What you need to know about the National Book Festival

WASHINGTON — If you remember the excitement of Scholastic Book Fairs coming to your school, you might want to mark your calendar.

The Library of Congress’s 17th annual National Book Festival is this Saturday, Sept. 2.

The daylong event is free and will be held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., with doors opening at 8:30 a.m. Attendees can pick and choose from a day of presentations, panels, games, giveaways and family-friendly activities.

More than 100 authors will be at the festival too, giving talks, signing books and interacting with visitors. Author talks are scheduled at stages organized by genre. In addition to main stage authors, who are the most nationally renowned, the festival will feature writers of poetry, contemporary life, thrillers and fantasy, graphic novels and children’s books at their respective stages.

A detailed schedule is available from the Library of Congress.

Even if you’re not a reader, the festival will feature a lot of faces that may be familiar. NASA astronaut and former wide receiver for the Detroit Lions, Leland Melvin, will be presenting and signing his new book. Melvin rose to viral internet prominence when he posed with his dogs in his official NASA portrait.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who has published three books and currently teaches at Stanford University, will also be delivering a presentation and signing books. Her most recent work is “Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom.”

Authors of note include J.D. Vance, author of The New York Times best-seller, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of Family and Culture in Crisis,” which brought national attention to the working class in rural America.

Roxane Gay who will also be signing books after her presentation rose to literary prominence with her nonfiction work, “Bad Feminist,” which Time magazine described as “a manual on how to be human.”

Regardless of your taste in phonics or whose autograph you hope to get, there are some general guidelines to make it a productive, enjoyable day.

With all of the Labor Day events going on around the District, parking may be tight with temporary restrictions and road closures.

If public transit is an option, the center is located near Mount Vernon Square Metro station. If not, there are a few parking options around the venue.

Visitors can enter the festival venue from four entrances: the main entrance at Mount Vernon Place, the corner of M Street and 7th Street, L Street south and L Street north.

Festivalgoers will be subjected to bag searches every time they enter the building, so organizers recommend you stay inside until your visit is over.

Attendees should also note that the convention center spans two blocks, has multiple levels, with stages peppered on different floors and in different areas. Comfortable shoes are key.

The National Book Festival comes complete with its own app, which users can download to schedule their day and keep track of which activities are happening where.

Those who can’t make it can still enjoy highlights of the festival. C-Span will be broadcasting parts of the event, including book talks and call-in segments where viewers can call in with questions for the authors. The broadcast begins at 10 a.m. the day of the festival.


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