MORRISTOWN, NJ - Morristown was the place to be on Saturday for thousands of readers when it hosted the sixth annual Morristown Festival of Books. Two hundred volunteers in bright red tee shirts greeted the crowds, who were treated to talks by leading authors of the day, including children’s book writers at the Kidfest and wide array of fiction and nonfiction adult authors.
Saturday’s event was free to all and the authors donated their time. As the program states and as attendees were encouraged at each event, “to honor their talents and thank them by buying their books...”
Elizabeth Mattson, a member of the Board of Directors of the festival, explained that six years ago Linda Hellstrom, the founder and board co-chair, was inspired to start the festival when she met with a “bunch of talented women in a dining room” to create an event “where readers and authors meet.”
In 2018 there were 8,000 attendees. Alice Lloyd, also a member of the Board of Directors and co-chairwoman of the volunteers, enthused that “since
the beginning there has been great camaraderie among the volunteers, friendships made, and even new book clubs formed.”
She explained that among the volunteers are high school students from the National Honor Society and even graduates who attend nearby colleges. In collaboration with the Morris Educational Foundation, the festival proceeds provide the Morris School District kindergarten through 12 th grade school libraries and pre-school classrooms with the books of the featured authors from the festival. As stated in the event’s program “This gift will foster a love of reading for each and every student, helping to inspire lifelong learners.
Through enriching each library with engaging stories to broaden young minds, both organizations join the Morris School District with a shared commitment to our students’ educational journeys.”
Readers were treated to talks by nonfiction and fiction writers, many of the top-selling writers of the day. These talks were moderated by many successful fellow authors who engaged in lively talks about books and the writing process. Participating nonfiction writers were Rick Atkinson, Safi Bahcall, Tena Clark, Benjamin Dreyer, David Epstein, Gilbert M. Gaul, Paul Goldberger, JJ Johnson, Ibram X. Keni, Michael Kranish, Andrew S. Lewis, T Kira Madden, and Carl Zimmer. The fiction writers were Katherine Arden, Tessa Bailey, Marie Benedict, Sarah Blake, Meg Cabot, S.A. Chakraborty, Ben Coes, Andrew Gross, Rob Hart Pam Jenoff, Marjan Kamali, Jean Kwok, Madeline Miller, Tea Obrent, Julie Orringer, Joanne Ramos, Jennifer Robson, Whitney Scharer, Brenda Shaughnessy, Chuck Wendig, Lauren Wilkinson, and Beatriz Williams.
In addition, there was a self-publishing panel to explain the process of publishing and marketing books to gain visibility and readers. After each author’s presentation, they invited the participants to join them in a large tent on the Vail Mansion Lawn for sales and book signing.
Author Whitney Scharer (“The Age of Light”) enthused “the weather today is amazing. This is the friendliest and most energetic festival I’ve done.”