Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Monday, April 27, 2009

What's Becoming of Our Book Culture? ... at CityLit

I'm finally getting around to posting about the CityLit Festival in Baltimore on April 18th. The event had over 3,000 attendees and 60 exhibitors, according to their website. I had an absolutely wonderful time ... hence my difficulty in recapping it for you - there is just so much to say!

Today I'm going to share my experiences at the panel entitled "What's Becoming of Our Book Culture?" According to the program of events, this is:
A panel discussion moderated by Dave Rosenthal, the Baltimore Sun's Read Street columnist. Panelists include Deirdre Donahue, book reviewer, USA Today; David Kipen, Director, National Reading Initiatives, National Endowment for the Arts; Natalie Stokes, Associate Publisher, Black Classics Press.
Due to my cab driver not knowing how to get to the largest library in Baltimore (seriously?!), I arrived a few minutes late for this panel and missed the beginning of the discussion. I also missed getting a place to prop up my camera to keep it steady while I recorded ...

The person speaking when I arrived was Deirdre and I got my camera rolling as soon as I could - she had a lot of interesting things to say.

In this first video, Deirdre talks about her concern with the lack of truly independent mainstream book reviewers.



In the second video, David talks about his involvement with The Big Read program and his promise to eat a book. (Yes, you read that correctly!) Then the conversation veers of to a discussion of Kindles, audio books, and other alternate forms of books. The video cuts off when my battery died.



The discussion continued for about 30 minutes after this. One big topic was how to reach younger readers. Below are some of the comments from the panel:
  • David Kipen described books by Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling as "gateway drugs" for young readers - kids who read them will eventually branch out into other similar book, then (over time) to different genres. Natalie Stokes added that kids and teens tend to stick with one topic/series/author until they bored, then they look for other books to read.
  • Dierdre Donahue feels that teens are most interested in books their parents don't want them to read. She only half-jokingly suggested that parents/adults should make reading seem controversial and subversive, and not encourage it so much - it appears "goody-goody" to kids and they don't want to do it.
  • There was a discussion about how to reach teen boys - graphic novels were highly recommended.
This was an excellent panel discussion and I'm sorry to have missed the first few minutes. The panelists were knowledgeable and well-spoken, the audience was interested and involved, and the topics were relevant and important. Great job everyone!

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of CityLit. I'll have another post up soon with details and videos from the Junot Diaz talk I attended later in the day.

6 comments:

Erika Robuck said...

Thanks so much for the recap! I couldn't leave my table.

Dave said...

Heather, it was great to have you in the audience -- and it was fun to meet Kiddo later. The participation from you and other audience members made the panel much better. (And for anyone wondering why I look like I'm asleep half the time, I'm actually checking my notes in preparation for the next question.)

Trish said...

You know, I don't even know if Dallas has a book festival. All of these posts from people about their own cities has made me curious. How sad is that!! Pretty big city, there must be something...gonna go google it.

Sounds like a great day!

Nan said...

You sure do interesting things, Miss Heather! I get to live a whole other life by reading your blog. :<) Thanks!

Heather J. said...

Trish - YES Dallas has soon cool events! I just read about this one and I THINK they have a huge book festival as well ...

Heather J. said...

Erika - no problem!

Dave - You all did a great job. And Kiddo loved meeting all guys as well.

Nan - why thank you. :)

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