Monday, September 27, 2010

National Book Festival

I was at the 10th anniversary National Book Festival on the National Mall in Washington, DC this weekend and IT. WAS. AWESOME. It was like every bibliophile in a mass radius coalesced to one location to celebrate and encourage our (sometimes obsessive) love of books. Next year I may have to make little buttons that have the rocker symbol but instead say, "Read on." Yeah, I know, *nerd alert.*

The event is sponsored by the Library of Congress and hosted 73 authors and illustrators all giving presentations and signings free of charge. Though the event typically lures out locals, this year I noticed a lot more people travling in from neighboring states for a glimpse at their favorite rock star writers.

This wasn't my first year in attendance but I have to say the enthusiasm is just palpable and seems to grow in spades from year to year--as does the crowd. What was most contagious, however, was the excitement from all the young readers. I've never seen so many but then again Suzanne Collins was there this year. Case in point: (You can't tell but they're all reading Mockingjay.)

The chairs under each tent were so compact that I couldn't help but eavesdropping on their conversations about why they preferred certain authors ("Her characters feel real") and why they gravitate towards certain genres ("I don't have to think about my life; I can just escape"). It was great. There's nothing better for an author than to hear from the intended audience why they like what they like. Since I'm in the midst of editing my YA manuscript, I spent a lot of time in the Teens tent though from time to time I perused others.

There were also Children, Contemporary Life, Fiction and Mystery, History and Biography, and Poetry and Prose Tents.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of just how packed the event was.

The whole event reminded me what I love so much about books and how interesting it is to hear stories about how authors get their ideas. Unlike a typical bookstore reading, this event encouraged authors to discuss what stories shaped their tastes, how they write, and whether or not books have changed their world view or their world view has shaped their books. For me, I'm draw to contemporary settings with characters that are not only believable but loveable, who have their imperfections but who I cheer for all along and whose story even if it is set in a realistic place, feels a bit fantastical. Join in the conversation, what do you love so much about reading?

To check out videos of the authors visit here. Check back later this week for updates on the sessions I attended and to find out which book I got signed and am giving away right here on my blog!

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