Last month, I while attending a conference in Washington D.C. for work, I stumbled across the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival. I had had no idea it would be on while I was there, but I was happy to fit it into my schedule!
Not being a US Resident, I had no idea what National Book Festival was. In short: it is a massive, two day, open air event during which over 100 authors give talks to crowds about their books, the genre and – well – anything else they like!
The festival site was divided according to genre, with pavilions dedicated to: Children, Teens & Children, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Contemporary Life, Poetry & Prose, Graphic Novels & Science Fiction and Special Programmes. There was also a huge signing area – which reminded me of BEA – and a tent hosted by Barnes & Noble where you could buy books by the authors attending.
Despite some torrential rain, there were hundreds upon hundreds of book fans in attendance. School groups, pension groups and single book lovers all merged together to form a really diverse audience. Most of the pavilions were overflowing!
What I loved about my experience at the festival was the diversity available. I decided not to focus too much on the YA scene, and took the opportunity to listen to authors I usually wouldn’t pick up. Namely, I heard a great talk by historian Henry Wiencek about Thomas Jefferson (I bought his book, Master of the Mountain: Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves, despite not being a history buff); I listened to Thomas Kenealley (author of Schindler’s List) discuss writing about the Second World War from a Pacific perspective; and, I learned about how the Library of Congress is restoring archived audio footage.
That said, I did attend one (very, very full) talk by YA author Veronica Roth. She was very personable and made some really interesting points about the portrayal of “strong girls” in YA novels. She discussed how the type of “strength” that we celebrate in YA heroines is a very masculine strength: being able to shoot arrows and beat people up. It made me consider my own biases. Am I too focused on this very male strength? What is feminine strength? And when can we see that type of strength in male characters? Very, very interesting.
On a superficial note: the festival poster is absolutely stunning. It is illustrated by Suzy Lee – whose wordless book, Wave, actually sold out during the Festival – and features creatures of all sizes reading books!
I picked up a few extra posters which I am happy to be giving away! Just fill in the form below and get yourself a gorgeous piece of wall art. Here’s what mine looks like on my wall:
The Prize: One of THREE National Book Festival 2013 Posters illustrated by Suzy Lee
To enter (Terms and Conditions):
- fill out the form below.
- entrants must be 13 years of age or older.
- contest open WORLDWIDE (i.e. Lunar residents will be excluded)
- the winner will be notified by email and will have 48 hours to reply else a new winner will be chosen.
- the winner will have to share their postal address – shocking, but a necessary evil when using antique forms of contact such as mail.