The Berkshire Festival of Women Writers capped off its month of events with a book expo in Pittsfield, MA today.

I don’t live in the Berkshires, strictly speaking. I don’t even live in Massachusetts. But us upstate New Yorkers feel you, and often find it worth it to take the short drive across the border.

I’m glad I did.

I am grateful for their mission, which encourages women to express themselves through writing. As someone who reads a lot, it can be tempting to say, “Oh, I just read a book about that topic. I should read something else now.” You can miss a lot that way.

When I took the time to way around the room, or to chat with the people that came up to my table, I truly felt the importance of reading stories to connect with people. There were a lot of people to connect with today, and I’m happy that I took the time!

I’m still abiding my vow to only read books I already own this year, but that didn’t stop me from making a few purchases.

The first was Rightful Place by Amy Hale Auker. This slim volume was being sold across the aisle from me by a documentary filmmaker (who is including Auker in her new documentary about the American Cowgirl). I adore creative non-fiction and essays, and when I opened it up… Let’s just say I’m usually not swayed by things like typography, but I thought it was beautifully laid out.

The second was a collection called Times They Were a Changing: Women Remember the 60s and 70s. There are over 40 contributions from women around the world.

These two books struck me as examples of narratives I think I know. Cowboys, well, who hasn’t heard a cowboy tale or 20? And the 60s and 70s? Social upheaval, music, and hippies. Right on. Right?

I suspect my previous knowledge is greatly limited. I look forward to the opportunity to stretch it.

The festival organizers will be uploading videos from the readings that occurred today, so I encourage you to check out the link above to experience some of these stories for yourself.