Every year about this time, we in the National Capital Area experience our annual glut of book festivals. It's an embarrassment of riches. For those who are book crazy, this -- and not Christmas -- is the most wonderful time of the year. When else would you have this kind of opportunity to hear your favorite authors talk about their inspirations or give you the backstory on the trials of getting their latest book down on paper?
What to expect from this year's festivals? Let's take them in calendar order:
The National Book Festival is first up, running September 21st and 22nd. As far as location is concerned, it couldn't get any better: it's held on the National Mall. Events begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday, with pavilions for children, teens, contemporary life, literary fiction and poetry, history and biography, mystery and suspense, graphic novels and science fiction. The line-ups are, as you'd imagine, stupendous, with many more top shelf authors than can be listed here. Highlights include:
Saturday, September 21st:
Holly Black, Teens & Children pavilion, 11:30: Ms. Black, who has appeared at multiple National Book Festivals, returns to discuss her latest, The Coldest Girl in Cold Town, her highly anticipated take on the vampire novel.
Linda Ronstadt, Contemporary Life pavilion, 11:30: One of the most popular female vocalists of the 1970s will be discussing her memoir, Simple Dreams.
Don Delillo, Fiction & Mystery pavilion, 10:00: Author of Underworld and National Book Award-winning White Noise Don Delillo will talk about his latest short story collection, The Angel Esmerelda: Nine Stories.
Daniel Pink, Contemporary Life pavilion, 3:30: The author of several bestselling books on business and technology will present his most recent book, To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Persuading, Convincing and Influencing Others.
James Swanson, Teens & Children pavilion, 5:20: Swanson, the author of bestselling Manhunt! The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer has two books coming out on the same subject, one geared for adults (End of Days: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy) and for young adults (The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy).
Sunday, September 22nd:
Lisa McMann, Teens & Children pavilion, 4:00: McMann, author of several popular books for teens including The Unwanteds, launches a new Visions series with Crash.
Adam Johnson, Fiction & Mystery pavilion, 1:50: The author will discuss his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Orphan Master's Son.
Joyce Carol Oates, Poetry & Prose pavilion, 1:50: Ms. Oates will discuss her latest novel, the much acclaimed Gothic The Accursed and a collection, Evil Eye: Four Novellas of Love Gone Wrong.
Next up is Fall for the Book, a week-long celebration of all things literary hosted by George Mason University. Events take place at a variety of locations in Fairfax and Arlington counties, however. Fall for the Book is extraordinary for a couple reasons: one, for the breadth of literature that it represents and two, for its commitment to area writers. Ticketed receptions give you the opportunity to meet bestselling authors such as Dave Barry (recipient of this year's Fairfax Prize), David Baldacci and Cheryl Strayed in person; there is storytelling for the children; exhibits; informational sessions on topics such as self-publishing and and all manner of genre fiction represented.
Elizabeth Haynes at Rust Library in Leesburg, Sunday, September 22nd at 2:00: British mystery novelist Elizabeth Haynes will talk about her dark suspenseful novels, including her latest, Human Remains.
Ralph Nader, Harris Theater, GMU, Monday, September 23rd at 7:30 p.m.: Activist Nader will speak about his latest book, Seventeen Solutions: Bold Ideas For America's Future.
Historical Fiction Panel, Sandy Spring Tent at the Johnson Center, GMU, Wednesday, September 25 at 12 noon: Thomas Mallon, author of Watergate: A Novel and Virginia Pye, author of the debut River of Dust.
Sujata Massey and A.X. Ahmad, One More Page Books, Arlington, Thursday, September 26th at 7:00 p.m.: Bethanne Patrick interviews Sujata Massey, author of the Rei Shumura mystery series about her latest novel, The Sleeping Dictionary, and A.X. Ahmad about his debut thriller, The Caretaker.
Manil Suri, Sandy Spring Tent at the Johnson Center, GMU, Friday, September 27th at 4:30: Author of The Death of Vishnu talks about his latest novel, The City of Devi.
David Baldacci, Concert Center, Center for the Arts, GMU, Friday, September 27th at 7:30 p.m.: Bestselling novelist Baldacci receives the Mason Award for his work with the literacy community.
If that's not enough bookish fun for your tastes, you can jump into the car and head north on Route 95 for the Baltimore Book Festival, which runs from September 27 to 29 at Mount Vernon Place. Quirkier than either the National Book Festival or Fall for the Book, the Baltimore event packs a lot of literature in a quick couple days. The Baltimore Book Festival always has a lot of cookbook authors in the mix, as well as representatives from the local chapters of Romance Writers of America and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Highlights include:
Nicola Kraus and Emma McLaughlin, Ladies Night Out: Books and Bubbly, Friday, September 27th at 5:00 p.m.: The authors of The Nanny Diaries host a night out of readings, dating advice, and champagne with actress Ali Larter.
Laura Lippman and John Searles: In Conversation, Literary Salon, Saturday, September 28th at 5:00 p.m.: Searles interviews Baltimore's favorite mystery writer Laura Lippman about her latest novel, After I'm Gone.
Jason Mott, Literary Salon, Sunday, September 29th at 4:00 p.m.: Mott, a former Pushcart Prize nominee and poet, will discuss his highly regarded debut novel The Returned, which has already been optioned for film.