Wednesday, May 8, 2019

2019 Bay Area Book Festival - Saturday, May 4 - Day 1

I am so grateful and thankful to have attended the 5th annually Bay Area Book Festival (BABF) this year in Berkeley, California with my husband! 

I've attended the Bay Area Book Festival annually since its inception in 2015. My husband is not an avid reader or book nerd like me. However, he enjoys coming with me to various literary events as he knows how much I enjoy them. Additionally, he also likes learning new things and spending time with me, so it was fun having him with me at the BABF.

This year, the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival offered another wonderful lineup of author speaking events and book signing opportunities for book festival attendees to enjoy. The difficulty for me was deciding which author events and book signings to attend during this year's Bay Area Book Festival as so many of the events occurred at the same time or overlapping times. For instance, on the morning of Saturday, May 4th, there were ten events concurrently starting at 10am. Half of the events that began on Saturday, May 4th at 10am sounded really good, but, of course, I could only attend one of them. 

Additionally, there were other difficult decisions to make throughout the entire weekend on which events to attend at the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival as well. In the end, I am very happy with the events I attended and the books I had signed at the Bay Area Book Festival this year.

As a quick side note, the weather on Saturday, May 4, 2019 was very cool and crisp outdoors. In fact, it was pretty cool and breezy outside all day long and warm only while standing in the sunshine. I found myself under dressed for most of the day and wished I had worn more layers of clothing.

Here's a look at how my husband and I 
spent our time on Day 1 
of the 2019 Bay Area Book Festival!

Event #1

The first event we attended was the Writer to Writer: Joyce Carol Oates and André Alexis event from 10am to 11:15am, which was moderated by Lise Quintana. This particular event took place inside the auditorium of the Veterans Memorial Building.

The BABF website described this event as follows:
In our Writer to Writer series, two authors who are fans of each other’s work come together for conversation. Winner of the prestigious Windham-Campbell prize for his body of work, Trinidad-born and Ottawa-raised André Alexis sits down with National Book Award and National Humanities Medal winner, and author of over 40 novels, Joyce Carol Oates. The pair will discuss genre-bending, world-building, and their shared obsession with storytelling.
I have read a couple of books by Joyce Carol Oates and knew I couldn't pass up an opportunity to hear this legendary, literary icon speak in person. But to the best of my recollection, I'd never heard of Andre Alexis before this year's Bay Area Book Festival. After hearing Andre Alexis speak in conversation with Joyce Carol Oates, I now want to read his books. 

I really enjoyed hearing both Joyce Carol Oates and Andre Alexis speak together in conversation. I didn't take any notes of what they discussed during their talk together. I simply sat back and enjoyed the experience of hearing them in conversation. All I can say is that I really enjoyed hearing them talk together in conversation.

Andre Alexis, Joyce Carol Oates, and Lise Quintana
Afterwards, I had the honor of having Joyce Carol Oates sign two hardback books I brought with me to the BABF. I was really excited to briefly meet Joyce Carol Oates in person. To my disappointment though, another person came over and started conversing with Joyce Carol Oates virtually the entire time I was standing there having my books signed!!! How rude was that?? You can see in the picture taken of us (below) that Joyce Carol Oates wasn't even focused on interacting with me as she's looking to her left. It was disheartening to have this experience at an author/book signing event. I've had this happen a couple of times in the past at other author/book signing events... It's just plain rude that people have to jump in and interrupt an experience between an author and a fan at a literary event.

Me with Joyce Carol Oates after the Writer to Writer event as she signed my books!!

Free Time Spent As Follows:

After attending the Andre Alexis and Joyce Carol Oates event, my husband and I walked around the outdoor fair across the street from the Veterans Memorial Building. The outdoor fair took place in large park called the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center Park. You'll find food vendors selling a variety of food, live music being performed, outdoor stages where authors will be speaking and signing their books, indie booksellers selling books, children's activities, an an avenue of authors where authors sat at booths selling and signing their books, and other bookish related booths (Libby had a booth on hand, book publishers, and a wide variety of other bookish/writing related vendors!).

I was able to met author, Patricia Bossano, at her booth on the Avenue of Authors at the outdoor fair. Patricia Bossano is a new to me author. She's written the Faerie Legacy Series, which falls into the young adult, fantasy genre. Patricia was so warm, welcoming, and genuine to visitors stopping by her booth. I really enjoyed meeting her in person and look forward to reading and reviewing her novels on my blog. Patricia Bossano was one of the authors I really enjoyed meeting in person. Below is a photograph of Patricia and I together after she'd signed copies of her novels for me.

