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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Join Leading Authors at 2019 National Book Festival

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be among the featured speakers at the 2019 Library of Congress National Book Festival, along with dozens of best-selling authors, novelists, historians, poets and children’s writers, the Library announced today. This year’s festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Ginsburg will discuss her book “My Own Words,” a collection of writings and speeches from throughout her life, discussing gender equality, the workings of the Supreme Court, interpreting the U.S. Constitution, being Jewish, and the law and lawyers in opera. The book, written with her authorized biographers, was Ginsburg’s first book since becoming a Supreme Court justice in 1993. It’s been called witty, engaging, serious and playful.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Photo credit: Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States.

The 2019 festival will invite visitors to Explore America’s Changemakers, part of a yearlong initiative coinciding with a series of exhibitions, events and programs at the Library. Exhibitions opening this year will explore the fight for women’s voting rights and Rosa Parks’ groundbreaking role in civil rights history. Changemakers are everywhere. Everyday citizens become trailblazers and history makers, shaping America.

Among numerous festival programs dedicated to the theme of Changemakers, a special panel will feature new books on Winston Churchill by Andrew Roberts, Frederick Douglass by David Blight and visionary women including Rachel Carson, Jane Jacobs, Jane Goodall and Alice Waters, by Andrea Barnet.

This year’s schedule includes a rich mix of authors and genres.

Main Stage

  • U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discusses her book “My Own Words” with NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg.
  • Historian David McCullough will discuss his new book “The Pioneers: The Heroic Stories of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West.”
  • Graphic novelist Raina Telgemeier will talk about her new interactive journal “Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story.”
  • David Brooks will present his new book “The Second Mountain” on what it takes to lead a moral, meaningful life.

History and Biography

  • Journalist and historian Evan Thomas will discuss his new biography “First: Sandra Day O’Connor,” exploring the life of America’s first female Supreme Court justice.
  • Historian Douglas Brinkley will speak about his new book “American Moonshot,” taking a fresh look at America’s space program and the race to the moon 50 years after the Apollo 11 moon landing.
  • Journalist and writer Elaine Weiss will discuss her new book “The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote,” exploring the fight for women’s suffrage.
  • Michael Beschloss will discuss his book “Presidents of War,” examining American leaders at war from James Madison to recent times.
  • Military historian Rick Atkinson recounts the first 21 months of America’s violent war for independence in his new book “The British Are Coming.”

Understanding Our World

  • Chef and humanitarian José Andrés will discuss his book “We Fed an Island: The True Story of Rebuilding Puerto Rico, One Meal at a Time” as well as “Vegetables Unleashed.”
  • Historian and filmmaker Henry Louis Gates Jr. will join a panel on Race in America, discussing his new book “Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy and the Rise of Jim Crow” along with authors Steve Luxenberg and S. District Court Judge Richard Gergel.
  • A conversation on health and bioethics with University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann and Jonathan Moreno on their new book “Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven But Nobody Wants to Die: Bioethics and the Transformation of Health Care in America” with Andrea Mitchell of NBC News.


  • A conversation on animal emotions with Frans de Waal on the new book “Mama’s Last Hug: Animal Emotions and What They Tell Us About Ourselves” and Alexandra Horowitz on her new book “Our Dogs, Ourselves.”

Poetry and Prose

  • Julia Álvarez will celebrate the 25th anniversary of her novel “In the Time of the Butterflies.”


  • Joyce Carol Oates will discuss her fiction collection “Night-Gaunts and Other Tales of Suspense.”
  • Barbara Kingsolver will present on her novel “Unsheltered,” following the stories of two families who lived in the same house at separate time periods in New Jersey. One family lived in the 1800s and the other in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
  • Sigrid Nunez will discuss her book “The Friend,” a story of the bond between a woman and her dog.
  • Detective novelist Sara Paretsky discusses her new book “Shell Game.”

The National Book Festival is made possible by the generous support of private- and public-sector sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy, led by National Book Festival Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein. Charter sponsors are the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patron sponsors are The James Madison Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Champions are Thomas V. Girardi and the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress; Contributor-level sponsors are Pizza Hut BOOK IT! Program and Scholastic Inc.; and, in the Friends category, Booklovers Circle Members, Bookshare – a Benetech initiative, Buffy Cafritz, Embassy of Australia, Embassy of Canada, Embassy of Germany, Embassy of Ireland, Embassy of Latvia, Embassy of Sweden, Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction administered by The University of Alabama School of Law, The Hay-Adams, Inter-American Development Bank, The Junior League of Washington, Leon Levy Center for Biography (CUNY), Andy King, Library of Congress Federal Credit Union, Mexican Cultural Institute, Embassy of Mexico, Timothy and Diane Naughton, Small Press Expo (SPX), Spain Arts & Culture and Embassy of Spain; Media Partners are C-SPAN2’s Book TV, The New York Times and NPR. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at [email protected].

