Book Lovers Sample Literary Wares

Yesterday afternoon, book-lovers took advantage of the sunny weather to sample the literary wares offered at Harvard Square's third annual outdoor book fair.

The fair, which ran from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., featured booths from more than 70 area booksellers, publishers, literary societies and sponsors.

Crowding the cordoned-off Holyoke and Dunster streets, about 30,000 people flocked to the book fair while several children flocked to have their pictures taken with the fair's celebrity guest, Curious George.

"[Curious] George is awfully popular," said Gary Baldwin, a Wordsworth employee. "He's been getting hugs everywhere he goes."

The event marked the culmination of the Harvard Square Book Festival, a three-day event that included book readings, discussion groups and panels.


On Saturday, the Harvard Celtic Department sponsored a reading of contemporary Irish fiction, attracting more than 300 people. The reading featured Edna O'Brien, John Banville and Colm Toibin.

The annual festival is sponsored by the Booksellers of Harvard Square, a non-profit association of local booksellers dedicated to books and literacy. The Boston Phoenix, Bank-Boston and WBUR 90.9 radio station also sponsored the festival. All proceeds will be donated to the Cambridge School Volunteers.

Bert Wright, the festival's director, said that part of the goal of holding the festival is to promote Harvard Square as "the most literate square mile in America."

"Our view is that Harvard Square is such a great address," he said. "It has bookstores, the University community and...tons of writers [who] live in Cambridge."

According to Wright, book fairs like this one have become popular from coast-to-coast.

Wright said he would like to see the festival expand even more in its popularity but can not do it alone.

"One of the things that we really want to do [is to] pull in the University more," he said. "Our ambition is to someday be doing the Harvard Book Fair in the Yard."

Aside from selling their products, several booksellers said they were pleased to spread awareness about the benefits of various forms of literature.

"[The fair] is good because many more people are getting exposed to poetry," said Gloria Mindock, an affiliate of the Grolier Poetry Book-shop--one of the many local book-stores represented at the fair.

In addition to books, fair-goers were also able to sample cuisine from local vendors and music from a line-up of jazz, a cappella and Irish traditional music performers.

Not only did many Harvard students attend the book fair, but several Harvard Student Agencies (HSA) representatives worked there as well.

"I think [the book fair is] very cool, but I wish I wasn't working at it so I could look at the books," said Liz A. Hanselman '99, who, though not affiliated with HSA, was working as a cashier at the event

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