Book DNA: Boston Book Fest Treasure Trove

Last Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend (child-free, thanks to husband) the annual Boston Book Festival. It is a free, annual event in Copley Square, bringing together readers, writers, publishers, book shops and other creative reading/writing resources, like Grub Street. My Twitter and Facebook status updates are evidence that I thoroughly enjoyed myself and inspired through Tuesday! Check out my Storify of Saturday events. I came home loaded with books meant to be Christmas presents, but went into the hands of two eager girls before I could even get through the front door.

So, is the book dead? Hardly. I bought nine physical books and three e-books. Here is what I purchased and have already added to the Book DNA mind map:


  • An Octopus Named Mom, written by Kathleen Flaherty and illustrated by Jennifer Caulfield Donehey – Both the writer and illustrator autographed this book for my 9yo daughter; She devoured the book immediately and loved that the dog illustrated in the book looks like our boxer, Tiger Lilly.
  • Lily and the Imaginary Zoo, written by Seneca Clark and Sandy Giardi and illustrated by Julie Decedue – Another Three Bean Press book signed by authors and illustrator for my youngest daughter, her first autographed book. The book takes the reader on an adventure of Boston landmarks. Kids at the festival could follow Lilly’s Trail and complete a passport to be eligible for a prize. I will need to create our own version of this activity for both girls.
  • Secret Seahorse by Stella Blackstone and Clare Beaton – This book is for my 2yo daughter and she was mesmerized by the mixed media illustrations. As a parent, I enjoyed the glossary at the end of the story to teach the child more about the creatures in the book and get them excited to learn even more.
  • World Atlas, written by Nick Crane and illustrated by David Dean – This book is for your budding explorer and has an accompanying iPad app.
  • The Snow Queen, retold by Sarah Lowes and illustrated by Miss Clara AND The Twelve Dancing Princesses retold by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Miss Clara – Another Barefoot Books visual wonder! I was captivated by the artwork for these classic stories as interpreted by Miss Clara. I am tempted to keep these books on my bookshelf, but these two early reader chapter books were purchased for my 9yo daughter.

Adult Non-Fiction

  • A History of Vampires in New England by Thomas D’Agnostino – I am a sucker for a vampire book and could not pass up this book describing the superstition that gripped and shaped New England.
  • The Age of Insight by Eric R. Kandel – This book originally found its way on my must-read list because of a feature on Brain Pickings, but I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Kandel speak at the festival and was blown away by his in-depth (and funny) research about how the brain perceives art.
  • How to Be Black by Baratunde Thurston – To be honest, I would not have gravitated towards this book, but after hearing his thoughts on the final panel, Future of Reading, and learning how he wrote the book with social / community elements, I knew I needed to read this book for myself.
  • How to Do Things with Books in Victorian Britain by Leah Price – After attending the session, Great Brits and Books, and hearing Price talk about how she teaches students Austen and Elliot, I knew this book belonged in my bag.

Adult Fiction

  • America’s Best Short Stories 2012 edited by Tom Perrotta– Until the Book Festival, I did not give short stories enough credit, but after listening to the brilliant star-studded panel including Junot Diaz, Edith Pearlman and Jennifer Haigh, I thought I should give short stories another shot. Well, I finished this compilation and I was blown away. Needless to say, it was added to my Book DNA mind map.
  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson and Greg Call – This book was mentioned on the Great Brits and Books panel. I have a love/hate relationship with adaptations, but when you think about it, there is no such thing as an original story.
  • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang – This short story compilation was recommended on the morning panel by Junot Diaz. I am a couple stories in and already captivated.

Also, guess what has started?! National Novel Writing Month! For thirty nights, you too can write like one possessed. This year, I am holding myself to the deadline. Taking a break from my historical fiction thriller to focus on a mainstream fiction novel. Add me as a buddy and we can motivate each other to write, write, WRITE! I begin the word count tonight.

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