Spencerstown, NY – Pack your book bags! After two years of virtual sales and lectures, book lovers will be able to browse, pick up and purchase books in person, and meet the authors face-to-face when the Spencertown Center for the Arts’ 17th annual Book Festival returns this weekend.
The festival will see a giant sale of used books, discussions with and readings from famous authors, a children’s program, a bookmaking art fair, and the winners of the Academy’s 2022 Young Writers Competition read their winning and non-fiction stories.
Wayne Green, the festival’s co-chair along with David Haifel and Karl Atkins, said the last personal book festival took place in 2019. It took place roughly in 2020 with the author’s conversations shown on Zoom, and in 2021, it expanded to offer a couple. Hundreds of books in the online store.
“It’s a very big fundraising event for us and a community event,” Green said in a recent phone interview. “In the hypothetical years, we earned much less money. A positive by-product is that people have been generous with donations.” Another positive, he added, is that the academy has been able to get authors that were not normally available, due to geography and the weekend festival.
“With Zoom, authors can be anywhere,” he said, citing a talk last year by acclaimed writer Joyce Carol Oates.
“We got a lot of interest from this talk,” he said, adding that all talks are always free, but some attendees make donations.
This year’s featured authors include Daphne Palasi-Andredis (“Brown Girls”), Jan Hanff Korelets (“The Latecomer”), David Nassau (“The Last Million”), Mayukh Sen (“Taste Makers”), and James Shapiro (“The Latecomer”). “Shakespeare. In a divided America”).
“The authors are chosen by a small committee that meets over the past winter,” Green said. They discuss the books they have read and look for authors who have recent books. They also think about geography – how close the authors are to the District of Columbia [where Spencertown is]. Committee members are also aware of diversity — the racial diversity of authors, gender and ethnicity. They are also looking for a mix of topics, the choice of a novelist or poet, cooking or politics and history, he said.
It’s usually very busy and hard to attend, Green said, but he’d love to hear the talk of Daphne Palassi Andreas, author of Brown Girls.
“I’m biased towards fantasy and the story is about growing up in Queens [N.Y.] – I grew up in Queens.”
He added that there is no need for tickets or reservations for any of the talks, which will be held in a large tent. The tent seats 75 and there is a parking room. All the authors’ books will be for sale and the authors will sign their books. The Academy collaborates with Chatham Bookstore to provide books.
The giant bookstore, the first since 2019, will include more than 15,000 books this year, including a kids’ corner for young readers and a media section for DVDs, CDs, audiobooks and vinyl LPs. Spencerstown Academy members will get their first crack in the books during members’ preview from 3-8 p.m., Friday, September 2. Preview is free for members, $10 for guests of members; Memberships will be available at the door or online in advance. Refreshments will be provided during the preview.
Usually we get 10,000 to 12,000 books [for the sale]But this year we got more, Green said. “People saved them. During the pandemic, they read more and over the past two years we’ve been accepting of people, who have moved or are downsizing, in anticipation of selling books again. We’ve had a few thousand books on hand.”
Managed by vintage/used bookseller and Merchant Green, the Private Bookroom will hold a handpicked selection of specialty, limited edition, and out of print books.
“Books have been further collected and researched,” Green said, adding, “I can live out my imagination in having my own library.”
Some of the specialty books this year include the first edition of “In Cold Blood” by Truman Capote. A signed copy of “American Pasture” by Philip Roth and “Before Easter After,” a limited edition picture book about Patti Smith by Lynne Goldsmith, signed by Smith and Goldsmith.
A special children’s program on Saturday will see a meet-and-greet with Elephant and Peggy, two characters in the book series by award-winning author and illustrator Moe Williams. Kids will be able to have their photos taken with the characters dressed up, get crafty at elephant and Peggy art activities, and listen to stories read by librarian and storyteller Ann Jenner. “It’s a 90-minute festival of elephant and pig,” Green said.
Spencertown Academy sponsors the annual Young Writers’ Contest for high school students in the area. Green said three of the six award winners in 2022 – Taiba Ahmed, Takunik High School; Ariana Camacho, Hudson High School, and Amanda Gutierrez, Germantown Central High School, will read their winning fiction and non-fiction entries on Saturday.
