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, 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.
My interview with Joe Hagan was published on the
Nantucket BookFest web site on February 20, 2018.
Author Bill Roorbach
at the Bookfest in 2015