Festival of Faith and Writing is a biennial conference held in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I always look forward to it. This year it will be held at Calvin College April 10-12. I hope to be in attendance with mind, pen and pencil at the ready.

I’m thinking about some of the authors I expect to hear, and books I want to read in preparation for the experience. You, too, might like to know some of the books and authors highlighted at the conference. Meet some new-to-you authors. Choose something that interests you to explore.

Anne Lamott, James McBride, Eliza Griswold, Verlyn Klinkenborg, Marilyn Nelson, David Rhodes, Luke Schelhaas, Jeanne Murray Walker, and Julie Spencer Fleming are some of the authors whose presence will likely excite many, and who particularly interest me. I am avidly looking at the tentative schedule to see what events I can manage to attend. And, best-selling novelist Wally Lamb is one of the featured speakers whose talk is open to the public.

This blog has featured David Rhodes, James McBride, Marilyn Nelson and Verlyn Klinkenborg during the past few months. Marilyn Nelson’s new book of poems is titled How I Discovered Poetry. I very much enjoyed her biography of George Washington Carver written in poems. The following link contains an interview with Ms. Nelson about her new book..

I’m a long time fan of Verlyn Klinkenborg’s writing and have read his essays about rural life. I am currently reading his book Several Short Sentences. His writing appears in the New York Times, National Geographic and other well-known publications. It often focuses on land use and farming both in upstate New York and in the West. His article in National Geographic recently explored the Norwegian Coast.

David Rhodes is a novelist. His book Driftless, set in the driftless area of Wisconsin, offered characters struggling to find their way and to understand themselves. His new book is Jewelweed. Like Klinkenborg, he brings thoughts on rural America.

I have previously enjoyed some of James McBride’s books, memoir and novels. I am struggling a bit with his latest Good Lord Bird that has received so much prize and press attention. Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird is a classic book for writers. I wish I had time to read from it every day. She is also a well-known author of best selling fiction, and her new memoir is Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair.

I also look forward to hearing Eliza Griswold speak. I find her poems most interesting. I’m going to spend more time with her book The Tenth Parallel. She is an experienced reporter who examines the clash between religions in Africa and Asia.

There are several new-to-me authors I hope to read and or hear speak: Luke Schelhass, Jeanne Murray Walker, Tracy Groot and Julia Spencer-Fleming. Tracy Groot is from Michigan and writes historical fiction. Luke Schelhass writes for television. And Spencer-Fleming? I’ll learn more about her at the conference.

A Reading List for you to contemplate.
Eliza Griswold: The Tenth Parallel (non-fiction)
Tracy Groot: The Sentinels of Andersonville (fiction)
Verlyn Klinkenborg: The Rural Life (non-fiction)
Anne Lamott: Traveling Mercies (memoir)
James McBride: The Good Lord Bird (fiction)
Marilyn Nelson: Carver: A Life In Poems (poetry)
David Rhodes: Driftless (fiction)
Julia Spencer-Fleming: In Bleak Midwinter (mystery fiction)
Jeanne Murray Walker: The Geography of Memoir (memoir)

The Festival of Faith and Writing is a place where I always discover new things about reading and writing. Some author, a book or an idea will appear to surprise me. It’s the joy of being there.

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