During the festival, a presentation on bookmaking by artist Susie Banks-Baum will be shown. The exhibition will include handmade books, handmade paper, and sewing techniques. Banks Boom will teach a two-day workshop on bookmaking September 17-18 at the School of the Arts in the District of Columbia.
Green said there are precautions regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus. “Eight virus level air purifiers have been installed inside the building. They are very good at removing the COVID virus from the air.”
Masks will be required on the premises, but will be optional for events that take place under the outdoor tent.
“We plan to limit the number of people in the building at the same time,” he said. “We will keep people outdoors if there are a lot indoors. We want people to feel confident that they are safe.
Funds raised from the Book Festival make up 20 percent of the Academy’s operating budget and help cover general operating expenses, programming, building maintenance, and support for art performances and concerts. The festival began in 2006 to sell books with the aim of raising funds for the academy’s community arts programs.
“We are thrilled to have this personally cherished event back over the Labor Day holiday, and we’ve received tremendous feedback from the community,” Green said. “Everyone is excited and very much looking forward to attending.
if you go …
what or what: The 17th Annual Book Festival at Spencertown Academy
When: 2 – 5 September
where: 790 State Route 203, Spencertown, NY
COVID protocols: Masks are required indoors.
Friday 2 September
3 to 8 pm: Preview members. Free for members, $10 for guests of members, and memberships will be available at the door or online. Refreshments provided..
Saturday 3 September – Monday 5 September
Giant booksellers: Open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday; And from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday (the day of the deal). Submission is free. Teachers with ID get 20% off their purchases (except for the private book room).
Show the arts of bookmakingWriter, book and mixed media artist Susie Banks Baum will create a tabletop display of bookmaking arts, specifically papermaking techniques and Coptic stitches, which will be on display during the festival.
Saturday 3 September
10 – 11:30 am: A children’s program, Meet and Greet with Elephant & Piggie, Friends in Twenty Books by Mo Willems Award-winning author and illustrator. Kids will be able to have their photos taken with the costumed characters, get elephant and Peggy-related art activities, and listen to the duo’s stories read by librarian and storyteller Ann Jenner.
the noon: author James Shapiro He discusses his latest work, “Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future,” which the New York Times named one of the 10 best books of 2020, as well as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Realism. Shapiro will be joining the conversation Karl Atkinsauthor of many works on Shakespeare, including “Shakespeare’s Sonnets Among His Special Friends”.
1:30 PM: Winners of the Academy’s 2022 Young Writers Competition will read their winning entries from fiction and nonfiction. Reading will be moderated by Carol Esert, who coordinated this year’s competition.
15:00: The New York Times bestselling author Jan Hanff Korelets Her latest novel will discuss “The Latecomer,” a family story that touches on themes of grief, guilt, generational trauma, privilege, race, tradition and religion. Her previous books include “The Plot” (adapted from Hulu star Mahershala Ali), “You Should Have Known” (adapted from HBO as “The Undoing” by David E. Kelley, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant), and “Admission” ( Adapted from the movie of the same name, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Joining the Korelets will be fiction Molly Prenticeauthor of the book “Tuesday Nights 1980”.
Sunday 4 September
the noon: James Beard Award-Winning Writer Miuch Singh He discusses the book “The Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Are Revolutionizing Food in America,” which was named the best book of 2021 by NPR and one of the Wall Street Journal’s favorite books of the year. A collective biography, weaving together histories of food, immigration, and sex told through the lives of seven pioneering chefs and food writers. He will be joined in the conversation by Tamar AdlerChef and author of The Eternal Meal.
1:30 PM: famous historian David Nassau He discusses his latest book, The Million: Europe’s Homeless from World War to Cold War, in which he tells the harrowing yet largely hidden story of post-war displacement and statelessness of refugees left behind in Germany after World War II. Cecil KuznitzD., associate professor of history and director of Jewish studies at Bard College, will join the author in the conversation.
2:30 pm: Daphne Palassi Andreas She will discuss her first novel “Daughters of Bani”. The book is about a group of friends and their immigrant families from Queens, New York – a poetic love letter to a modern generation of black girls. She is the recipient of the 2021 O. Henry Award, and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Sewanee Writers Conference, and Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing, for which she won the Voices of Color Award. Joining the author will be in the conversation Julie DeLilyformer director of the Chatham Public Library.