The AJC Decatur Book Festival celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. I moved nearby 8 years ago. Coincidence? I think not. Some people count the days until Christmas or their birthday, but I count the days until the largest independent book festival in the nation. Held as it is in my backyard, I have attended every year since moving to the Atlanta area, and I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Always carry water and an umbrella. Wear sensible shoes and comfortable clothes. If you’re prone to book buying, invest in a backpack. Print the schedule and the map and plan ahead. I save cash from each pay for at least six months prior to the event. I use this cash rather than a credit card to purchase books. Saves me a great deal of financial pain. This year I also made sure to catch up on my reading of the authors whose presentations I would be attending. Because I did so, I was rewarded with a richer experience when the authors discussed their books and when I met them for a signature.
I read [simpleazon-link asin=”0062311085″ locale=”us”]Natchez Burning: A Novel (Penn Cage)[/simpleazon-link] and [simpleazon-link asin=”0062311115″ locale=”us”]The Bone Tree (Penn Cage)[/simpleazon-link] prior to meeting Greg Iles. I happened to have reviewed an ARC of The Bone Tree and was able to get that signed by the author. He and journalist Stanley Nelson presented a fascinating panel discussion entitled Bringing Civil Rights Cold Cases to Life in Fact and Fiction. Next, I attended Ron Rash’s interview as he discussed his latest work [simpleazon-link asin=”0062349317″ locale=”us”]Above the Waterfall: A Novel[/simpleazon-link]. Much to my astonishment and glee, he remembered my Loopy Librarian moniker because his brother had mentioned my positive review of his book.
After a refreshing and fulfilling lunch with friends at the Raging Burrito, I enjoyed a short story reading by Pulitzer Prize Winning author Adam Johnson from his new book [simpleazon-link asin=”0812997476″ locale=”us”]Fortune Smiles: Stories[/simpleazon-link]. He was also incredibly gracious and engaging during his signing. I ended the first day in a lighthearted session entitled Queens of Romance which featured Meg Cabot, Robyn Carr and Kristan Higgins.
Day two was equally entertaining. Libba Bray discussed the second book in her Diviners series, [simpleazon-link asin=”0316126047″ locale=”us”]Lair of Dreams: A Diviners Novel (The Diviners)[/simpleazon-link]. She was witty and lively as always. Later in the day during a session entitled Small Towns, Big Murders I was introduced to a new thriller writer (new to me that is) named Michael Koryta. Turns out he’s a Ron Rash fan. Go figure. I bought his book [simpleazon-link asin=”0316122572″ locale=”us”]Those Who Wish Me Dead[/simpleazon-link] and met him in the signing line.
With all that planning on my part, one may think I’m not flexible at the festival. Not so. I factor in “must” sees with “maybe” sees and follow that up with “well as long as I’m here” sees. For this reason, I found myself at the children’s stage at the end of the last day. I was familiar with several of the authors from my days as a children’s librarian. While browsing the books for sale there, I noticed [simpleazon-link asin=”1891830430″ locale=”us”]Blankets[/simpleazon-link], the graphic novel memoir by Craig Thompson. The first and one of very few graphic novels that I have read and which made an indelible impression on me. He was there to present on his latest graphic novel which is for children. I pooled the last of my cash with my husband’s and with much excitement purchased my last book at the festival. I was the first in line for a signature. I may have pushed a few children out of the way. Don’t judge me. He actually placed a chair across from himself on the same side of the table, so that he could chat with his fans. I may have gushed a little.
If you ever have the opportunity to attend the AJC Decatur Book Festival, I highly recommend that you do. It falls every year on Labor Day Weekend, so start planning now. Bring a friend or two and soak it all in. It’s the closest thing to Nirvana that this bibliophile has ever experienced. #BookNerdsRule