, just in case! We are a rain-or-shine event, after all!

Love the BBF? Help keep it free to all. If you love the BBF, help support it! The BBF is run by an independent nonprofit, and we rely on donations from individuals to help keep the festival thriving and free to all. Donations in any amount are appreciated, but membership benefits start at $50; more substantial donations of $500+ can get you priority seating, party invitations, and more! You can contribute to the BBF online anytime or at the membership table at the big BBF tent on the day of the festival. Thank you for your support as we head into our second decade!

Most importantly? Have fun! We hope you enjoy this free celebration of books and literary culture. We’ve certainly had fun putting it together for you. Tag us on Twitter and Instagram and use the hashtag #BBF2018—we can’t wait to see how you spend your day!

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Q&A: East Boston Librarian Margaret Kelly Highlights What’s On for the Neighborhood Festival

We’re excited to be returning to the East Boston Branch of Boston Public Library for the second edition of BBF in East Boston!

We piloted our first Neighborhood Festival in East Boston last year, and had over 100 attendees in just our first year. This year, we’re stepping it up. We’ve expanded programming, added live mariachi music, and developed all-day activities, such as a community-developed poem.

Margaret Kelly, branch librarian in East Boston, tellls us a little more about what made last year’s East Boston Neighborhood Festival successful, why the Neighborhood Festivals are important, and what to expect for this bigger and better line-up this year!

Check out the full schedule.

1) Last year’s East Boston Neighborhood Festival–BBF’s first beyond Copley Square–was a huge hit. What are some of your favorite highlights?

My favorite was definitely the writing workshop for children that Matt de la Peña presented. Both the children and parents really enjoyed it, and so did I. Matt was very funny and really got the children excited about writing.

I  also really liked the art and illustration workshop for children conducted by James DeMarco, a local author and illustrator. It was kind of amazing that all the children from the youngest to the oldest made these great dinosaur drawings. They all looked like dinosaurs, and all the children put their own spin on it.  I don’t think I would have been nearly as successful.

James will be back this year but this time he will be  speaking on a panel discussion about writing and publishing, which I’m looking forward to.

2) What was the most unexpected part of the day last year?

I don’t know that anything was really unexpected, but, if anything, it was how excited the adults were about all the programs. We had a short story discussion group that the participants really enjoyed. Most of our other programs were geared toward children. But the parents and other adults loved these programs, too. I think they particularly enjoyed seeing the children get so excited about books and maybe there was a nostalgia factor, as well, with our Curious George visit and storytime.

This year we have increased our programs and have something for all ages.

3) Why is the festival important to what you do and the neighborhood?

It’s a great opportunity to connect people with books and authors.  It makes both reading and writing more accessible. Through meeting and hearing from both famous and local authors, participants get the message that everyone has a story, and I think that is very powerful. Most of all, the festival is about having fun and celebrating reading. I love that it is a neighborhood event and a celebration of both reading and community.

4) We’d love to know more about East Boston. What books are flying off the shelves?

 The President is Missing by James Patterson has been very popular, as well as The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas has been in high demand from both adults and teens.  In the Children’s Room, it is nearly impossible to keep any books by Mo Willems and Jeff Kinney on the shelves.

5) Any sneak peeks into what we can expect at the 2018 BBF East Boston Neighborhood Festival?

There is going to be an array of fun and interesting programs for adults and children.  Pete the Cat will be visiting and we will have a panel discussion from local authors about writing and publishing. Actress Sheetal Sheth will  be reading from her first children’s book, and Daniel José Older will be presenting a writing workshop for preteens.

All ages will be invited to help craft a community poem on East Boston and also to create their own blackout poetry.  To give visitors a flavor of East Boston, local artist Veronica Robles will perform with her all female mariachi band.

6) Will there be programming for all ages?

Yes, we truly will have something for everyone.

Check out the full schedule.

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BBF Partners with Heart-of-Roxbury Bookstore: A Q&A with Frugal Bookstore Owners, Clarrissa and Leonard Egerton

We are thrilled to be debuting the Boston Book Festival in the vibrant Roxbury neighborhood of Dudley Square with a not-to-be missed lineup of workshops, performances, music, kids’ activities and lots of discussion on fascinating new books.

One of the best parts of organizing this new initiative has been working with our Roxbury programming partners: the Roxbury Cultural District, the Boston Public Library’s Dudley Branch, and, of course, the beloved neighborhood institution, the Frugal Bookstore. We talked with Frugal owners Clarrissa and Leonard Egerton, who grew up in Roxbury and are proud local business owners, about how they started the bookstore, what are some popular Roxbury reads, and what they’re most excited about with the October 13 launch of the Boston Book Festival in Roxbury.

 1) How did you come up with the idea of starting Frugal Bookstore?

We were part of a business in Roxbury, Frugal Furniture, owned by Robert Romanow, and within the furniture store, he had a section with books—all primarily by authors of colors. I was looking for a job, and Mr. Romanow asked me if I would help him build a book business. I had never seen so many books by people of color in one place, and it just looked beautiful.

It made me very proud, because I am an avid reader and I know how important it is for all people to see themselves in the literature they read.

It became my mission to assist Mr. Romanow, and when he saw how dedicated I was, he offered to sell me the bookstore portion of his business. I asked Clarrissa if she wanted to join me in building a business that could serve the very community we both grew up in, and she came on board.

A space opened up across from the furniture store, we applied for it, and we moved the books into it. We kept the name Frugal Bookstore simply because it was becoming known, and why fix something that is not broken. And that’s how Clarrissa and I became owners of the Frugal Bookstore.

