July 29, 2019

Library of Congress expands book festival with yearlong series of events


This year’s National Book Festival, a free annual event hosted by the Library of Congress, was already set to be a hit with big names like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Barbara Kingsolver headlining. But now, according to Gaspard Le Dem reporting for DCist, the library is adding on a series of events that will last a year.

“With the incredible success of the National Book Festival, we aim to engage even more readers of every age all year long with timely programs that celebrate storytelling, books and creativity,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in a press release. “National Book Festival Presents will feature a wide variety of subjects for diverse audiences and will highlight groundbreaking works in the humanities and science to fuel our ideas and imaginations.”

First up: Neil Patrick Harris presenting his book The Magic Misfits on September 11.

The series, called National Book Festival Presents, is more ambitious than I’d have imagined possible. From Joy Harjo to Alexander McCall Smith to Edwidge Danticat, the series is packed with big names across genres. Here’s the Fall 2019 lineup:

  • Sept. 11 – Neil Patrick Harris on his new book, The Magic Misfits. Harris is an accomplished actor, producer, director, television host and author. The Magic Misfits series is his debut for middle school children.
  • Sept. 19 – Joy Harjo begins her formal duties as the new U.S. poet laureate with an inaugural reading of her work at the Library, including from her new book of poetry, An American Sunrise. Harjo is an enrolled member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, and her Native American identity is central to her work.
  • Sept. 24 – Edwidge Danticat on her new book, Everything Inside: Stories. Danticat, a prominent Haitian-American writer, is the author of numerous books, including The Art of Death, Claire of the Sea Light, and I’m Dying.
  • Oct. 11 – Dav Pilkey on his new book, Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls. Pilkey’s Captain Underpants series has more than 80 million copies in print worldwide, and his series for children emphasizes ethics and civic engagement. His latest creation, Dog Man, is a No. 1 New York Times bestselling series.
  • Oct. 15 – Malcolm Gladwell on his new book, Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know. Gladwell is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. He has also been included in the Time 100 Most Influential People, among other honors.
  • Oct. 24 – Alexander McCall Smith on his new book, To the Land of Long Lost Friends: No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series. Smith is a leading writer of contemporary mysteries and is known for placing women in the role of detectives with his popular series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and is now a professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Nov. 6 – Karen Armstrong on her new book, The Lost Art of Scripture: Rescuing the Sacred Texts. Armstrong is the author of numerous groundbreaking works on world religions and speaks often on how faith shapes civic conversation.
  • Nov. 8 – Brad Meltzer on the launch of his new PBS KIDS series, Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, based on his books for children, Ordinary People Change the World. The PBS KIDS series, premiering Nov. 11, will introduce kids to inspiring historical figures and the character virtues that helped them succeed.
  • Nov. 13 – André Aciman on the launch of his new book, Find Me, the sequel to his bestselling Call Me By Your Name, which was made into an Academy Award-winning film.

You can stay up to date on the festival by following their blog.

Amelia Stymacks is the former director of digital marketing at Melville House.