When she moved from New York to Baltimore about five years ago, leaving behind a long career in publishing, Julia Fleischaker feared she would lose access to the “world of books” that the Big Apple made so readily available. But, as she soon discovered, her new address had her own.
“One of the things about the Baltimore literary community that I’ve found really inspiring and cool is that it’s not some sort of enclosed world that you have to climb fences to get into. It’s part of the rhythm of the city. If you’re here, you’re in it,” says Fleischaker, who opened an independent bookstore Gourmet readings in Fells Point four years ago, and then opened a second, larger location in Remington.
Throughout the past two years, Fleischaker says she missed “the energy you get from people coming together to listen to stories and engage with their neighbors.” When she realized that the Baltimore Book Festival, which has been on hiatus since 2020, would remain on hiatus this year, she thought to herself, “If we want this, other people probably want this too. Maybe we can launch something together in our store.
From May 13-15 at Greedy Reads in Remington, Fleischaker plans to achieve this with the first-ever Lost Weekend Festival– a two-and-a-half-day ode to the Charm City literary scene, with everything from spoken word and poetry to a photography panel and a drag queen story hour.
As well as a local makers market and small press storefront, plus bites from local outposts and a special brewing ministry Hazy IPA created in honor of the festival – a range of events will include appearances with authors as Baynard Woods (Legacy: An Autobiography of Whiteness), Brandon Söderberg (I have a monster), D. Watkins (Black boy smile), Lane Clark (Infinite love time), Dr. Lawrence T. Brown (The Black Butterfly: The Nefarious Politics of Race and Space in America), Judith Krummeck (Old New Worlds), Leslie Gray Streeter (Black Widow), and from Baltimore Own Ron Cassie (If you love Baltimore, he will love you back). “[This festival] fills a huge void,” Cassie says. “We need inclusive community get-togethers like this.”
Fleischaker agrees, adding that her biggest accomplishment since moving to Baltimore and opening stores are the booksellers she has worked with. “They’re such an amazing group of people, and being able to shine a light on them is awesome,” she says. “They’ve been so phenomenal in helping to set it all up.”
As for a second iteration of The Lost Weekend next year, Fleischaker says that “will depend on what happens with the Baltimore Book Festival.” But for now, “I’m happy to play a part in helping people feel connected to literary culture – and culture in general – here.