“I cannot live without book [festivals]”- Thomas Jefferson

The Twin Cities Book Festival brings together a community of bookworms

Bookworms peruse piles and piles of palatable books!

Bookworms peruse piles and piles of palatable books! PHOTO COURTESY RAIN TAXI

by Thomas Q. Johnson

WHAT: Twin Cities Book Festival WHERE: Minneapolis Community & Technical College WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Oct. 10 TICKETS: Free As weâÄôre forced inside for most of the hellish winter with nothing but the skyways and the MOA to remind us of the sweet life, hitting the books might be the only way to stay sane in this city. Besides that, the Twin Cities is home to a plethora of independent publishers (Milkweed Editions, Coffee House Press), book sellers (Magers and Quinn , Once Upon a Crime ), authors (Tim OâÄôBrien , Garrison Keillor ), beautiful public libraries and even book art centers (The Loft , Open Book ) that all contribute to the townâÄôs vibrant book culture. This weekend, the Twin Cities Book Festival will celebrate the love of books jamboree-style by bringing together the entire Twin Cities book community. Aside from being a place for readers to make like a squirrel and stockpile books for the season, the festival is also an opportunity for all sides of the book industry in the Twin Cities to get together. âÄúThere really arenâÄôt a lot of opportunities for everyone, from large presses to small ones, to get together. ItâÄôs kind of cool to get everyone under one roof,âÄù explains Jay Peterson, store manager at Magers & Quinn Booksellers in Uptown . This year, Magers & Quinn will be the festivalâÄôs primary bookseller and will be responsible, among other things, for organizing author signings and discussions that include both local and national names. The Twin Cities Book Festival began in 2001 with a modest crowd of about 1,000 and only one out-of-town speaking guest, says Eric Lorberer of Rain Taxi, the literary magazine that organized this yearâÄôs event. For 2009, he expects crowds of more than 5,000. The daylong show will feature a book and magazine fair, storytelling, âÄúbook artâÄù making, as well as author talks and panels. Most of the events at the Twin Cities Book Festival have that kind of intelligent, tongue-in-cheek air about them that one would expect at a book festival. At The Minnesota Valley Humane SocietyâÄôs event âÄúRead with a Dog!âÄù children can read to their soft and loveable illiterate friends to receive a free book. At another panel on science fiction, participants are encouraged to arrive in costume and get on stage to share their geekiest moment. One of the most exciting activities organized for this year, according to Jessica Deutsch of Milkweed Editions , is the citywide literary scavenger hunt that will be kicked off at the festival. The literary sleuths will receive a trivia question each week that must be answered and turned in at various bookshops across the metro area. Which bookshops the answers can be turned in to will be rotating âÄî a system that has people âÄúgoing out and discovering new bookstores that they might not have gone to,âÄù Deutsch said. The idea, she says, is to keep people involved in the local book culture even after the festival is over. Major themes at the festival this year will be nature and food âÄî part of a âÄúback to the land movementâÄù in modern literature, Teterson explains. David Allen Sibley, author of the acclaimed âÄúThe Sibley Guide to Birds ,âÄù will be present to discuss his new release, âÄúThe Sibley Guide to Trees.âÄù Food writer Ruth Reichl and Nicholson Baker, author of âÄúThe MezzanineâÄù and âÄúVox,âÄù will also be present among the over two dozen literary types giving presentations. âÄúMore generally,âÄù says Lorberer, âÄú[The Twin Cities Book Festival] celebrates the culture of the book, which is often thought of as being under attack in the digital age. When you come to an event like this, you can see that writing and publishing are really thriving.âÄù