Book fes­ti­val seeks helpers

The Washington Post Sunday - - BOOK WORLD - BY RON CHARLES

The 15th Li­brary of Congress Na­tional Book Fes­ti­val is just six weeks away — on Sept. 5. It prom­ises to be big­ger than ever, with 150 au­thors and il­lus­tra­tors talk­ing about ev­ery­thing from kids books to cook books, mys­ter­ies, po­etry, bi­ogra­phies, pol­i­tics and a new pav­il­ion on ro­mance. We’ll pub­lish a spe­cial is­sue of Book World on Aug. 30 to help you plan your whole day.

But maybe you’re a book­worm who hears a spe­cial call­ing. Maybe you know that the only thing bet­ter than at­tend­ing the book fes­ti­val is par­tic­i­pat­ing in it. Now’s your chance. The li­brary is look­ing for vol­un­teers. If you love books and peo­ple, you could be one of the folks who makes this won­der­ful literary ex­trav­a­ganza run smoothly. You can serve in an ar­ray of ways: wel­com­ing fes­ti­val-go­ers to the Washington Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, pro­vid­ing di­rec­tions to the var­i­ous pavil­ions, serv­ing as an usher, work­ing in the in­for­ma­tion booth, hand­ing out pro­grams and posters and help­ing keep or­der at the book sign­ings.

Whilevol­un­teeringatthe­mos­tex­cit­inglit­er­ary event in Washington, you never know what ex­tra­or­di­nary lit­tle mo­ments you’ll catch. I once in­tro­duced Don DeLillo to Mar­garet At­wood. Years ago, Paula Deen gave me a le­mon square. Help­ing Tom Wolfe from a golf cart, I spot­ted his ar­gyle socks be­neath the white pants. But ev­ery year, the real thrill is help­ing tens of thou­sands of read­ers hear au­thors whose books have en­riched their lives.

Vol­un­teer co­or­di­na­tor Faye Levin says, “It is pretty amaz­ing when you think about it. Over 800 vol­un­teers, most of whom don’t know each other, most of whom have never worked to­gether, and yet af­ter one short train­ing, with their en­thu­si­as­man­ds­mart­sand­fes­ti­valT-shirt­sand com­fort­able shoes, the vol­un­teers man­age to help cre­ate a most awe­some book fes­ti­val.”

Many of the vol­un­teers have been re­turn­ing for years, she says, but the fes­ti­val can al­ways use more.

Don’t feel as though you have to com­mit to the full day. Vol­un­teers can choose one of three shifts: 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., or 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. The only re­quired prepa­ra­tion is at­ten­dance at any one of these 90-minute meet­ings in the Mont­pe­lier Room in the Madi­son Build­ing on In­de­pen­dence Av­enue: Sept. 1, at 7 p.m. Sept. 3, at 1:30 p.m. Sept. 4, at 10:30 a.m. If you’re in­ter­ested, send an e-mail to Levin at In­clude your name, phone num­ber, mail­ing ad­dress, T-shirt size and a brief de­scrip­tion of any spe­cial needs.

Pass the spice

Mean­while, in a gal­axy far, far away, Frank Herbert’s “Dune” is en­joy­ing a golden an­niver­sary. Ear­lier this year, the Fo­lio So­ci­ety— a Lon­don pub­lisher of el­e­gant edi­tions — brought out a strik­ingly il­lus­trated ver­sion of the science fic­tion clas­sic with a new in­tro­duc­tion by Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda. The so­ci­ety’s first print­ing of 2,500 copies sold out in three weeks, and the sec­ond print­ing, avail­able this month, has at­tracted more than 1,200 pre-or­ders. To celebrate, the Fo­lio So­ci­ety is invit­ing read­ers to post photos of them­selves with their newly re­ceived edi­tions of “Dune” on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram us­ing the han­dle @fo­lioso­ci­ety and the hash­tag #OwnTheSpice. Four peo­ple will be cho­sen to re­ceive a Fo­lio book and a copy of a poster signed by “Dune” artistSamWe­ber. Fo­lio So­ci­ety editor Tom Walker says, “We want it all: crazy, cre­ative, beau­ti­ful. It is a fab­u­lous edi­tion of a book that fires the imag­i­na­tion, and that is what we want to see. I’m sure the en­tries will be hotly de­bated.” Thec om­pe­ti­tion closes on Aug. 10.

Frank Herbert’s son Brian, who, with Kevin J. An­der­son, has con­tin­ued his fa­ther’s work in sev­eral “Dune”-re­lated nov­els, has given the Fo­lio So­ci­ety his bless­ing. “I think the edi­tion is well done, a very classy pre­sen­ta­tion of a clas­sic novel,” he said. “Frank Herbert would be pleased to learn of the en­dur­ing in­ter­est. I think it’s one of the great­est works of literature (not just of science fic­tion) and will be read and en­joyed for cen­turies to come.” Ron Charles is the editor of Book­World. You can fol­low him on Twit­ter @RonCharles.

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