SW Florida Reading Festival March 2

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Celebrate reading and libraries at Lee County Library System’s Southwest Florida Reading Festival.
The free, outdoor reading festival features 28 bestselling authors and is celebrating its 25th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, March 2 at the downtown Fort Myers Regional Library campus on First Street.
For more than two decades, this signature event has hosted hundreds of powerhouse authors, such as David Baldacci, Sandra Brown, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, Debbie Macomber and youth writers Meg Cabot, Jeff Kinney, Lois Lowery, R.L. Stine and Rosemary Wells.
The first reading festival was held in Centennial Park and featured author and journalist Carl Hiaasen as the keynote speaker.
“Meeting the authors and getting to hear the inspiration behind their stories is one of my favorite parts of the day. There’s always something new and exciting to experience,” said Mindi Simon, director of the Lee County Library System.


Simon said she seen firsthand how this event can ignite a passion for reading and appreciation of the library as fans discover new authors and library resources each year.
“Connecting readers of all ages with a new favorite author is a key aspect of the festival,” she said.
This year’s event features a great lineup of authors who will discuss and sign their books throughout the day. From fiction to non-fiction, thrillers to rom-coms, all ages will find a favorite among the adult, youth and teen writers featured during the festival. Several presentations will be livestreamed on festival day and available for on-demand viewing through the end of March on the library’s YouTube channel.
Families with young children can enjoy a fun-filled day with storytime sessions, the Little Readers Zone, crafts, and stilt-walking balloon artist Too Tall Torrie. Designed for toddlers and preschool-aged children, the Little Readers Zone is a place for discovery and learning, filled with STEM activities, carnival games, and demonstrations of early learning resources. Every child and teen attending the festival will receive a free book.
Festival coordinator Melissa Baker said, there are a few special authors she is particularly excited about, including Sara Penner whose debut novel, “The Lost Apothecary,” is a New York Times bestseller.
Another great aspect of the reading festival is providing residents of Lee County with an opportunity to meet new authors right before they become widely popular, like Lisa Unger, who was a featured author in 2005 and is returning this year just as her highly anticipated new novel is about to be released.
Other highlighted authors at the 2024 festival include author and illustrator Dan Yaccarino, best known for his creation of the kids favorite, “The Backyardigans,” along with masters of suspense Jeffery Deaver, Heather Graham, Matthew Quirk and Charles Todd. Sports fans will be excited for Joe Posnanski, a sportswriter whose latest book, “Why We Love Baseball,” aligns nicely with the spring training tradition here in Southwest Florida. Attendees also should keep an eye out for frequent festival presenter and fan-favorite Mary Kay Andrews.
Beyond author presentations, the Reading Festival gives attendees the opportunity to learn more about the library and its free digital resources, visit with sponsors and enjoy food trucks. Book fans can choose to support the festival by purchasing tickets for the popular “Name a Character” raffle, in which winners can be named in an author’s next book. Anniversary T-shirts, festival hats, tote bags and beach towels will be available for purchase.
Readers who want to plan the perfect festival day are encouraged to download the mobile app “SWFL ReadFest” in the App Store or Google Play, where they can view the complete schedule of events and the latest festival updates. More information can also be found at www.ReadFest.org.

Adult authors (scheduled to appear)
Mary Kay Andrews is The New York Times bestselling author of 30 novels including “The Homewreckers,” “The Newcomer,” and “Hello, Summer.”
Cara Black is The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 21 books in the “Private Investigator Aimée Leduc” series and two World War II-set novels featuring American markswoman Kate Rees.
Jane K. Cleland writes both fiction and nonfiction, including the award-winning and long-running Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries and non-fiction bestsellers, “Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot” and “Mastering Plot Twists.”
Jeffery Deaver is an international #1 bestselling author of more than 40 novels.
Lee Matthew Goldberg is the author of 13 novels including “The Ancestor” and “The Mentor” along with the “Runaway Train” series and “The Great Gimmelmans,” which was released in November.
Heather Graham is The New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 250 novels and novellas including suspense, historical romance, vampire fiction, time travel and Christmas family fare.
Irene Hannon is the bestselling, award-winning author of more than 65 romantic suspense & contemporary romance novels.
Katherine Howe is the author of The New York Times bestsellers “The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane” and “Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty” with Anderson Cooper.
Sarah Penner is The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of “The Lost Apothecary” and “The London Séance Society.”
Nick Petrie is the author of eight novels in the “Peter Ash” series, most recently “The Price You Pay.”
Joe Posnanski is The New York Times bestselling author of six books, including “The Baseball 100,” “Paterno,” “The Secret of Golf” and his latest, “Why We Love Baseball.”
Matthew Quirk is The New York Times bestselling author of “Inside Threat,” “The 500” and “The Night Agent,” now a hit television series on Netflix.
Viola Shipman is the pen name of Wade Rouse, an award-winning memoirist and bestselling author of 12 books, which have been selected as Indie Next and Michigan Notable Books.
Charles Todd is The New York Times bestselling author of the “Inspector Ian Rutledge” series and the “Bess Crawford” series.
Lisa Unger is The New York Times and internationally bestselling author of 20 novels, including “Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six” and “The New Couple in 5B,” a March 2024 release.

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