Books, book festival and more books

Sep. 07, 2013 @ 03:18 PM

Like coffee and singing along to the radio, books are one of the joys of life. Maybe I should stitch that on a decorative pillow. Books are part of my features coverage here at the newspaper, and a joy of my job is the opportunity to share a good literary find with readers.

A great moment was standing in line at a bookstore at Christmastime, and seeing a woman with our holiday books guide (my colleague Cliff Bellamy also covers books) as she held a few recommended reads. Cliff and I are already talking about what we’ll suggest this season.

Reading is generally a solitary activity, and that’s why I’m really excited that the North Carolina book festival is finally coming back after a too-long hiatus. It’s called the North Carolina Literary Festival this time, and will be held at N.C. State University in 2014.

I covered the N.C. Festival of the Book in 2006 when it was at Duke University, and was immediately spoiled by attending a reading in the Gothic Reading Room in Perkins Library. Even if I’d gone to Hogwarts, I couldn’t have imagined a more delightful enclave. I covered other author events during the festival, but nothing beat the Gothic Reading Room, and, dare I say, never will. Still, that’s external environment, and we know, as LeVar Burton told us on “Reading Rainbow,” to “Take a look, it’s in a book.” The next festival, held at UNC Chapel Hill in 2009, gave us the memory of Lee Smith talking about Southern door disease, when you say you’re leaving but stay at the door and keep talking.

N.C. State has been next in the rotation, but the festival was postponed until now – hooray -- it is scheduled for April 5-6 on campus in Raleigh. There are book festivals elsewhere in North Carolina and the South, but I was hoping the Triangle would not give up on having its own. With the 2014 return, let’s hope it’s back for good, without five-year gaps in between.

In the meantime, if you have yet to hear about Wilton Barnhardt’s “Lookaway, Lookaway,” get thee to a local bookstore or your preferred book buying locale. I went to his reading at The Regulator Bookshop and also reviewed the gloriously hilarious North Carolina-set novel in our Books section last week. You really should take a look. When I finished it, I wondered how the next book could possibly stack up.

This time of year brings many books sent to the newsroom in hopes that we’ll read them and write about them. So I’m cramming in a few more over the next month. Reading in a hurry isn’t like reading with a cup of tea, but more like reading with a travel mug of coffee. Savor it, but consume with haste.

Next Sunday I’ll have a review of “Love and Lament” by John Milliken Thompson, which is set in a fictional version of Chatham County at the turn of the 20th century. After that is Jennifer Chiaverini’s “The Spymistress,” a different take on the author’s usual quilting-set series. Then another book for the Faith section, a few cookbooks for the Food section, and a few more books in there somewhere -- if I drink enough coffee.


Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan may be reached at or 919-419-6563.