Take our Boston Book Festival personality quiz
Dazzled by the literati? Overwhelmed by events and workshops at the festival? Let this quiz be your guide.
With more than 40 events and 150 presenters, the offerings at this year’s Boston Book Festival, to be held Saturday in Copley Square, might feel a bit daunting. Luckily, we have devised a personality quiz to help you navigate the vast waters of the city’s preeminent literary event. Just pick the answer to each question that seems most intuitive, check the key underneath, and receive a scientifically accurate recommendation for the events that suit you best. Most events are free and do not require tickets unless noted. Find detailed venue information and a full schedule at www.bostonbookfestival.org.
1: You are about to cross the street when a Mercedes comes out of nowhere and barrels through the crosswalk, missing youby inches. What do you blame for the driver’s carelessness?
A: His parents, for not teaching him how to behave.
B: The unbelievable stress of the upcoming presidential election and what it’s going to mean for his tax bracket.
C: Society. People have no idea how to treat each other in this day and age.
A. You’ll want to attend True Story: Personal Visions (1 p.m., Boston Public Library Commonwealth Room, 700 Boylston St.), with Deni Béchard, author of a memoir about a father whose favorite game involved cutting his car engine on the railroad tracks; John Spooner, who wrote a book of life and money advice, ostensibly to his grandchildren; and Patricia Ellis Herr, who climbed all 48 of New Hampshire’s highest mountains with her 5-year-old daughter and wrote about it.
Also recommended: Memoir: Parents and Children (11 a.m., Church of the Covenant, 67 Newbury St.) with Buzz Bissinger, Alexandra Styron, Alex Witchel, and Leslie Maitland.
B: Head to The Economy: Advice for the Winner (12:45 p.m., Old South Church Sanctuary, 645 Boylston St.), featuring four big-deal economists with recent books: Carmen Reinhart of Harvard, Jeffry Frieden (Harvard), Michael Porter (Harvard, again), and Esther Duflo of Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They’ll take on the defining (some might say terrifying) economic issues with which our president will have to contend.
Also recommended: Jewish Jocks (4 p.m., Boston Common Hotel Hancock Room, 40 Trinity Place) with Larry Summers, Steven Pinker, Franklin Foer, Bill Littlefield, and Mark Tracy.
C: Reserve a spot at Secrets of the Advice Columnists (4:45 p.m., Boston Common Carver, 40 Trinity Place, tickets required, free), a seminar featuring the Globe’s own Meredith Goldstein and Margo Howard, a.k.a. Dear Margo, who once wrote Dear Prudence for Slate and is the child of Ann Landers. The pair will advise attendees seeking to channel their meddlesome tendencies into column inches.
Also recommended: The Brain: Thinking About Thinking (2:30 p.m., Trinity Sanctuary, 206 Clarendon St.), with Eric Kandel and Ray Kurzweil.
2: What makes you laugh the hardest?
A: Politics. I’m a sophisticate!
B: Other people. I’m meanspirited!
C: Farts. I’m a child!
A: Daily Show co-creator Lizz Winstead, Daily Show writer Kevin Bleyer, and
former “Onion” staffer Baratunde Thurston will convene for Serious Satire (12:45 p.m., Trinity Sanctuary). He who makes the best Paul Ryan joke will win a value-sized bottle of hair gel.
Also recommended: Political Culture (4:15 p.m., Trinity Sanctuary) with Michael Sandel, Randall Kennedy, Lawrence Lessig, Nancy L. Cohen, and Philip K. Howard.
B: Some might think of Writer Idol (10:15 a.m., Old South Church, Mary Norton Hall), an annual competition in which an actor declaims unpublished, audience-submitted manuscripts to a panel of literary agents, as a proving ground for thick-skinned hopefuls. Others might come for a live enactment of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for painful first sentences. Both would be right. This year’s judges are Boston agents Esmond Harmsworth, Katherine Flynn, and Ann Collette.
Also recommended: Stage and Page: Teen Spoken Word (3:45 p.m., Old South Church, Mary Norton Hall) with Reggie Gibson and the child-poets of Mass Leap.
C: An apocryphal story about Lemony Snicket writer Daniel Handler involves a child, his mother, and an ugly sweater. “What’s flattery?” asked the child, hoping to clarify a point Handler had made during his reading. “That’s a pretty sweater,” Handler said, pointing to his mom. Handler will be interviewed by Somerville-based children’s humorist, Jef Czekaj, who sometimes dresses as a cat (11 a.m., Old South Church Sanctuary).
3: I wish I lived:
A: In the future.
B: In the past.
C: In Middle Earth.
