Boston Book Festival

October 25, 2014


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

IFF Boston 2014

Here at the BBF, we love movies (almost) as much as we love books. That’s why we’re proud to partner again with the smartest film festival around, Independent Film Festival of Boston. The twelfth annual IFF is set to take place April 23-30 at the Somerville Theatre, Brattle Theatre, Coolidge Corner Theatre, and UMass Boston. They’ll be screening close to a hundred films, as well as hosting weekend panel discussions (and some pretty swell parties for badge holders, too). Tickets for all events are now available on IFF Boston’s website.

The BBF is pleased to be screening sponsor of two films during the festival. Make plans to attend—we hope to see many of you there!

Palo AltoPALO ALTO Fri. 4/25 – 9:30pm – Somerville Theatre
Based on James Franco’s first book of linked short stories about modern teens in the eponymous California city, this film marks the directorial debut of Gia Coppola (Sofia’s niece and Francis Ford’s granddaughter). Variety writes that Coppola’s adaptation “ balances the tired sensationalism of kids behaving badly with a welcome dose of sympathy.”

The DoubleTHE DOUBLE Tue. 4/29 – 9:45pm – Coolidge Corner Theatre
An adaptation of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novella, The Double tells the story of Simon, a meek government worker met with indifference and scorn in every aspect of his life. Unable to woo the woman of his dreams and ignored by his peers, Simon feels powerless. Enter James: confident, charismatic … and Simon’s exact physical double. Slowly, James begins to take over Simon’s life. Called “visually groundbreaking and darkly funny” by Film Journal International, this won’t be one to miss.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Dispatch from Maternity Leave

In 2014, we’ll be featuring occasional posts from a variety of different voices, including BBF presenters, partners, and staff. First up is Norah Piehl, the BBF’s deputy director. Remember those “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essays from elementary school? This is kind of like that, but about maternity leave. Enjoy!

baby hands with book

Dispatch from Maternity Leave

You may have seen me at the Boston Book Festival in October, like a frigate under full sail, sweeping (or perhaps waddling) my way across Copley Square throughout the day. I was nearly 37 weeks pregnant at BBF 2013, and my son had the good sense to wait a full four days after the festival to be born.

Since then, I’ve been on maternity leave. When I first started my leave, several people asked me, “What do you plan to do during your time off?” I bristled at this at first. Did I really need to accomplish anything—wasn’t seeing my son and our family through the chaotic newborn months enough? As the fuzzy-headedness of those first few weeks began to wear off, however, I discovered that yes, there are portions of the day that can be devoted to tasks other than eating, sleeping, and gazing adoringly at my eating/sleeping baby.

As I prepare to return to work full time (it’s high time to start planning BBF 2014, after all!), I thought I’d gather some of the things I learned during my leave, in the hopes that they may be helpful to other bookish mamas-to-be.

Do Something Smart

Just because you’re “on leave” doesn’t mean you’ve taken leave of your senses, and that includes your sense of intellectual curiosity. Consider your leave a sabbatical of sorts, a chance to dabble in something new or reawaken a dormant scholarly passion. Rediscover the exercises in your high school Wheelock’s Latin textbook, dive into Proust, or persevere until you finish each Sunday’s New York Times crossword. I tried to squeeze in reading time while my son was nursing, and I was able to get through more books than I would have thought, including Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree and Jennifer Senior’s All Joy and No Fun. While both of these focus on issues of parenthood, they are more than just “baby user’s manuals”—they helped me feel I was staying engaged with larger social and cultural issues, too.

If You’re a Writer, Write

Your mother-in-law or someone else has probably told you to “nap when the baby’s napping.” This is, of course, admirable advice, but if you’re the kind of mother for whom creating a new life has also awakened other kinds of creative urges, the baby’s naptime can also be the perfect time to hit the notebook or keyboard. In her memoir, Great with Child, Debra Rienstra writes that in the postpartum period, “I went to the writing place … because I desperately needed a place of retreat.” Having created a tiny, unpredictable life, creative women may feel a need to give birth to something over which they have at least some control. Stuck on what to write? Start with your baby’s birth story. Everyone’s got one, and recounting birth’s inherent drama just might inspire you to bring other stories or poems to life.

