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Bay Area Book Festival set to be a literary extravaganza

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Visit the Bay Area Book Festival’s revamped website for full details about the program, which takes place on June 6-7, 2015

The Bay Area Book Festival has released its program of 140 keynotes, interviews, panels and stage presentations to take place all day Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7 in downtown Berkeley. The festival promises to be the biggest literary extravaganza the city has ever seen.

The program covers the gamut from investigative journalism to memoir, poetry, history, biography, science writing, business, technology, and dozens of angles on fiction, such as “Nordic Noir” (with a contingent of Scandinavian crime writers in person). There is an outdoor Children’s Stage and a Teen Stage featuring bestselling authors. All authors will sign books after their sessions. Books will be for sale from independent bookstores on site.

The full, sortable schedule is available on the festival’s revamped website. The site includes ticket information for the indoor sessions. The organizers expect many of the programs to fill up quickly. An Early Bird Pass is available now to reserve seats in advance of general public reservations, which start May 15.

A sampling of the two-day program:


  • Kim Stanley Robinson on John Muir
  • Race, Class, Movements, Justice 1960s to NowWaldo Martin, Jr. (Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party), Miriam Pawel (The Crusades of Cesar Chavez), Scott Saul (Becoming Richard Pryor), moderated by Teri Kanefield (The Girl from the Tarpaper School)
  • On ActingDavid Thomson (Why Acting Matters) in conversation with Steve Wasserman
  • So Many Roads: 50 Years of the Grateful DeadBlair Jackson (This Is All a Dream We Dreamed: An Oral History of the Grateful Dead), Dennis McNally (On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom), Peter Richardson (No Simple Highway: A Cultural History of the Grateful Dead), moderated by Nicholas Meriwether (Reading the Grateful Dead: A Critical Survey)
  • Futurism, Fatalism and Climate ChangePaolo Bacigalupi (The Water Knife), Edan Lepucki (California), John Scalzi (Lock In) and Antti Tuomainen (The Healer), moderated by Mike Berry, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Google’s Laszlo Bock: Work Rules!  Google’s SVP for human resources
  • Why I Read  Wendy Lesser
  • New Urbanism: An Assessment of Sustainable Smart GrowthJames Howard Kunstler (The Geography of Nowhere), Dan Solomon (Cosmopolis), moderated by John King, San Francisco Chronicle
  • Move Up: Why Some Cultures Advance While Others Don’t
  Andres Isaac Roemer Slomianski, Consul General of Mexico
  • Pico Iyer on The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere
  • Exquisite Insanity: Moms Who WriteKatrina Alcorn (Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink), Aya de Leon, Carolina De Robertis (Perla), Kate Schatz (Rad American Women A-Z), moderated by Michelle Tea (How to Grow Up: A Memoir)
  • Rebecca Solnit in conversation with Christian Frock
  • The NFL and Its DiscontentsSteve Fainaru (League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth), David Meggyesy (Out of Their League), Dave Zirin (Game Over: How Politics Has Turned the Sports World Upside Down), moderated by Gary Pomerantz (Their Life’s Work: the Brotherhood of the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers, Then and Now)
  • Up Close with Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman in conversation with Kelly Corrigan
  • Longing to be Understood: Language and StoryJonas Hassan Khemiri (Sweden), Fabiano Alborghetti (Switzerland), Sjón (Iceland), moderated by Stephen Sparks (San Francisco’s own Green Apple Books)
  • Michael McClure and George Brooks: Words and Music
  • The Human Story Inside Conflict Zones A Conversation between Mark Danner (Stripping Bare the Body: Politics Violence War) and Åsne Seierstand (The Bookseller of Kabul, and most recently One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivak)
  • An Hour With Peter Coyote
  • Talking About Writing & All the What-Not: Daniel Handler and Rabih Alameddine Carry On
  • Radio Ambulante: A Showcase of Latin American Stories with Daniel Alarcón
  • Writing Food, Making Books: The Perils, Joys & Practicalities of Great Food and Cookbook Writing Cal Peternell (Twelve Recipes; head chef at Chez Panisse), Sandra Gilbert (The Culinary Imagination: From Myth to Modernity), Dan Jurafsky (The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu), moderated by Jenny Wapner (executive editor, Ten Speed Press)
Judy Blume will appear at a special event on June 6 within the Bay Area Book Festival. Photo: courtesy Judy Blume
Photo: courtesy Judy Blume

In a special, separately ticketed evening event on Saturday, June 6 at 7 p.m., free speech pioneer and bestselling author Judy Blume will talk about her life work and sign her new novel for adults.

Activities for kids

The festival offers dozens of activities in and around the large Children’s Arena in MLK Civic Center Park. Families can:

  • See two dozen authors appearing on the Children’s Stage, including 2015 Caldecott Medal winner Dan Santat, kids’ favorite Mac Barnett, and Newbery Medal finalist Jennifer Holm.
  • Visit nearly 50 exhibitors offering fun stuff for kids.
  • Receive free book for every child—donated by Half Price Books in collaboration with the East Bay Children’s Book Project.
  • Play with manual typewriters hidden inside Lacuna, the giant library-temple made of books in the park.
  • Experience a story read in five languages with fun multi-lingual activities to help kids explore their senses.
  • Draw masterpieces on the street with Chalk It Up For Books.
  • Take a pony ride and pet a baby kangaroo.
  • Make a ziploc greenhouse or learn how to raise earthworms in Eco Alley on Allston Way below Oxford St.
  • Kids also can learn how to write, edit, illustrate and publish their own books in a presentation by eight-year old author Michelle Longega Wilson (Sunday 11am; see Festival Schedule to sign up).

Teens have their own Street and Stage featuring bestselling authors such as Lauren Oliver, Kresley Cole and Frank Portman, along with a performance by Hip Hop for Change on Saturday and, on Sunday, Summer Brenner’s “Oakland Tales” performed by students from Oakland’s Skyline High School.

A Flock of Books is an interactive art installation with books flying in the trees and talking to people as they walk by. The other art project is Lacuna, the library-temple built over the Civic Center Fountain and made entirely of 50,000 books. Visitors can go inside, browse, and take a book home from the walls.


New BABF logoRelated:
An evening with Judy Blume, literary freedom pioneer for children and adults (04.23.15)
Over 300 authors sign up for first Bay Area Book festival (04.14.15)
At first Bay Area Book Festival, a temple made of books (03.26.15)
Bay Area Book Festival to launch in Berkeley in 2015 (06.23.14)

This post was written by, and is sponsored by, the Bay Area Book Festival. For more information about the festival, which takes place on June 6-7, 2015, visit the festival website. Berkeleyside is a media sponsor of the Bay Area Book Festival.