Book Festival: Cool On All Fronts

Virginia Festival of the Book

Book-Festival-2013---Date-novfhIt may have been the coldest Virginia Festival of the Book in its nineteen-year history: March 20-24, 2013, was unseasonably chilly and ended with a bit of a blizzard. Perfect book weather, really…all you wanted to do was stay inside, listen, or read.

The celebrated March event came in with a liftoff and went out with two lions. Betty Shotton’s Leadership Breakfast (featuring Liftoff Leadership ) began the Festival Wednesday and on Saturday the Paramount Theater was packed for the first meeting of two iconic figures in the American Civil Rights struggle, Olympic medalist John Carlos and the Honorable John Lewis (D-GA).

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By The Numbers

ATTENDANCE: 21,200
AUTHORS/MODERATORS: 418
TOTAL EVENTS: 206


Adult Events:130
Youth/StoryFest: 9
School Events: 48
Outreach Events: 6
Related Events:13

Also scoring high with attendees was a panel of seasoned sports writers including John Grisham, Frank Deford, Jane Leavy, Dave Zirin, and Tim Wendel. Hurricane Katrina met its match in Thursday’s luncheon speaker Douglas Brinkley (he wrote a book about it), as did forces of nature like Theodore Roosevelt and Walter Cronkite (two subjects of his recent biographies).

Fiction was in Thursday evening’s forecast; novelists Jill McCorkle, Chris Tilghman, Randy Susan Meyers, and Susan Shreve poured it on. Eben Alexander, the neurosurgeon whose near-death-experience gave him a new perspective on the afterlife, was deluged with interest in Proof of Heaven.

Friday came with a cool front of thriller writers: C.J. Box, David Morrell, Rita Mae Brown, Hank Phillippi Ryan, and Ellen Crosby. And Saturday’s daytime high was set by Natasha Trethewey, U.S. Poet Laureate reading from her new collection, Thrall.

May the great if unpredictable book weather hold for the 20th Anniversary Festival: March 19-23, 2014. See you there!

For audio and video from the Festival, visit vabook.org