Nurture Yourself

When I was in college, what I valued nearly as much as the give-and-take of the classroom was the relatively unstructured days. While you’re on leave and when your baby’s young and portable, you can recapture some of this freedom. If it’s a beautiful day, take a walk in the sunshine; if it’s freezing, visit your neighborhood coffee shop at 11 am. Just because you can (and you won’t believe how much shorter the line is). Take advantage of long days at home—especially if your leave happens to fall, say, during one of the snowiest winters in Boston’s history—to explore a hobby more deeply. For me, that’s cooking, and I’ve spent wintry afternoons talking to my baby as I made granola bars, soups and stews, pumpkin butter, bread, and pasta sauce. In addition to occupying dark days and giving me a sense of daily accomplishment that can be hard to come by with an infant, my freezer is now stocked with provisions that will make weeknight dinners a little easier once I return to work.

Connect With Others

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying every moment was filled with rosy-hued light and the aroma of baking bread. It can also be a stressful and lonely time, especially if you’re accustomed to a stimulating career. Seek out other new moms at breastfeeding help sessions, postnatal yoga classes, or the baby matinees at movie theatres in Arlington and Brookline. This year, I’ve actually seen more Oscar-nominated films with my four-month-old than I have with my husband! Find a Meetup group for new moms, or start one (maybe a book group?) of your own. Make dates to meet friends, colleagues, or your spouse for lunch near their offices. Seeing you and your baby in the middle of a workday will be as much of a treat for them as leaving the house is for you!

Do Something Dumb

Let’s face it: there will be days and maybe whole weeks when sleep deprivation and your baby’s incessant demands will mean that preparing a hot meal (or even taking a hot shower) will skip ahead of Anna Karenina on the to-do list. For those times, find something frivolous to read, watch, or do. Devour Penny Vincenzi’s Spoils of Time trilogy, check in on the soap operas you watched in college, or master your favorite smartphone game. My not-so-guilty pleasure has been Miranda, a British sitcom starring Miranda Hart, who plays Chummy on Call the Midwife. I like to fool myself into thinking the British accents make the show more cerebral than it is; in fact, it’s just jolly good fun.

Do Nothing at All

After I return to work, I’m sure I’ll get another round of “but what did you do during your time off?” The truth is, while I’ve actually done a fair amount, the moments I’ll remember most are those that look an awful lot like doing nothing at all. Holding my newborn in the crook of my elbow as we laze in bed together; seizing warm(ish) February afternoons to walk with him through our neighborhood; setting aside my latest book or project because I just have to look into his eyes for a moment or an hour—these are the memories that I will cherish most after I return to the routines and schedules of a working parent. No matter how short or how long, maternity leave is a gift of time—more than that, it’s a sort of time out of time, the rare opportunity to escape from deadlines and meetings and instead just be.

I may not have written the next great American novel, remodeled the bathroom, or even gotten my son’s baby book completely up-to-date, but I do feel refreshed, renewed, and ready to throw myself back into the career I love. And at BBF 2014? I’ll be the one striding across Copley Square, hopefully a little thinner this time, perhaps taking a break or two to introduce Curious George to a certain brand-new one-year-old.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wanted: 2014 BBF Interns

Like books? Interested in going behind the scenes at New England’s premier literary event? The Boston Book Festival is seeking interns to help us prepare and execute the sixth annual BBF, October 23-25, 2014.

We are looking for candidates who are capable and confident with general office tasks; copywriting and editing; devising and implementing a marketing strategy; creating, maintaining, and enhancing spreadsheets communicating with media outlets and community organizations; and creating and distributing marketing collateral, but can also rise to the challenge of unusual (and potentially hilarious) situations. Your tasks may range from working with authors both famous and infamous to tracking down missing costume characters (what’s a Frog without his Toad, anyway?). Willingness to work with fake feathers and/or googly eyes is a plus.

We hope that you have excellent written and oral communication skills, are highly organized, motivated, project-oriented, willing to work on a team, and knowledgeable about and/or interested in literature, publishing, and event production. We really hope that you are fun, friendly, and eager to work with a small, committed group of people in a casual office environment.

