The Baltimore Book Festival kicks off today with three full days of readings, music and more. The festival alawys draws a big crowd to Mount Vernon -- even when the Ravens are playing -- so make some time to drop by. The Baltimore Sun's Mary McCauley noted the qualities -- including typical Baltimore quirkiness -- that make the event so much fun. There is a long list of options, and here are some of my top picks (with descriptions provided by the festival):
Friday, 5 p.m.: Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. "The First Affair" is the latest by the authors of The Nanny Diaries, which was the longest-running hardcover bestseller of 2002 and was made into a major motion picture in 2007.
Saturday, 1 p.m.: Peggielene Bartels. "King Peggy," by Bartels and Eleanor Herman is the 2013 One Maryland One Book selection. It chronicles the real-life journey of an American secretary who suddenly finds herself king to a town of 7,000 people on Ghana's central coast.
Saturday, 3 p.m.: Azar Nafisi. The author of "Reading Lolita in Tehran" discusses the success of her memoir of the Iranian revolution. Particularly poignant at a time when the U.S. is seeking to reopen talks with the new leader of that nation.
Saturday, 4:30 p.m.: Kate Gosselin. The star of reality shows "Jon & Kate Plus 8" and "Kate Plus 8" offers cooking tips from "Love Is in the Mix."
Saturday, 5 p.m.: Laura Lippman and John Searles. Lippman, a former Baltimore Sun reporter who became a prize-winning novelist, will be publish her latest, "After I’m Gone," in January. Searles is Editor-at-Large of Cosmopolitan, as well as a book critic and novelist.
Saturday, 6 p.m.: Tomie dePaola. The children's book icon will present his new Strega Nona picture book, "Strega Nona Does It Again."
Sunday, 4:30 p.m.: Kevin Kallaugher, the editorial cartoonist for The Economist magazine and The Baltimore Sun, will discuss "Daggers Drawn: 35 Years of KAL Cartoons in The Economist.
Sunday, 5 p.m.: Meg Cabot and Jennifer Armentrout. The bestselling authors (Cabot, "The Bride Wore Size 12," and Armentrout, "Wait for You," writing as J.Lynn) discuss how readers have bridged the "age chasm," and explain which books they recommend for mother/daughter reading groups.