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, 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.
As a Nantucket wash-ashore (a summer resident) for forty-plus years I 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, 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, plus 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 extrodinary writers in a place I truly love.
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,Neel Patel, Susan Orleans.
Our ninth season is coming up June 13-15th.
I had the opportunity to write about Min Jin Lee for the Nantucket Bookfest Blog about two of her books I had recently devoured in 2017: Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko.
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