Book Fest draws record attendance

The 2015 Iowa City Book Festival has wrapped, and it was a rousing success. With more than 50 events featuring more than 100 authors and presenters over four days, there was something for everyone, More than 4,000 people took advantage.

Sara Paretsky holds up this year’s Paul Engle Prize while Alison Ames Galdstad looks on.
The festival began Thursday with a handful of events that culminated with a talk by Jonathan Katz about the public health emergency left by the disaster relief efforts after the devastating Haiti earthquake.

Friday was capped with the annual Engle Prize award celebration. The prize, presented by the City of Literature organization, celebrated bestselling mystery novelist Sara Paretsky. The event, which also featured book reviewer Maureen Corrigan, drew a capacity crowd to the Coralville Public Library.

Saturday was a day full of events, with panel discussions, readings, demonstrations and more. A Book Fair featuring independent publishers, print journals, booksellers and more drew people to the Pedestrian Mall, while events scattered at eight downtown locations kept people moving about.

The day closed with a standing-room-only talk at the Englert Theatre by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, who spoke about his new book, Saving Capitalism. In an hour-long presentation, Reich blended serious scholarship with witty quips.

The highlight of the festival for many was also its biggest — and the biggest in festival history. Bryan Stevenson, an attorney and social justice activist gave a talk Sunday afternoon at the Iowa Memorial Union that was based on his best-selling book, Just Mercy.

More than 1,000 people turned out to hear Stevenson, whose book was the selection for this year’s One Community One Book project from the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights. The City of Literature and the Center partnered with the Geneva Ministries to bring Stevenson to the Book Festival.

The dates for the 2016 festival have been set: Oct. 6-9. Mark your calendars!

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