National Book Festival 2009

The National Book Festival is an event that takes place every year on the National Mall in Washington, DC.  This year, the National Book Festival was held on September 26, 2009.

The festival didn’t start until 10:00 AM, but I arrived at 9:15 AM in order to get a seat in the Fiction tent.  First up was John Grisham (below).  I haven’t read any of his books in years, but I really enjoyed listening to him speak.  He was funny, engaging, and surprisingly humble for being such a bestselling author!

After John Grisham, Deborah joined me in the Fiction tent, and together we watched Jodi Picoult (below).  I haven’t actually read any of Jodi’s books, but I’ve heard they are tearjerkers and WOW – I can completely believe it. Just her discussion of the research for her latest book brought tears to my eyes.  She was really interesting and her talk definitely made me want to read her books.

Next, Deborah and I ran to the Teens/Childrens tent where we were able to see Paula Deen and her husband (below).  She was supposed to be talking about her children’s cookbook, but instead she just told funny stories and anecdotes.  My personal favorite was when she removed one of her hair extensions (presumably to make her hair look fuller) and attached it to her husband’s hair and styled it as a comb-over.  It was absolutely hilarious – she was a lot of fun to see!

After that, we stuck around in the Teens tent to see Shannon Hale (below).  My favorite part of her talk was when she brought out a laminated roll of rejection letters and rolled them out across the stage.  She had a great sense of humor.

We grabbed some lunch at that point, and then headed back to the Fiction tent, where Julia Alvarez was speaking.  I haven’t read any of her books, but her talk really made me want to read them.

At that point, Deborah and I met up with Jennifer and Rebecca, who were nice enough to snag us seats in the Fiction tent.  We saw John Irving (below), who was simply amazing.  He talked a lot about the craft of writing.  One of my favorite things that he said was about novels being turned into movies – if you’re a writer, you shouldn’t feel like your novel is incomplete if it isn’t turned into a movie.  So true.

At this point, I actually really wanted to go see Azar Nafisi, but she was in a different tent, and it was pouring down rain.  Plus we had seats, so I decided to stick through Nicholas Sparks (below).  And wow. Was that an experience.  He was a bit…shall we say arrogant, at one point assuring the audience that if they had just stepped in to hide from the rain, he really was famous – he promised.  Additionally, he told us about meeting Miley Cyrus.  I was NOT impressed, though we found him hilarious, laughing at him rather than with him.  I don’t want to go on and on about him, but Rebecca’s post on the National Book Festival sums Nicholas Sparks up pretty well.

Finally, the last speaker of the day I saw was Junot Diaz (below).  His novel The Brief Wonderful Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize last year.  I haven’t read it yet but I will soon.  Diaz was simply brilliant.  He impressed me greatly, with his wit and his passion for the craft of writing.  I will read anything that man writes, and I haven’t even read a book by him yet.

We meandered a bit after that, eventually ending up at a restaurant in DC where we met up with a bunch of book bloggers!  The conversation was great – I only wish I had gotten to talk to everyone more!  I’ll just let the pictures below tell the story of the evening.

Rebecca (imitating her Twitter picture) and Amy

 
Rebecca and her friend Paul


Meg, Jill, and Teresa

 
Deborah and Michelle


(L to R)
Amy, Deborah
Michelle, Teresa, Cara, Trish
Nicole, Me

Comments

  1. OMG I look like a freaking linebacker in that last picture! That was an AWESOME day! It was so fun tagging along with you!

  2. OMG I look like a freaking linebacker in that last picture! That was an AWESOME day! It was so fun tagging along with you!

  3. This looks like an amazing day! Great authors and great bloggers to hang around with. =)

  4. This looks like an amazing day! Great authors and great bloggers to hang around with. =)

  5. Great, great summmary! It sounds like a fabulous day (despite the weather) and you managed to take some amazing close-up photos.

    Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

  6. Great, great summmary! It sounds like a fabulous day (despite the weather) and you managed to take some amazing close-up photos.

    Thanks for sharing with the rest of us.

  7. I’m totally jealous of all the fun y’all had! I love the picture of the whole bunch together – what a great looking bunch you were!

  8. I’m totally jealous of all the fun y’all had! I love the picture of the whole bunch together – what a great looking bunch you were!

  9. Why oh WHY must the 2 festivals be on the same day?! It looks like you all had a wonderful time – so sorry I couldn’t be there as well.

  10. Why oh WHY must the 2 festivals be on the same day?! It looks like you all had a wonderful time – so sorry I couldn’t be there as well.

  11. Yay for a great summary and FINALLY some pictures of me where I’m not either in a wedding dress or dressed up like Dorothy for Halloween. It was a great day, and I wish I could have stayed for more quality time.

  12. Yay for a great summary and FINALLY some pictures of me where I’m not either in a wedding dress or dressed up like Dorothy for Halloween. It was a great day, and I wish I could have stayed for more quality time.

