‘Best American’ series: Full of infographics

“The Best American Infographics.”
“The Best American Infographics.”

Boston Book Festival

The fifth annual Boston Book Festival will take over Copley Square Thursday through Saturday about six months after the Marathon bombings ripped through the neighborhood.

In the intervening months, dozens of well-known writers joined to reflect on what makes the city so great. “Our Boston: Writers Celebrate the City They Love,” featuring essays by the likes of Susan Orlean, Dennis Lehane, and Pico Iyer, is being released on Tuesday.

Other contributors, including Pulitzer Prize winner Madeleine Blais, sports journalists Leigh Montville and Lesley Visser, and former Globe columnist Mike Barnicle, will speak on a BBF panel about the city’s character and strength moderated by Bob Oakes, host of WBUR’s “Morning Edition,” at 11 a.m. Saturday in Trinity Church.


The book is the brainchild of New York literary agent Andrew Blauner whose “inner Bostonian” was unleashed by the attack. The writers rhapsodize about many places and things that no longer exist or are on their way out: the Boston accent, Filene’s Basement, Prince Spaghetti Day. Lehane writes, “Bostonians don’t love easy things, they love hard things — blizzards, the bleachers in Fenway Park, a good brawl over a contested parking space.”

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The book’s publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, will donate $5 to the One Fund for each copy sold.

More than 100 authors will appear at the BBF, which is being held at a number of locations in and around the Boston Public Library. There will be a street fair outside the BPL featuring publishers and authors as well as literary magazines and organizations. Children’s author and illustrator Tomie dePaola kicks off the festivities with a keynote address at 10:15 a.m. Most of the time slots throughout the day feature more than one option so it’s a good idea to study the schedule in advance. Details at

Full of infographics

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has expanded its “Best American” series of anthologies this year with “The Best American Infographics” edited by Gareth Cook, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former Boston Globe reporter and editor. The featured information graphics address subjects as how wealthy is the top 1 percent in various American cities, what feelings can’t be expressed in English, and how popular is your birthday. One of the simplest data visualizations — gun ownership by country — is among the most striking: The United States tops the world with 89 privately-owned guns for every 100 Americans; Yemen, with 55 guns per 100 people, is number 2. Cook will talk infographics at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Brookline Booksmith.

Thoreau as murder mystery hero

What’s next for Henry David Thoreau? He’s the hero of the new murder mystery “Thoreau at Devil’s Perch” (Kensington) by B.B. Oak. The adventure begins when the Walden Pond resident finds the body of a young black man at the bottom of a cliff. Thoreau is the subject of no fewer than three books featured in the 21st annual Concord Festival of Authors, which runs Friday through Nov. 2. Cookbooks, children’s books, poetry, history, science, and fiction round out the offerings. Details at

Coming out


 “Identical” by Scott Turow (Grand Central)

 “Orr: My Story”by Bobby Orr (Putnam)

 “Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law” by Alan Dershowitz (Crown)

Pick of the Week

Ellen Burns of Books on the Common in Ridgefield, Conn., recommends “Mud Season: How One Woman’s Dream of Moving to Vermont, Raising Children, Chickens, and Sheep & Running the Old Country Store Pretty Much Led to One Calamity After Another” by Ellen Stimson (Countryman): “It is a funny, self-deprecating memoir about the Stimson family’s new life in a small town populated with crusty Vermonters who view ‘flatlanders’ with suspicion and amusement.”

Jan Gardner can be reached at