West Virginia Book Festival

Video of the Week: All Hallow’s Read

There’s a chill in the air, the leaves are turning … it’s October, and you know what that means.

Well, yes, it means the West Virginia Book Festival is just around the corner. But it also means that Halloween is coming. Trick-or-treating, dressing up in costumes — and giving scary books to each other?

Maybe. Neil Gaiman, author of “Coraline,” “American Gods” and “Neverwhere,” among many other works, came up last year with the idea of All Hallow’s Read. As Gaiman wrote in a blog post:

I propose that, on Hallowe’en or during the week of Hallowe’en, we give each other scary books. Give children scary books they’ll like and can handle. Give adults scary books they’ll enjoy.
I propose that stories by authors like John Bellairs and Stephen King and Arthur Machen and Ramsey Campbell and M R James and Lisa Tuttle and Peter Straub and Daphne Du Maurier and Clive Barker and a hundred hundred others change hands — new books or old or second-hand, beloved books or unknown. Give someone a scary book for Hallowe’en. Make their flesh creep…

Sounds like a good idea. Who doesn’t like scary books, especially during this season? Here’s Gaiman, in this week’s Video of the Week, to tell you more about it:


Video of the Week: Fran Cannon Slayton

One of the latest additions to next month’s West Virginia Book Festival is Fran Cannon Slayton, who’s going to use her 2009 young adult novel “When The Whistle Blows” to show how writers can use their family stories to break into writing.

If you don’t want to go into her session without knowing about her book, well, you should read the book … or, barring that, you could check out this week’s Video of the Week:

Video(s) of the Week: Banned Books Week

When it comes to censoring books, few people are more qualified to speak than Judy Blume, whose children’s books have ended up on most-questioned lists at schools and libraries across the country for decades.

So in honor of the American Library Association’s annual Banned Books Week, which starts on Saturday, here’s Blume talking about the effect censoring books has on kids. It’s the Video of the Week. Money quote:

“They’re sending a message that books are dangerous, there’s something in this book we don’t want you to know, we don’t want to talk about what’s in this book, we don’t want you to ask us questions about what’s in this book.”

The ALA is also sponsoring a “Virtual Read-Out” for Banned Books Week, where people can upload videos of themselves (or others) reading parts of books that have been censored or challenged.

The chairman of the Empire State Book Festival, Rocco Staino, wrote at the Huffington Post earlier this month about books about censorship for kids and teens (leading with the all-time king, Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”).

More locally, our friends at Taylor Books have been featuring snippets from frequently banned books on their blog.

And because we’re feeling generous, here’s a bonus Video of the Week, from the good folks at the Gottesman Libraries at Columbia University. It’s a quick montage of the 100 most frequently challenged books of the 20th century.




Author and scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., native of Mineral County, turns 61 years old today.

The childhood in Mineral County, specifically in Piedmont, is chronicled in Gates’ award-winning 1994 memoir, “Colored People.” As former Gazette reporter Jack McCarthy wrote shortly after the book was published, “The memoir struck many chords. It was a remembrance of a coming of age. It lovingly portrayed the life of a black family and black community in Piedmont. And it captured a moment – the late 1950s and the early 1960s – in the life of a West Virginia town.”

This week’s Video of the Week, then, is Gates discussing “Colored People” on C-SPAN’s late, lamented “Booknotes” back in 1994. (As with many of the Book TV videos on YouTube, I can’t embed it here, but you can see it there.) And Dr. Gates, if you’re reading this — happy birthday.

As we near this fall’s West Virginia Book Festival (just seven weeks away!), this Video of the Week is a blast from the not-too-distant past: an interview with Appalachian Heritage magazine editor George Brosi, recorded at the 2008 Book Festival by the good folks at Book TV.

YouTube won’t let me embed the video here, but you can watch it there. Then, you can come visit the folks from Appalachian Heritage, who are scheduled to be at this year’s festival.

I write for a living, and sometimes, when I read a run-of-the-mill story or thriller, I think, “I could do that.”

Then there are novels that I read and think, “Wow, I could never do that.”

“Lord of Misrule” by Jaimy Gordon, winner of the National Book Award, is one of the latter. The description in the book — both of the fictional racetrack in the Northern Panhandle, and the characters who inhabit it — is just remarkable.

I look forward to Gordon talking about the book at the West Virginia Book Festival in October. In the meantime, here she is reading from “Lord of Misrule” at the public library in Kalamazoo, Mich. (where she teaches at Western Michigan University).

This Video of the Week is the second of four from the event available on YouTube. The first video is some introductory remarks from Gordon, so the actual reading begins here:

Video of the Week: Jerry West

Jerry West. Coming to the Book Festival. Video of the Week.

Video of the Week: Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers, the Martinsburg-born author of dozens of novels for young adults, turns 74 years old today. Myers 2010 book “Lockdown” was a finalist for the National Book Award, as was 1999’s “Monster” and 2005’s “Autobiography of My Dead Brother.”

As this week’s Video of the Week, we offer the man himself, in an interview with the group First Book from a few years ago.

Alex Flinn, author of nine books for teenagers, is the latest addition to this fall’s West Virginia Book Festival. Her best-known book is “Beastly,” a modern-day retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fable from the Beast’s point of view.

So as this week’s Video of the Week, here’s Flinn talking about how she approached the story (I like the part where she described the protagonists as two kids with really bad parents).

Video of the Week: Brian Floca

In our efforts to showcase people coming to the 2011 West Virginia Book Festival, we have cruelly overlooked children’s illustrator and author Brian Floca. We rectify that error this week, with a brief video from the Brooklyn Public Library featuring Floca. (There are several more videos of Floca on YouTube, so hunt around a little if you’re so inclined.