I spent yesterday navigating my way through my first experience at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C. Though I went in hoping to see as many authors as possible, with a constantly overlapping schedule my expectations weren’t too high. My train got in just as Don DeLillo was finishing up where Margaret Atwood would be speaking, but the tent was already jam packed. I tried to work my way into a spot where I could see when she started speaking, but short legs don’t help too much. The loud area beside the Fiction tent made it hard to hear from the edges, so I was pretty sad to be missing most of what she was saying. I realized that Amity Gaige was speaking in a nearby tent and ended up catching the end of her discussion instead, which was nice and reminded me how much I enjoyed Schroder (one of the very first books I reviewed here).
By the time I made my way over to where Margaret Atwood was signing, the line was absolutely insane and it was nearing the end of her allotted time. I decided it wasn’t going to be worth it to wait, which ended up being a good choice – I heard they ended up cutting off the signing and a ton of people who were waiting were turned away. I figured if the lines were going to be this long for signing, I might as well get into one early, so I jumped in line for Thomas Keneally. I ended up meeting a BookTuber, which was pretty awesome, and Keneally was great at personalizing his books in such a quick time.
I was determined to grab a good seat for Justin Cronin and thankfully I was able to do. He ended up being really lively and fun, which I needed as the day was starting to drag. As I was waiting in the rather long line to get his book signed, the rain that had been threatening all day finally started coming down. In any other situation I would have been gone, but I had waited so long I was determined to stick it out. By the time I was back on the Metro, I was soaked, headached and really angry that my pretty poster had been destroyed by the rain.
Still, I will definitely go back. What I won’t be doing is anything involving book signing. The way the schedule is set up, it’s almost impossible to see the authors you love speak and have your books signed without waiting for close to an hour…which then causes you to miss another author. Plus, it just felt odd to be in factory-like signing lines when I’m used to having conversations with authors in a local bookstore. I would much rather hear more authors speak than spend half the festival waiting in line. And maybe I’ll come home with a dry poster.