The National Book Festival–In which I melt my face off and meet my favorite author!!

I’ve learned one thing about book festivals after having three under my belt! It is this: You can plan out your day ahead of time and meticulously schedule everything but you might as well just set your expectations and plans aside because things will never go as planned. I think I learned that very well in a few different ways! What I thought the event would be like or what I planned to do has never been what has actually happened. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily–just a lesson I’d like to pass on to those who are going to a book festival for the first time. Leave your expectations behind and go with the flow!

Anne and I (of course my eyes are closed!)

This was a hard lesson I learned at the NBF. This event was HUGE. I had planned to see all these presentations and get all these books signed, as it was pretty easy to just waltz up and wait in a line at other events I’ve been to, but the sheer amount of people and the lines for author signings put a damper on seeing some of the authors I wanted to (Julia Glass & Diana Gabaldon). The most important thing was that I did get to see my favorite author–Jonathan Safran Foer!!!! However, now that I know what to expect, I’ll be able to plan accordingly for next year. It’s about deciding what is important to you–signing or presentations. You won’t be able to get everything signed like you might be able to at other smaller events. Anyways, on to my day!

Crowd for Collins

The boyfriend and I pulled out of the driveway at 6am–bleary eyed from going to a Phillies game the night before. We made it to DC around 9:30 and made our way to the National Mall. Our first stop was the Suzanne Collins presentation where I got to meet up with Anne from Potter, Percy and I again. We wanted to make sure we had good seats for the presentation so we decided to sit in for the presentation before Suzanne’s which was Brad Meltzer. I had never heard of him before so I wasn’t really excited for this one and it really exceeded my expectations! Typically Meltzer writes thrillers but he was in the Childrens/Teen tent to talk about the book he wrote for his son called Heroes for My Son which sounded really fantastic. He wanted to write a book about heroes for his son to look up to and that exemplified all the morals and values that he wanted to instill in his son, but, he wanted to seek out stories that weren’t so obvious. He talked about some of these heroes–the police officer who started the Make A Wish Foundation, Roberto Clemente and about how Thomas Jefferson demonstrated humility as he never took credit for writing the Declaration of Independence. It was a really inspiring presentation and he was quite comical. My non-reading boyfriend really enjoyed this presentation–as did I!

Suzanne Collins

Then it was time for Suzanne Collins! Throughout Meltzer’s presentation you could see a mob filtering in! We were happy that we were able to snag some really great seats as it ended up being a packed tent with people sitting and standing anywhere there was space. It was hard for me to choose between Suzanne Collins and Isabel Allende but I chose Suzanne’s presentation because I heard she doesn’t speak often. It proved to be an interesting presentation and I feel like I understood her motivation behind The Hunger Games. She explained how she has always been fascinated by the Greek myth of Theseus and how he was one of the fourteen youths sent as a tribute to King Minos and put in a labyrinth with the monster Minotaur. She talked about how the principle of “when children die, we die because we have killed our future” being an essential lesson in Greek classics. She also was fascinated by the Roman gladiator games and Sparticus proved to be a model for Katniss. She said that these interests alone were not the force to move the story as it required an emotional charge. On the night that the story came to her she was watching a reality tv show where young people were competing for money and news coverage of the Iraq War and these two things, meshed with the interests she spoke of before, gave birth to the idea of The Hunger Games. I was just so fascinated by this and laughed when she was talking about reality tv being an inspiration to this as I, in my review of The Hunger Games, likened it to Survivor. We listened to some of the Q&A but left because I wanted to punch a lady in the face for asking a very spoilery question for those of us who haven’t finished the series and because I wanted to get in line for the Isabel Allende signing since I didn’t listen to her presentation.

We then got to the line, thinking we were early, only to discover how HUGE the line was. I ended up missing the Diana Gabaldon presentation but I was happy I stayed, despite melting in the sun, because we were one of the last ones allowed to get our book signed before they cut it off! They were really rushing you through but it was still great to see her and say hello!

