In spite of a somewhat drizzly Saturday, the National Book Festival, held September 21st and 22nd on the National Mall, attracted crowds of adults, families, and even a few pets. The DC Metro was packed with people going to the festival—mothers with daughters, young couples on first dates, even out-of-town festival-goers that needed help navigating the lines. The day featured authors from all genres talking to readers about what motivates them, the future that they envision for their favorite characters, and even a few readings.
My favorite discussion was given by Brad Meltzer, a literary jack-of-all-trades. He’s written fiction, non-fiction, comic books, children’s books, and even hosted History Channel’s Decoded. His latest book, The Fifth Assassin, was the focus of much of his discussion, but Brad didn’t stop there. He spoke about why he thought the National Book Festival was so popular among authors (hint- it involves the White House breakfast for participating authors and their chance to take home some “complimentary” napkins), his favorite DC area museum which started the train of thought that led to The Fifth Assassin, and his upcoming projects. He did it all with a satirical sense of humor that made his words resonate with the entire audience. His latest project is a series of Children’s books that tell the true stories of real heroes (think Amelia Earhart and Abraham Lincoln) as children. Check it out over on his blog. He concluded the discussion in the most admirable fashion, speaking humbly about his opportunity to travel around the world with the USO. Follow Brad Meltzer’s lead and donate your time or treasure to the USO. Check out the USO’s site for more information.
After getting to hear from some beloved authors, we went over to the Pavilion of the States. Here, each state had a booth set up to show off the best of the book world from their region. In honor of the book club, I visited Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, Virginia, and Hawaii. The gal at the Kentucky booth was so friendly, I couldn’t turn down a stamp from her. I’m not complaining; more book recommendations for me!
I saw a booth set up where people could post answers to that all important question: what is a book? I saw pictures, things written foreign languages, and dictionary definitions. Many people wrote about how a book takes them “to a different world” or is a “time machine.” I thought that, as with most things, the best answer was the simplest one: “Magic!”
The best (and most challenging) part about the Pavilion of the States was how many people were there. How great to see so many readers get excited over book lists! Everyone I saw had a stack of pamphlets in their hand and a giant grin on their face.
Before leaving, we walked by the Capitol Building and the Library of Congress.
What a great day in the city! Did anyone else check out the National Book Festival? Or maybe you hosted one of your own in your home town. How do you “celebrate the book?”