BOOK-FEST DIRT! Usually we save all the good gossip for AFTER the festival, but I’ll share this juicy tidbit now: three of our guests met via a menge-a-tois–(no, not THAT kind! )….Claire Messud and her now husband, James Woods, were introduced by Andrew Salomon at a party and were married shortly after. All three are presenters this year and will reunite at our * 7th annual * Nantucket Book Festival, June 15th-17th.
They will be joined by presenters Min Jin Lee, Joe Hagan, local historian Nathaniel Philbrick, Nantucket’s’s own prolific fiction writers Elin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer, and local photgrapher Cary Hazlegrove; actress and author,Jane Alexander, Daine Ackerman, Imbolo Mbue, NFL star and children’s book author Malcolm Mitchell, mystery writer Lousie Penny, lyrical writer Anna Badhken, chef Matt Jennings, Jouranlist and poet Eileen Myers, essayist Morgan Parker, novelist Dorothea Benton Frank, John Boyne(“Boy in The Stripped Pajamas”) plus SO MANY MORE illustrious writers ( pls.see our beautiful new website. )
This event, in such a glorious island setting 30 miles out to sea, hosts world famous authors talking about thier work inside a 18th century Antheneum, a beautiful old church on a cobblestone street, in the new Dreamland Theater, all for free (except where noted ) and open to the public.
Book signings near Mitchell’s Bookstore and The Bookworks –two of Nantucket’s thriving independent bookstores, are courtesy of owner Wendy Morton Hudson, Wendy Morton Hudson–the bookfest co-founder, along with Mary Haft, co-founder and also president of the Nantucket Book Foundation, and the V.P. of the Pen/Faulkner essay contest for Nantucket’s high school students; our hardworking Board of Directors including Annye Camera; Literary Committee Director Tharon Dunne and Richard Burns, ; public relations and marketing comittee director, Marsha Egan;and doer of all impossible festival coordinating deeds-plus so many other dedicated book lovers on our our bookfest founder; Opening ceremony readings by the Pen/Faulkner high school contest winners are thanks to Mary Haft, V.P. of Pen/Faulkner and the Nantucket Book Foundation; plus so many more dedicated book lovers on our committees work tirelessly year- round to present the best, most personal and accessible festival I have ever had the honor to work with. Make your travel plans now. Drive, then fly, ferry, or paddle-board across Nantucket Sound, but GET THERE!
Why Nantucket Island for a Book Festival?
Legendary writers Harper Lee, Truman Capote, and John Steinbeck, David Halberstam, Peter Benchley, and Russell Baker all retreated to Nantucket to write, along with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Frederick Douglass, Henry David Thoreau, and Lucretia Coffin Mott whom lectured in Nantucket’s centuries old Great Hall of The Atheneum.
Today, the Island and its beautiful Greek Revival library in the center of town—the Atheneum—seem an obvious choice as one of the hosts to the annual Nantucket Book Festival. The festival—a highlight event of the Nantucket Book Foundation—is in its seventh year and hosts local, national, and international authors for a weekend of mostly free events and readings in venues within walking distance of each other in this charming 16th century whaling town.
I’ve been a Nantucket wash-ashore (a summer resident) for forty-plus years and decided to volunteer when the Book Fest first began in 2011. I do a little bit of everything—meet authors at the boat from their journey across Nantucket Sound on the Steamship and escort them to their cozy bed and breakfasts down cobblestone streets; introduce them before their readings; blog about their books for the Book Festival Website, and other local media; and I participate on the BookFest Public Relations committee which meets throughout the year.
Below are a few of the authors whom I either have introduced, gotten to know, written about, or shared a meal with (and believe me, each year I give myself a writerly pinch I have this much fun with such cool people in a place I love. I also get to bunk for the weekend with my best friend, Tina—she’s a fabulous Island chef.)
Jodi Picoult, Min Jin Lee, Mark Doty, Billy Collins, Bill Roorbach, Dan Menaker, Dani Shapiro, Ann Leary, Rosie Schnaap, Maggie Shipstead, Will Schwalbe, Sebastian Junger, Ann Hood, Amy Brill, Martha Southgate, Rob Cocuzzo, Nancy Thayer, Elin Hildebrand, Nathaniel Philbrick, Jack Sussek, Sarah Leah Chase, Megan Marshall, Wyn Copper, Valzhyna Mort, Katherine Bouton, Geoff Dwyer, Mary Haft, Michael Schulder, Alice Hoffman, Ben Bradley, Jr., Joe Hagan
Our seventh season is coming up June 15-17th and I’m hosting author/journalist Joe Hagan, whose new book Sticky Fingers, the Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine was published this past fall to rave reviews. If you are a baby boomer (or a rock and roller) like me, it’s a must-read. Watch this page for updates on the 2018 Nantucket Book Festival.
I had the opportunity to write about Min Jin Lee for the Nantucket Bookfest Blog about two of her books I had recently devoured: Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko. Lee will be featured at the Opening Night Celebration at this year’s Nantucket Book Festival.
My Nantucket Bookfest blog post on Joe Hagan was published on the
Nantucket BookFest web site on February 20, 2018.
Author Bill Roorbach
at the Bookfest in 2015