Book festival seeks helpers
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 email@example.com. 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.