Last year my boyfriend and I attended the National Book Festival in Washington, DC, hosted by the Library of Congress. We enjoyed it considerably, despite the rain, and were excited to learn about and have access to new authors.
I wasn’t as happy with this year’s festival. The SF/F authors were spread too far apart in the day, and more than 90% of the books for sale before the signings were available only in hardcover. Last year, even though it was still mostly hardcover, there was a little bit more of a selection that varied in price. They also tended to carry some of each author’s older titles. This year they didn’t. It was the new release or nothing.
It was a nice day, but as we wandered around, none of the talks really caught our attention. Given the circumstances, we decided that our afternoon would be much better spent in Barnes & Noble sipping pumpkin spice lattes and perusing the sci-fi/fantasy section. My boyfriend picked up one of Larry Niven’s Fleet of Planets books, and I picked up the second book in N. K. Jemisin’s Inheritance Trilogy. Now, off to do homework and then to read!
This afternoon I attended the National Book Festival, hosted by the Library of Congress. The festival had many excellent speakers. While wandering aimlessly, I heard bits and pieces about writing for young adults, the Civil War, and Thomas Jefferson’s affair with Sally Hemmings. I briefly wandered through the Pavilion of the States, but didn’t stay there long because I didn’t see many books that interested me. After picking up my free book tote and Abe Lincoln poster, I made a beeline to the book tent.
Overall, I was impressed by the selection and the authors represented. It was clear that authors were chosen based on quality and a variety of genres was represented. I only bought one book, largely because many of the books available were in hardcover, which aren’t generally in my budget. Instead, I picked up Sherman Alexie’s newest young adult novel, “War Dances,” which deals with the experiences faced while growing up on an Indian Reservation. I’ve read Alexie’s work before, and am impressed with the way that brings awareness to a lot of the problems on reservations today while simultaneously spreading a hopeful message.
I also laughed to see a copy of “Madeline Goes to the White House.” I picked it up and read it, but I think that the original author did a far better job than his grandson–the writing in this installment seemed a bit forced compared to the original books that I loved as a child. It was still neat to see that people still appreciate the story of the old house in Paris that was covered in vines, where there lived twelve little girls in two straight lines.
This was my first year attending the National Book Festival. I didn’t expect to see the attendance that I did. It was pretty cool to be standing in a massive crowd on the National Mall of people gathered to celebrate the joys of literature.