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We’ve Got Groupies!

The following post was written by Guy Lamolinara, communications officer in the Center for the Book.

When we think of groupies, what usually comes to mind are “those people” who irresponsibly follow their favorite rock band around the country, shamelessly work their way backstage and live their life devoted to being, well, a groupie.

The National Book Festival has groupies too! “Those people” who have attended all of them, all 19 previous festivals. And they wouldn’t even dream of missing the 20th, the first online-only occurrence, on Sept. 25-27.

But the groupies I am thinking about now are the authors, poets and illustrators who have been with us multiple times, in some cases just about every time they publish a book. I’m thinking of David McCullough (six times), Katherine Paterson (seven), Gene Luen Yang (five), Kadir Nelson (six), Carmen Agra Deedy (seven), Jacqueline Woodson (five), David Baldacci (seven), Jon Meacham (four, including this year) and so many other frequent participants. They are our author groupies, and we are so glad to have them.

Author Gene Luen Yang speaks with Washington Post columnist Michael Cavna at the 2014 National Book Festival.

These great writers, poets and illustrators love talking about their books, meeting their fans and signing their work for those patient enough to stand in lines so lengthy that the last hopeful person must wait for hours.

This year, writers will still discuss their work (in videos), sign their books (on bookplates, from a select number of authors) and meet with their fans (via live chats with many of the participants).

Most sessions from prior National Book Festivals, especially those from recent occurrences, are available in our NBF video collection.

Some writers have made the National Book Festival a family affair. This is especially true of the Pinkneys: husband and wife Jerry and Gloria Pinkney; their son Brian Pinkney and his wife, Andrea Davis Pinkney; and another son of Jerry and Gloria, Myles Pinkney. Together the Pinkneys have appeared 13 times! No other family even comes close.

Pretenders to the “throne” are the Roberts family: the late Cokie, who graced us with her presence five times, and her husband, Steve (once). Joining us this year is their daughter, Rebecca Boggs Roberts, who, with Lucinda Robb (granddaughter of Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson and daughter of Lynda Johnson and Chuck Robb), has written a wonderful book for young people: “The Suffragist Playbook: Your Guide to Changing the World.”

The Library of Congress salutes all the authors past and present who have joined our annual celebration of books and reading. This year we are celebrating American Ingenuity.

We treasure the participation of every writer, poet and illustrator who has come, even if just once. They are among the nation’s — indeed the world’s — most loved writers: Nobel Prize winners Toni Morrison and Mario Vargas Llosa; Stephen King (the only author whose appearance had to be ticketed to control the teeming numbers who wanted to see him); E.L. Doctorow, Richard Ford and Don De Lillo — all recipients of the Library’s Prize for American Fiction; and much-loved Oscar-winner Julie Andrews.

So, who do you think is our ultimate author groupie?

It’s the beloved, two-time Newbery-winning writer Kate DiCamillo, who, with her eighth appearance this year, holds the record.

Author Kate DiCamillo reads aloud at the 2017 National Book Festival. Photo credit: Ralph Small

In just a few weeks — three, plus a day, to be exact — we will throw open our virtual doors to all, from across the country and around the world. It will truly be a national (and international) book festival! Join us at loc.gov/bookfest.

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 can support the festival, too, by making a gift now.

One Comment

  1. Virginia Vitucci
    September 3, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    I’m so glad National Book Festival XX will take place! For me, it marks the start of Fall, my favorite time of year.

    Although this year’s Festival will be virtual, it will be packed with wonderful authors presenting great progams. Bravo in advance to the Library and its staff for making the Festival happen, partiularly under this year’s trying circumstances. Likewise, bravo to all the authors and other folks who so generously contribute their time, energy and knowledge to making the Festival such a success.

    PS: I have a question. At every previous Festival, tote bags (sponsered I think by CSPAN) have been handed out to attendees. Will there be a tote bag this year? If so, how can I get one? I have almost a full set of the previous totes and would very much like this year’s if there is one.

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