Tag: Festival of books

Spencertown Academy 17th Annual Festival of Books, Sep 2 – 5

Spencertown Academy

Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s 17th annual Festival of Books takes place over Labor Day weekend, September 2 through September 5. The Festival features a giant used book sale, two days of discussions with and readings by esteemed authors, and a children’s program. Featured authors include Daphne Palasi Andreades, Jean Hanff Korelitz, David Nasaw, Mayukh Sen, and James Shapiro. There will also be a bookmaking arts exhibit by Suzy Banks Baum. Admission is free to all of the events, save for the Members Preview early book-buying opportunity detailed below. Masks are required inside the building.

The Festival, which began in 2006 as a book sale to raise funds for the Academy’s community arts programs, has grown into one of the biggest and most eagerly anticipated cultural events of the year. David Highfill, Wayne Greene, and Carl Atkins are co-chairs of the Festival this year. “The return of this beloved in-person event is going to be a highlight of our summer, and we’ll be offering many delights for book lovers: one of the largest and most enticing collections of books for sale we’ve ever featured and a stellar line-up of authors making appearances,” says Highfill. 

Authors’ books will be available for purchase and signing. Healthy, delicious snacks and beverages will also be for sale on Saturday and Sunday, including the Academy’s signature “To-Die-For, No-Alarm Vegetarian Chili.” 

Saturday, September 3

The Festival kicks off at 12:00 p.m. with author James Shapiro discussing his latest work,Shakespeare in a Divided America: What His Plays Tell Us About Our Past and Future, which was named by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of 2020, as well as a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award for non-fiction. The narrative spans all of American history, from the Revolution to present day, and reveals how no writer has been more embraced, more weaponized, or has shed more light on hot-button issues in our history than Shakespeare. Joining Shapiro in conversation will be Carl Atkins, author of several works on Shakespeare, including Shakespeare’s Sonnets Among His Private Friends.

At 1:30 p.m., winners of the Academy’s 2022 Young Writers’ Contest (Taibat Ahmed, Arianna Camacho, and Amanda Gutierrez) will read their winning fiction and non-fiction entries. The reading will be moderated by Carol Essert, who coordinated the contest this year.

At 3:00 p.m., New York Times bestselling author Jean Hanff Korelitz will discuss her latest novel, The Latecomer, a profound and witty family story that touches on the topics of grief, guilt, generational trauma, privilege, race, traditions, and religion. Among her previous books are The Plot (adaptation forthcoming from Hulu, to star Mahershala Ali), You Should Have Known (adapted for HBO as “The Undoing” by David E. Kelley, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant), and Admission (adapted as the film of the same name, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd). Joining Korelitz in conversation will be novelist Molly Prentiss, author of Tuesday Nights in 1980. 

Sunday, September 4

At 12:00 p.m., James Beard Award-winning writer Mayukh Sen will discuss Taste Makers: Seven Immigrant Women Who Revolutionized Food in America, which was named a best book of 2021 by NPR and one of the Wall Street Journal’s favorite books of the year. A group biography, it weaves together histories of food, immigration, and gender told through the lives of seven pathbreaking chefs and food writers. Sen is currently writing a biography of the actress Merle Oberon, to be published by W.W. Norton & Company in 2025. He will be joined in conversation by Tamar Adler, chef and author of An Everlasting Meal.

At 1:30 p.m., acclaimed historian David Nasaw will discuss his latest book, The Last Million: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War, in which he tells the the gripping yet until now largely hidden story of postwar displacement and the statelessness of refugees left behind in Germany after WWII. Among his earlier works are The Patriarch, which was selected by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of the year in 2012 and a Pulitzer Prize finalist in biography in 2013 and Andrew Carnegie, which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, the recipient of the New-York Historical Society’s American History Book Prize, and a 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist in biography. Cecile Kuznitz, associate professor of history and director of Jewish Studies at Bard College, will join the author in conversation.