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world –both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at; and register creative works of authorship at

Comments (19)

  1. Great Lineup !!!!!! RGB is a must see !!!!

  2. Please consider making main stage speakers ticketed events. I have attended this festival since it was a relatively small 2 day event on the mall and last year I spent more than half of my time waiting in line. I ended up never seeing any of the speakers I wanted to see. If I had known in advance I could have planned my day differently and not wasted so much of my day. This is a wonderful event, but now that it’s so popular, it’s important that the crowds are managed more effectively.

  3. Oh no, it’s on Labor Day weekend? That’s disappointing.

  4. HEY KIDDO by Jarrett KROSOCZKA would be an amazing addition to your list .

  5. Please make the main events, especially RBG, ticketed events. I want to explore this magnificent venue rather than stand in line. I’ve attended other bookfairs where this is done and it makes for a more pleasant experience.

  6. Is RGB Alive? I haven’t seen her at all. Don’t get mad – Just prove me Wrong. Thank You.

  7. I noticed the use of the term “discussing” regarding the Honorable RGB. I know sometimes authors give a wonderful talk (King) but to not sign. Will RGB be signing books?

    • The book signing schedule for authors have not yet been finalized. When we announce the full day’s schedule, it will include author signing times and locations for those authors who will be signing their books.

  8. I also agree with some of the others to make Main Stage speaker events ticketed. Maybe through an online ticket system or having them available for pickup when the festival starts. I spent almost an hour in line to see Sonia Sotomayor last year but didn’t make it in the door. I would have gone to see someone else had I known I wouldn’t be let in.

    • Thanks for your comments! Once the schedule for this year’s festival has been finalized, we’ll announce information on whether or not there will be ticketing for specific events or speakers. However, please know that we’re very aware of the issues at last year’s event and have made every effort to ensure that our most popular speakers will be in new, larger venues where we hope to be able to accommodate our festival-goers.

  9. I am so excited to go to the convention! I am traveling from Massachusetts with the hope of seeing RBG in person. This woman is my icon. If there is anyway to buy tickets at all, I would do it in a heartbeat. Even just getting her to sign her book would be amazing. I just hope that if the convention does decide to sell tickets to the main stage, I will have a way of knowing beforehand so I don’t miss out!!! I’m so excited!!! Please keep us all updated somehow! Much appreciation!

  10. Please sell tickets to RBG!

  11. Yes, please use a ticket admission system for the main speakers.

  12. I travel all the way from Glasgow Scotland to make sure I am at the National Book Festival, since my daughte moved to DC. Absolutely love meeting American authors and buying their books.
    Please, please tell me how to get tickets for RBG event. I don’t want to miss it. I did stand for over an hour last year with my daughter for Justice Sotomayer. Ticketed admission even with queuing to get in would be so much better. Thank you.

  13. Please inform us if this will be a ticketed event and if RBG is going to sign books!

  14. We are also traveling to attend the National Book Festival and would like to express our support for the RBG event being a ticketed event. This is our must see moment of the festival. Thank you!

  15. This will be our first year to attend this event and our must see is RBG. We are travelling from Texas. My daughter is in law school and this is a life dream of hers to see and meet RBG and reason we are making the trip. What time do the lines form to get in? What should we expect? We want to make sure we are there with plenty of time and able to see RBG. It would be great if we knew we could be guaranteed that we would not miss out in seeing RBG due to being stuck outside in long lines. Any feed back is appreciated. Thank you!

    • Mary Ann and others: There are no tickets to National Book Festival author presentations and seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. on August 31. We are making every effort to ensure that our most popular speakers will be in very large venues where we hope to accommodate our festival-goers.

  16. Michelle,

    Do you know when RBG will speak? If one we to arrive at 8:30 and wait in line, how long would we be waiting to see her? This is my first time attending and I don’t want to miss out. I hope you can post specifics so we know what to do.

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