My first blog post about the National Book Festival focused only on my John Green experience. But there was so much more going on at the National Mall. In fact, there was so much going on I didn’t get to see or do half of what I wanted, which simultaneously sucks and is awesome.
I didn’t get to hear Maggie Stiefvater speak, because I was waiting in her signing line. And like every other time I have met her, she is lovely. She is funny and personable. She signed quite a few books me. I became a devoted reader of hers after Shiver, a book that is pure poetry. I wanted to make sure I told her that I did cry a bit during The Scorpio Races, a book with stark prose that creates its own kind of beauty. I am excited to read her latest effort The Raven Boys.
I did get to hear a bit of David Levithan. But I was so physically exhausted I couldn’t stay for the rest. I was excited to hear him speak, because I had just finished reading his new book, Every Day. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book and even lobbied to select it as our first selection for the high school book club. Mary Rose, our school librarian, was awesome enough to get my book signed for our class library so that I could hobble back to my hotel and collapse.
Day 2 started out with a leisurely morning stroll to the Washington Monument and then the Lincoln Memorial. I haven’t been there since I was in eighth grade. I don’t know how you can feel anything but incredibly patriotic while standing in the presence of these landmarks.
I got in line for Charlaine Harris while Emily wandered off to do her own thing. We met back up so I could listen to Stephen Dunn, a poet. I really enjoyed his reading. Emily waited to hear Junot Diaz, while I returned to the book signing area. I got in line for Ellen Hopkins and Michael Grant. My students love Ellen Hopkins so I wanted to make sure that I got a signed copy of her new book Tilt for our class library. My personal favorites of hers are Burned and Identical. Michael Grant also happens to be the author of a former student’s favorite series so I got her book signed and a class library book signed.
Today was much more relaxed post-John Green mania. I’d like to offer some final thoughts about the National Book Festival as a first time attendee. First, the Library of Congress does an amazing job. Everything is organized and phenomenally executed. The event staff is unbelievable. They were professional, friendly and ran everything like a fine tuned machine.
Aside from the John Green encounter, my favorite part of the National Book Festival was seeing all the children excited about reading. There were many instances where I saw children sitting in the laps of their parents (particularly fathers) enjoying a book under the shade of a tree. What can be better than that?
I would also like to share my new dos and don’ts of attending the National Book Festival:
- Do listen to as many writers as you can. The lines for book signing are extremely long. Unless it is one of your favorite writers and you are willing to wait, you risk missing the opportunity to hear someone new that might interest you.
- Don’t lug a rolling suitcase of books. It only slows you down and most authors limit the number of books they will sign (usually 1-3 items).
- Do be nice to the event staff. They are volunteering and are awesome.
- Do start random conversations with other attendees. This can lead to book recommendations, new Twitter followers and will help pass the time while waiting in lines.
- Do come prepared with your own personalized sticky notes on the title page. I learned this from previous book signings. The event staff will have them available for you, but it just saves time and resources if you bring your own.
- Do make the drive, train ride, plane ride. The National Book Festival is an overwhelming event of amazingness. Just thinking about the thousands of readers to converged on the National Mall that weekend gives me chills.
I can’t wait to go back next year (Even if John Green isn’t there).
The Craziest Book Lady