Book Festival Fever

Lines of people carrying red book bags filled the National Mall. A co-worker stood the back of a long line holding the hard cover his grandson wanted signed. Grandma and grandchild luckily sat in the tent listening to the author’s talk.

This Library of Congress National Book Fair draws big name authors in history and biography, poetry and prose, fiction and mystery.

All these police motorcycles stood around the history and biography tent. Men in suits with dark sunglasses and hearing devices stationed around the perimeter, a few giving me odd glances. I reached the entrance and saw a swarm of people. Applause broke out and Lara Bush took the stage.

The tent stretching from 4th to 5th streets had tables filled with hundreds of books for sale. Since I have a book on sports in DC, I was interested in the biography of boxer Ray Robinson and saw a few other baseball and other books that caught my eye.

C-Span TV covers the event and holds the interviews with authors on its Booktv. The schedule includes:

Laura Bush, Spoken from the Heart

David Remnick, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama

Nell Irvin Painter, The History of White People

Wil Haygood, Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson

Evan Thomas, The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898

Adele Logan Alexander, Parallel Worlds: The Remarkable Gibbs-Hunts and the Enduring (In)Significance of Melanin

James McGrath Morris, Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power

Richard Holmes, The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science

Stacy Schiff, Cleopatra: A Life

Interesting to me was the fifteen tables where authors signed books at hour intervels. The large number of people who waited up to two hours to get a single signature shows me how strong celebrity culture is in the US.

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