2) You recently moved locations to be right in the heart of Dudley Square. What impact has that had on your business?

The impact of moving to Dudley Square has been quite measurable. The fact that a person can walk by and see a bookstore and stop in has garnered us more support, patronage, and business. We have been able to partner with different organizations in Dudley Square. Being in the center of Roxbury, where so many people pass through each day, has given people the chance to see us who may have never seen us in our other store. Visibility and diverse people coming into the bookstore have had the biggest impact on our business.

3) What’s the best part of running a bookstore in Roxbury?

The best part is that we are the only bookstore in Roxbury. We are one of a kind.

Our families and the people we’ve grown up with can watch and see us thrive and know that it is very possible to own a business in the very community you grow up in. And not just any business—one that offers value, a business where you can come in and you light up because you feel proud that it is in Roxbury. Books help people in so many ways, and for us to be able to help the very people we grew up with and give to our community a resource that keeps on giving is definitely the best part of running a bookstore in Roxbury.

4) What’s been popular reading in the neighborhood this year?

That’s a hard question to answer, because the interests within the community are so diverse. There’s no particularly popular reading, but there has been a great deal of focus on starting book clubs within the community, and a great deal of support has been given to us by different organizations.

5) What are you most excited about with the BBF Roxbury program?

The mere fact that it is being held in Roxbury and that we were selected to help is a big deal. BBF coming to Roxbury means we can showcase talent that may not otherwise have been seen by the people who live in Roxbury. It gives the people of Roxbury a chance to be a part of the literary world that seems out of reach sometimes.

Interested in learning more about the Boston Book Festival’s Roxbury edition? Check out the schedule and make plans to join us on October 13!

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BBF Celebrates 10 Years with Launch of East Boston and Roxbury Festivals!

The Boston Book Festival is celebrating its tenth anniversary in 2018, and we’re doing something big. For the first time ever, we’re bringing all the lively readings, discussions and festivities to two cultural centers of the city, East Boston and Roxbury!

The Neighborhood Festivals will be on the same day as the Copley Festival, Saturday, October 13, and some of the most nationally celebrated writers will be heading directly to you, including Oprah Book Club favorite Tayari Jones and New York Times bestseller Daniel Jose Older!

We’ll also feature local icons, such as ESPN sports writer Howard Bryant, Black Arts Movement leader Askia Toure, popular poet Simone John – and even music by Boston’s first-ever all female mariachi band!

We talked with BBF’s founder and executive director, Deborah Porter, and deputy director Norah Piehl to learn more about this new initiative and to a sneak peek from them on what’s to come.

Check out the full schedule of events for kids, teens and adults in Roxbury and East Boston!

 How did you come up with the idea to start the Neighborhood Festivals?

DP: I have been frustrated for years at the relative lack of diversity among attendees at the BBF, despite a fair number of diverse voices presenting year after year. I finally realized that for the BBF to reach a broader audience, we should forge partnerships in other neighborhoods with the goal of bringing great programming to more people.

Why did you choose East Boston and Roxbury?

NP: In part, at least for last year’s pilot in East Boston, the decision was a practical one—we were looking for a Boston Public Library branch that was open on Saturday, that had enough space to host programming, that had a library staff who were excited about working with us, and that had the technological capacity to do things like project live-streamed programming.

But more broadly than that, we were looking to reach neighborhoods that have historically had relatively low attendance at the BBF in Copley, which is definitely true of both of these neighborhoods. We thought that in both cases, residents of these neighborhoods might benefit from having a fun, book-centered event take place right around the corner, rather than having to travel to Copley on a busy Saturday, especially for families where one or both parents might work on weekends.

What do you hope to achieve with this new initiative?

NP: We hope that the curated programming in each neighborhood allows attendees to see themselves and their neighbors reflected not only as part of a community of readers, but also to see authors, illustrators, and other brilliant, creative people—many of them creators of color—featured and celebrated in this way. And we hope that these two neighborhood festivals are just the beginning of what might become a true citywide celebration of books and reading!

Have you been surprised by the reception?

NP: I’ve been really gratified by the response to the programs, both in East Boston and in Roxbury. In Roxbury, in particular, because the Dudley Square BPL branch is currently  closed for renovations, we’ve needed to establish other types of partnerships, and I think we’ve all been really excited by how many groups and individuals have wanted to get involved in shaping the program, spreading the word about the festival to their networks, and, in general, just helping the festival succeed as a real neighborhood-based event.

Where do you see this going in the future?

DP: I see the neighborhood festivals as being an eagerly anticipated event in the community, just as the main BBF is at Copley.

Any not-to-be missed sessions?

NP: In East Boston, besides all the great book-related programs, I’m really excited about the performance by Veronica Robles and her all-women mariachi band. One of our goals of festival day is to create a truly festive atmosphere, to make this day that’s centered on books and reading also feel like a celebration or a party. Having a wonderful musical performance by Veronica’s group will certainly achieve that goal! In Roxbury, I’m personally excited about the conversation between playwright and performer Liza Jessie Peterson and Black Arts movement pioneer Askia Touré, about the intersections between artistic production and social activism. It’s going to be a really vibrant discussion led by David Dower of ArtsEmerson, a long-time partner of ours who have really positioned themselves as leaders when it comes to producing theatrical work that also serves a social purpose.

DP: All the sessions are not-to-be missed!  Some of our most amazing authors from the main stage in Copley are appearing at the neighborhood festivals, as well as outstanding local talent.  It should be a fun day all around!

Check out the full schedule of events for kids, teens and adults in Roxbury and East Boston!

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