Sunday’s final program at 2:30 p.m. will feature Daphne Palasi Andreades discussing her celebrated debut novel, Brown Girls. The book is about a group of friends and their immigrant families from Queens, New York—it’s a tenderly observed, fiercely poetic love letter to a modern generation of brown girls. Andreades is a graduate of CUNY Baruch College and Columbia University’s MFA Fiction program, where she was awarded a Henfield Prize and a Creative Writing Teaching Fellowship. She is the recipient of a 2021 O.Henry Prize, and scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and Martha’s Vineyard Institute for Creative Writing, where she won the Voices of Color Prize. Joining the author in conversation will be Julie DeLisle, former director of the Chatham Public Library.

The Festival of Books children’s program on Saturday, September 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. will feature a meet and greet with Elephant & Piggie, fun-loving friends in two dozen books by award-winning author and illustrator Mo Willems. Kids will be able to have their pictures taken with the costumed characters, get crafty with Elephant & Piggie-related art activities, and listen to the duo’s stories read by librarian and storyteller Ann Gainer.

At the heart of the Festival is a giant book sale, one of the biggest in the region, featuring more than 15,000 gently used books, including fiction and non-fiction, hard and soft covers—all offered at affordable prices. There’s a special Kids’ Corner for young readers and a media section full of DVDs, CDs, audio books, and vinyl LPs. A first-floor gallery features a handpicked selection of specialty books, limited editions, and out-of-print books. 

Friends of the Academy donate books and a dedicated band of volunteers, led by Wayne Greene, spend countless hours throughout the summer carefully sorting and organizing the books in preparation for the sale. “We are fortunate to have received an abundance of fine books over the past several months, and we anticipate receiving even more in the coming weeks leading up to the Festival,” says Greene. “We’re especially excited about an extensive collection of jazz books and LPs donated by a life-long collector and a large collection of rare art books that feature works by Ellsworth Kelly—a generous donation from a former assistant of the late artist.” Other highlights in the Special Book Room include Before Easter After, famed photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s massive photo book on Patti Smith. Limited to just 1500 copies, it is numbered and signed by both Goldsmith and Patti Smith (mint in unopened box, $800); 1965 first edition of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (hardcover in dust jacket, $100); and a 1938 first edition of The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (hardcover in dust jacket, $125).

The book sale is open to the public on Saturday, September 3 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Sunday, September 4 from 10:00 am to 4:00pm, and on Monday, September 5 (bargain day) from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Admission is free. Teachers with ID receive a 20% discount on their purchases (except in Special Books Room).

In addition, Spencertown Academy members will have first crack at the books during the Member’s Preview on Friday, September 2 from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Free for members, $10 for member’s guests, and memberships will be available at the door or online. Refreshments will be served during the evening hours.

Writer and mixed media and book artist Suzi Banks Baum will create a table-mounted display of bookmaking arts, specifically paper making and Coptic Stitch binding techniques, that will be on exhibit during the festival. She will teach a two-day book arts workshop later this fall at the Art School of Columbia County.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Spencertown Academy arts organization, and the 175th year since the Academy was built as a school in 1847. Housed in a landmark 1847 Greek Revival schoolhouse, the Academy is located at 790 State Route 203 in Spencertown, New York. For more information, please see www.spencertownacademy.org.

DATE/TIME: September 2 through September 5, 2022 / 10am – 4pm

LOCATION: Spencertown Academy 
790 NY-203
Spencertown, NY

Phone: (518) 392-3693


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Spencertown Academy Festival of Books Goes Virtual for 2020


Spencertown Academy Arts Center’s 15th annual Festival of Books will take place online this year, with virtual events running from September 4 through October 12.

The Festival will feature Zoom events with distinguished authors and documentary filmmakers, children’s programs, and an online book sale. Featured authors include Joyce Carol Oates, Robert Kolker, Richard Gehr, Ed Ward, and Jacqueline Rogers, plus the team behind the acclaimed documentary film, The Booksellers, including director D.W. Young and producers Judith Mizrachy and Dan Wechsler. Admission is free to all events, but advance registration is required as Zoom capacity is limited. Registration is open now for most sessions; others will follow soon. The online book sale will open for Spencertown Academy members on Friday, September 4 at 10:00am and for the general public on Saturday, September 5 at 10:00am. For details, please see www.spencertownacademy.org.

