National Book Festival 2012

I went to the National Book Festival (the largest book festival in the country!) this weekend. Two days of good weather, good speakers, and a huge crowd of people who also love books: what could be better or more affirming?

I saw many YA authors we’ve reviewed here on the blog, and some “grown up” authors. Everyone was fantastic. I started strong with John Green, who was probably my favorite speaker. The most interesting thing he said (aside from a hilarious story of how he met his wife) was that the relationship between readers and writers is one of mutual generosity. Side note: when I tweeted this, the Library of Congress retweeted me. I’m just going to say, that I think that officially makes me successful at life, or at least at the internet.

Next I saw Robert Caro, with his unparalleled knowledge of Nixon. Followed by Tayari Jones. Tayari was my wild card visit, but she had an infectious sense of humor and was the best dressed author of the festival. She talked about how often when girls like books and writing, people don’t view them as being smart or studious they think of them as being nice, because “you can’t get pregnant in a library.”

After Tayari, I saw Jeffrey Eugenides, a big literary heavy weight. I was so impressed that when I got home, I read The Marriage Plot (finishing last night). If you haven’t read it yet, you definitely should. Who knew contemporary fiction for adults could be so compelling?

My last author of the day was David Levithan, another writer we’ve reviewed. It was interesting to hear about his writing process and love of writing with other authors. Apparently he just writes one chapter and sends it off, then the collaborating author writes a chapter and sends it back. It sounds like it would be a fun experiment, but I can’t believe so many beloved books have been born this way.

Sunday was a little lower key. I’m sorry to admit it, but the authors didn’t intrigue me as much. The weather was better, but the crowds were much smaller than on Saturday. I heard some poetry from Nikky Finney, heard about Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian’s new book series (it deals with bullying and sounds much more intrigueing than the Summer I Turned Pretty series) and listened to Hope Larson, Anita Silvey, and Leonard Marcus discuss the impact of Madeleine L’Engle and A Wrinkle in Time.

Overall, it was a super fun weekend. Some lessons for next year:

  1.  If I can only choose one day to go, I’m going on Saturday.
  2. They ran out of books to buy almost immediately. Next year I’m buying any books I want signed from Amazon and bringing them with me.
  3. I’m bringing an extra water bottle and a picnic lunch. No more $11 hamburgers for me!

There should be more videos of the author talks here in the very near future. I sincerely suggest you check a few of them out. My intention was to share all the funny quips and writing advice, these authors shared with me, but I’m afraid instead this read a bit like a book report. Was anyone else there this weekend? If so share some of your favorite speakers!

13 thoughts on “National Book Festival 2012

  1. This is amazing! Of course DC would have a festival full of amazing writers and make it free and open to the public – szuper jealous. So how did John Green meet his wife? Also more details on Jeffrey Eugenides please.

    1. I don’t know how they met (I haven’t watched the video yet) but this is how he asked her out for the first time: “So I sent an email to 7 of my friends, including Sarah, and I said, ‘Does anyone want to go see ‘Lost in Translation’ tonight?’ and then I sent an email immediately afterwards to the 6 of my friends who weren’t Sarah and I said, ‘NOT YOU.’”

      1. Yes this is the story I was talking about. I think they went to the same high school, but she was much younger and prettier so they didn’t get together until they were living in the same city as adults. So cute.

    2. Details on John Green’s smooth moves are below (although she broke up with him because she thought he was too rehearsed and then they got back together later, so maybe he moves were a little too smooth). Jeffrey Eugenides accidentally kept his sun glasses on for half the reading. When he noticed, he was horrified and said “I can’t believe I just became one of those guys.” He talked about the long process of writing Middlesex, and how he “cheated on” Middlesex by starting to develop the characters in The Marriage Plot.

      Also he is in beginning stages on working on the screen play for The Marriage Plot, which I could not be more excited about! Are those enough details for you???

  2. I wish I had gone on Saturday. Sunday’s lineup wasn’t nearly as good, but that was the day that I ended up being able to make it. I had a lot more fun at last year’s event.

  3. Great recap post. I wasn’t able to go this year and like you I couldn’t believe how little refreshments were provided. So cool that you were retweeted !

    1. Thanks! I think if there had been twitter when I was in high school, this would have been the height of my life ambitions (which really just proves what a total dork I am.)

  4. Very jealous! Sounds like a lot of fun, glad you were able to go (as I am now living vicariously through you, lol).

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