The National Book Festival, held today on The Mall for the ninth straight year, doesn’t have an official motto. Borrowing from a classic, we recommend, “So Many Authors, So Little Time.”
Instead of sitting down for a handful as I have done in the past, I decided to move around. This way sacrificed getting to hear an author in full, but quite frankly, the only one who ever kept me still in my seat was Ken Burns.
Anyway, the event, which stayed dry until about 2 pm, featured the usual heavyweights such as John Grisham, David Baldacci and James Patterson, and other award-winners such as Annette Gordon-Reed. The early birds got a seat for Grisham, who packed the large, white pavilion tent marked for Fantasy and Fiction. After the Library of Congress presented him with their first ever Creative Achievement Award, which ties into his helping Hurricane Katrina victims and his work to free imprisoned innocents with the help of DNA, Grisham spoke about his childhood. The family moved around a lot so he judged the new towns by how many books they let him check out of the library, and the Little League baseball fields.
Wanted to stay for Jodi Picoult, but moved over to see Patterson. Also checked out Douglas Brinkley, who introduced David Taylor. Dan Balz, who would speak later, stood in the back.
Long lines at the book signings. Ate some lunch, decided to head home as the gray clouds puffed up. Listened in the car to Gordon-Reed being interviewed via C-SPAN radio. Got home and watched her on C-SPAN's Book TV.
Continued the full day geek-out and watched Patricia Sullivan who wrote a book on the NAACP. Both her and Gordon-Reed spent 10 years working on their books.
After a nap, watched Gwen Ifill and Balz and Haynes Johnson who teamed to write their best-selling book on the 2008 Presidential election (wow, do you think race was a thread today?)
Last and certainly not least were Ken Burns and his co-author Dayton Duncan. This was my favorite listening, Burns talks with such passion and Duncan brought himself and some in the audience to tears.
Baseball fans will be glad to know Burns said he’s working on a Baseball sequel, referring to it as the tenth inning.
All in all, another great National Book Festival. The weather did put a damper on things. Of course, for book lovers, the falling leaves and temps are cozy companions we welcome, like this fun event, every autumn.