Like A Box of Chocolates: A Taste of the Book Festival
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Like A Box of Chocolates: A Taste of the Book Festival

Here is a preview of this year's Book Festival of MJCCA's line up.

In the film “Forrest Gump,” Sally Field played Tom Hanks' mother who, “always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'"
In the film “Forrest Gump,” Sally Field played Tom Hanks' mother who, “always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.'"

When two of the top stars headlining the Book Festival of the MJCCA come to Atlanta next month you might envision a remake of “Forrest Gump,” partly filmed in Georgia 24 years ago. Tom Hanks and Sally Field, who appeared in that classic ‘90s blockbuster, are among more than 50 authors in the lineup of the 27th annual Jewish Book Festival, one of the largest in the nation.

The authors are a flavorful mix of actors, celebrities, journalists, educators, politicians and business people. The vast majority are Jewish, but all have books of interest to Jewish readers.

The Prologue to the Book Festival began this week and runs through Oct. 29, with the main event from Oct. 30 to Nov. 18. More than 13,000 people from across the Southeast are expected to attend the two-month-long festival featuring local, national and international authors at the MJCCA in Dunwoody.

New this year are photographers, including Ziv Koren, an Israel Defense Forces photojournalist who shares a “Snapshot” or two Nov. 4 from his war-zone coverage, including covert attacks in Syria and the battle against terror defending Israel’s borders.

The relationship with the IDF is also new this year, said Festival Director Pam Morton.

Having a pair of authors from the same family is also a “novel” addition. There are several, including former senator and one-time presidential candidate Joe Lieberman and his son, Matt, former headmaster of the Greenfield Hebrew Academy, now Atlanta Jewish Academy. Father and son will appear on Nov. 3, with Joe speaking about “With Liberty and Justice,” exploring the annual journey from Egypt to Sinai, AKA Passover to Shavuot, and Matt discussing his debut novel, “Lucius,” an imaginary retelling of the Huckleberry Finn story.

Also at the festival are locals, including Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist Mike Luckovich (“A Very Stable Genius!” Nov.4) and Michael Coles, co-founder of the Great American Cookie Company and former CEO of Caribou Coffee (“Time to Get Tough,” Nov. 15).

And then there are the movie stars:
Morton said Field has written what is probably the biggest memoir of the year, “In Pieces.” A lot of festival patrons grew up with her and her movies, said Morton. So the Book Festival is grateful to have her Oct. 21, in addition to Tom Hanks on Oct. 30.

The festival tried to bring Hanks to Atlanta last year when “Uncommon Type: Some Stories” was released, but he wasn’t available then. When his book was released in paperback Sept. 4, he started a six-city tour that included the Book Festival, Morton said.

Here we share a sample of seven authors, including a few locals, the two superstar actors-turned-authors, a photojournalist, a cartoonist, a politician, a former day school headmaster, and a businessman.

Tom Hanks

Uncommon Type: Some Stories
A small-town newspaper columnist with old-fashioned views of the modern world. A World War II veteran grappling with his emotional and physical scars. A second-rate actor plunged into sudden stardom and a whirlwind press junket. Four friends traveling to the moon in a rocket ship built in the backyard. These are just some of the stories that two-time Oscar winner and iconic actor Tom Hanks captures in his first work of fiction: a collection of shorts that explore—with great affection, humor, and insight—the human condition in all its foibles. The stories are linked by one thing—a typewriter. Whimsical, witty, and moving, “Uncommon Type” establishes Hanks as a welcome and wonderful new voice in contemporary fiction.

HOLLYWOOD, CA – APRIL 24: Sally Field arrives at the Target presents AFI Night at the movies held at ArcLight Hollywood on April 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

In Pieces
One of the most celebrated, beloved, and enduring actors of our time, Sally Field has an infectious charm that has captivated the nation for more than five decades. With raw honesty and the humility and authenticity her fans have come to expect, Field brings readers behind the scenes for a glimpse at the highs and lows of her star-studded early career in Hollywood, as well as a dive into the truth of her lifelong relationships.

With Liberty and Justice
Drawing on the Bible and rabbinic literature, US politics and modern legal theory, Jewish humor and American folklore, former Senator Joe Lieberman follows the annual journey from Egypt to Sinai, illustrating that there can be no liberty without law, no freedom without justice.

Time to Get Tough
Michael J. Coles, co-founder of the Great American Cookie Company and the former CEO of Caribou Coffee, did not follow a conventional path into business. He does not have an Ivy League pedigree or an MBA from a top-ten business school. He grew up poor, starting work at the age of 13. He had many false starts and painful defeats, but Coles has a habit of defying expectations. His life and career have been about turning obstacles into opportunities, tragedies into triumphs, and poverty into philanthropy. In “Time to Get Tough”, Coles explains how he started a $100-million company with only $8,000, overcame a near-fatal motorcycle accident, ran for U.S. Congress, and set three transcontinental cycling world records.

Former headmaster of Greenfield Hebrew Academy (Atlanta Jewish Academy), appears with his father, discussing his debut novel, “Lucius,” an imaginative retelling of the Huckleberry Finn story with themes that are also rooted in the concept of slavery and freedom.

