On Saturday afternoon, just before it started pouring rain, I went to the History & Biography tent to see Steve Vogel and David Nasaw. Both men talked about their most recent books. Vogel’s is about the War of 1812, and David Nasaw has written a biography of Joseph P. Kennedy, the father of JFK, etc. The talks in the History & Biography tent are noticeably different from the ones in the Fiction and Mystery tent. It is more like listening to a really good history lecture. I enjoyed it, but I did miss hearing more information about the authors themselves, like their writing process and how they choose what to write about.
After that, I went to see Thomas Keneally, who is best known for his book Schindler’s Ark. (The movie Schindler’s List is based on it.) His latest book is about two sisters who worked as nurses during wartime. I could tell from hearing him talk that he is passionate about history-it sounds as though he does just as much research as the nonfiction writers I had just heard.
On Sunday, I was back again. Book Fest is always less crowded on Sundays, and I’m not sure why-especially this year when the weather was so much nicer than it had been on Saturday.
I went back to the History & Biography tent to see A. Scott Berg talk about his new biography of President Woodrow Wilson. My mom had heard about his book and said it sounded good. Listening to Berg, you could tell that he is fascinated by the subject. He made a point of writing about Wilson as a human being, as opposed to a policy maker. I enjoyed the talks I heard in the History & Biography tent, but I have to say, hearing a thirty minute talk on the topic of their books makes me less interested in reading them. The topics are interesting, but hearing the authors speak made me feel like I had already learned about their subjects.
My last stop for this year was the Teens & Children tent. I wanted to see Susan Cooper again, but I came early, so I was also able to hear Katherine Paterson. I remember reading her book Jacob Have I Loved in junior high, and it was fun to hear her talk about it. Susan Cooper’s talk this year was about how a sense of place has influenced her writing. I am more familiar with her stories set in Britain, but her new books are set in New England, where she lives. I have noticed that my favorite mystery series always have a strong sense of place as well, so maybe that is something that I look for in a good story.
I enjoyed Book Fest as always, and I am planning to catch some of the talks I missed here, on the Festival’s website. There are only a few videos up so far, but hopefully more will be added soon.