The Sunday Salon – A Day Full of Bookish Events

Yesterday was the National Book Festival in DC, and my husband being the good sport he is, agreed to make the rounds with me.  There were two authors I wanted to see — Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, and Sarah Vowell, author of Unfamiliar Fishes.

We arrived in time to see Egan who was worth the rush and cab fare to get there.  She spoke about her writing style, writing group, and did a short reading from Goon Squad noting where the inspiration for the scene came from.  In all honesty, I’ve had A Visit from the Good Squad on my list but it wasn’t until I read a great review last week that made me want to run out and buy it.  Hearing her speak sealed it.  You’ve probably already guessed I bought the book.  And I sought out the entire chapter done in PowerPoint.   How can you not appreciate a book with a presentation as a chapter!

Sarah Vowell is an author I’ve been familiar with for a while because of her appearances on Letterman, John Stewart, and work on NPR.  She’s incredibly funny and though I’ve only read one of her books (so far), I’m a big fan.  I’m thrilled to report she’s as funny in person as she is a writer.  She’s sarcastic, biting, and even if you don’t appreciate her warped sense of humor and way of looking at the world, she can make you wonder.  That’s what I want in a non-fiction author.  Frankly, history isn’t always amusing or entertaining but she makes it that way.  I bought Unfamiliar Fishes which is her new book about the history of Hawaii.  I read The Wordy Shipmates a few years back but Assassination Vacation is probably a future purchase.

As a way to cap off the day, we made our way to Politics & Prose, one of the greatest bookstores in DC, (but really I could say anywhere because it’s that awesome) to hear Ron Suskind talk about his new book, Confidence Men.  My husband bought it when it came out last week and while I’m not sure I’ll read it, he was very interesting in person.  Thanks to an issue of parking, we got there just as the event was starting and had to stand for an hour and a half (why I wore heals I’ll never know!) but totally worth it.

It was a good book day.  🙂

I put off posting today because I’ve been deep into The Taker.  I was so excited to get this book for review!  I read so many wonderful reviews and each one said it was one of those books you don’t put down.  That’s true.  It’s actually sitting open next to me as I write.  There’s a high probability I’ll be finishing it today.  So good.

There’s another book I want to mention as well by means of wrap-up today.  It’s Fiction Noir: Thirteen Stories.  It’s an anthology of 13 short stories which I’ve been making a good attempt at reading more of this year.  I was impressed with this collection.  I tend to prefer short story collections when written by the same author so I was slightly skeptical.  I shouldn’t have been.  After coming to the end of each, I moved ahead wondering what gem the next would hold.  Really good.

I’m off and back into the pages of The Taker.  Happy Sunday.


The Sunday Salon – The National Book Festival

The National Book Festival was this weekend in Washington, DC and I braved the still 90 degree weather to see two authors — Diana Gabaldon who wrote The Outlander series and Elizabeth Kostova who wrote The Historian and The Swan Thieves.  Gabaldon was very funny especially when she started describing how and why she decided on a Scotsman for the male character.  She drew a huge crowd, and as always, a lot of questions about her next book since she left everyone hanging in An Echo in the Bone.  Two years at least.  Yep, another two years or so before I find out what happened.  She does have a graphic novel coming out that does feature Outlander characters so I guess that will have to do for the moment.  Kostova was good as well and spoke about her writing process which I found interesting.  For whatever reason, I’m always fascinated to hear about authors’ writing processes; when they write, how they put the story together, and where they find inspiration.  This week I’ve been reading The Historian for the read along and hearing Kostova speak about the book provided a lot of insight on why and how she ended up writing about Dracula.  I’m surprised to see how much I’m enjoying it the second time around too.  I always worry that when I pick up a book to re-read that I’m not going to enjoy it as much as I did the first time and that my experience and memories will be ruined somehow.  That doesn’t seem to be happening with this book.

Because of the heat, I ended up spending time in the National Gallery looking at Edvard Munch prints instead of listening to more authors and by 2PM I decided that I had lost enough fluid thanks to the heat and left so not much else to report.  C-SPAN’s Book TV will have coverage up soon if you’re interested in seeing any of the authors at this year’s festival.  I’ll probably end up watching a few that I missed this way.  If you want to see the list of authors, the Library of Congress which sponsors the festival has a complete list.

Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire was my other re-read this week.  I hate to admit this but I remember more from the movies than I do the books, but thanks to cable, I have seen the movies more than I have read the books so it does make sense.  It’s nice to be surprised by a book on a re-read though.  While I knew the ending, there were details I had forgotten which make the story much different to read than to watch.

I started The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin this weekend.  He’s an Australian author and this is his first book.  It’s dark, disturbing, and sad and I have decided that I will probably be finishing this one while the sun is shining today.  Come to think of it, it would have been perfect for the Readers Imbibing Peril Challenge which I meant to enter and then didn’t.  Maybe next year.

I was planning to include a few pics from the book festival but I can’t figure out how to get them off my phone and hubby is working.  Since I want to be able to spend some time with him today, away from the computer and the blackberry, I’m not going to ask him how to figure it out.  Besides, they aren’t all that good so you’re not really missing anything.  The woman in front of me kept moving and her head appears in every single one of my photos.  Oh well.

That’s it for me this week.  Happy Sunday!