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Friday, June 5, 2015

Are You There, Judy Blume? It's Me, the Bay Area Book Festival

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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Free event fun for your weekend: over 300 authors and 50,000 books will debut at the Bay Area Book Festival this weekend in downtown Berkeley. The genres are wide open for this one: social justice, African American innovators, poetry, Vietnamese literature, mystery, YA, a Buddhist monk (in conversation with Pico Ayer), and even a discussion about the Grateful Dead.

The festival has a diverse line up for all ages, including a rock star appearance from Judy Blume, who tends to be that one writer who introduced sex, periods, and teenage longing to the masses. Tickets are recommended for the free panel discussions; headliners include Rebecca Solnit, Yiyun Li, Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket), Maxine Hong Kingston, Peter Coyote, Adam Mansbach (Go the F*&# to Sleep), Pico Ayer and the ever-popular novelist Sjón.

I’ve trekked to a fair share of festivals, but haven’t seen anything like Lacuna, a stunning art installation built from books that guests can take home. For free. The Downtown Berkeley Arts District is home to the festival, and it’s the first for the organizers.

Food fans can check out a slew of food trucks, or sidle up to the culinary demo stage before taking that proverbial load off in the beer and wine garden. Should you be hungry for a restaurant experience, get a table at the neighborhood gems Venus Restaurant or Revival Bar + Kitchen, run by chef Amy Louise Murray.

No matter what you’re into for the fest, bring a few tote bags like a proper NPR-supporting Bay Area resident who enjoys the life of the mind, and take public transportation — the BART station is right around the corner.

Bay Area Book Festival, Saturday and Sunday, June 6-8, at Downtown Berkeley Arts District, Streets between Addison and Kittredge will be closed to traffic. Free.

Deep thoughts welcomed at: writereadeat at gmail. Or Twitter: @loquitaladd

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Mary Ladd


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