Our view: One for the books

The weather is looking promising for the Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors, taking place this weekend in downtown Winston-Salem for the 17th time overall and the second since COVID 2020 prompted its prudent cancellation. There is no better time or occasion to celebrate the sheer joy of reading – and our right to read what we want – surrounded by celebrity authors, publishers, book lovers and oh, so many books.

This year, more than 50 authors will be appearing at the festival, many of whom will be signing books, answering questions (except “Where do you get your ideas from?”) – and of course selling books. While the festival features several showcase presentations featuring prominent authors between today and Monday, the majority of the festival on Saturday will take place at locations near the downtown Bookmarks bookstore, including the Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts and the Calvary Moravian Church. A sprawling book market will fill the parking lot between Poplar and Spruce streets, accompanied by food trucks.

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People also read…

Tickets are available for some author events; many are free (as is parking). Author talks, book sales, children’s activities, games, displays, food, drink – there will be something for everyone.

Kicking off Saturday at 9am at Winston Square Park will be the Winston-Salem Police Department’s Paw Patrol Dance Party, followed by stories featuring Idina Menzel of Frozen and author Cara Mentzel, who have teamed up to create Loud Mouse “ to produce “, an illustrated book about a little mouse with a big voice. Come on. The weekend couldn’t start any better.

Historically, Bookmarks was the largest annual book festival in North and South Carolina. Attendance had fallen to about 5,000 last year following the COVID hiatus – a sharp drop from the more typical figure of around 20,000. We hope the combination of better health, good weather and a love of literature bring the audience the festival deserves.

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As pivotal as the festival is, it’s just one aspect of the work of Bookmarks, Winston-Salem’s nonprofit literary arts organization, a charitable organization that often works with others to bring literature—that is, entertainment, knowledge, and wisdom—to the public make. It sponsors programs such as Book With Purpose, which creates themed book discussions for all ages; Authors In Schools, which introduces children to professional authors who can inspire them to read and write; and of course the well-lit, well-stocked downtown Bookmarks bookstore with its knowledgeable, attentive and cheerful staff. Your contribution to inner city revitalization is indispensable.

Bookmarks’ mission is to encourage a love of reading and it’s never been more urgent or necessary. Those who start reading at a young age are not only confronted with fascinating, imaginative stories; they learn empathy and understanding. They expand their expectations and increase their chances of success. They become friends and find solace in inspiring people they will never meet.

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Literature and knowledge are under attack from a number of quarters in the United States today – particularly, as we have reported, in books dealing with issues some find troubling, including race and gender. We don’t need to limit the conversation, we need to encourage it, especially from people who have experienced the controversy in their own lives. Despite technological advances in today’s society – because of these advances – every citizen must learn how to read and how to absorb and process information. It is the most important tool to keep our freedom. Events like the Bookmarks Festival of Books & Authors play an important role in making information accessible.

Visit the Bookmarks website at www.bookmarksnc.org/festival for more details, including tickets, schedule and list of participants.

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