Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Boston Book Festival champions diversity of literature

Karenna Umscheid

The Boston Book Festival, featuring notable authors such as Rick Riordan, Chloe Gong, and Heather Cox Richardson, alongside performers, local publishers, and independent writers, created a bustling environment for a community of book lovers to read and learn together. 

Boston Book Festival, held on Oct. 14 in Copley Square, was a celebration of reading, culture, and community within Boston. This marked the 15th anniversary of the festival, with events held at iconic locations such as the Boston Public Library, the Old South Church, and Trinity Church to hold discussions and book talks. 

The festival’s founder, Deborah Porter, explained the importance of reading to be more thoughtful and critical in the face of misinformation. 

“Books, long-form journalism, they fortify your mind, they help you to think in more sophisticated ways,” Porter said in an interview with the Beacon.

The events at the festival ranged from kids’ storytimes to writing workshops, musical performances, and panel discussions featuring authors of both fiction and nonfiction work. 

Porter explained that she was proud to see the diversity and growth in the audience. 

“We get all ages to come here,” she said. “We have a variety of programming that I hope appeals to a wide swath of readers out there.”

One of the most distinguished speakers was Rick Riordan, the author of the “Percy Jackson” series, who spoke about the upcoming adaptation of the series as well as the impact “Percy Jackson” has had on so many young readers. 

“‘Percy Jackson’ is a story about representation,” he said. “I was trying to tell the existing system. It is not a disability so much as a sign of grace or uniqueness.”

While “Percy Jackson” originated as a bedtime story for Riordan’s son, who is disabled, the number of readers connecting with it reminded him of how powerful the story is, especially regarding the representation of disabled children.

“I need to make sure that I’m letting them know—all the readers—that any of them, all of them, can be heroes,” he said. “They can join this world of demigods, this matter what you look or see.”

Porter emphasized the significance of connection during the festival and how it allows everyone to meet new people and engage with the community of readers in Boston. 

“Being able to meet in public with all these other people who are fans like you are of reading and books feels really great,” she said. “It’s also an opportunity to interact with strangers. It’s so important for our civil society that we have opportunities to be in real life with people we don’t know.”

Michael Brown, community reference and workforce development librarian at the Boston Public Library, cites community engagement as one of the most impactful elements of the festival. 

“I truly love that we’re able to connect with our patrons,” Brown said. “The whole point of the genre battle [is that] we’re wanting to see ‘what do the patrons want more of?’”

They also celebrate the festival’s ability to bring together so many books and organizations from across Boston and the New England area, creating a diverse community of publications and book lovers. 

“There are so many cool books and people out here that – you’re not gonna get to go to Cambridge, you’re not gonna get to see the Boston Globe, but here, you’re able to access all of those things,” Brown  said. “That’s what the BPL is all about. It’s about equity, it’s about having diverse things and being inclusive in our communities.”

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