A: If contemplating the possibility of a future world with cloud-based libraries and tots poking at iPads instead of chewing on picture books fills you with hope, consider attending Future of Reading (4:15 p.m., Boston Public Library Rabb Lecture Hall, 700 Boylston St.), with MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte; Digital Library of America affiliate Robert Darnton; Baratunde Thurston, former digital head of The Onion; Maryanne Wolf, a neuropsychologist who focuses on reading; and Cheryl Cramer Toto, a digital strategist for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Also recommended: What’s Next for Women? (11:15 a.m., Boston Public Library Rabb Lecture Hall) with Anita Hill, Hanna Rosin, and Madeleine Kunin.
B: Singletons who’ve studied Attic Greek might find agape or even eros among the crowd at A Conversation About the Iliad (1 p.m., Trinity Church Forum, 206 Clarendon St.) when two leading Homer-ites, Harvard Classics professor David Elmer and the Orange Prize-winning novelist Madeline Miller, will reflect upon the wine-dark sea.
Also recommended: Edith Wharton: Real and Imagined (2:30 p.m., Boston Public Library Commonwealth Room), with Irene Goldman-Price, Jennie Fields, and Francesca Segal.
C: Elvish speakers rejoice: The Boston Book Festival is throwing a Hobbit party for that book’s 75th anniversary. The Hobbit: There and Back Again (11 a.m., Boston Common Hotel Hancock Room) will feature Corey Olsen, a man known as the Tolkien Professor, and husband and wife Tolkien scholars Christina Scull and Wayne Hammond. The trailer for Peter Jackson’s forthcoming “The Hobbit” will air following the discussion.
Also recommended: YA: The Future Is Now (4:15 p.m., Church of the Covenant), with M.T. Anderson, Rachel Cohn, Cory Doctorow, and Gabrielle Zevin.
4: Complete the following sentence. “I like my narratives to be like my men: _____.”
A: Jane Austen, Peter Pan, and Charles Dickens will all get their due in Great Brits and Books (12:30 p.m., Boston Public Library Abbey Room), a discussion with Austen scholar Rachel Brownstein, J.M. Barrie-head Maria Tartar, and Dickens diehard Lisa Rodensky. Also appearing: Leah Price, who wrote a book exploring what Victorian-era British people did with books besides read them.
Also recommended: An Ocean Apart: Paris and New York (1 p.m., Boston Public Library Rabb Auditorium), with Adam Gopnik and Vahram Muratyan.
B: It’s difficult to imagine two contemporary American novelists more different than Ben Marcus and Tom Perrotta, but they will appear together at Fiction: Heaven Knows (12:45 p.m., Church of the Covenant), a panel about how writers tackle religious beliefs and supernatural events. Also appearing: physicist and fiction writer Alan Lightman, whose “Einstein’s Dreams” blew the minds of a generation of college students.
Also recommended: Readings in the Forum: Uncanny Imagination (2:30 p.m., Trinity Sanctuary) with Matthew Battles, Justin Torres, and Joan Wickersham.
C: How has Whitey Bulger’s capture affected the lives of those whohave written books about him? Find out when Thomas Foley and Dick Lehr commiserate during True Crime: The Whitey Bulger Story (11 a.m., Boston Public Library Abbey Room).
Also recommended: BBF Unbound: Books Behind Bars (4 p.m., Boston Public Library Commonwealth Room) with Judge Robert Kane, Michael Krupa, and Edson Monteiro.
5: You need to rescue a group of schoolchildren from a burning building. Whom do you ask for help?
A: A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.
B: A medical ethicist and mystery writer.
C: Forget those losers, I’ll do it myself.
A: This year’s keynote speech will be delivered by Richard Ford (6 p.m., Old South Church Sanctuary, tickets required, $10), a man with more PEN awards than socks. He will discuss his latest novel, “Canada.”
Also recommended: Fiction: The Short Story (11 a.m., Trinity Sanctuary) with Junot Díaz, Edith Pearlman, and Jennifer Haigh.
B: Although it seems like only yesterday that the “No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” overtook the bestseller lists, Alexander McCall Smith (2:30 p.m., Church of the Covenant) is already nine books deep into another series. He will read from the latest Isabel Dalhousie, “The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds.”
Also recommended: Unfortunately, Alexander McCall Smith is the only bioethics authority and bestselling mystery writer alive. We have no other suggestions.
C: The self-publishing company, Blurb, will sponsor the aptly named talk Self-Publishing with Blurb (3:30 p.m., Boston Public Library Abbey Room). This is the second of two sessions; the first, which required tickets, sold out.
Also recommended: All About You: Writing Memoir (10:45 a.m., Boston Common Carver).