Books come alive on National Mall

More than a dozen white tents welcomed readers to the National Mall this weekend for the 11th annual National Book Festival.

The event, sponsored by the Library of Congress, was a two-day affair for the first time in its history, hosting 112 authors, poets and illustrators Saturday and Sunday.

Louis Bayard, a part-time professor of creative writing at GW, attracted a large crowd to the fiction and mystery tent while presenting his newest novel, “The School of Night.” The book twists historical mystery with elements of romance.

“My favorite part is watching the people walking around, it gives you the feeling that books will survive,” Bayard said. “It’s kind of like Woodstock without the drugs. Everyone is in a good mood.”

Festival attendees also received bright-blue giveaway bags with posters and pamphlets. Pavilions split authors by genres, including fiction and mystery, history and biography, contemporary life, poetry and prose, children’s literature, teen literary works and family storytelling.

Signe Carry, from College Park, Md., volunteered at the festival for a second year.

“I work at the Library of Congress and I love the festival,” Carry said. “It’s very important to the community. It promotes literacy, the authors are enlightening, it brings people together who love to read.”

Kate Choi, a Maryland resident who works as an au pair, said she attended the festival in search of children’s books.

Four-time Academy Award-nominated actress Julianne Moore discussed her new children’s book “Freckleface Strawberry: Best Friends Forever” at the Mall Saturday morning. The third installment in her “Freckleface Strawberry” series, launched in 2007, revolves around two characters, Freckleface Strawberry and Windy Pants Patrick, who are best friends despite their differences.

Graduate student Rachel Simpson, who said she just moved to the District, spent Saturday listening to book presentations.

“I think it’s great to see the turnout of all the families in D.C. My mom is a teacher and I think it’s a good cause.”

Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, who spoke at Lisner Auditorium Sept. 21 during an event commemorating the venue’s 1947 integration efforts, attended the book festival for the first time in her writing career. The Toni Morrison Society sponsored the dedication of a bench outside Lisner that day as well, marking the site’s value in African American history as one of the first District venues to integrate.

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