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October 18, 2019

Reader Annmarie Puleio Reports on the 2019 Morristown Festival of Books


The Morristown Festival of Books on October 11th and 12th is THE place for readers, authors, aspiring authors and all who love new ideas. With 24 sessions to choose from --- three moderated by our own Carol Fitzgerald --- deciding which ones to attend is not easy and maybe even a test of your personality traits. Do you go to hear an author who you have read and love, or do you move out of your comfort zone and attend a session about a book or an author you have not read or perhaps have not even heard of? My friend and fellow book club member Donna and I did a little of both and were not disappointed.

I don’t attend many baseball games but decided to hear Paul Goldberger speak about his book, BALLPARK: Baseball in the American City, precisely because I know nothing about this topic. I had never given much thought to ballpark design and architecture as a function of society and culture, but I learned so much and was so entertained by his charming presentation. Ask me any question about why the size of outfields differs from park to park!

As perfect and well run as the Festival is, the one dilemma attendees face is where to eat. Well, this year, for the first time at the Festival, William Morrow’s Book Club Girl solved that problem in the most extraordinary fashion. Jennifer Hart and her team took their Book Club Girl event on the road to Morristown. Typically, these evening events at the HarperCollins offices in New York City feature light cocktails and snacks, a panel of authors questioned by an interviewer (often by Carol), and a gift bag of books and swag. In a creative move, the “on the road” version featured four authors who each gave a short “elevator speech” to describe their new books and then rotated through the tables of attendees, sitting and spending a considerable amount of time getting to know us, answering questions and signing their books.

What I noticed first off is how the same question asked in a small group gets a much more personal and conversational response than when it is asked in a large group setting. How do you find an agent? How many times were you rejected? What is your writing process? And in this small group, I am sure the authors would tell you that they learned so much more about readers. An added bonus was William Morrow’s Senior Director of Marketing, Tavia Kowalchuk, who shared previews of upcoming books.

The lunch featured authors Jennifer Robson (THE GOWN), Jean Kwok (SEARCHING FOR SYLVIE LEE), S.A. Chakraborty (THE KINGDOM OF COPPER) and Beatriz Williams (co-author of the upcoming ALL THE WAYS WE SAID GOODBYE with Lauren Willig and Karen White, aka “Team W”). We received these books, as well as a wine glass, a bottle opener and coasters in the new Book Club Girl bag.

And, most importantly, we ate lunch!