National Book Festival

The National Book Festival took place yesterday at the Convention Center in Washington, DC. Thousands of people came by to see dozens of authors who gave speeches and participated in book signings. Stephen King was a headliner.

Previously, I had made a list of the authors that I had hoped to see but once I reached the event, I realized that it would be impossible to see them all. There were very long lines for each event and the book signings themselves. I was able to attend Gabriel Ruiz Zafon’s discussion. He is the author of such books as “Marina” and “The Shadow of the Wind”. Zafon was very down to earth and spoke openly about his experience as an author. What I enjoy about this author is that his novels focus on books and the love of books. Any true bibliophile will enjoy the spirit of his books and the adventure that they bring.

I am also a fan of Joyce Carol Oates. Her books tend to be dark but I thoroughly enjoyed “My Heart Laid Bare”, which discussed the notion that a family could be genetically destined for failure or doom. It follows several members of a family as they experience their erratic lives. The way that the stories are intertwined is pure genius and the attachment that I developed to the characters was astounding. They were not heroes in any sense but I wanted to know how they would fair at the end.

When I met Oates, a small, slight woman, I was not surprised by her demeanor. I imagine that to be able to write so many books with such deep, gritty content one must have a strong resolve but I didn’t really have an image of her in my mind. I saw her at her table, leaden and tight-lipped with a jade colored long sleeve shirt and a large black rimmed hat over her thin, dark hair. Pale skin and a shade of red on her lips. I had seen several pictures of her but seeing her in person was entirely different. In fact, I had totally forgotten the pictures of her that I had seen in the past.

Next, I met Kristin Hannah who is the writer of “The Nightingale”. This was a book I read early this year about two sisters living in France during World War II. I have recommended this book to nearly everyone I know as it is superbly written and one that you simply cannot put down. When I met Hannah, I had to tell her that her book was amazing and that I had told nearly fifty people to read it. She was humble and kind. She smiled and thanked me for recommending the book.We even had a few laughs before I went my way.

Finally, I met an author who I have not had the opportunity to read but his book caught my eye at the festival so I bought it. Luis Alberto Urrea has written such books as “The Hummingbird’s Daughter” and “The Devil’s Highway”. A kind man who told me he loved my Sherlock Holmes shirt. I was happy to hear it and told him that I was rather surprised that I had not seen any other literary nerds with literary shirts on. How odd indeed!!!

I was unable to get signatures from Geraldine Brooks or Lois Lowry but am so excited that I was able to meet so many great authors. I can’t wait until next year!!!

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