Thursday, September 27, 2012

In Which I Went to the DC National Book Festival

I have proof!

This past weekend I went to the DC National Book Festival for the first time.  Not knowing what to expect, I found it a bit overwhelming.  Let me start at the beginning.  On Saturday I went with my friend’s two daughters and my friend, we are all bookworms, so I felt right at home.  We left the house two hours earlier (the first authors were schedule to talk at 10:00) and I have to explain that I live in Maryland, about 45 minutes away from DC.  Another thing that is very important to know is that every author has a ‘reading’ (I mean, some read from the latest book and some don’t) and then a scheduled book signing time. 

The author that I was more eager to see was John Green, and if you haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars I encourage you to read it ASAP (see my review here).  Unfortunately, by the time I got there I was at the very back of the tent (as you can see by the picture below), but I did get to see him and to listen to him talk.  He is a truly amazing person and I loved every minute of it.  After his talk, I walked as fast as I could in the hopes to get in line and get my copy of TFiOS signed.  Alas, there were hundreds of people in line already!  I stayed in said line for about 40 minutes, and in that time of solitary contemplation I realized this:  I could either get all my books signed by staking the lines all day OR I could enjoy the authors’ readings.  I opted for the second and quickly removed myself from the line.
You can't probably tell, but that's John Green

Next, I sat for the reading of Maggie Stiefvater which I adored.  I got my copy of Raven Boys from BEA and I stood in line two hours for that copy, so I was able to enjoy our time together.  She is so funny and comfortable on stage.  After that we saw Melissa Marr, she opted for a format in which she sat down and her editor or publisher (sorry I don’t remember!) interviewed her.  I’m sorry to say that the sound was terrible and I found that format a bit off-putting and less personal.  Last in the day on Saturday we saw the wonderful David Levithan.  He too seemed very comfortable speaking for a crowd and he read a bit of his new book Every Day (review here).

Melissa Marr

David Levithan

On Sunday, we planned on a much shorter day.  At noon my friend’s daughters and my son ‘B’ sat for Charlaine Harris ‘reading’.  It was so funny and I love her southern accent, it was very interesting how her career took off and how she came up with the idea for the Sookie Stackhouse books (Southern Vampires series).  After that ‘B’ and I went to Ellen Hopkins presentation, this lady is also amazing and she’s had a rough life!  We had to leave early because ‘B’ wanted a book he bought The Creature From The Seventh Grade: Boy or Beast signed by its author Bob Balaban.  While standing in line with him I noticed how all the people that were first in line and waiting to get their books signed were sitting on chairs, with umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun, and refreshments.  This, my friends is serious business!  I was clearly out of my league.  The last authors that we saw were Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. These ladies were great and funny as well.  They talked about their past experiences in high school and how their book Burn for Burn came to be. 

Charlaine Harris
Ellen Hopkins
Bob Balaban
Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian

A word about the Barnes & Noble tent: It was hotter than h*** in there!  Obviously the tent was all closed and well guarded to prevent theft, BUT there were only a few air conditioners along one of the walls, and it was not nearly enough for the size of the tent.  I pity those poor people working there all day. Oh, and they sold out of many books before they first day was out! 

Overall, this was a great experience and I certainly hope I can attempt it again next year.  Maybe I can bring a non-reader (like my hubby or our son ‘A’) to stay in line and get my books signed :)


  1. Very jealous! I got to attend BEA for the first time this past summer, I'd love to go to the DC national book festival at least once in my life as well. The fact that you got to hear them do a reading is cool as there wasn't as much of that at BEA.

  2. I know! I also attended BEA for the first time this summer.

  3. Sounds like you had a blast! Was it very crowded? I was shocked at how NOT-crowded the Baltimore Book Festival was. Of course, the authors that were there aren't quite as popular as some of the ones you saw. :)


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