Saturday, July 21, 2018
Books

Festival of Reading: From authors to schedules, everything you need to know

At the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, Florida books are always a staple. For this, the 24th annual festival, there will be plenty of books about the Sunshine State and books written by Florida authors.

On hand Nov. 12 will be several novelists who are residents of Florida as well as regulars on bestseller lists: Michael Connelly, Tim Dorsey, Brad Meltzer, Lisa Unger and Randy Wayne White.

Pulitzer Prize winner and Florida State University professor Robert Olen Butler's new novel, Perfume River, looks at a Florida family shaped by the Vietnam War. Two of his FSU colleagues will be at the festival, too: National Book Award winner Bob Shacochis and National Book Award finalist David Kirby.

Nonfiction books set in the state will abound. Craig Pittman's Oh, Florida! How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country takes a sweeping view of strange doings here, while Ted Geltner's Blood, Bone, and Marrow: A Biography of Harry Crews focuses on one legendary — and strange — figure.

Kelley and Tom French recount their daughter's first six months of life in a St. Petersburg hospital in Juniper: The Girl Who Was Born Too Soon. David Kushner investigates the 1973 murder of his brother in Tampa in Alligator Candy. Tampa business leader Frank Morsani has a memoir, To Be Frank, and Jason Vuic offers The Yucks: Two Years in Tampa With the Losingest Team in NFL History.

Florida's not the only subject for festival books, though. They take in the wide world. Bestselling author Joyce Maynard will talk about her 16th book, a novel about friendship gone toxic called Under the Influence. Amor Towles' novel A Gentleman in Moscow is the story of an aristocrat who, under Soviet rule, is sentenced to decades of house arrest in a luxury hotel. Caroline Leavitt's Cruel Beautiful World is about a teenage girl who runs away from home in the 1960s.

Co-authors Herb Frazier, Bernard Powers and Marjory Wentworth will talk about We Are Charleston: Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, a look at a terrible crime and a community's response. Beth Macy's nonfiction book Truevine tells the stranger-than-fiction story of a pair of young brothers taken by a circus to work as sideshow freaks.

Tampa Bay Times staffers at the festival will include Pittman, Ben Montgomery with his nonfiction book The Leper Spy and two panels of reporters who won Pulitzer Prizes in 2016 for their stories on failing schools and on conditions in state mental hospitals.

Books for young readers at the festival include Tampa author Greg Neri's Tru & Nelle, a novel based on the real-life friendship of authors Harper Lee and Truman Capote.

Foodies will want to catch Alex Prud'homme, grand-nephew of Julia Child, with The French Chef in America, as well as Jim Webster presenting Mario Batali's Big American Cookbook, the second book he has co-written with the celebrity chef.

In short, there's something for every reader at the Times Festival of Reading.

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