Scene & Heard: Books Come to Life

Soa H Andrian

Every year, literary A-listers and their worshippers descend on Copley Square for a day-long festival to celebrate the written word. The Boston Book Festival’s fourth annual celebration brought together authors as diverse as Lemony Snicket, X.J. Kennedy, Junot Diaz, and Adam Gopnik and featured over 40 events on topics as varied as “Jewish Jocks” and “How to Write a Crime Novel.”

In the Square, independent publishing houses and literary magazines set up tents as bibliophiles wandered from one to the next, leisurely chatting with friends about the books they saw and the events that they planned to attend. Adding a musical flair to the festival, the Berklee College of Music lined up six performers. Attendees enjoyed food from the Clover food truck or Ravi’s Restaurant while jazz, Argentinian and Arabic music filled the Square.

The excitement in the air was palpable: “There’s just nothing like it on this scale,” said Allston resident Bryan Monroe.

“So often the literary scene is private—you receive your book or your magazine in the mail, you read it and it’s wonderful, but there’s rarely a chance to discuss it with other people. It’s one of the reasons why I love the festival, because so many like-minded people who are interested in debating and conversing come together to listen and learn together.”

Virtually all of the events were well-attended—in fact, some had book-lovers waiting around the block, while the panel “Triumph of the City” overflowed into an adjoining room with a live feed.

Conversations spilled onto the street as people filed out. “I think the point about hip-hop transcending blackness is really accurate; you can see rappers such as Eminem and Pitbull as popular figures,” one woman said after leaving the event “Black Culture: Music and More.” Her friend nodded in agreement, before pointing out that they were going to be late to the event on graphic novels.