Friday, September 14, 2012

Go to the National Book Festival!

One of my fall traditions is to visit the National Book Festival, put on by the Library of Congress, every year with my brother. I think there has been only one year in the past six years since he moved here that we’ve missed it. My first year was the fall I moved here—2003—and it was decidedly overwhelming. Of course, part of that may have been because I had just wandered here from a forest in Idaho, but still, it was rather chaotic to me. I didn’t know what to expect. Besides, that was only the third festival and they were working out kinks. Since then I’ve  told everyone who loves books to go, have dorkishly been collecting the festival posters, and have offered extra credit to students who attend.

The festival is coming up next weekend, September 22nd and 23rd on the National Mall in DC. Here is the key that will take it from being chaotic to being awesome and inspiring: Look at the authors, the times and tents for their presentations, and when they will be signing books. And I mean look at them now and plan your visit, not when you walk up. Meandering doesn’t work well there. So, visit the website to find the list of authors and the calendar of events. Here is the website.

Over the past years I’ve been able to hear some inspiring writing presentations from some of my favorite authors. Listening to an author talk about writing a book that I can nearly recite after having taught it in my classroom to hundreds of kids, is just plain awesome. I also have signed copies of books and have shaken hands with some of the authors. It’s a cool connection and a way to see authors in a different light than just reading their biography on a book jacket. When you see one of them hanging out behind a tent with a water bottle, wiping the DC humidity from her forehead, obviously nervous about her book talk, and getting to say hello to her, it just makes reading her work more…personal. I think I might sound like a star-struck fanatic, but I don’t think I am. Not exactly.

So, the moral of this entry is to go the National Book Festival. And if you don’t live near Washington DC, then plan a trip out here to visit me during one of the future mid-September weekends. Fall is beautiful in DC and Virginia, you know.
Sherman Alexie is one of my favorite poets.
So cool to meet him!

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