Skip to main content

National Book Fest, Saturday, September 1, 2018

A later than planned departure from home kept me from making it to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s session, but that allowed me to attend all of Tayari Jones’s talk, which was awesome.

Tayari Jones Highlights:

  • ·         She’s a strong advocate for supporting the National Endowment for the Arts.
  • ·         Her ultimate message today remains the same as it was 7 years ago: Follow your dreams with the expectation that the universe will rise to meet you.
  • ·         Glowing remarks about a mentor who has helped her in countless ways. That mentor was also being featured at #NatBookFest, possibly speaking at the same time in a different ballroom.
  • ·         Her thoughts on being raised in a society where girls were either good or not good. T.J. read a lot and spent substantial time in the library, making her a good girl because “no one gets pregnant in the library.” Librarians told her that’s not true. (Hank-panky in the stacks? Oh, my.)
  • ·         T.J.’s brief flirtation with fraudulent activities—in order to get into Pearl Cleage’s “no freshmen allowed” class
  • ·         Being counseled to pursue a full-time academic career while writing fiction on the weekends

 T.J.: “I was a bird and I felt like they wanted me to be a birdwatcher.”
  • ·         Do not ask her about Book Scan! J
  • ·         Judy Blume(!) as her publishing guardian angel
  • ·         Another memorable T.J. quote: “Southern writing is all about women who don’t do what they’re told.”

Scooted out of T.J.’s talk just as the Q&A started in order to hot-step it up to the Main Stage for Amy Tan. At first, everything was calm as the line snaked back and forth in the area at the base of the escalators as we waited to ascend. Here’s where it went wrong: when security tried to shout instructions to us without using a bullhorn or a microphone system. The organized line disintegrated as people moved closer to hear, then everyone surged toward the escalators en masse. (Think doors opening first thing on Black Friday at a big box store.) Pandemonium.

It seemed like the perfect time for me to step back and find a peaceful corner for eating my lunch, which put me in the path of a family friend who recognized me with my back turned and head down while sitting on the floor. We had a brief lovely chat before she headed off to begin her shift as a NatBookFest volunteer.

At 1:30, lunch eaten, equilibrium restored, my options were to get in line to see former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright a 2:15 or to go downstairs to the book signing, book sales, children’s, and financial institutions area to visit a childhood friend who was volunteering at a booth. Sorry/not sorry, M.A.! Friendship won over politics.

After some hugs, introductions, laughs, and more laughs during my friend’s lunch break, it was back upstairs to wait in line for the session featuring Doris Kearns Goodwin. (political history geek butterflies)

Doris Kearns Goodwin Highlights:

·         Her need to keep all four of “my guys” together motivated her to write Leadership: In Turbulent Times.
For each president she examines their educational challenges, challenges related to the circumstances of their lives, and their presidential leadership challenges.
·         Writing Leadership… took her 5 years.
·         Funny anecdotes about her time as a White House Fellow for L.B.J. during which the New Republic published her anti-Vietnam War article “How to Remove Lyndon Johnson from Office” two days after he’d asked her to work for him full-time. Awkward.

Ducked away from D.K.G. at 4:05 with the unrealistic hope of squeezing in to see Roxane Gay from 4:10 – 4:40 discuss her Wakanda graphic novel (series?) for Marvel. Sadly, at 4:10 the room was full and there were approximately 400 people in line in front of me. [pouty sad face]

Thirty minutes is not enough time for R.G. (Unless she requested the shorter time period in order to preserve her physical and emotional health, which is understandable. Although still disappointing!)

By 4:20 it was time to skedaddle, which had me sitting outside waiting for my ride. During which time a lovely, sophisticated woman with a boot on her left leg from knee to toes sat near me. We exchanged smiles and greetings. She was also waiting for a ride. Our spontaneous chat added Ghost Boys by Jewel Parker Rhodes (sophisticated woman’s sister) to my TBR list and incentive to check out the Go On Girl! Book club. Plus, she took my business card when I expressed interest in reviewing future children’s books by her sister. (This was before s.w. revealed her prestigious author sister’s name.) [sheepish laugh]

Full circle moment: Dr. Jewel Parker Rhodes is the mentor Tayari Jones mentioned with such affection and respect during her noon session.

Standing-In-Line Friends made:

·         Liz, whose friend wrote The Half-Drowned King (Golden Wolf Saga), now added to my TBR list
·         Lisa, who complimented my geeky homemade I <3 books T-shirt, which led to a chat about the best bookstores in the DMV. She mentioned McKay’s (or Prospero’s?). I asked her if she’d been to the incomparable remainders store Daedalus Books & Music in Columbia before they closed their doors this summer. She hadn’t.

She also shared amusing tidbits about being a food runner for her husband and math-loving daughter earlier in the day.

authors + books + booklovers = nirvana 

Thanks, Library of Congress, CSPAN, Library of Congress Federal Credit Union, and all of the many other event sponsors!


Popular posts from this blog

Howl At the Moon, Give Yourself a Break & Get Your Freak On

Forever Wolf by Maria Vale Sourcebooks Casablanca  March 2019 While comparisons to Patricia Briggs and Kelley Armstrong are appropriate, Maria Vale establishes a distinctive depth and range of storytelling excellence in her Legend of All Wolves series that is unique in its artistry. As the third entry, Forever Wolf continues the pattern of transcending the boundaries of the paranormal shape-shifting genre by creating more poignant character sketches of compelling individuals who embody a variety of multifaceted points of view about how to survive. That shared intention is just one of many ways in which Forever Wolf exudes its primal energy. Varya and Eyulf’s story progresses like a heartrending blend of ballad, dirge, and warriors’ battle cries. Seraphina Does Everything by Melissa Gratias; Sue Cornelison, illus. National Center for Youth Issues  April 2019 At a time when privileged kids are over-scheduled and internalizing society’s constant, dema

Celebrating You & Breaking Through in 2021, Plus Romance

Is last year's bumper crop of lemons the main ingredient for this year's success?  Here's a book with plenty of reasons why yes is the answer.  Rethink, Smashing the Myths of Women in Business   Andi Simon, Ph.D.   Non-fiction business biography  Fast Company Press (Greenleaf Book Group, distributor)   January 5, 2021   At a time when the world is reeling from being forced to improvise almost everything on a daily basis, Rethink profiles eleven women, including the author, whose lives and professional careers are prime examples of adaptability that defy entrenched gendered expectations. Invisible barriers to achievement in science, management, finance, and other industries are examined through the lenses of these accomplished women's experiences. Their profiles make for compelling reading and comprise the majority of the text, which is its strength. Notable reading frustrations include points of view and blanket statements that reinforce a narrow focus on a hetero, priv

#HunkerDown Reading

Resistant by Rachael Sparks Spark Press 2018 Sci-fi surrealism Is this author clairvoyant? Or as a scientist has she extrapolated a possible future based on current facts? In Resistant, it's 2041 and fifteen percent of the human population is dead from being infected by an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Sound eerily relevant? Sure, COVID-19 is a virus, but the template for this imaginary manmade catastrophe bears striking similarities to the world's present-day reality. Die-off survivor and microbiology student Aurora “Rory" Stevigson lives with her climatologist father Byron Stevigson on an apple farm in Massachusetts. Their grief over the loss of Dr. Persephone Tyler-Stevigson shadows their playful father-daughter rapport as they struggle to heal themselves while also helping others in their isolated community. When a mysterious man who introduces himself as Navy appears, everything Rory believed about her life becomes questionable, which puts her in danger. Her