Mike Luckovich

“A Very Stable Genius!”
For two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning, internationally-syndicated political cartoonist Mike Luckovich, a political cartoon is worth more than a thousand words to his readers-some of which he’ll say can’t be repeated in polite company! Almost 30 years of Luckovich’s storied career have been with the Atlanta Journal & Constitution.

Famed Israeli photojournalist Ziv Koren was given exclusive access to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), which resulted in an unfiltered view of Israel’s real war over its homeland – from covert attacks in Syria and the battle against terror to defending its borders.

How an Author is Chosen for the Book Festival
Festival Director Pam Morton explains how an author and his or her book makes it from submission or book pitch to the Book Festival lineup. There are several ways authors are chosen for the Festival.

In May, Book Festival staff and about a dozen lay leaders attend a Jewish Book Network conference at the Hebrew Union College in New York. More than 200 authors present their books over three days. There are five sessions with about 50 authors each pitching their book for two minutes in each session.

The Atlanta group edits their picks to 80. Over two nights, festival leaders present pre-screened books to more than 100 people, who make up the author selection committee.

On the second night, the committee members are given 22 stickers and asked to vote for their favorites – authors they want to see at the festival this year.
About half of the books in the final lineup come from the Jewish Book Network pitch sessions. Others come from online submissions from January to July – more than 70 local authors this year – and the rest directly from publishers representing authors on book tours.

Complete Author Lineup
Prologue to the Book Festival of the MJCCA Author Events (Sept. 20 – Oct. 29):

ELI SASLOW, Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist
In Conversation with Allison Padilla-Goodman, Southeast Regional Director, Anti-Defamation League
Thursday, Sept. 20, 7:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
From Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter Eli Saslow comes the powerful story of how a prominent white supremacist changed his heart and mind. “Rising Out of Hatred” tells the intensely personal saga of one man who eventually disavowed everything he was taught to believe, at tremendous personal cost.

MITCH ALBOM, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven
Saturday, Oct. 13, 8:00 pm – Member: $30/ Community: $35 *Includes hardcover copy of book.
Fifteen years ago, New York Times bestselling writer Mitch Albom published one of his most cherished books, the #1 best-seller, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Now, in this long-awaited sequel, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, he continues this beloved story.

Sunday, Oct. 21, 7:30 pm – Member: $35/ Community: $45/ Premier VIP: $75
*Includes pre-signed first edition copy of book.
In this intimate, haunting literary memoir, an American icon tells her story for the first time, and in her own gorgeous words about a challenging and lonely childhood, the craft that helped her find her voice, and a powerful emotional legacy that shaped her journey as a daughter and a mother.
Ms. Field will NOT be signing books.

RONEN BERGMAN, Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel’s Targeted Assassinations
In Conversation with Dov Wilker, Regional Director, American Jewish Committee
Monday, Oct. 29, 7:30 pm – Member: $18/ Community: $25
The Talmud says: “If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first.” This instinct to take every measure, even the most aggressive, to defend the Jewish people is hardwired into Israel’s DNA. Israeli investigative journalist and military analyst Ronen Bergman’s “Rise and Kill First” has been hailed by The New York Times as “an exceptional work, a humane book about an incendiary subject.”

MJCCA – Author Events (Oct. 30 – Nov. 18, 2018):

Opening Night: Tuesday, Oct. 30, 7:30 pm – Member: $40/ Community: $60/ Premier VIP: $80 *Includes a pre-signed, paperback copy of the book. Mr. Hanks will NOT be signing books.
TOM HANKS, Uncommon Type: Some Stories

Saturday, Nov. 3, 8:15 pm – Member: $18/ Community: $25
SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN, With Liberty and Justice
With his son, MATT LIEBERMAN, Lucius
In Conversation with David Lewis, David Lewis Productions

Sunday, Nov. 4, 12:00 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
RICK RICHMAN, Racing Against History
In Conversation with Catherine Lewis, Professor of History and Executive Director, Museum of History and Holocaust Education, Kennesaw State University

Sunday, Nov. 4, 3:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
ZIV KOREN, Snapshot
In Conversation with Michael Morris, Owner and Publisher, Atlanta Jewish Times and FIDF Board Member
A dessert and champagne reception will follow.

Sunday, Nov. 4, 7:30 pm – Member: $18/ Community: $25
MIKE LUCKOVICH, A Very Stable Genius! and Fours More Wars

Monday, Nov. 5, 12:00 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
In Conversation with Kim Severson, Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist and Atlanta Bureau Chief for The New York Times
A dessert reception featuring recipes from the book will follow the program.

Monday, Nov. 5, 7:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
NORMAN EISEN, The Last Palace
In Conversation with Gail Evans, Former Executive Vice President, CNN and Bestselling Author

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 12:00 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15

Tuesday, Nov. 6, 7:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $ 20
In Conversation with Susanne Katz, Director of Exhibitions, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum
A multi-media presentation of Coupon’s work and a champagne reception will follow the program.

