Book festival

A sample of some of the books that will be discussed by authors at the festival.

Tickets are now on sale for the Book Festival of the MJCCA, to be held Nov. 4-20 at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta in Dunwoody.

For two weeks, 45 writers will inform, challenge and entertain audiences in programs about their books covering politics, jurisprudence, science, religion, art, biography, humor, history, human interest, food, music and fiction. Some will do more than just speak. One will sing. Another will serve desserts from her latest cookbook.

Now in its 26th year, the Book Festival of the MJCCA “will offer something for everyone,” according to Festival Director Pam Morton.

This year’s Festival is co-chaired by Dee Klein and Bea Grossman, both volunteers, supported by 14 volunteer committees and more than 200 volunteers. Many of them – including Klein, Grossman and Morton – have spent most of the year working on the project. Because of its reputation as one of the largest, most selective book festivals in the country, the MJCCA Book Festival boasts a line-up the envy of lesser book festivals.

“We have a particularly star-studded line-up,” said Klein. “For example, we have Walter Isaacson, who wrote biographies about Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein, Henry Kissinger and Steve Jobs, talking about his new biography of Leonardo da Vinci.”

Other speakers range from Supreme Court Associate Justice Steven Breyer, whose book “The Court and the World” examines the work of the Supreme Court in an increasingly interconnected world, to eight-year-old debut author Dylan Dickson, whose book about a boy who discovers he’s dyslexic, entitled “Why I Can’t Read,” is described as “a story of resilience and hope.” Even a dog will appear on the stage during the presentation of Donnie Winokur’s “Chancer: How One Good Boy Saved Another.”

Besides Justice Breyer, other heavy-hitters include the George W. Bush twins, Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pearce Bush, who will discuss “Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life.” The VIP tickets for their event are already sold out, but general admission tickets are still available. Though they will not be signing books, they will pose for photos with anyone who buys their book.

Other well-known speakers include Dan Rather, who will discuss his collection of essays entitled “What Unites Us,” and closing-night speaker, Al Franken, who will discuss his memoir “Giant of the Senate,” a humorous look at his career from Saturday Night Live to the U.S. Senate.

“But the Festival is not just about big names,” said Grossman. Some of the most interesting books address little-known known stories from American history.

For example, in “Ten Dollars to Hate: The Texas Man Who fought the Klan,” Patricia Bernstein tells the story of the rebirth of the KKK in the 1920s, led by a notorious Atlanta madam who got rich by expanding the list of the hated to include Jews and Catholics and selling KKK memberships for $10, and Dan Moody, the 29-year-old Texas prosecutor who was the first in the nation to successfully prosecute Klan members.

Another historical book is “High Noon: The Hollywood Blacklist and the Making of an American Classic,” by Pulitzer Prize winning historian and journalist Glenn Frankel. It’s the story of how the beloved western “High Noon” began as a low-budget parable of what was happening in the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1950s written by two sons of Jewish American immigrants and directed by a Jew from Vienna.

A complete list of event dates and times is on the MJCCA website:atlantajcc.org. All featured books will be available for purchase from A Cappella Books, the official Festival bookseller, at a pop-up bookstore at the MJCCA starting Nov. 3. Pre-signed copies are available through the A Cappella website: acappellabooks.com.

People may wonder why the MJCCA Book Festival charges admission for all but five of its events, when some book festivals, such as the Decatur Book Festival, do not.

“Unlike Decatur, we get no grants,” said Morton. “We’re a non-profit. It [the Festival] is not a fundraiser for us. It is outreach only. We’re happy to break even.”

Morton noted that the series ticket, which covers more than 30 programs for $145, is the best value.

Most events, even the free ones, require a ticket, purchasable through either the Festival website or the box office at 678-812-4005.

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