Book lovers came together Saturday morning at the 25th annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading to hear more than 45 writers and thinkers speak. The genres of authors ranged from fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young adult novels.
Adulthood includes failure, but you’ll overcome it
By Whitney Elfstrom
An inch of free space couldn’t be found as people sat with their eyes glued to Andy Boyle, who sported his favorite gray baseball cap as he shared his 13 tips for being a decent person.
Tip No. 1?
“Don’t be an asshole.”
Boyle, author of “Adulthood for Beginners: All the Life Secrets Nobody Bothered to Tell You,” was one of 45 authors to speak at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading on Saturday.
Boyle came to fame after his blog post “What I learned by not drinking for 2 years” went viral in 2014.
“I decided to take a break from drinking — I was only going to do it for a month,” Boyle said, “in that month I got a lot of work done … and I was just an overall happier person. So I was like oh well, I guess I’m going to keep doing this science experiment.”
Looking at life through the scope of the scientific method can help people make changes on the fly, Boyle said. If people don’t like something in their life, they should change it.
Boyle dished out life tips through anecdotes of his personal life, putting the crowd at ease as they were often overwhelmed by boisterous laughter.
He shared a moment from his childhood where he told his father he wanted to be an astronaut when he grew up.
His father, who Boyle called a logical man, said ‘Well Andy, you know that you wear glasses right?’ and then told him that he would have to go through years of schooling and eventually become an Air Force pilot. After that he could reach his goal of being an astronaut.
“And I was like yeah, yeah okay sign me up,” Boyle said.” And (my dad is) just like, ‘But you wear glasses. So you can’t fly an airplane.’”
Instead, Boyle embarked on a long, winding road to find his career as a writer, speaker and web developer.
He made sure his listeners realized that nobody’s got it all figured out — but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t actively try to live their best life.
“Nobody is good at anything they try the first time,” Boyle said. “You are going to fail a lot, that’s how you get better. Failing isn’t failure if you learn from your mistakes.”
Boyle reminded the crowd that mistakes are normal and even engaged in a bit where he misnumbered his PowerPoint presentation to prove to the audience that mistakes happen all of the time.
However, as long as a person learns from their mistake and takes that knowledge and uses it to grow then they’re off to the right start, he said.
“Try everything, fail a lot. College is a great time to learn what you have the opportunity to get better at,” Boyle said. “You’re not going to be great at everything and you’re probably going to suck when you start. So try, try, try (and) fail, fail, fail.”
Boyle was also full of advice for how to cultivate new knowledge in the outside world.
Boyle encouraged the audience to create something to relax your brain from what you’re working on in real life, take care of your mind and body and that your shoes matter because no matter how much it sucks — people do judge you for your appearance.
More importantly than anything else, Boyle reminded people to believe in themselves.
He said he was pretty cocky when he was younger but still managed to hate everything he did. He was convinced that he was never going to be a success but he slowly changed his mindset and realized that he needed to work hard and take control of his life.
“I literally do that thing where I look in the mirror and I say, ‘You’re going to do awesome today, this talk is gonna go well, you’re cool and that is a nice hat,’” Boyle said. “Good things will happen, and if they don’t happen that’s okay. Still believe in yourself and still push forward.”
Author Gretchen Carlson speaks out against sexual harassment
By Brianna Rodriguez
Gretchen Carlson has become a leading voice on harassment issues after she accused former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes of sexual harassment. In July 2016, she filed a lawsuit against the television executive, claiming Ailes attempted to solicit sex from her. She declined and lost job almost a year after.
This sent shock waves through the industry and spurred other women to share their own stories of assault and sexual misconduct.
Now the former Fox News Channel commentator examines the prevalence of sexual harassment and different ways to combat it in her new book “Be Fierce: Stop harassment and take your power back.”
“When I jumped off the cliff on July 6, 2016, I could have had no way of knowing what could have been below,” Carlson said Saturday at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading. “I could have had no way of knowing if there way any safety net at all. I could have had no way of knowing what would have happened to me the next minutes, hours, days or weeks.”
Carlson didn’t know what would come next or what her future would entail. But she knew the courage to stand up for herself was essential.
“The idea that one leap has quite possibly led to a tsunami of women coming forward and finding the courage within and the bravery to stand tall and say “Me Too” is the most hardening experience of my life, and I just feel so proud that I had anything to do with it,” said Carlson.
The idea that her action to speak up would cause a chain reaction of response was unexpected. She received countless letters from women and their stories of sexual harassment.
“I realized that it was such a pervasive epidemic that crossed every socioeconomic line,” Carlson said. “Every profession from waitresses to lawyers to bankers to teachers to oil rig operators to members of our military to accountants to professors to assistants to sports executives to other journalists. It was everywhere.”
Carlson said that most of the women that came to her never again worked in their chosen profession after speaking up about their sexual assault. She found it outrageous and unbelievable.
“American companies should be challenged to hire back all those women that have had the American dream taken away from them,” said Carlson.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” she said. “Courage is a building process.”
Author Ibram X. Kendi talks racism
By Tommy Hilliard
Americans need to stop playing the blame game and start playing the game of progression.
So said Ibram X. Kendi, an award-winning author and professor of history and international relations. He is also the founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University in Washington, D.C.
His second published book, “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” won the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction.
Kendi spoke with confidence at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading.
Many of his ideas center around the concept that not only have certain groups held others as inferior over time, but they have implemented policies to increase the hidden understanding of racism among people.
Kendi said we are continuing our racist ways as we develop the nation, and are only finding more sophisticated ways to keep racism as a topic of conflict.
His book gives an in-depth analysis on how Americans have naturally kept racism a topic of issue.
This idea is perhaps best highlighted by what Kendi calls the “dual racial history of America.” The concept suggests that many of the actions meant to undo racism actually provokes more evolved defenses of racism.
He uses the ending of slavery and Jim Crow laws as examples. Despite a particular policy dissolving, a more sophisticated system emerges in its place, he says.
His book, which presents over 600 years worth of data conveying how both racist and anti-racist ideas have impacted our nation, also examines how to combat this duality.
App helps writers and readers adapt to evolving reading landscape
By Cristian Saldivar
Unlike every other author at the Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading, Tamara Lush wasn’t there to promote a book — well, sort of.
The hour-long presentation focused on the specifics of an app called Raddish as well as how authors have benefited from the platform’s ability to share and monetize “bite-sized” and “snackable fiction.”
Radish is a serial publishing app where authors can write, share and monetize serial fiction stories suited for reading on smartphones. Lush has found great success on the app.
Lush, who in addition to being a romance novelist is an Associated Press correspondent in Florida, says that she’s made $14,000 since May by writing new weekly chapters for her “Constant Craving” series.
USF St. Petersburg’s own Janet Keeler introduced Lush, who was joined by Seung Yoon Lee, CEO and Co-Founder of the app Radish, in the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute building.
Lee spoke about the huge shift in readers from tablets to mobile phones and cited that as being a major reason for the app’s creation. The platform specializes, in short, easily digestible content that can be read in 10 to 15 minutes. The stories are also formatted for easy reading on small screens.
Lee said that Radish has been more successful than his previous venture of crowdfunding journalism, to which Lush responded that “fact is not as lucrative as fiction.”
Pictured Above: At the 25th annual Tampa Bay Times Festival of Reading vendors and authors alike sold their novels to visitors. Brianna Rodriguez | The Crow’s Nest