Arts, Enjoy, Expand

Utah Humanities Book Festival

August 31, 2019

Greta Belanger deJong

Books and their authors take center stage

Book lovers don’t just read books; they talk about books, covet them, share them, buy them and pile them up, look forward to reading them, read reviews, download them, and remember their favorites fondly. Often they get around to actually reading them, too.

Sometimes, with certain books, serious obsessions ensue. One year just before Burning Man, I’d started listening to Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson. And I couldn’t stop. In the midst of the biggest party on the planet, I happily hunkered down with my cassette player (yes, it was that long ago) and entered the surreal world of Stephenson’s future.

A few Augusts ago, I’d started John Steinbeck’s East of Eden just before that big event. The book had quickly become so captivating that, again, each day I found a spot of shade and quiet amidst the dusty chaos, savoring the 700 pages as I learned the fate of the Hamilton and Trask families and of Cathy Ames, the girl with the “malformed soul.” I cannot tell you how many people stopped to say, “That’s my favorite book.”

This is all to say that a compelling book picks you up and will not let you down. It can eat up your night and ruin the next day. (Audible books only make this worse.) It’s the best addiction.

What makes reading even more captivating is when you can meet an author. You may be a fan; you may have never heard of this person before. No matter. Something magic happens when authors stand up to read their own work, maybe talk about the writing process, giving background and context. It’s a great way to discover new reads. Maybe new worlds.

The Utah Humanities Book Festival began 22 years ago at Westminster College as the Great Salt Lake Book Festival—one day, 30 authors. Now, as part of the Utah Humanities Council, it spans two months, presenting 100 authors. CATALYST is a proud sponsor.

We’ve written about some authors we thought you’d like to meet including Ayja Bounous – Shaped by SnowKatharine Coles – various bee poetry, Ken Babbs – Cronies, Craig Child – Virga & Bone, and Julia Corbett – Out of the Woods: Seeing Nature in the Everyday. (More coming next month.) Check out the full schedule. We hope to see you at a reading, perhaps discovering another author to love!

Full Book Festival Calendar here.


Greta Belanger deJong is the founder and editor of CATALYST Magazine.