Pulitzer-nominated writer Alice McDermott discusses her newest book, 'The Ninth Hour.' (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)
With more than 500 authors appearing at the Baltimore Book Festival, chances are you won't be able to see them all. In addition to a reading from National Book Award winner Alice McDermott (read more about that here), here are some highlights:
Literary lion(esses): Nationally known writers will be appearing at the Literary Salon. We're looking forward to Georgetown University professor and pundit-around-town Michael Eric Dyson ("Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America," at 5:45 p.m. Friday); reality television star Patricia Altschul ("The Art of Southern Charm," 3 p.m. Saturday); and Leland Melvin, the former NFL wide receiver-turned rocket jockey ("Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances" at 1 p.m. Sunday).
Local legends: The festival abounds with stars in the making, including Jared Reck, a student in McDaniel College's graduate writing poem, who landed a six-figure deal with Knopf Doubleday for his debut young adult novel, "A Short History of the Girl Next Door" (3 p.m. Saturday at the Enoch Pratt Free Library's Children's Stage). He'll be followed at 5 p.m. Sunday by Park School graduate Adam Gidwitz, reading from his Newbery Honor Book, "The Inquisitor's Tale." Towson University's Inner Harbor stage will host former Baltimorean Asia McClain Chapman at 3 p.m. Saturday spilling her secrets in "Confessions of a Serial Alibi," about her experience involving the "Serial" podcast. The same venue will host two Pulitzer Prize-winning former scribes for The Baltimore Sun — film critic Stephen Hunter ("G-Man") and foreign correspondent Will Englund ("March 1917: On the Brink of War and Revolution") appearing jointly at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Mincing words: Visitors to the Food for Thought Stage will eat their words and come back for seconds. At 2:30 p.m. Saturday, barbecue master and public television fixture Steven Raichlen will impart secrets from his new book, "Barbecue Sauces, Rubs and Marinades." Famed Brooklyn Delhi founder Chitra Agrawal ("Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn") shares her family recipes at 1 p.m. Sunday. Just in time for an early-evening nosh, the D.C.-based writer Joan Nathan will discuss "King Solomon's Table: A Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking From Around The World" at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.
Kidding around: A returning crowd favorite — and the ultimate vocabulary stretcher — is Words With Strangers, a game held throughout the festival in which impromptu teams of visitors compete with their neighbors to fill up an eight-foot-tall Scrabble board. Youngsters approached by giant, costumed insects will have a chance to participate and win prizes in impromptu spelling "bees." And at the Top of the World observation deck, 401 E. Pratt St. reluctant young readers are invited to cuddle with and share their favorite stories with therapy pups.
Words with sounds: Virginia Hanlon Grohl — you may have heard of her son, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl — will read from her memoir, "From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars" at 5:30 p.m. Saturday at Towson's Inner Harbor stage. The book contains stories from Dave Grohl's childhood along with anecdotes from the "rock moms" who raised such stars as Amy Winehouse, Kelly Clarkson and Dr. Dre.
Also, err, note-worthy is the lineup on WTMD's music stage, featuring an array of local talent from ace blues guitarist David Cole (11:30 a.m. Saturday) to The Curators of Hip Hop (1 p.m. Saturday) to Top 40 cover band Super Bueno (5 p.m. Sunday.)
The Baltimore Book Festival runs 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday-Sunday on the Inner Harbor Promenade, along Light Street between the Maryland Science Center and the Inner Harbor Amphitheater. Free. baltimorebookfestival.org.