Books brought thousands of us together for this year’s Library of Congress National Book Festival at the Washington Convention Center in our nation’s capital this past Saturday. What a time it was!
“It’s wonderful to be back at the Washington Convention Center in person and to see all of these smiling faces,” Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden said to cheers as she opened the festival on the main stage. It was the Library’s first in-person festival since the pandemic forced writers and readers into their separate spaces. The crowds, the energy and the buzz mirrored the festival’s theme — literally, that books bring us together. Read more about the day here.
If you attended in person or watched our livestreams from the comfort of your own home, we want to hear from you! Please take a moment to take our National Book Festival survey, and let us know how we did, what you liked and didn’t, and what kind of book festival you’d like to see us do in the years to come.
Thanks for coming together with us to celebrate books and reading!
The 2022 National Book Festival was 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-Chair David M. Rubenstein. Sponsors include: Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post, AARP, General Motors, James Madison Council, John W. Kluge Center, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Scholastic and Sharjah Book Authority. Presenting Partner C-SPAN and Media Partners NPR and El Tiempo Latino.
I livestreamed Ed Yong’s presentation at 5:05 pm on Sept 3rd, and although I cranked up my computer audio to 100%, Yong’s voice was barely audible; I had to strain to hear throughout, a less than satisfactory experience. You need to check your audio setup for such programs.
Thanks for your input, Lynne — we will be rolling out single-author videos of those livestreamed presentations in the coming weeks, so perhaps we’ll be able to correct the audio problem in post-production. You can also hear Ed Yong speak at the National Book Festival Opening Celebration here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfePZWc3XKQ
Almost every author was a B or C list writer. Only two or three are A list—unlike every previous festival. Very disappointed.
This was my first and was so impressed. We arrived 20 minutes early which was the perfect time. My favorite author was Mitch Albom. I read Tuesdays with Morris years ago but found him entertaining, inspiring and hopeful for the goodness in people. Thank you for the experience.
I traveled almost three-thousand miles (round trip) for this, my fifth festival, and it did not disappoint. The author list seemed at first blush to be a little weak compared to previous years—no King, Baldacci, Rushdie, McCullough, Oats… However, it forced me to dig a little deeper into the list and find exceptional A-list authors who don’t always get the media attention they deserve. Candice Millard and Geraldine Brooks, for example, can stand shoulder to shoulder with any writer, past or present. As always, the festival was well organized and seemed to go off without a glitch. Well done.
Just lost my previous comments — hope they went to you incomplete.
Wanted to add that the filmed tribute to David McCullough and so many warm memories of him were a lovely addition to the festival
This is a post from a teacher on the Washington Teacher’s Union Facebook page, written on Sept. 3rd. You should be aware that this happened. The book fair is a highlight for many teachers and a moment such as this is unwarranted and unnecessary. There were many ways for Mr. Graham to explain why he couldn’t give a discount without insulting teachers (who, by the way, have supported P&P for many years).
Good Evening Teachers et al.. Unfortunately, I had a very unsettling interaction with Bradley “Brad” Graham the co-owner of Politics & Prose Bookstore this evening at the Convention Center Book Fair. At checkout, I inquired if they had a teacher discount (since they do IN their store locations). The clerk said No, but I should mention it to Brad because many teachers had bought books there today. So I walked over to Brad and I said hello nicely (!). “Love your books, been a customer for decades, really appreciate your educator discount in-store but was surprised to see you didn’t have it here. Wondering if you might consider doing that next year.” Then, Brad went off on a tirade about his bottom line and us “teachers” (with contempt) and how we should consider ourselves SO LUCKY to get ANYTHING from him at ALL. Whoah! I told him that his response, his voice level and tone and aggression to my gentle suggestion was not an appropriate response and to have a good day. I then went back to my original checkout clerk and returned the $200 worth of books I had just bought to donate to a classroom that needs books. (I can buy them elsewhere). I have supported this small business owner bookstore for 20+ years since I belonged to teen book group clubs in their basement. I bought from them exclusively from them during the pandemic to make sure they survived. Despite their cheerful ambiance and knowledgeable staff I can no longer contribute to a business that disrespects and disregards teachers. Its not an easy time to be a teacher. How can we stand up for ourselves and demand respect? One way is Money Talks! And my money will be walking and talking elsewhere. Stay tuned for alternative bookstores in the DMV with educator discounts. Please add ur own if you know it. In Solidarity….
Thanks for your comment. We’re so sorry that the patron had a bad experience with one of the Library’s vendors at this year’s festival. We are looking into exactly what happened, and we want our attendees to know that we will take measures to prevent this kind of thing from happening in the future. It’s important for us to do everything we can to ensure that you have the best day possible when you come to the National Book Festival or to any Library of Congress event.
I heard lectures by David Maraniss & Geraldine Brooks, and went to each one’s book-signing. I enjoyed hearing from both of them — David Maraniss was new to me, and Geraldine Brooks answered my question at the Q&A after her talk. I promptly went & bought more books by both of them.
It would have been a great convenience if you could have put the Convention Ctr map on your website in advance, plus the lists of which speakers would be in which venues and when.
I greatly enjoyed the book festival. I had not heard of many of the authors but after listening to them and getting a flavor of what their books were about, I made a list to get most of them. It was commendable that the LOC featured writers that are not A-list but have written books of interest to many of us. I did thumb through a few books and found the writing exceptional. Had it not been for this festival, I would have missed reading about other interesting lives and fascinating stories.
In past years we enjoyed listening on C-Span
This year we could not connect.
However at 9:30 pm we received an alert telling us that the Book Festival begins in 5 minutes!
Loved the Festival! Again! Fantastic speakers in well thought categories.
My only request is to adopt sustainable practices:
– reusable glasses and water pitchers instead of disposable water bottles (Nick Offerman even commented on this)
– have cafes provide reusable dishware.
Contact me if you want to discuss how. I’ve worked in this for my office and happy to share info.
Sorry, but the event has turned into a jumble. Too much and nothing impressive. Let’s begin with the website and information – take a look at the British Library for starters of how the whole of the Library of Congress needs to polish its Internet presence. Then let’s think about running the program to focus on the best not the B’s and C’s as someone wrote earlier.
Commenting as a 4-time volunteer. The attendance was disappointing, and there was practically nothing for the many ushers to do. I wonder if the list of presenters had more to do with it than Covid. I understand the importance of showcasing diverse talent, and the presentations I heard were very good. However, there were very few authors at the level that could create the excitement to draw in a larger audience. Perhaps a better mix next year.
In the past, you had a session on Poetry, so it was easy to find the poets who were reading at the festival. But this year, there was nothing, and it was really difficult to figure out if ANY poets were going to read. So I didn’t attend. I strongly suggest that you make the program and events more searchable: by type, by name, by topic, etc. It’s not hard to do, and it would help those of us looking for specific people, topics or types of books.
I loved the Festival. I spent most of my day visiting with the people from different states that came. I am glad you came and am looking forward to everyone coming again.
Have you been posting the individual speaker videos? I haven’t been able to find individual talks at all yet. I subscribe to the blog but haven’t seen anything lately. Thanks so much.
Thanks for your patience — they are coming soon! The post-production time ran a little longer than we would have liked, but we hope to start rolling them out during the week of Oct. 3. Blog subscribers will receive notice via email.