On October 15th, 200 authors and more than 20,000 people gathered at Copley Square to celebrate the 15th edition of the Boston Book Festival. The festival encompassed a variety of events including panels, storytimes, and tours for all ages.
Initially, I had been intrigued to attend this year’s Boston Book Festival because the kid’s keynote speaker was Rick Riordan. I grew up reading Riordan’s book series such as “Percy Jackson” and the “Olympians, the Heroes of Olympus,” and the “Kane Chronicles.”
Unfortunately, my plans did not go as I expected. The event started at 10:30 a.m., so I thought it would be a good idea to get there by 10:00 a.m. However, I failed to take into consideration the popularity of Riordan. By the time I arrived at the venue, the line looked pretty long. As I walked to stand at the back of the line, I realized the line went on forever. It wrapped around the whole block. After I got in line the line got even longer. Unfortunately, I was not able to see Riordan because the line was cut short, so I headed to other events such as the “If Not Now, When?” panel.
The, “If Not Now, When?” panel starred Elana K. Arnold who recently published “The Blood Years,” Aden Polydoros author of “Wrath Becomes Her,” and R.M. Romero, the author of “A Warning About Swans.” The three award-winning authors provided intricate portrayals of Jewish characters who face vengeance, grief, and life-or-death decisions. The panel showed a great example of how you can weave your identity into your writing while also educating the audience on Jewish culture. One really funny thing was when someone in the audience pointed out that in” Wrath Becomes Her” the dead child’s name meant life in Hebrew. This humorous moment served as a reminder that authors being diverse allows books to appeal to a diverse range of people through the use of devices like inside jokes.
The “How to Think About Big Tech” panel featured Brian Merchant’s “Blood in the Machine: The Origins of the Rebellion Against Big Tech,” Jonathan Taplin’s “The End of Reality: How Four Billionaires are Selling a Fantasy Future of the Metaverse,” “Mars,” “Crypto,” and Coco Krumme, in her fascinating “Optimal Illusions: The False Promise of Optimization.” The panel tackled the urgent and timely discussion of the trouble with big tech from multiple perspectives. I loved that the panelists acknowledged how complex the debate against artificial intelligence is and weighed in on the pros and cons of it. It opened my eyes to see that everyone can reap the benefits of AI if there were ethical standards placed. For example, AI has to have a large database of art to be able to make art. If ethics were in place for artists to be compensated for their work or completely opt out of their art being used, AI would be better in a sense. I also really liked how interactive the panel was throughout the session because the audience would be periodically polled.
Last but not least, I went to the YA keynote event which featured Chole Gong who is a best-selling author. Gong is a young adult author who recently published “Foul Heart Huntsman,” which is a sequel to “Foul Lady Fortune.” The books are set in 1930s Shanghai China where the characters navigate government secrets and crazy scandals. Gong was just so charismatic. I just loved the vibe between her and the moderator. It is so amazing that she was able to publish books while in college. High school is already a lot, but imagine writing a book while attending college. Gong is a perfect example of what you can do when you put the time and effort in. At the end of the panel, there was time for questions and answers and it was so heartwarming to see young fans of Gong ask questions to one of their favorite authors. As an eyewitness, I can say the questions were bangers. Now that I have seen this panel, I plan to read all of Gong’s books.
The Boston Book Festival highlights the versatility and accessibility of books. The Boston Public Library, which is a sponsor of the Boston Book Festival, works to make books accessible to anyone. The book festival is a fun event to go to even if you are not an avid reader. The Boston Book Festival is open to anyone and possibly has what you are looking for. People should make plans to go next year you can get the information at bostonbookfest.org