This past weekend I fled Atlanta’s latest round of snow and ice sequestration for the warmer climes of the Hostess City of the South–Savannah, Georgia. Although Savannah is just a quick, four-hour drive from Atlanta, this was my first time visiting the state’s oldest city. I was there courtesy of VisitSavannah to attend the 7th Annual Savannah Book Festival.
It seems I wasn’t the only one who migrated south this past weekend in search of better weather. I heard so many stories from people who were eager to escape snow and ice in different parts of the country. In fact, the weather prevented three authors from speaking in Savannah. The festival kept attendees apprised of schedule changes via the festival website and social media accounts. Volunteers handed out print copies of the revised schedule just outside the venues on Saturday.
I arrived late on Friday, so I wasn’t able to attend the keynote addresses of Scott Turow and Mitch Albom at the Trustees Theater. All festival events took place around Telfair and Wright Squares on Saturday. More than 250 volunteers and dedicated Savannah Book Festival staff and board members worked on the festival. Ex Libris, the bookstore at the Savannah College of Art and Design (better known as SCAD), sold books and merchandise in a dedicated tent in the middle of Telfair Square.
An alternative name for this year’s festival could have been the “Oprah’s Book Club Festival” as there were no fewer than four authors whose books had been previous Oprah’s Book Club picks. Wally Lamb and Anita Shreve both related their tales of getting “the phone call” from the famous talk show host whose book club picks quickly land on the bestseller lists. Alice Hoffman said she didn’t get the phone call from Oprah when Here on Earth was selected because the talk show host was on trial in Texas at the time.
Saturday’s sunny 60-degree weather and a stellar lineup enticed thousands to the Square. Although a blustering wind twisted the flags atop their poles and kept people in their warmest jackets, many who waited in long book signing lines were treated to a celebrity chef sighting or three, as Paula Deen joined her sons, Jamie and Bobby, at their hometown book festival. The Deens talked with fans in line and signed copies of their cookbooks.
You could also scoop up a fun literary treat at Leopold’s Ice Cream. The store named ice cream flavors in honor of the authors and books featured at this year’s Savannah Book Festival. Here’s a picture of Melanie Benjamin enjoying a cup of her ice cream, “The Aviator’s Vanilla.”
I plan to write separate posts about some of the author talks I attended because I found myself taking copious notes with my iPhone. In addition to witnessing the great speakers on the stage, I had a chance to catch up with a couple of good friends who joined me in the audience.
Here’s a photo of me with my book blogger friend, Anita of Anita Loves Books, in front of the Penguin Books truck. I told Anita that we should quit our day jobs and become Penguin spokesmodels, but I’m not sure she’s sold on the idea. They should at least let us drive the truck o’books, right? More to come…