‘If it grabs you, read it’

Burlington County Library hosts book festival

The Burlington County Book Festival this month was a chance for residents to explore literature among authors, guest speakers and performers earlier this month.

“Whatever you’re looking for, chances are it will be here,” said Jessica Farrell, chief of communications for the county library system. “I’m really looking forward to having a great day (and) meeting some of the authors.”

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Featured speakers and performers included Doug Wonder; Faleeha Hassan; Rann Miller; and Ronnette Smith-Powell, among others.

“It’s just an opportunity to get to know some new books (and) some new authors you may not know,” Farrell explained.

There was also an author panel where panelists Tina Gabrielle, Jane Kelly, E.J. Copperman and Rosemary Benson discussed how they balance their writing passion with daily life and use their work to connect readers to stories and ideas.

“I feel like these days, everybody is reading the same books and the same authors,” Farrell noted. “So I think it’s just really nice to branch out and look at other things.”

This year was the first for the county book festival, which was packed with activities, crafts and games inside and outside the county library. The Friends of the Burlington County Library hosted a pop-up book sale of historical fiction, fantasy and nonfiction titles.

“Maybe you wouldn’t necessarily read a thriller, but after speaking to one of the authors in that category, you might be like, ‘This book actually sounds like something I would really want to read,’” Farrell said. 

“For the love of reading is really why we’re having this event.”

Since the festival was the first of its kind, she is excited to see the event grow.

“We just want to make it bigger and bigger every year …” Farrell acknowledged. “Eventually I would like to fill up the whole building and the parking lot and just have authors and vendors and everything, everywhere. I think within the next couple of years we’ll get there.”

Farrell said that while some people may be wary of getting into reading, she wants festival attendees to take something away from the event, whether it’s a new book or a craft.

“Sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it,” she pointed out. “They always say, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover,’ but I think that’s okay. If the cover looks interesting to you, if it grabs you, pick up the book and read it.”

“Chances are you’re going to love the story at the end of the day.”

For more information on the county library system, visit https://www.bcls.lib.nj.us.

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