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National Book Festival 2014 (part 2)

Hello again! I got to see and do so much at the Library of Congress National Book Festival this year, that I couldn’t possibly fit it all in one post! Today I’ll write more about the authors I saw.

E. L. Doctorow

E. L. Doctorow

I started by going to see E. L. Doctorow, who won the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction for his latest novel, Andrew’s Brain.  Instead of speaking alone, he answered questions in more of an interview format.  I was interested to learn about his inspiration for his books, specifically that he often imagines an image to begin his writing process.  (Sorry for the poor picture quality, the lighting in the conference center was a challenge.)

After that, I went to see Kai Bird, whose latest book is a biography of the CIA operative Robert Ames.  He talked about how he researched the book, which I appreciated, since a lot of the nonfiction authors just summarize their books.  This way I stay interested in reading it.  Besides, writing a biography about a spy poses some research challenges, since a lot of the information might still be confidential.  It made for an interesting talk.


Sara Sue Hoklotubbe signing my copy of Sinking Suspicions

Sara Sue Hoklotubbe signing my copy of Sinking Suspicions

I headed back to the Fiction and Mystery room to see an author who was new to me, Sara Sue Hoklotubbe.  She writes a mystery series set in Cherokee country.  As soon as I heard about it, I knew I had to read it, so I bought her book and went to the signing.  (I might look for the other two books so I can read them in order though.)  Someone who got up to ask a question began with, “I haven’t read the series yet, but I like you, so I know I’m going to like your books,” and that’s exactly how I felt.  I think every year I found a great new book or series through hearing an author talk, and that’s probably one of my favorite things about going to the National Book Festival.

The last author talk I attended was by Lisa See.  I read one of her books, Peony in Love, in college.  Her new novel is set in California, and I enjoyed hearing about her family’s history and her research about the history of Chinese Americans in California.  I’d like to read one of her books set in my home state!

I started my Christmas shopping by going to two more book signings.  I got a book signed by Anne Hillerman, who is continuing her father’s mystery series.  (That was a nice surprise-we’ve got some big Tony Hillerman fans in the Of Print and Prose family.  I also went to Judith Viorst’s book signing and got two Alexander books signed, one for our nephew’s Christmas gift and an extra one to donate to our mom’s third grade class.  I was especially excited that the authors had time to personalize the books this year!  Although I didn’t see their talks, I plan on watching them on the Library of Congress website.  All the talks from the festival are posted here.

Judith Viorst signing a book for the third graders

Judith Viorst signing a book for the third graders


National Book Festival 2014 (part 1)

my program from the festival

my program from the festival

Hello everyone!  It’s Elizabeth with your annual update from the Library of Congress’s National Book Festival in Washington, DC!  If it seems a little early for that, it is!  That’s just one of the big changes at the book festival this year.  In addition to moving to Labor Day weekend, the festival also changed locations to the Washington Convention Center.  And the festival is back down to one day, instead of two, but they added some new evening programs.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about the changes.  The festival didn’t attract as many big name authors this year, and I suspect it’s because some of them didn’t want to give up their long weekend!  The Convention Center is huge, which allowed them to fit more people and have more programs happening at once, but it was hard to find my way around and took a lot longer to move between locations.  On the other hand, we didn’t have to worry about weather, which is definitely a plus.

Laura and Peter Zeranski, authors of Polish Classic Desserts

Laura and Peter Zeranski, authors of Polish Classic Desserts

There were some new categories added this year, and I got to check out two of them: Science and Culinary Arts.  I had mixed feelings about the Culinary Arts section, because I love cooking but don’t really read cookbooks.  However, all of the participants were really well-chosen.  They had a mix of author talks and demonstrations by chefs, and lots of different cuisines were represented.  I saw part of Laura and Peter Zeranski’s talk.  They write award-winning Polish cookbooks.  I’d love to try a few recipes, apparently they have a good collection of traditional holiday foods.

The science talk I saw was by Eric H. Cline, about his book 1177 B.C.: The Year Civilization Collapsed.  He started his talk by showing his book trailer, a great idea.  You can see the it here.  (More authors should make book trailers!)  Cline is a field archaeologist and a professor, and his book is about the end of the Bronze Age.

After complaining about the state of the book sales tent last year, I was happy to see that it is now being hosted by a local DC bookstore, Politics and Prose.  They also had a separate gift shop which sold t-shirts and other souvenirs.  I like this idea, but once again I was disappointed that only the author’s most recent book was for sale.  When I find a new author, especially one who has written a series, I want to start at the beginning!  I would be happy for more of my book money to go to a local bookstore or support the festival, but the poor selection means more than half of my booksale-related purchases will come from Amazon.

Overall, I had an excellent time at the book festival.  Although I missed being at the mall, it was great to have more space for this popular festival!  (Plus, I appreciated the air conditioning)  If you want to know more, check out Of Print and Prose’s Twitter page.  I tweeted live updates throughout the day.  I was able to see a lot of great authors this year!  I’ll write more about them tomorrow!


