Wednesday, May 18 2022

The Lee County Library System will offer book lovers a chance to meet and mingle with Southwest Florida Reading Festival authors during “An evening with the authors” fundraiser at the Edison Restaurant & Event Center from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 4.

Prepaid reservations are required for this opportunity to socialize with up to 20 Reading Festival authors at an Italian buffet dinner overlooking the Fort Myers Country Club. Tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased online at www.ReadFest.org through February 15.

In addition to the fundraising dinner, five festival authors are each trying to be named as a character in an upcoming book. Name a Character raffle tickets can be purchased during “An Evening with the Authors” at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival and also online until midnight March 5. Authors participating in this fundraiser include ME Hilliard, Joe Ide, JA Jance, Sophie Jordan and Kate Quinn. Raffle tickets will be offered at one for $10, three for $20, 10 for $50 and 25 for $100. The draw will take place on Monday March 7 and the winners will be contacted later in the week. All proceeds benefit the Southwest Florida Reading Festival. More details and the link to buy raffle tickets online are available at www.readfest.org/events.

Product of “An evening with the authors” and the Name a Character fundraiser benefits the Southwest Florida Reading Festival, a free outdoor event for all ages in downtown Fort Myers where book fans are invited to listen to and meet a diverse lineup of best-selling authors , participate in contests and activities, and find the latest in books and technology. In addition to author appearances and autograph sessions, there will be a free book for every child and teen, storytelling programs, youth writing contest prizes, arts and crafts and food truck vendors.

The 23rd Annual Southwest Florida Reading Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, March 5 at the campus of the Fort Myers Regional Library, 2450 First St. The list of award-winning authors who must attend includes adult authors Alafair Burke, JA Jance, Nathaniel Philbrick, Kate Quinn and Brad Taylor, as well as children’s and teen authors including Miranda Paul, Stacy McAnulty, Jenna Evans Welch, Alex Willan and Adrienne Young. The full list of authors can be found by visiting the festival website at www.ReadFest.org or by downloading the festival’s mobile app. SWFL ReadFest on the App Store or Google Play.

For fans who prefer to enjoy author events virtually this year, festival organizer Melissa Baker said there will be live streams of several adult author presentations during the festival and presentations by additional virtual authors live before the festival. Authors offering online Q&A sessions ahead of the festival include Bonnie Kistler on February 25 and Tim Dorsey on March 1. Information about pre-festival events can be found in the library’s events calendar at www.leelibrary.net/events. The live stream on the day of the festival will be available in the Lee County Library System’s mobile app and YouTube channel. Details of live streams and other preview events can all be found in the festival app.

The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is supported by the community through donations, sponsorships and grants. To help ensure this event continues, please visit www.ReadFest.org to make a secure online donation. More information is available at www.ReadFest.org or by calling 239-533-4832.

About the Southwest Florida Reading Festival

The Southwest Florida Reading Festival is a family event that celebrates books and writing. It began in 1999 with the goal of emphasizing the importance of reading and bringing top literary talent to Southwest Florida. Now in its 23rd year, this free festival has grown in popularity and attracts an average of 10,000 book-loving visitors each year. Some of the past authors include Sue Monk Kidd, Susan Mallery, Zane, RL Stine, Janet Evanovich, Diana Gabaldon, Nelson DeMille, Jeff Kinney and hundreds more.

The goals of the Reading Festival are to promote reading and literacy, increase awareness of library programs, and foster partnerships between the Lee County library system and the community. It’s also an opportunity to share with the community the resources and services available at local Lee County libraries with a library card. The Reading Festival aims to create a literate community by encouraging children to read independently, which helps increase vocabulary and improve writing skills. For more information, visit www.ReadFest.org.

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