Baltimore Book Festival – Saturday Recap

From the Booking Desk:

Yesterday, I attended some of the Saturday events at the Baltimore Book Festival.  While only two of the topics fit into the parameters of this blog, I shall share some highlights from the entire day.

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Blogging About Books – 1PM

This was a wonderful panel presented on the Maryland Romance Writers Stage.  It featured the following Romance and Young Adult bloggers providing hints and tips about the art of blogging about books.

Stacey O’Neale, Fantasy Book Addict

Jen Fisher, Jenuine Cupcakes/Young Adult Book Central

Hannah McBride, The Irish Banana Review Blog

Stephanie Sinclair, Cuddlebuggery Blog

Jillian Stein, Read-Love-Blog

Joy Harris, Joyfully Reviewed Blog

Most of the items they talked about are things practiced by BOLO Books as well, so it was nice to see that regardless of genre, book blogging is an ever-growing and important part of the publishing scene.  Types of tips they provided include:

1. Always provide regular, original content.  Content is king.

2. Don’t over extend oneself on NetGalley (or other sources for ARCs).  You should be reviewing or providing feedback on almost all of the advanced books you request.

3. Keep reviews related to the content of the book and not about the author.  Authors should not engage bloggers in discussion of negative reviews, especially on sites like GoodReads and Amazon.

4. Remember, behind every book there is a person who worked hard to create it.

5. Always be honest in your remarks.  Whether you write negative reviews or not (side note: BOLO Books does not), if your opinions are presented professionally and in an accurate manner, you will be respected and your audience will grow.

Azar Nafisi Lecture – 3PM

Nafisi is the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran and gave a powerful lecture on the need for a democratic imagination.  I was particularly touched by the way she encouraged the audience to make their own opinions about hot button topics.  She wanted everyone to remember that even though the Muslim world is lumped together as one collective “whole,’ we must not forget that similar to the way the Christian majority in the United States is not unified in all beliefs, this collection of counties (and its people) are extremely varied in their opinions on all things (including religion, government, civil rights, and everything else).

On a personal note, I was very encouraged that much of her lecture focused on the importance of fiction writing.  For Nafisi, the ability to read about, and thus walk in the shoes of, someone different from oneself is the most important part of learning.  As mainly a reader of fiction works, this is exactly what I have been trying to explain to people for years.  We can learn as much or maybe more from the creative works of a culture or time-period as we can from the historical and non-fiction writings of the same culture or time.

Near the end of the lecture, Azar Nafisi talked about The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.  Her next book will be called Reading Huck Finn in America.  She recounted a portion of the book where Huck feels like he needs to turn Jim in to the slave-owners because if he does not, he will go to hell.  After sleeping on it and realizing that  Jim is just the same as he is, he decides that he will help to free Jim, even if it means he will go to hell.  Nafisi told the audience that she hoped they would always choose to do the right thing, even if it means going to hell.

Laura Lippman in Conversation with John Searles – 5PM

Help For the HauntedSince Laura Lippman did not release a book this year, this conversation was mostly focused on John Searles and his new novel Help for the Haunted.  The BOLO Books review of this title can be found by following this link.  Both Laura and John seemed at ease on the stage and many laughs were had by both the audience and the guests.  Laura praised Help for the Haunted and John returned the praise for the works of Laura Lippman.  Topics about Help for the Haunted covered everything from why the book was set in Dundalk Maryland to how John’s early reading of books by Sidney Sheldon and Stephen King influenced this new novel.  John made this reader happy with news that he is already at work on a new novel.  A well attended signing by both authors followed.

From the Booking Desk:

Walking amongst the book vendors on a beautiful fall day in Baltimore was just lovely.  My group also scored an informative tour of the Peabody Conservatory which alone would have been worth the journey down to the festival.  But there was so much else to do that I encourage people to check out the Baltimore Book Festival next year.