Brooklyn Book Festival
Sunday was the fifth annual Brooklyn Book Festival and despite the chilly gray rain, the crowds were out in full force. I went last year on a visit and this year since it is held so close to my apartment, I couldn’t resist. Though the festival is always packed with great readings, panels, and other events (all free), I was lazy and didn’t bother to check the schedule, instead just wandering around the massive outdoor Book Fair. Bookstores, small presses, literary magazines, writing programs, writers, and publishers share the plaza at Borough Hall, forming a maze of tables covered with all manners of books, banners, fliers, totebags, t-shirts, and other swag. It’s definitely overwhelming, and when you throw pushy damp people and umbrellas in the mix, it can be downright unpleasant.
I stopped at the ATM on my way to the festival, aiming to buy a new book for myself from an independent press or bookstore. But once I arrived, I soon became confused and stressed–how to choose which book to buy? Should I get a magazine subscription instead? At last year’s festival, I bought a book of short stories by a young author I had never heard of before, and was ultimately disappointed. How could I make sure to avoid that this time around? Ultimately, due to the rain and my stress, I decided to get a 1-year subscription to the Paris Review, which I am very excited about. Sure, it’s not exactly a fledgling alternative literary magazine, but they offer a variety of great stuff in every issue, and every publication needs subscribers right now.
How do you decide on what to buy, at bookstores or book fairs, or what to pick up at the library? Is it reviews you read, friend recommendations, particular presses, the covers? I want to know!