Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

2020 HBG Book Festival goes virtual, but snags Grisham

Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg

Book-lovers not only love to read books; they also love the sight, the touch and even the smell of books.

In recent years, area bibliophiles have gotten all of that—and more—from the annual Harrisburg Book Festival, organized each October by Midtown Scholar Bookstore.

This year, the book festival, like so much in our lives, will be virtual, so some of that sensory experience may be lost. But where there’s something lost, there’s also something gained.

Partly due to the format, the festival will feature bigger literary names than ever, starting with one of the bestselling authors of all time—John Grisham.

“The virtual format has allowed us to reach authors we may not have been able to get before, both for the festival and our continuing author series,” said Alex Brubaker, Midtown Scholar’s manager.

The festival is slated to start on Friday, Oct. 16, and wrap up on Monday, Oct. 19 with Grisham’s live-stream conversation, which will focus on his new novel, “A Time for Mercy.”

Other notable author conversations will include NPR personality Diane Rehm and New York Times bestselling author, Mychael Denzel Smith. The festival will feature numerous other well-known and local authors, some making a return engagement, including Ibram Kendi, Stephen Chbosky, R.O. Kwon, Imani Perry and Liz Moore.

Most events are free, but the Grisham appearance is ticketed, with the $30 ticket price including a first edition, signed copy of the book.

The festival’s opening event is notable locally. On Friday, Midtown Scholar will host the authors of the recently published book, “One Hundred Voices: Harrisburg’s Historic African American Community, 1850-1920.” This book accompanies the newly dedicated Commonwealth Monument, which honors, in part, the city’s Old 8th Ward.

The virtual events will take place via the Zoom and Facebook Live platforms.

There also will be an in-person portion of the festival. From Friday through Sunday, Midtown Scholar will hold an outdoors book sale in front of the store featuring new releases, discount books, used books, CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, etc.

“Even with the surreal backdrop of 2020, we thought it was more important than ever to bring the festival back, with some socially-distanced modifications,” Brubaker said. “Our goal remains the same — to amplify and celebrate literature for all ages, and to build a community of readers, writers, and life-long learners.”

For more information, visit Midtown Scholar Bookstore is located at 1302 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg.

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