Saturday was the National Book Festival on the Mall in Washington DC. Heather and I found it kind of by accident three years ago, and now it's a little tradition of ours. Started by Laura Bush and the Library of Congress in 2001, it is now a yearly event ~ and I think more popular than ever as the crowd seemed bigger to me even in spite of the threat of rain.
The day was overcast this year, but we were still anxious to get up and go early. Each one of those tents has an author speaking, book sales, or sponsors like PBS or the Library of Congress doing activities and give aways.
The clouds over the Monument and the spitting of rain didn't dampen anyone's spirits. The crowd at this festival is so friendly. Standing in line waiting for something, you just strike up conversations with people from all over, of all ages who are just there because they love to read.
There are celebrities around every corner, along with some very famous authors.
And of course, book signings!
Heather and I got our books signed by Sue Monk Kidd. Heather took Secret Life of Bees (which we delighted Sue with her British version of the book which we somehow acquired ~ probably from our favorite used book store), and I took Mermaid Chair. Sue Monk Kidd and her daughter Ann Kidd Taylor were very gracious. Later in the day we also got to listen to them talk and read from their newest book written together called Traveling with Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story.
George Pelecanos writes crime novels set in the Washington DC area. He as spoken at Heather's writer's group before, so we had to stop by his table.
Mary Brigid Barrett (author of many children's books) and Steven Kellogg (illustrator/author of almost 90 children's books) were signing at the same table. Heather has an author book (a blank book where she is collecting author signatures) that she got both of them to sign.
Steven Kellog did a little illustration with each signature ~ a different illustration with each one! We also got signatures from Katherine Neville (author of The Eight, and others) and Liz Kessler (fantasy writer of middle school level books, her latest is Philippa Fisher and the Dreammaker's Daughter).
While we were standing in someone else's line, we found ourselves right next to Nicholas Sparks (author of The Notebook, and others). There were many other big names there like John Grisham, David Baldacci, Ken Burns, Jodi Picoult, Judy Blume, Lois Lowry, Paula Deen, and James Patterson.
We had lunch here under the trees and the real rain held off until afternoon when we had to leave anyway (I had to work the shop that evening). So it was a great day hanging out together and celebrating books. It doesn't get much better than that :)
Enjoy the day!