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VABOOK 2021 is All-Virtual!

2 February 2021

Allison eagerly awaited yesterday’s 27th Annual Virginia Festival of the Book schedule announcement and was delighted with the offerings! While it will be sad to not gather together in-person, an all-virtual festival spread out over two weeks is sure to be its own kind of fun.

Tags: allison read, covid-19, virginia festival of the book

Each year I get excited for the VABOOK schedule reveal. I sort through the options and figure out how many events I can attend. When it feels like maybe I’ve chosen too many, I remind myself our blog is called What We’re Reading Now, so it’s okay. (Right?!?)

For me, the cancellation of last year’s festival was one of the ways I knew COVID-19 was really happening. I was so proud when my friends at the Virginia Humanities made the brave decision to cancel, but I was also heartbroken. In fact, my last blog post before we went into quarantine was about Vashti Harrison’s book Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History. I was so excited to hear her speak and looking forward to standing in line with my four and six-year-old friends to get our heroine’s autograph.

Eleven months later, our lives have changed so much. It’s all really difficult to navigate and very sad at times. However, I’m also comforted by the silver linings whenever I can find them and the fact that friends all over the world can attend VABOOK with me this year is pretty great. There are over 40 events to choose from March 13 – 26, 2021. I’m still working on my final schedule, but here’s my first draft:

  • NBF Presents: The Work of Fiction, March 13, 2021 | 7PM – 8PM
    I haven’t read any of these 2020 honorees for the National Book Award for Fiction so am excited to meet them this way.
  • Audiobook Publishing 101 for Authors, March 14, 2021 | 12PM – 1PM
    I want to help Mama figure out how to publish her book Turn Your Face: How to Be Heard and Get What You Want Most of Time. She’s already read the chapters for a professional recording, but this workshop is sure to help Barbara Linney figure out what to do next!
  • Acts of Exclusion: A Conversation with Tiffany Jana, March 15, 2021 | 12PM – 1PM
    Tiffany is one of my dear friends, mentors, and co-conspirators on all things JEDI [Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion]. I just blogged about how two of their five books including this one are on my must-read list for anyone who wants to join the JEDI movement.
  • Reading Under the Influence: Music, History & Race, March 15, 2021 | 7PM – 8PM
    Bradley, Gussow, and Harold “discuss the ways that music, history, and race intersect in the creation of American identity, with a focus on blues, southern hip-hop, and late-century gospel music.” Be still my musical heart!
  • Before the Ever After with Jacqueline Woodson, March 16, 2021 | 2PM – 2:30PM (In her newest book, Woodson explores “the cost of professional sports on Black bodies and the ways a family moves forward when their glory days have passed.” This program will include questions from local young readers.)
  • An Evening with Jacqueline Woodson, March 16, 2021 | 7PM – 7:45PM
    Red at the Bone is one of the first books my COVID-19 book club discussed. I was so moved by the depth of her characters and the things they taught me about how to live, love, make wishes, and then deal with whatever life sends your way.
  • Indigenous Lit: Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, Kelli Jo Ford & Diane Wilson, March 17, 2021 | 12PM – 1PM
    I’ve always enjoyed the works of indigenous writers and am excited to learn from new-to-me authors. I’ve also been thinking about how a DC football team changed its name and how my beloved Atlanta Braves baseball team needs to grapple with its hurtful traditions, so indigenous perspectives are on my mind.
  • Confederate Ambitions: Flawed Visions for a New Nation, March 17, 2021 | 2PM – 2:45PM
    I’m not exactly excited for this one as someone who loves being from the south but is so glad the Confederacy lost. However, I’m trying hard to learn about the roots of nationalist movements, and this feels like some education I need.
  • Filled with Possibility: Poetry, March 18, 2021 | 4PM – 5PM
    Poetry is one of my favorite things.
  • Coming of Age in YA Fiction, March 20, 2021 | 12PM – 1PM
    My oldest nephew wrote this blog post about the well-known young adult book, The Hate U Give, and I’m looking forward to meeting new-to-me authors from this important genre.
  • Indigenous Poetry: Language as a Map Home, March 21, 2021 | 7PM – 7:45PM
    More poetry!
  • Little Dreamers with Vashti Harrison, March 23, 2021 | 12PM – 12:30PM
    I won’t get to stand in line with my four and six-year-old friends to get her autograph, but the four-year old and I started reading on Zoom during COVID, so I bet she’ll talk with me about this event the next time we have a reading date.
  • Yellow Wife with Sadeqa Johnson, March 24, 2021 | 7PM – 7:45PM
    I can always count on our local African American Authors Book Club to introduce me to a new author I’m sure to adore. It will be really hard to not sit next to my friends and club members, Enid and Marie, but I know we’ll schedule a separate Zoom to debrief later.)
  • Lulu Miller Dives into Curiosity: A Celebration of Nature Writing, March 25, 2021 | 2PM – 3PM
    The Southern Environmental Law Center’s event is one of my favorites where I see friends from this fabulous organization and learn from the Reed Award for Environmental Writing recipients. I know it will hurt when I don’t get to be in SELC’s lovely Downtown Mall office, but I’m just glad I won’t miss another year of celebrating the land I love.)
  • I See Myself: Diversity in Children’s Literature, March 25, 2021 | 4PM – 5PM
    I’m delighted and not at all surprised that VABOOK is highlighting the importance of this issue. Plus, we really enjoy picture books at Allison Partners.
  • Dark Times & Mercy: John Grisham and Ian Rankin in Conversation, March 26, 2021 | 7PM – 8PM
    Who doesn’t want to learn from our local author, John Grisham, and this year it won’t be hard to get a seat!

Okay, this is an aggressive schedule even for me, but I’m not traveling these days, and everything is spread out over two weeks. I bet I could even add a few more if one of our readers wants me to go “with” them to an event so feel free to make a suggestion below.

Thanks, VABOOK. I wouldn’t want to miss another year of learning and am grateful we can do it this way until it’s safe to gather again.


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