Lorene Cary

By Ken Horner

The idea of “firsts” is bound to permeate through the Third Annual Chestnut Hill Book Festival as it kicks of this weekend.

For starters, “firsts” happens to be the theme of this year’s opening event: a First Person Story Slam to be held at 7:30 p.m., Friday, July 8  at the Venetian Club, 8030 Germantown Ave.

A past “Best in Philly” winner, First Person Story Slams are competitions held monthly around Philadelphia that engage the city’s own storytellers to relate stories from their own life experiences.

Sponsored by a Philadelphia nonprofit organization called First Person Arts, the Book Festival Story Slam encourages everyone with a story and a drive for competition to participate.

Tickets will be sold for $10 to the general public, $8 for members, and will only be available at the door.

In addition to the opening story slam session and other events offered over the weekend, the book festival may also provide some people with their first exposure to various authors and genres.

One such author, Philadelphia native Lorene Cary, has been heralded for her honest descriptions of class, race and sex in American life.

Cary has written a nationally acclaimed memoir, 1991’s “Black Ice,” and published three novels, the most recent of which, “If Sons, Then Heirs,” has been praised as “an absorbing and moving tale” exploring the complexities and tragedies of racial history by Publisher’s Weekly.  Her other novels include “The Price of a Child” and “Pride.”

Cary will be appearing at Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Ave., at 4:30 p.m., Sunday, July 10.

Dr. James J. Zogby, author of “Arab Voices,” may provide festival-goers with a new perspective into Middle Eastern issues.

Zogby is the founder and president of the Arab American Institute, an organization that serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab-American community.

Zogby has also written a weekly column on American politics for major Arab newspapers called “Washington Watch” and has also hosted a weekly discussion program called “Viewpoint with James Zogby” on Abu Dhabi Television, LinkTV, Dish Network, and DirecTV.

You can see Zogby at Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germantown Ave., at 2 p.m., Saturday, July 9

Although you may have never considered learning about medical injustices in America’s prison system, Philadelphia native Allen M. Hornblum could enlighten you this weekend.

Hornblum, a former prison worker and political organizer, wrote “Acres of Skin,” an investigation of the complicity of America’s penal system in allowing medical experiments and abuses to take place.

The book has been featured on many national news shows including Good Morning America, the CBS Evening News, CNN and the BBC.

Hornblum has taught at both Drexel and Temple University and has authored other books detailing aspects of Philadelphia’s history.

Hornblum can be found at Stagecrafters Theater, on Saturday, July 9 at 3:15 p.m., 8130 Germantown Ave.,

Dr. Andy Waskie will offer Hillers a chance to brush up on their Civil War history.

Waskie is a Civil War historian, published author and active Civil War researcher and preservationist specializing in the life and career of Gen. George Meade.

Waskie has recently completed a new book on the Washington Brigade of Philadelphia, “First Volunteers to the Front,” and has collaborated on a guidebook for Civil War sites in Philadelphia with his colleague, Dr. Rick Sauers.

Waskie will be appearing at Stagecrafters Theater, 8130 Germatown Ave., at 1 p.m., Sunday, July 10

Regardless of whether or not this will be your first year at the Chestnut Hill Book Festival, you will be guaranteed one thing: a first-rate chance at seeing some locally and nationally recognized authors and experiencing all that Chestnut Hill has to offer.


Note: Author George Anastasia, who was set to appear at Stagecrafters Theater on Saturday, July 9 at 7:30 p.m., unfortunately had to cancel his appearance at the Book Festival due to an opportunity to appear on AMC in conjunction with the release of his new book this September.