The Festival, which began in 2006 as a book sale to raise funds for the Academy’s community arts programs, has grown into one of the biggest and most eagerly anticipated cultural events of the year. Academy Board members David Highfill and Jill Kalotay co-chair the Festival.

“We have a stellar line-up of authors for 2020,” says Highfill, vice president and executive editor at William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. “Joyce Carol Oates, surely one of our most ambitious and prodigiously talented novelists, will discuss her new novel about a troubled family; journalist Robert Kolker will talk about his number one New York Times bestseller about the trauma of schizophrenia running through one family; David Gehr will explore the work of several brilliant New Yorker cartoonists; and Ed Ward will entertain us with stories of 1960s and 70s rock & roll, the most evergreen of pop culture topics; and much more.”

“Funds raised by the Festival of Books contributed a substantial amount to the Academy’s annual budget, and we hope to garner a small portion of that through our online book sale this year. Please note that Academy members have early access to the online sale. Make sure your membership is current or you may miss out on this special opportunity,” adds Kalotay. “It’s been a real learning curve, for sure, and I think the result is terrific. Much as we’ll miss gathering in person, we look forward to enjoying stimulating literary events at home and, of course, still shopping for fabulous books. The Academy is even going to share its Cookbook Café recipes for To-Die-For, No-Alarm Vegetarian Chili, Northern Cornbread, and Lemon Cake—the beloved signature fare of our Festival of Books.”


Traditionally, the heart of the Festival is a giant book sale featuring more than 15,000 new and gently used books. This year’s online edition of the sale will focus on “The Special Book Room” collection of about 250 books, plus a sprinkling of CDs, DVDs, and ephemera. Volunteer Wayne Greene has expertly examined covers and spines, scanned pages for signatures or marginalia, and assessed their value in antiquarian or contemporary circles. The offerings feature richly illustrated, large format volumes in like-new condition, and include art, architecture, biography/memoir, cookbooks, fiction, history, music/film, photography, signed books, and others. Quirky or collectible, rare or simply stunning, all are priced accordingly but affordably—ranging from $5 to $350 and everything in between.

Among the most valuable treasures to be offered are The Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, a 1905 12-voume collection of Lincoln’s letters, lectures, and speeches (including a fold-out facsimile of Gettysburg address) edited by John G. Nicolas and John Hay ($350); a folio-sized coffee table book titled Muhammad Ali Memories – Photographs by Neil Leifer, signed by Muhammad Ali ($250); and Tales of Mystery and Imagination by Edgar Allan Poe with illustrations by Harry Clarke, a 1933 hardcover in near fine condition ($275). The latter is considered one of Clarke’s greatest works and his Gothic style sits eerily well with Poe’s brilliant prose. The online book sale will open to Academy members on Friday, September 4 at 10:00am and to the general public on Saturday, September 5 at 10:00am; it will run through Monday, October 12 at midnight, or until the shelves empty. Note: Purchases must be picked up by appointment at Spencertown Academy; there will be no shipping.

Saturday, September 5

The Festival kicks off at 10:00am with children’s book author and illustrator Jacqueline Rogers reading from her latest book, Goblin Moon, a spirited story that captures Halloween fun. She will then lead a related workshop in which participants draw goblins and create a Halloween scene using the shapes in the alphabet. Bring a pencil with eraser, some blank paper, and your imagination. Ages 5 and up. 30 minutes.

At 4:30pm, The Booksellers director D.W. Young and producers Dan Wechsler and Judith Mizrachy will discuss their documentary film about antiquarian booksellers, the impact of technology on the trade, and the importance of books as physical objects. Parker Posey, who served as executive producer for the film, hopes to pop into the chat if her schedule permits. The film is both a loving celebration of book culture and a serious exploration of the future of the book. It features interviews with important dealers, prominent collectors, and writers such as Susan Orlean and Gay Talese. To view The Booksellers in advance at home, please see www.booksellersmovie.com for streaming options.

