What’s your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville? Making your meals from fresh goods grown nearby or heading to a favorite locally owned restaurant or take out purveyor? Staying in shape with outdoor, indoor, free, community-sponsored, or boutique fitness options? Listening to live music or seeing live theater at tiny, modest-sized or vast area performing arts venues? Redbuds blooming in the spring or fall foliage? Participating in or spectating a favorite sport – basketball, arm wrestling, soccer, swimming, tennis, lacrosse, roller derby?

With the staggering constellation of blessings offered year-round in Charlottesville, we occasionally forget to take advantage of some of the finer things that are right here at our fingertips. So here’s your reminder that over the next five days, you need to take an hour, if not a whole day, to get yourself to the Virginia Festival of the Book.

More than 400 authors and moderators are here to share their expertise in over 250 programs from now through Sunday. All but five of the events are free (with the above Bryan Stevenson event at the Paramount being a worth-it exception). And we’d like to join area media in taking note of the impressive array of author events on social justice themes being presented by the festival this year. Some of those events, but by no means all of them, are linked below. Explore for yourself using the festival’s list of tags to find even more.

One Astonishingly Enticing Day

Even in a community that’s accustomed to a certain embarrassment of riches in terms of educational and cultural offerings, you really have to stop and take notice of days like Wednesday, March 16. There are five events you really shouldn’t miss just on this one day alone. With two of them in one timeslot, you’ll only be able to attend four of them but what are you complaining about? Depending on your schedule, we advise starting your day with either an early start and an early end to the work day or with a little extra sleep, breakfast and coffee to keep you going through the afternoon and into the evening.

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm
Why I Write: How Reflection and Self-Expression Make Me a Better Caregiver
at UVa McLeod Hall Auditorium
Bestselling author and New York Times columnist Theresa Brown (The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hours, Four Patients’ Lives) discusses her work as a registered nurse and writer.

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Literature: Arab Women’s Writing in Diaspora and African American Themes
at UVa Bookstore
Authors Hanadi Al-Samman (Anxiety of Erasure) and Gretchen Martin (Dancing on the Color Line) explore tropes expressed in writing.
OR
Building Power, Changing Lives: The Story of Virginia Organizing
at Central JMRL Library
Amanda Leonard Pohl, co-author of Building Power, Changing Lives: The Story of Virginia Organizing talks with Dan Doernberg about the organization’s history and accomplishments.

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck
City Council Chambers
Author Adam Cohen (Imbeciles: The Supreme Court, American Eugenics, and the Sterilization of Carrie Buck) exposes the story behind a tremendous injustice and its continuing impact today.

6:00 pm – 7:30 pm
Challenge into Change: Storytelling as Healing
at Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
Listen to, and honor, The Women’s Initiative’s Challenge into Change essay contest participants as we celebrate the power of storytelling as way towards healing and empowerment. Laurie Jean Cannady (Crave: Sojourn of a Hungry Soul) will share stories from her memoir. Contest participants will be recognized and the top three award recipients will read from their own work. A book signing and reception follows.

Can’t make it on Wednesday or still want more?

Not a problem. There are more picks that we’re excited to share.

Thursday, March 17 – Women, Gender and Sexuality Faculty Double Feature at Harrison-Small
Women’s Studies: Flamiano and Spain
10:00 am – 11:30 am
Authors Dolores Flamiano (Women, Workers, and Race in LIFE Magazine) and Daphne Spain (Constructive Feminism) discuss their research and writing about the roles of gender and race in the professional world.
AND
Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
UVa Central Grounds, 160 McCormick Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22904
Editors Farah Griffin and Diane Savage and contributor Corinne Field discuss Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women.

Friday, March 18
Pirates, Drones, and Other Catastrophes: Thrilling Fiction
4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Central JMRL Library
Authors Corban Addison (The Tears of Dark Water) and Ron Childress (And West is West) share stories from their literary thrillers using current social issues and international conflicts, and illustrating personal, individual burdens.

Saturday, March 19
Marching for Freedom: Communists to Celebrities and Civil Rights
10:00 am – 11:30 am
Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
Authors Sara Haviland (James and Esther Cooper Jackson: Love and Courage in the Black Freedom Movement) and Emilie Raymond (Stars for Freedom: Hollywood, Black Celebrities, and the Civil Rights Movement) discuss their research and their stories.

Divided Towns, Communities, Families: Civil Rights in our Schools
12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
Jefferson School African American Heritage Center
Authors Jim Auchmutey (The Class of ’65: A Student, A Divided Town, and the Long Road to Forgiveness) and Kristen Green (Something Must be Done about Prince Edward County) share the important stories about historic segregation in our schools, and the past and current reactions from students, families, and communities.