Well, the 22nd annual Printer’s Row Book Fair wrapped up yesterday. Nearly 100,000 book lovers enjoyed the chance to browse nearly 200 book stalls; to hear fascinating readings, interviews, and panels; to have their photos taken with one of the monsters from Where the Wild Things Are; and to drink beer.
E. L. Doctorow and John Updike were there, as were A. Manette Ansay, Blue Balliett, Bill Buford, Augusten Burroughs, Michael Connelly, Stuart Dybek, Dave Eggers, Tess Gallagher, Nikki Giovanni, Aleksandar Hemon, Carol Higgins Clark, Erica Jong, Mark Kurlansky, Studs Terkel, and Scott Turow, to name just a few. Booklist‘s own Donna Seaman appeared on two panels, “The Art of the Review,” and “Technology, Obsolescence, and E-wastes in America.”
The weather was perfect and everyone had an amazing time. What a wonderful convergence of books, people, and ideas – what a superb setting! It’s going to take me a week just to unpack the books I bought and to decipher the many mots I scribbled in my Moleskine.
Actually, I managed to visit the fair without buying a book, seeing an author, or drinking a beer. My wife and I took our two kids (almost two years and almost two months), one in a backpack and one in a front pack. We cruised the aisles, said hi to a few friends, and I managed to browse precisely two book stalls, one selling mysteries and one selling “Subversive literature for the whole family since 1886.”
Our two-year-old doesn’t seem to mind riding in the backpack as long as I don’t stop moving. And the two-month-old doesn’t seem to mind riding in the Baby Bjorn as long as there are frequent stops. Letting the two-year-old out of the pack is kind of like opening one of those old prank cans of peanuts that actually has a spring-loaded snake inside: you don’t know where the snake is going to go, and it’s really hard to get it back in the can.
It was a beautiful day and, as anyone who has lined his walls with books he will never get around to reading can tell you, there is something nice about just being around a lot of books, even if you don’t have time to open them at that exact moment.