Sunday, September 6

At 4:30pm, novelist Joyce Carol Oates will discuss her latest book, Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars., in which she examines the current state of the nation through the prism of a family tragedyStark and penetrating, the novel is a vivid exploration of race, psychological trauma, class warfare, grief, and eventual healing, as well as an intimate family novel in the tradition of the author’s bestselling We Were the Mulvaneys. She will be joined in conversation with writer Daphne Kalotay, whose latest novel is Blue Hours.

Wednesday, September 9

At 7:30pm, journalist Robert Kolker will discuss his narrative nonfiction book, Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family. It’s the heartrending story of a midcentury American family: six of Don and Mimi Galvin’s 12 children were diagnosed with schizophrenia. This medical mystery was so extraordinary that they were one of the first families studied by the National Institute of Mental Health. With clarity and compassion, Kolker weaves the science of schizophrenia, the era of institutionalization and lobotomy, and the search for genetic markers with one family’s legacy of suffering, love, and hope. He will be joined in conversation with journalist Seth Rogovoy, editor of The Rogovoy Report.

Saturday, September 12

At 10:00am, children’s book author and illustrator Jacqueline Rogers will return with a second workshop titled “Create a Halloween Book Cover.” Participants will follow along as Rogers draws a Halloween character, a brief story line, and a title in block letters. They will be encouraged to bring their own details and ideas into their drawings. Ages 8 and up. 45 minutes.

At 4:30pm, Richard Gehr will briefly discuss his book, I Only Read It for the Cartoons: The New Yorker’s Most Brilliantly Twisted Artists and then interview two current New Yorker cartoonists, David Sipress and Emily FlakeThe richly varied styles and personal stories of a dozen New Yorker cartoonists are featured in his book, along with a brief history of the New Yorker cartoon itself. Sipress’s work has appeared in the magazine since 1998 and Flake has published more than 100 cartoons in the magazine since 2008.

Sunday, September 13

4:30pm, Ed Ward will discuss his book, The History of Rock & Roll, Volume 2: 1964–1977: The Beatles, the Stones, and the Rise of Classic Rock. One of the deans of pop music criticism, Ward has been in and around music journalism for decades. He is well known to fans of NPR’s “Fresh Air,” where he was rock-and-roll historian for more than 30 years, and to readers of Rolling Stone and a host of other publications. He will be joined in conversation with Gerald Seligman, who has over 35 years experience in the music industry in the US and abroad.

Phone: (518) 392-3693

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Spencertown Academy Festival of Books, Labor Day Weekend 2019


The annual Festival of Books at Spencertown Academy Arts Center is a celebration of books and reading for the whole community. For three days in early September we welcome outstanding writers and poets and nearly 2,000 readers and book-lovers to our 1847 schoolhouse in rural Columbia County. This year’s festival will feature a visit from Froggy on Saturday morning for the kids.

The festival opens Friday with Members’ Only Preview Day, giving members and their guests early access to the book rooms. Admission is free for members, $10 for each member guest. Membership has its privileges! Join now to ensure early access, or purchase a membership at the door on Friday. Members also receive one or more free book(s), and may celebrate their purchases at an evening wine and cheese reception.

All other programming on Saturday, Sunday and Monday — book sales, children’s program and author presentations – is free to all.

Friday, August 30 – Monday, September 2, 2019


Spencertown Academy Arts Center
790 NY-203
Spencertown, NY 12165

Phone: (518) 392-3693


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Spencertown Academy Festival of Books, Labor Day Weekend 2018

Festival of Books, the annual extravaganza of all things literary, takes place over Labor Day weekend. The event features a giant used book sale, two days of readings and book signings by nationally known and local authors, a children’s program, and the Cookbook Café, serving fruit snacks, home-baked goodies, and our famous no-alarm vegetarian chili.

New this year, Spencertown Academy members will have first crack at the books during the Member’s Preview on Friday.

At the heart of the Festival is the annual book sale, one of the biggest in the region, offering more than 10,000 gently used books, including fiction and non-fiction, hard and soft cover —all at very affordable prices. Special sections included the Kid’s Corner for young readers; a media rack full of CDs, DVDs and audio books; art books; and a first-floor gallery featuring a handpicked selection of specialty books, limited editions, out-of-print books, and new books donated by leading national publishers.



