What kind of vision does the term “booktopia” conjure for you? Can you imagine a world that meets your personal standard of perfection for books and reading? Literary tastemakers-extraordinaire, Ann Kingman and Michael Kindness of the popular Books on the Nighstand podcast, created a pretty good version of Booktopia right here at the Northshire last weekend. The second annual Books on the Nightstand retreat (now dubbed Booktopia) brought about 80 book lovers and avid BOTNS listeners together to talk about books, authors and publishing in a variety of panels in the bookstore and other venues around Manchester. The culminating event of the weekend was a Celebration of Authors on Saturday night at which eight distinguished authors spoke to a crowd of well over 100 Booktopians and regular customers alike. (The celebration of authors is indeed open to the public so look for news of this event again in April 2013 so you can join in the celebration.)
Ann and Michael brought together a stellar line-up of authors. Susan Cain talked about her groundbreaking, news-making, NYT bestselling book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking which has not so quietly become a staff favorite. Dorset’s own and Northshire favorite Ken Davis discussed the new 20th anniversary edition of Don’t Know Much About History. On Sunday morning, he hosted a quiz show based on the bestselling series of books much to the delight of the early rising crowd. Sara Henry of Newfane, and also a staff favorite, talked about her writing life and read a piece of Learning to Swim which is just out in paperback. Former district attorney William Landay discussed his smash-hit bestselling legal thriller Defending Jacob. Leslie Maitland, a former NYT reporter, brought tears to the eyes of many as she presented her brand new book, Crossing the Borders of Time, an amazing family story of love in wartime Europe. Novelist Richard Mason charmed all within the range of his accent as he sang, read and did show-and-tell for his latest novel, History of a Pleasure Seeker. Madeline Miller’s first novel, The Song of Achilles, has gotten extraordinary reviews and landed on many bestseller lists. Myths and good teachers were on her agenda Saturday night. Vermont legend Howard Frank Mosher brought the evening to a close as he spun a yarn for the crowd about how he came to be a teller of stories. His new book, a rare foray into nonfiction, is The Great Northern Express.
The whole weekend felt a lot like Booktopia to me and we can’t wait to do it again next year. If you are interested in what a book paradise looks like for the authors and attendees from this year’s retreat, we printed a book of those visions on our POD machine. Living in Booktopia is a record of a wonderful weekend as well as a shared journal of dreams of the perfect book in the perfect place and all the time in the world.
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