  13. What a great summary! I’m so sad I couldn’t make it, but your post made me feel like I was there! Great pictures!

  14. What a great summary! I’m so sad I couldn’t make it, but your post made me feel like I was there! Great pictures!

  15. Fantastic. Wish I had been there!

  16. Fantastic. Wish I had been there!

  17. So jealous! You guys look like you had such a good time. NEXT YEAR!!!!

  18. So jealous! You guys look like you had such a good time. NEXT YEAR!!!!

  19. I can’t believe that Nicholas Sparks felt the need to tell you about meeting Hannah Montana. Come on!

  20. I can’t believe that Nicholas Sparks felt the need to tell you about meeting Hannah Montana. Come on!

  21. What a great recap! That was such a fun day in spite of the fact that it was freezing and raining and half of us got sick after.

  22. What a great recap! That was such a fun day in spite of the fact that it was freezing and raining and half of us got sick after.

  23. You forgot the part about how Deborah spotted me in the Teens and children tent with her eagle eye!!! 🙂

    I loved meeting you and hope next time we can talk a bit more LOST 😉

  24. You forgot the part about how Deborah spotted me in the Teens and children tent with her eagle eye!!! 🙂

    I loved meeting you and hope next time we can talk a bit more LOST 😉

  25. I’ve not read Julia Alvarez yet either but In The Time of the Butterflies is my book club’s pick for November.

    The book is not available anywhere right now though. I was told by Barnes and Noble that it was pulled from the shelves.. I have my copy but my book club may have a problem getting it.

  26. I’ve not read Julia Alvarez yet either but In The Time of the Butterflies is my book club’s pick for November.

    The book is not available anywhere right now though. I was told by Barnes and Noble that it was pulled from the shelves.. I have my copy but my book club may have a problem getting it.

  27. Aw, I wish I could hang out with book bloggers too! Not to mention see all those great authors. I LOVED Oscar Wao – I hope you do too!

  28. Aw, I wish I could hang out with book bloggers too! Not to mention see all those great authors. I LOVED Oscar Wao – I hope you do too!

  29. Looks like a great time was had by all. =)

    I hope to make it to at least one of the book-ish events in 2010. I’m only in CT. It can’t be that hard, right?!

  30. Looks like a great time was had by all. =)

    I hope to make it to at least one of the book-ish events in 2010. I’m only in CT. It can’t be that hard, right?!

  31. Looks liek a perfect day to me! Thanks for sharing details for those of us who weren’t there.

  32. Looks liek a perfect day to me! Thanks for sharing details for those of us who weren’t there.

  33. What a fun post, Swapna! Natl Book Festival sounds like so much fun … you listened to a lot of authors, and captured their personalities!

    Now, dinner with the other book bloggers … that must have been fantastic 🙂 Nice to put the faces, names, and blogs all together.

  34. What a fun post, Swapna! Natl Book Festival sounds like so much fun … you listened to a lot of authors, and captured their personalities!

    Now, dinner with the other book bloggers … that must have been fantastic 🙂 Nice to put the faces, names, and blogs all together.

  35. Great post! Sounds like such a good time! 🙂 There is a book festival coming up in Boston soon; I hope it will be as good!

  36. Great post! Sounds like such a good time! 🙂 There is a book festival coming up in Boston soon; I hope it will be as good!

  37. Yikes, I’m *so* not a fan of pictures of myself. haha

    This really was a fabulous weekend, one I can’t wait to recreate when we all (hopefully) have the chance to get together during BEA next spring. 🙂

  38. Yikes, I’m *so* not a fan of pictures of myself. haha

    This really was a fabulous weekend, one I can’t wait to recreate when we all (hopefully) have the chance to get together during BEA next spring. 🙂

  39. Great pics Swapna. I’m so envious that you got to see Jodi Picoult 🙂

    Also, real sad about Nicholas Sparks, may be he was just trying to be funny real hard and it came off as arrogant?

  40. Great pics Swapna. I’m so envious that you got to see Jodi Picoult 🙂

    Also, real sad about Nicholas Sparks, may be he was just trying to be funny real hard and it came off as arrogant?

  41. I missed Paula Deen because I was waiting with my daughter to get her Diary of a Wimpy Kid books signed. Looks like I missed a fun time.

    It was great to meet you, though we didn’t have much time to talk. Maybe next time, right?

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  42. I missed Paula Deen because I was waiting with my daughter to get her Diary of a Wimpy Kid books signed. Looks like I missed a fun time.

    It was great to meet you, though we didn’t have much time to talk. Maybe next time, right?

    –Anna
    Diary of an Eccentric

  43. I heard John Grisham speak at an event the night before the festival, and couldn’t agree with you more. He was so down to earth, and humble. He talked about his first book, A Time to Kill, and how the publisher only printed 5,000 copies – of which Grisham bought 1,000. He said he decided to give writing one more shot, and to make his book as commercial as he could so that it would sell. I guess it kinda worked out for him, with The Firm 🙂

  44. I heard John Grisham speak at an event the night before the festival, and couldn’t agree with you more. He was so down to earth, and humble. He talked about his first book, A Time to Kill, and how the publisher only printed 5,000 copies – of which Grisham bought 1,000. He said he decided to give writing one more shot, and to make his book as commercial as he could so that it would sell. I guess it kinda worked out for him, with The Firm 🙂

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