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 12:00 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
YVETTE MANESSIS CORPORON, Something Beautiful Happened
In Conversation with Gail O’Neill, Journalist,

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 7:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
EMMA GRAY, A Girl’s Guide to Joining the Resistance
In Conversation with Dana Barrett, TV and Radio Host, The Dana Barrett Show on Talk Radio 640 WGST

Thursday, Nov. 8, 10:00 am – Free and open to all
SALLY MUNDELL, Packaging Good
RUBY MUNDELL, Kindness Come In 
In Conversation with Rabbi Brian Glusman, Director of Outreach and Engagement, MJCCA
Coffee and Susansnaps gourmet cookies will be served following the author presentation.

Thursday, Nov. 8, 12:30 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
MARTIN FLETCHER, Promised Land: A Novel of Israel
ANDREW GROSS, Button Man: A Novel
In Conversation with Alison Law, Publicist and Consultant, Alison Law Communications; Host, Literary Atlanta Podcast

Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
In Conversation with Daniel Pincus, AJC ACCESS

Friday, Nov. 9, 12:00 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
JASON SHEFFIELD, Son of a Bitch: A Novel
JAMIE WEISMAN, We Are Gathered: A Novel
In Conversation with Gail Cohn, Local Media Personality

Saturday, Nov. 10, 8:00 pm – Member: $18/ Community: $25
LIANE MORIARTY, Nine Perfect Strangers: A Novel
In Conversation with Mara Davis, Local Media Personality

Sunday, Nov. 11, 12:00 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
EDITH SHEFFER, Asperger’s Children
DAWN RAFFEL, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney
In Conversation with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer
This program will feature a screening at 11:30 am of That Was Awesome!, a short film produced by the MJCCA in partnership with Dad’s Garage, starring actors with special needs from the MJCCA Spotlight Theatre.

Sunday, Nov. 11, 3:30 pm – Member: $26/ Community: $32 *Includes a paperback copy of the book.
ANNA QUINDLEN, Alternate Side: A Novel
In Conversation with Holly Firfer, CNN Journalist

Sunday, Nov. 11, 7:30 pm – Member: $18/ Community: $25
STUART EIZENSTAT, President Carter
In Conversation with Greg Bluestein, Political Reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Monday, Nov. 12, 10:00 am – Free and open to all
JACK BARSKY, Deep Undercover

Monday, Nov. 12, 12:30 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
JENNA BLUM, The Lost Family: A Novel

Monday, Nov. 12, 7:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
In Conversation with Virginia Shearer, Eleanor McDonald Storza Director of Education, High Museum of Art
This program will feature a short film screening of Sara Berman’s Closet by The New Yorker.

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 12:00 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
CHLOE BENJAMIN, The Immortalists: A Novel
In Conversation with Greg Changnon, Playwright and Former Book Club Columnist, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Tuesday, Nov. 13, 7:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
DAVID SANGER, The Perfect Weapon

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 12:00 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
SUSIE ORMAN SCHNALL, The Subway Girls: A Novel
KITTY ZELDIS, Not Our Kind: A Novel
In Conversation with Adrianne Murchison, Journalist, AJC Northside Living Magazine

Wednesday, Nov. 14, 7:30 pm – Member: $15/ Community: $20
SALLY KOHN, The Opposite of Hate
In Conversation with Nadia Bilchik, CNN Editorial Producer

Thursday, Nov. 15, 10:00 am – Free and open to all

Thursday, Nov. 15, 12:30 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
RONALD H. BALSON, The Girl from Berlin: A Novel
STEVEN HARTOV, The Soul of a Thief: A Novel
In Conversation with John Lemley, Host and Producer of John Lemley’s City Cafe and High Tea, WMLB-AM, 1690

Thursday, Nov. 15, 7:30 pm – Member: $18/ Community: $25
In conversation with Dr. Catherine M. Lewis, Assistant Vice President of Museums, Archives & Rare Books; Director of the Museum of History and Holocaust Education; and History Professor at Kennesaw State University

Friday, Nov. 16, 12:00 pm – Tickets: $25
In Conversation with Ligaya Figueras, Senior Editor, Food and Wine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Serving a buffet Shabbat lunch featuring recipes from Israeli Soul.

Saturday, Nov. 17, 8:00 pm – Member: $33/ Community: $38 *Individual tickets include a hardcover copy of the book.
JON MEACHAM, The Soul of America
In Conversation with Gail Evans, Former Executive Vice President, CNN

Sunday, Nov. 18, 12:00 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
KENNY LEON, Take You Wherever You Go
In Conversation with Holly Firfer, CNN Journalist and President of True Colors Board of Directors

Sunday, Nov. 18, 3:30 pm – Member: $10/ Community: $15
STEVE ISRAEL, Big Guns: A Novel

Sunday, Nov. 18, 7:30 pm – Member: $18/ Community: $25
PETER SAGAL, The Incomplete Book of Running

Contact Information for the 27th Edition of the Book Festival of the MJCCA:
Purchase tickets or for more information: call the MJCCA Box Office at 678.812.4005, e-mail, or visit

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