A few months ago, I signed up for the Library of Congress blog to keep track of new developments in the world of copyright and the Library of Congress. I learned that for the past eighteen years the Library of Congress has hosted a National Book Festival in Washington, DC. The original National Book Festival was founded by First Lady Laura Bush and James H. Billington, the 13th Librarian of Congress in 2001.
This year’s festival was held on Saturday, August 31, 2019, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was scheduled to speak, along with many other well-known authors, Richard Ford, David McCullough, Jose Andres, David Brooks, David McCullough, Michael, Beschloss, Richard Powers, and Barbara Kingsolver to name just a few.
There were at least twelve different stages on which authors spoke about their books and lives. Many of the authors sat and signed their books for anyone who was willing to stand in line. There were poetry slams, books for sale, games for children, and a pavilion hosted by the Library of Congress with videos, speakers, and copyright trivia.
I stood in line with my niece, Molly, for over an hour just to get into the Main Stage, so we could hear Richard Ford and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg speak.
Richard Ford received the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. He is the author of The Sportwriter and its sequels, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land, and Let Me Be Frank with You. He spoke about his childhood and life experiences, how he developed his writing style over time, and read from sections in some of his books. He was very humble and an excellent storyteller.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was interviewed by Nina Totenberg, a journalist with NPR. She was joined by her biographers, Mary Hartnett and Wendy Williams, who helped put together the collection of Ginsburg’s speeches and writings for the book, In My Own Words.
Justice Ginsburg spoke about her life as a law student and a married female Jewish lawyer with a child and the obstacles she faced in getting a job. She spoke about her friendship with Justice Scalia and some of the cases in which she wrote the majority opinion. She also talked about her friendship with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Justice Ginsburg was funny, feisty, and determined to keep on working in a job she loves.
We also heard Elaine Weiss speak about her book, The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote. Ms. Weiss spoke about the more than 70 years that women worked, lobbied, marched, and fought to obtain the right to vote in the United States. Few people know the full history behind the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which gave women the right to vote in 1920.
I thoroughly enjoyed the National Book Festival and encourage anyone who enjoys reading or listening to books to attend the next National Book Festival on August 29, 2020. There are authors and books for people interested in history, science, fiction, international issues, and poetry, and for children and teenagers.
The National Book Festival is a great way to spend your Labor Day weekend.