On Sunday, September 21, the ninth annual Brooklyn Book Festival — the largest free literary event in New York City — drew thousands of people to attend the many author signings and discussion panels, as well as browse the huge literary marketplace set up at Brooklyn Borough Hall and its adjacent plaza.
Presented by the nonprofit Brooklyn Book Festival, Inc. and the Brooklyn Literary Council, the event is renowned for its ability to bring together authors and their fans, from the youngest clutching picture books to adults eager for erudite literary talk.
Among the authors who participated in panels were Brooklynites Emma Straub and Jen Doll. Straub’s newest novel, The Vacationers, was a New York Timesbestseller and was on many people’s summer reading lists. Doll’s first book, Save the Date, a memoir about her experiences as a serial wedding guest, was released this summer and is a bestseller.
Straub discussed everything from our society to the road to becoming published. “I think it’s important to get rejected,” she said. “I never took it personally. It makes you stronger.”
Straub has written many young adult books and said she feels young people today are actually still reading despite living in an age of technology. She explained, “It’s more fun for young readers to go out of what’s been prescribed to them.”
Doll discussed being a female in the modern age. She claimed, “I do think we’ve come a long way as women,” adding, “As a woman, you think you’re supposed to get married and have kids, but there are a lot of other aspects to it.”
Doll talked about how many couples focus on the wedding and spend large amounts of money on the big day, because that is what they feel they have to do. She said, “Weddings get crazy expensive and people focus too much on that, when that is not what your relationship is.
“We all want to make sure we’re doing the right thing,” she went on. “I think it goes back to the ‘have it all’ mentality.” At the end of the day, Doll summed up, “We should empower people to be who they really are.”
Those who were present were impressed by the festival’s scope. College student and volunteer Katherine Lichtenfels remarked, “I really like the amount of variety they have, and the authors are very engaging.”
Another volunteer, Kristi DiLallo said, “I wish I wasn’t volunteering so I could watch all the panels, I think it’s awesome.”
There was plenty to engage the youngest readers. The Brooklyn Public Library offered a pop up shop. Children’s author Angela Dominguez read to a group of eager onlookers and there was also a story-time session that kids watched at the festival.
Borough President Eric Adams applauded the day’s success.
“Brooklyn Borough Hall is where this incredible celebration of stories, both written and graphic, first began its own tale of delighting readers old and new,” he said. “This year, I am pleased to help write the next chapter of this great festival, and I look forward to seeing thousands of Brooklynites enriched by this great experience.”