Free admission for members, $10 for member’s guest.
New this year, extended early buying to get first choice of 10,000+ gently used books. Preview shoppers enjoy wine and cheese from 6:00-8:00 pm Members and their guests ONLY. Memberships may be purchased at the door.


9:30-11:15 am: CHILDREN’S PROGRAM – Free admission
Visit with Biscuit the Puppy, the beloved storybook character with a mind of his own. Pose for photos with the silly pup and take home a related art project. Sit and listen at the Storybook Corner, then browse in the Kid’s Book Room.

10:00 am-5:00 pm: BOOK SALE – Free admission
More than 10,000 affordably priced hard- and soft-cover books, fiction and non-fiction, as well as CDs, DVDs and LPs. All skillfully sorted and displayed for easy browsing. A Specialty Book Room tempts collectors with limited editions, signed copies, etc. New this year, teachers with ID receive 20% discount on purchases (except in Special Books Room).

In the Tent, 11:30 am-12:15 pm – Free admission
Presentation of award-winning stories and essays from the Young Writers Contest held earlier in the spring, hosted by Kelly Kynion, contest organizer.

In the Tent, 12:30-5:00 pm

12:30 pm: Two Formidables – Readings and discussion
Linda Dahl and Donna Kaz are determined women who confronted sexism and discrimination head on. Dahl’s memoir, Tooth and Nail: The Making of a Female Fight Doctor, recounts the years she spent as an ENT surgeon by day and ringside physician by night. Kaz’s book, UN/MASKED: Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl on Tour, describes her journey pre #metoo movement from survivor of domestic violence to artist/activist.

2:00 pm: Americans, Bridges, and the Duna – Reading and conversation
Jessica Keener will discuss her literary thriller, Strangers in Budapest, in which an American couple and their adopted child find international intrigue within the 1990s ex-pat community in the Hungarian capital. Author Daphne Kalotay (Russian Winter; Sight Reading) will join Jessica in discussing the inherent mystery of a foreign setting, and how place can serve as a catalyst and character in the story’s unfolding.

3:30pm: Back to School – A Charming Tutorial! – Reading and discussion
Jamie Cat Callan will share delightful stories about her travels throughout France from her latest book, Parisian Charm School, along with secrets to hosting a great dinner party, tips on the art of flirtation, and how to live with joie de vivre.


10:00 am-4:00 pm: BOOK SALE– Free admission

In the Tent, Noon-4:00 pm

Noon: Schizophrenia and Mental Health in America – reading and discussion
Nonfiction writer Sandy Allen will discuss their first book, A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise: A True Story about Schizophrenia. Part memoir (as written by the author’s uncle Bob, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, and interpreted and presented by Allen), part investigative report on mental healthcare in America, this tragic and touching story looks closely at constructs of normalcy, including psychiatric disability, and the important role of the family in mental health care.

1:30 pm: Poets in Conversation – readings and discussion
What is it like to be a poet in today’s world? Carol Durant (Whole Phat and Gluten Free Poetry) and Karen Schoemer (her poems have appeared in Up the River, Chronogram, and the Pine Hills Review; some have also been set to music by her group Jaded Azurites) will share their poetry, and discuss the state of their art.

3:00 pm:Ghosts, Photography, and Southern Gothic – reading and discussion
Jon Michael Varese will discuss his first novel, The Spirit Photographer, an intense tale of death and betrayal that shows us how determinedly the ghosts of the past remain with us, and how resolutely they refuse to be quieted. The book conjures the Reconstruction-era South, replete with fugitive hunters, voodoo healers, and other dangers lurking in the swamp.


10:00 am-2:00 pm: BOOK SALE CLEARANCE – Free admission
All remaining books are just $1.00 and special books are half off already low prices. Closing hour surprise specials.

Spencertown Academy Arts Center
790 NY-203
Spencertown, NY 12165

Phone: (518) 392-3693


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