Read Across America Day

Read Across America

As much as I love snow days, I’m a little disappointed not to be participating in Read Across America day with some of my kindergarten friends at a local elementary school.  Read Across America is an annual event, held on Dr. Seuss’s birthday, to celebrate reading.  It was created by the National Education Association.  Their goals for the event are summed up nicely in their Reader’s Oath-and may I congratulate the author on writing an oath worthy of Dr. Seuss?  Here it is, in full:

I promise to read
Each day and each night.
I know it’s the key
To growing up right.

I’ll read to myself,
I’ll read to a crowd.
It makes no difference
If silent or loud.

I’ll read at my desk,
At home and at school,
On my bean bag or bed,
By the fire or pool.

Each book that I read
Puts smarts in my head,
‘Cause brains grow more thoughts
The more they are fed.

So I take this oath
To make reading my way
Of feeding my brain
What it needs every day.

Last year, I participated by wearing a Cat in the Hat hat, reading lots of Dr. Seuss books, and helping welcome “celebrity guest readers” (student volunteers from a nearby high school).  If you would like to help out, here are some ideas!

1. Volunteer at a local elementary school or public library.  If you have kids or teachers in your life, volunteer in their class.  If not, your workplace may already have a  school they support (or you could help get the ball rolling at the nearest school.) Local libraries, scout troops, etc can also use your help.  Being a guest reader doesn’t take much time, but it is a great way to show your love of reading.  And Dr. Seuss books are especially fun to read out loud!

2. Donate some books.  New or used, for any age group, sharing your books is a great way to help other readers.  New teachers (like Becca!) are especially in need of books in order to start class libraries.  Most local libraries have programs where volunteers raise money for the library by selling used books.  Many hospitals also accept donations, especially of children’s books.  Many of us avid readers were fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by lots of books, but this is an advantage that students from low income families often lack.  Our local teachers and librarians are working hard to try to remedy this situation, and they need all the help they can get!

3. Plan some fun, reading-related activities for the young readers in your life!  Are your kids snowed in during Read Across America day like me?  You can still celebrate at home.  In addition to doing some reading, consider a book-related snack or craft.  With a little food coloring, you can make your own green eggs and ham.  Making and decorating your own bookmarks is an easy craft, too.  Little ones can do this with paper and crayons (0r popsicle sticks, paper clips, or ribbon-whatever you happen to have!), but here are a few tutorials if you’d like something more challenging/fancy:

Above all, I hope you take some time to enjoy reading today!  I am currently caught up in Elizabeth Peters’s Crocodile on the Sandbank, and I am enjoying the luxury of some extra reading time!


New Year’s Resolution: 52 books in 52 weeks!

Happy New Year, everyone!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.  Personally, I am not thrilled to be back at work on January 2-I know, I know, being in school has spoiled me.  But I am excited about my New Year’s Resolution!

This year, my resolution is to read (at least) 52 books.  It’s based on the idea here, but I made one significant change.  My goal is just to read 52 books total, not to read exactly one book per week.  Some books are longer than others, some weeks are busier than others, and I don’t want to have to focus on just reading short books or light reading.  I haven’t figured out exactly how I’m going to keep track yet, but of course I will be posting plenty of reviews!

Christmas books!

Christmas books!

I got several books for Christmas, so those will probably be my starting point.  Here’s a sneak peek at some of the books I plan to read in 2014.

  1. Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James  Confession: Ok, so I read the first chapter of this book on Dec. 30, on the plane ride home.  It’s not like I’m going to stop now.
  2. Dune by Frank Herbert  My husband has been wanting me to read this (he’s a fan of the movie) and he got me a very pretty copy for Christmas!
  3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak   The movie has me intrigued.  I was going to try to read it before it came out, but as you can see, that didn’t happen.
  4. The Woman Who Died A Lot by Jasper Fforde   Mr. Fforde has a lot to prove after ending his second-to-last book on a cliffhanger, not continuing the series for a few years, and then coming out with a book that focused on another character and ended only slightly after the one before it….Hopefully now I can FINALLY find out what’s going to happen to Thursday Next!
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins   Everyone else has read it, and I want to see what all the fuss is about.
  6. Catherine the Great   Becca gave me this book, and I have been wanting to read it for awhile now.  This is going to be the year!
  7. Call the Midwife  by Jennifer Worth  This one comes recommended by my mother’s book club, so it must be good!

While I continue reading Death Comes to Pemberley, I’ll also be catching up on my blog posts!  I could have sworn I wrote one for Ender’s Game….It’s probably on a scrap of paper in my school bag….Plus I need to review the book I read over Christmas break and tell you which author’s home I visited on my latest trip to Massachusetts!

If you want to join me in reading 52 books in 52 weeks, you can sign up here!


(close up)

(close up)

Happy Anniversary, Pride and Prejudice!

Hello everyone!

Today is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice, one of our all-time favorite books here at Of Print and Prose!  To celebrate, the The JaneAusten Centre is hosting a live readathon.  You can tune in here.

Pride and Prejudice is a great love story with a fun cast of supporting characters.  Listening to the story (perhaps with a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate?) is a lot of fun on this winter morning!