We are able to offer a $600 stipend upon successful completion of your internship. We will also buy you lunch sometimes and give you free books when it’s all over. The ideal candidate will be able to join the team in March and work through mid-November 2014. Candidates can expect to work between 8-12 hours per week through May, and 12-15 hours per week through October. Hours and schedules are flexible; occasional evening hours for special events will be required (with plenty of advance notice). Boston Book Festival offices are located in Cambridge between Harvard and Central.

Please send a cover letter and resume to Sarah Parker, and please specify any restrictions. Candidates who are invited to interview will be asked to provide a writing sample.

Update: The application deadline for Spring 2014 interns has now passed. Please keep an eye here and on our social media for future internship announcements!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Looking Back on BBF 2013

Thanks to a dazzling array of authors and strong attendance by Boston book lovers, BBF 2013 surpassed our expectations for a happy fifth anniversary. Our Thursday kick-off on the subject of writing about terror thrilled us, the after school panel of Newbery Medal winners tickled us, and Salman Rushdie’s keynote presentation wowed us with its power and humor. And all that happened before Festival day, which dawned with sunny skies and warm temps to enhance a very full day featuring 200 authors and loads of activities, including awesome exhibitors and some amazing live performances by Berklee College of Music students. We even got to share a bit of our fifth birthday will all of you with a tasty surprise delivered to our tent by Georgetown Cupcakes!

We are grateful to all the authors, sponsors, volunteers and festival-goers who made the fifth edition of the BBF one to remember. Together, we put books and reading front and center in the city of Boston. We can’t wait to work with this strong community to build the Festival over the next five years and many more to follow. See you there!

Trinity Question 2013

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

How to Survive BBF 2013 . . . and Live to Tell the Tale

The fifth anniversary edition of the Boston Book Festival launches later this week, and we’ve got some tips to help you make the most of your day(s)—whether you’re a first-time attendee or your wardrobe is already full of near-vintage BBF tees.

This year, the BBF isn’t the only game in town. We’ve known for months that Boston (or, more precisely, the River Chuck) will be chock-full of rowers from around the country competing in the Head of the Charles Regatta this Saturday. But now, it looks like there’s a decent chance that the Red Sox will be playing at Fenway on Saturday afternoon, too. The upshot? Allow extra time to get through town, especially if you’re driving or taking the MBTA Red Line from Cambridge or the Green Line from the west—-oh, and if you just can’t keep from “multitasking” during, say, our “Obsessives” session, please don’t shout out any score updates!

Speaking of driving, have we got a deal for you. BBF VolunteerIf you’re coming to town for any of our kickoff events on Thursday or Friday, or if you plan to spend the day with us on Saturday, don’t pay full price (or feel the need to dash out of the “Our Boston” session to go feed your City of Boston meter). Just download and print out our handy parking pass-—as long as there’s room in the garage, you’ll park for only $10!

You might not get discovered at the BBF, but you will get inspired. Aspiring authors, rejoice! We’ve got a full day of seminars (register in advance!) and interactive programs designed to get the creative juices flowing or to give you your fifteen (or three) minutes of fame. And if you want to talk with those who have “been there, done that,” swing by our Indie Alley exhibitor area outside the John Hancock tower—-you’ll meet more than two dozen independent authors who have made their publication dreams a reality.

Celebrate with us. It’s our birthday, and we’re finding all kinds of nifty ways to celebrate—from our FlashLit pop-up theatre project to two days of kickoff events for kids and grownups to a multimedia art installation on Saturday to some surprises (pssst—follow us on Twitter if you want the inside scoop on the fun). And if you snap any great photos of the event, e-mail them to!

The fun’s not over when the sun goes down. Some might think that our bookish crowd will head straight home from the BBF, eager only to hunker down with Tom Perrotta or Andre Dubus III (or signed copies of their new story collections, at least). But we know better—-which is why we’re offering three different “BBF After Hours” options: a taping of You’re the Expert, a screening of The Bling Ring featuring a Q&A with author Nancy Jo Sales, and the return of our popular Poems & Pints event. Who knows? You might even find a date for next year’s BBF!

We can’t wait to see all your smiling, inquisitive, book-loving faces in Copley Square this weekend!