Isabel Allende

The boyfriend (who was already receiving the “best boyfriend of the year” award just for coming) and I went and grabbed a quick lunch–and by lunch I mean a soft pretzel and a drink– and then went and explored some of the tents where Scholastic and Penguin were stationed! We then decided to go sit in the tent where Jonathan Safran Foer would be speaking at 2 because it was essential for me to be sitting right square in front of him so I could just bask in his awesomeness. We get to the tent a little after the presentation started only for my boyfriend to realize that there was actually someone there he wanted to see–Craig Robertson–who is Oregon State’s basketball coach and Michelle Obama’s brother! I felt bad that we missed half of the presentation because my boyfriend is a basketball player and has such a love for the game!

Penguin’s mascot!

We then listened to Jules Feiffer & then my boyfriend, who FOR REAL deserves “Best Boyfriend For Eternity” award, tells me that he will go sit in line for an hour so that I can listen to JSF and not worry about not getting into the signing line! I have such an amazing boyfriend who might not read but he supports the habit by standing by himself in the heat for an hour so that I can get to meet my favorite author in the whole world! Anyways, I’ll stop gushing about my boyfriend, and tell you about Jonathan. Yes, I call him Jonathan like I know him. I listened to an interesting presentation by Gucharan Das before JSF and I almost cried when he came on stage! He read some excerpts from Eating Animals (which is his non-fiction work that I haven’t read yet, as a carnivore, but will be doing so soon!) and talked a little bit about his reasoning for not eating meat. I listened to a few of the Q&A’s but then left so I could join my boyfriend in line! I get over there and he was 10th in line!!

Finally the moment came in which I got to be face to face with JSF–an author who in the College Students group on Goodreads is regarded as a GOD for the most part! He was really nice and my boyfriend sat there snapping pictures for me as awestruck but trying to remain cool as I talked to him about how I enjoyed his novels and that our CS group really had great discussions with them.

Then, to my delight, a media person from the Library of Congress tells me to lean over for a picture with him! I probably look like a hot mess in the picture but I wasn’t caring considering the fact they weren’t letting you actually pose with him! She then pulled me aside and interviewed me and told me to right down my address so she could send me the picture which was so exciting!

It was a really great experience and I will most definitely be attending next year! Have any of you been able to attend any book festivals lately?

Here is Jonathan reading from Eating Animals


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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. OKAY wow, that's so awesome!!

  2. Eleni @ La Femme Readers says:

    Nice Jamie! Seems like you had a great time. I'm glad you met your fave author, I never heard of him, I'll check him out. 🙂

  3. Ahh this is so cool! I wish I could have gone. Sadly I don't own a car, so it's a bit hard to get to events like this. Next year I am absolutely going! I have a feeling that I would spend all of my money on books, and it would be amazing. I love all of your pictures. It looks like it was a really great event and I'm glad you got to meet JSF. I bet everyone over at College Students is super jealous!

  4. Christina/Book Addict says:

    Awesome! Love your photos. I'm glad you got to meet up with Anne again. Very cool. 🙂 I wish I could have been there!

  5. Man of la Books says:

    Thanks for the report especially for those of us who couldn't go. I would have went just to meet Isabel Allende.

  6. Jamie, I'm so happy for you! It sounds like you had a fantastic time, and HOORAY for being the one chosen for a pic and interview with your favorite author ever! I hope I'll be able to make it to the Boston Book Fest in a few weeks to meet one of my all-time favorite authors, Bill Bryson!

  7. It sounds like you had an amazing day! I'm extremely jealous that you were incredibly close to JSF (I tried to make a joke haha). I'm glad you had such a great day! Your boyfriend also sounds amazing!

    I did not know that a police officer started the Make a Wish Foundation! Interesting.

  8. This looks like so much fun! I was part of the Iowa City Book Festival this summer and in a couple of weeks I'm going to the Minneapolis Book Festival to meet up with some other bloggers. It's amazing that before I started blogging I didn't even know these things really existed and now they're a huge part of my life.

  9. Becky (Page Turners) says:

    Isabell Allende!!!!!!! One of my fave authors of all time. I am sooooo crazy jealous

  10. This sounds so fun! And where did you find this boyfriend?! What a hero. You should definitely read eating animals soon, I actually enjoyed it more than his fiction.

  11. irisonbooks says:

    I'm so jealous of the book signing with Foer, which I think I must have told you on twitter 10 times already 🙂


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