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Best of the National Book Festival: J.D. Vance, 2017

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Welcome to our ongoing celebration of the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Each weekday, we will feature a video presentation from among the thousands of authors who have appeared at the National Book Festival and as part of our new year-long series, National Book Festival Presents. Mondays will feature topical nonfiction; Tuesday: poetry or literary fiction; Wednesday: history, biography, memoir; Thursday: popular fiction; and Friday: authors who write for children and teens. Please enjoy, and make sure to explore our full National Book Festival video collection!

J.D. Vance struck a chord in the national zeitgeist with his No. 1 New York Times best-seller, “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.” He was on the Main stage of the 2017 Library of Congress National Book Festival with David Rubenstein, the festival’s co-chairman and principal benefactor. Vance, who was raised in the southwestern Ohio city of Middletown and the Appalachian town of Jackson, told Rubenstein that, after about two weeks, the book’s sales took off. “Your Amazon rating is a way to check in real time how your book is selling. So, there was a point in my life where I was checking it obsessively, probably every seven or eight seconds.”

The 2020 Library of Congress National Book Festival will celebrate its 20th birthday this year. You can get up-to-the-minute news, schedule updates and other important festival information by subscribing to this blog. The festival is made possible by the generosity of sponsors. You too can support the festival by making a gift now.


  1. Before Mr. Vance’s experiences in Middletown, Ohio, I taught in the 1970’s and 80’s in a medium security “reformatory” just south of there and saw how young men, mainly poor blacks and whites, struggled to earn associate’s degrees in challenging circumstances. Many of them succeeded thanks to an ARMCO Steel-supported reintegration program. It was some great teaching experiences and helped shape my pragmatic and optimistic feelings about the future if relatively modest investments are made.

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