Me and author, Patricia Bossano at the Avenue of Authors tent.
After meeting Patricia Bossano and walking around the outdoor fair, my husband and I enjoyed lunch and relaxed awhile before heading to the next author speaking/book signing event we'd wanted to attend.

Event #2

The second event we attended was titled, Beyond the Bars: Alternatives to Prison and Punishment and featured a panel of authors, Albert Woodfox, Lara Bazelon, and Tony Platt, along with moderator, Rachel Herzing. The Beyond the Bars event was held from 3:15pm to 4:30pm inside the auditorium at Berkeley City College.

The BABF website described this event as follows:
What could the world look like without prisons? What kinds of healing—what new definitions of justice—could take their place? Join University of San Francisco law professor Lara Bazelon (“Rectify”), activist Tony Platt (“Beyond These Walls”), and Albert Woodfox (“Solitary”), one of the Angola 3 who spent decades in solitary confinement for a crime he did not commit. They look at the violent history behind mass incarceration and imagine alternatives.
OMG, this was a packed event and a very powerful one to listen to!! I can't say enough good things about what the speakers shared regarding their insights and thoughts pertaining to the topic of prison and punishment during their talk. Things have to change as our criminal justice system is broken. Additionally, we have to change how we punish those who have committed crimes.

Albert Woodfox, Lara Bezelon, Tony Platt, and Rachel Herzing.

Albert Woodfox and me after the Beyond the Bars event.
Albert Woodfox is one of the author speakers I truly enjoyed meeting the most in person during my visit to BABF this year. He's such an inspiration... A very heartwarming, personable, and genuine person. 

Event #3

The last event my husband and I attended on day 1 of the Bay Area Book Festival was titled, Noir At The Bar with the following mystery/thriller authors: Stefan Ahnhem, Cara Black, Jonas Bonnier, Kjell Ola Dahl, Heather Haven, Catherine Ryan Howard, Ragnar Jonasson,  and Jenny Rogneby. This event was moderated by author, Laurie R. King.

Noir At The Bar took place from 5pm to 6:15pm at the Freight & Salvage. The Freight & Salvage is my favorite venue at the BABF as it provides a large, comfortable indoor space to hear author events.

Noir At The Bar is a BABF favorite! This event is unique in that eight internationally known authors read their stories at this particular event. This is the first year my husband and I have attended Noir At The Bar and what a fun time we had! I've never read anything written by any of the above mentioned authors before, so it was wonderful to hear a sampling of their work. I enjoyed hearing Catherine Ryan Howard, Jonas Bonnier, Ragnar Jonasson, and Jenny Rogneby read their stories the most.

I've attended several other events where stories are read aloud when we lived in Santa Barbara, so it was a delight to attend another event like this once again.

Noir at the Bar at the Freight & Salvage.
I didn't purchase any books written by any of the authors that read their stories at Noir At The Bar. So, of course, I don't have any one on one photographs of me with any of them. 

As a side note, I do have an arc copy of one of Cara Black's novels that I need to read though... Hopefully, I'll have her novel read soon!

Authors I missed hearing several authors speak in person on day 1 of the BABF include: Justina Ireland, Namwali Serpell, and Jamal Brinkley.

Stay tuned for my post on day 2 of the Bay Area Book Festival!!


  1. The Fair looks fun. You were busy. Too bad there was someone interrupting your interaction with JCO.

    1. It was totally a fun time!! Yes, we were very busy during both day one and day two of the Bay Area Book Festival. We did a lot of walking both days and had little sleep during our stay at an Airbnb in downtown Berkeley, due to all of the noise street that occurs nearly 24/7.

      Yes, the JCO interruption was a bummer for sure.

      Stay tuned for my day two post of the Bay Area Book Festival!

  2. Excellent report on your first day! You really captured the experience. Joyce Carol Oates recently lost her husband, so she may have been a bit distracted that day. Just saying. Her books are difficult in various ways but I love them. I just learned about this movement to restructure our form of punishment for crime! So glad there are people working on it. Cara Black is a mystery writer I would like to read.

    1. Thank you for letting me know that you enjoyed reading my post and that I captured the spirit of our experience on day one of the BABF.

      I can empathize with JCO's recent loss of her husband. Personally though, I still feel it was rude that another person came forward and interrupted my book signing experience with JCO from the get go while the two of them interacted largely as if I wasn't even there at all. There is a BIG difference between distraction from grief/loss and a distraction when another person comes along and hijacks an interaction. Think photobombing. I interacted with JCO only briefly at an book festival and this other individual should have been respectful/thoughtful/considerate of that.