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DeKalb County’s 20th Jubilee of Reading brings together avid readers and local authors

The Jubilee of Reading attracts book worms and reading clubs from all over Georgia. (Photo by Christin Hum, Unsplash.)

By Hannah E. Jones

This weekend, book lovers and reading clubs from all over the state are coming together for a three-day celebration at the DeKalb Library Foundation’s 20th Jubilee of Reading Book Club Conference. The weekend’s events run from Friday, Aug. 12 to Sunday, Aug. 14, and include author talks, book signings and even a block party with a DJ. 

Doris Wells. (Photo courtesy of the DeKalb Library Foundation.)

The Jubilee of Reading, a DeKalb County tradition since 2001, was created by Doris Wells — the library system’s first Black pro­fes­sion­al librar­i­an — and her daugh­ter Tami. They were active with the Local Kindred Spirits Book Club and envisioned a place to discuss their favorite authors and books with other avid readers around the state.

“The Jubilee of Reading is a focus on bringing book clubs and reading enthusiasts together to meet some of their favorite authors in person, have an opportunity to purchase their books and get their books signed,” said Teresa Totten, DeKalb County Public Library’s programming and services coordinator. “We have book clubs that come to this conference from all over Georgia.”

The conference was initially paired with another event hosted by Wells as well as the Kwanzaa Awareness Festival, which is now called the Heritage Festival

Today, the two are relatively separate although they usually kick off at the same time, the second week of December. But after getting delayed for two years due to COVID, the team isn’t taking any chances with the reading conference so instead, this year’s event is in the summer and spans three days, rather than just one. 

The event is a staple amongst local book lovers, giving them the chance to hear from favorite authors and discover new ones, like thriller author Brandon Massey, romance writer Trice Hickman and New York Times best-selling author Mary B. Morrison.

Scenes from past years. (Photos courtesy of the DeKalb Library Foundation.)

The keynote speaker is highly-acclaimed author Daniel Black, also a professor at Clark Atlanta University, who’s been involved with the conference since its inception. Black was selected for the ​​Distinguished Writer Award from the Middle-Atlantic Writers Association and has been nominated for the Townsend Prize for Fiction, the Ernest J. Gaines Award and the Georgia Author of the Year Award.

The event is so popular that the event has reached capacity — 150 people — in addition to a lengthy waiting list. For the DeKalb Library team, this enthusiasm shows that, despite our increasingly fast-paced world, folks still love to pick up a good book.

“As a library, we want to [promote] that reading is fundamental — whether that’s reading to learn, entertainment or just for the sake of information,” Totten said. “We want to always be part of putting literacy first. Our goal is always to advocate for and to help folks celebrate the joy of reading.”

Editor’s Note: Scroll down for an inside look at the 20th Jubilee of Reading. By Kelly Jordan.

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Hannah E. Jones

Hannah Jones is an Atlanta native and Georgia State University graduate, with a major in journalism and minor in public policy. She began studying journalism in high school and has since served as a reporter and editor for two newspapers. Hannah managed the Arts and Living section of The Signal, Georgia State’s independent award-winning newspaper. She has a passion for environmental issues, urban life and telling a good story. Hannah can be reached at hannah@saportareport.com.

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