Guide: Boston Book Festival 2013

Feeling too lethargic to map out the 50-plus events this weekend? Here's a starter kit with a few standout events.

Those who have attended the annual Boston Book Festival before know that the sheer abundance of free events is enough to make any lit nerd leap up and down in enthusiasm. This year, the fifth annual Book Fest has more than 50 events scheduled in Saturday’s lineup, which take place across eight different venues in and around Copley Square. To attend all of the sessions in full is humanly impossible, and making it to preferred back-to-back events requires meticulous planning.

For those of you enthusiastic enough to spend a Saturday with fellow book lovers, but not proactive enough to spend 20 minutes dissecting the program, here’s a starter kit for this weekend’s events:

1. Our Boston

Our Boston: Writers Celebrate the City They Love, only recently went on sale. Tuesday, to be exact, on the six-month anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings. The book comprises 36 stories by notable writers with Boston ties. If there’s any book you ought to read before visiting the festival this weekend, it’s Our Boston. This weekend, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will host a special tribute with a few of the book’s contributors—Lesley Visser, Mike Barnicle, Leigh Montville, and Madeleine Blais. WBUR’s Bob Oakes will moderate the event at Trinity Sanctuary.

Saturday, 11 a.m., Trinity Sanctuary, Copley Square

Or check out…

One City One Story

This event takes place at the same time as Our Boston (boo!). It also requires a bit of homework (what?!). Don’t worry, it’s short and sweet and a crowd favorite. Each year, One City One Story distributes copies of a single short story by a local author (previous years’ writers were Anna Solomon, Richard Russo, and Tom Perrotta) that people can read before the festival. Then on Saturday, everyone can gather to hear the author speak, and participate in the conversation. This year’s One City One Story selection is “Karma” by Rishi Reddi, winner of the 2008 PEN New England / L.L. Winship prize for fiction.

You can find hard copies of “Karma” at various locations around town, or download it here.

Saturday, 11 a.m., Boston Common Hancock, 40 Trinity Place

2. Fiction: Out of Darkness

This is your chance to meet Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Paul Harding, the author of Tinkers. He’ll be at the Boston Book Festival to talk about the followup to the widely acclaimed book, titled Enon. Harding will be joined by Ayana Mathis, whose The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, was bestowed the priceless (or should we say price-boosting) honor of an Oprah shoutout. Kim McLarin moderates this session, which will explore every angst-ridden writer’s favorite literary motif: darkness.

Saturday, 12:45 p.m., Trinity Sanctuary, Copley Square

3. Heroes and Antiheroes

Everyone loves a good hero. Even better? A villain. Even better than that? A villainess. Join Gregory Nagy, Chuck Klosterman, and Claire Messud Saturday afternoon to learn about heroes and antiheroes. Nagy is a professor and scholar of Greek and comparative literature at Harvard, while Klosterman is a noted pop culture critic, so expect this discussion to span history from the Ancient Greeks to modern times.

Saturday, 1:15 p.m., Old South Sanctuary, 645 Boylston Street


4. BBF Unbound: The Boston Marathon—Telling Tragedy’s Story presents a panel that will pull at your heartstrings, as journalists, photographers, and others talk about what it was like to be at the Boston Marathon bombings. The panel of speakers will include Kristen Daly, Marc Furcarile, Scott Helman, Charles Krupa, and Jenna Russell, as well as Carlos Arredondo, a.k.a. the man in the cowboy hat.

Saturday, 3:30 p.m., Boston Common Hancock, 40 Trinity Place

5. Dirty, Crazy, Endless Love

Not to be confused with the movie Crazy Stupid Love or the canceled TV show Dirty Sexy Money, this session at the Book Fest stars Andre Dubus III, Nicholas Baker, and Jamie Quatro, who will talk about, well, dirty, crazy, and endless love (in the context of their work, of course).

In addition to all of the scheduled events at the Boston Book Festival, you can also check out booths set up all over Copley Square. Some 80 exhibitors will be there, not to mention the new Indie Alley, where you’ll find more than two dozen talented self-published authors who were hand-picked by the festival organizers. Plus, enjoy live entertainment at the Berklee Stage, including plenty of music and the award-winning Berklee Poetry Slam team.

For more, check out the full Saturday schedule, and if you really want to lay out your itinerary, take a peek at the Boston Book Festival’s venue map.