I enjoyed spending today at the Book Festival even more than yesterday. For one thing, it was much less crowded and the weather was nicer. Sunday was less crowded last year as well. I stopped off at the book sales tent first and was able to get a head start on my Christmas shopping. Although they had restocked, I was a little disappointed to see that they still had a much smaller selection than what I remember from past years. Still, I am excited about the gifts I was able to get!
Charlaine Harris at the National Book Festival
As I was walking out of the book sales tent, I passed the Fiction and Mystery tent and noticed that Charlaine Harris was talking. I decided to go in and listen, since I’ve heard so much about her Sookie Stackhouse series. Her avid fans had a lot of questions about the end of the Sookie Stackhouse series and the first book of her new series, which will be released in 2014.
The next author was the highlight of the festival for me: Patricia Polacco. I have been a Patricia Polacco fan since at least the first grade. As a college student, I enjoyed re-reading some of her books that were inspired by East European folklore as I studied Russian. It is a real privilege to get to see an author in person when you’ve admired them for most of your life, so this was the talk I looked forward to the most for this year’s book festival. Despite my high expectations, the talk did not disappoint. Patricia Polacco is an absolutely wonderful speaker. Her latest book is about an art teacher that she had growing up and hearing her talk about it moved many of her adult audience members (including quite a few teachers) to tears. I am hoping that the Library of Congress will post their video of her talk, because I would love to share it with the teachers in my life!
Naturally, I wanted to go to Mrs. Polacco’s book signing as well. I already have a signed copy of one of her books, Thunder Cake, which was given to me by a friend about twenty years ago. Today, I asked her to sign a book that Becca and I will give as a Christmas present. I love getting to introduce new readers to authors that we loved growing up!
Patricia Polacco signing her book, Christmas Tapestry
After the book signing, I stopped into the Contemporary Life tent for part of Eric Weiner’s talk. Then I went back to the Fiction and Mystery tent to see Eloisa James.
I’ll be honest: it was a toss-up between going to see Eloisa James and Junot Diaz, but I was getting tired at that point, and I thought Ms. James would be more entertaining to listen to. (I haven’t read either author, although I was familiar with both names.) I’m very happy with my choice though, because it made it possible for me to witness a historic event for the Book Festival-it turns out that Eloisa James is the first romance author to ever be invited there!
Now, I am happy to get to see such a first in person, and I commend whoever invited Eloisa James to be the first romance author-it was an excellent choice. However, I am shocked that this is the twelfth annual book festival and they are only just now getting around to inviting a romance author! I know some people look down on romance novels-some people look down on genre fiction in general, but there is plenty of it at the National Book Festival. I couldn’t believe that for the past several years the organizers had devoted an entire tent to Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Graphic novels, without inviting one romance author! I can’t imagine why they would want to ignore a genre with so many readers.
Eloisa James, the first romance novelist to be at the National Book Festival
That said, Eloisa James was a very good speaker. She writes historical romance and also happens to be a Shakespeare professor. Her latest novels are retellings of fairy tales. I don’t read much romance, but when I do, it is usually historical romance, and I love retellings of fairy tales, so I may have to try out one of her books soon! I figure any author that is also a Shakespeare expert is probably worth a try.
Overall, it was another great Book Festival! I still can’t believe I finally got to meet Patricia Polacco in person! Stay tuned for one last post tomorrow-I want to show you the books I bought!