I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Decatur Book Festival is an amazing literary event, and if you’ve never been, I can promise that it’s definitely worth the trip to Atlanta. The authors/events lineup has something for everyone. Whether you like children’s literature, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or independent authors, the DBF is the largest and most versatile independent book festival in the United States.
But the DBF is not just about books and authors. The festival also features dance and theatre performances, art showings, discussion panels, and networking opportunities for both local and international businesses. Oh and did I mention the food yet? We all know that southern cuisine is superior to any other type of nourishment, and Atlanta is the place to be if you want a belly full of yum. From street vendors to fine dining, the DBF also attracts foodies of all kinds. But back to the books…
This year’s author lineup was exceptional, and while it was impossible for me to attend every event I wanted in just 3 short days, I was thrilled to attend the events of Susan Cooper (The Dark is Rising), Christopher Paul Curtis (The Watsons Go to Birmingham), Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts), and Kirby Larson (Hattie Big Sky) on the first day of the festival. And while I did not get to meet children’s authors Tomie dePaolo (Strega Nona) and Jerry Pinkney (The Talking Eggs), I was able to grab a few signed copies of their picture books from Little Shop of Stories, which is one of my favorite bookstores in the south.
While I don’t read as much non-fiction as I should, I’m so glad I stumbled upon the reading/signing of Brian Switek, author of My Beloved Brontosaurus. A fascinating and entertaining look into the volatile world of dinosaurs, Switek’s book discusses the controversial history of the Brontosaurus, a dinosaur that never actually existed. While some of the terminology was a little over my head, Switek knows how to entertain an audience. We were lucky to get a signed copy of his book for my husband, who could potentially give Brian Switek a run for his money in a competition of dinosaur enthusiasm. And I must commend Mr. Switek for his ability to eloquently and kindly correct his audience’s misconceptions about dinosaurs and their physiology. Finally, I must apologize to Mr Switek for calling him “Dinosaur Man” when I saw him on the street and could not remember his name. Considering his love of all things Dino, he probably wasn’t offended, but just in case…I’m sorry, sir!
I always love going to the DBF, but this year, I had a very important mission: to meet one of my all-time favorite authors and personal heroine, Miss Francesca Lia Block. Ohmygod I still cannot believe that I met her in person. It’s like a candy-colored dream in my head, and while I was poised and articulate in my mind, in reality, I think I slurred my speech and blabbered my adoration of her work in my happy delirium. Even so, Francesca Lia Block was so kind and gracious, and I will never ever forget that whole hour of being in her lovely presence. Thank you, Francesca, for taking the time to talk with me, sign my books, and allow me to take about 25 pictures of you. I cannot tell you how much it means to me.
By Sunday afternoon, we were all pretty exhausted and sweaty, but I did manage to attend one final book event: The book launch for Wilton Barnhardt’s new novel Lookaway, Lookaway. Mr. Barnhardt could not have been more charming, and his hilarious reading had the entire audience in stitches. While I didn’t get to chat with the author for very long, I’m happy to report that I now own a signed first edition of Lookaway, Lookaway, which I can already tell is going to be one of my new favorite southern novels.
So all in all, I think this year’s trip to the DBF was a huge success, and I cannot wait to see which authors and artists are scheduled to attend in the coming years. And finally, I have to thank my wonderful mother-in-law and sister-in-law for driving us all over the city and putting up with my fangirl rants and raves. And another thanks to my sister, Lyndsi, for being my official Francesca Lia Block photographer during this paramount moment of my life. Now, I think I better get started on reading some of the dozen or so books I acquired at the festival.