Metro Weekly

2021 National Book Festival: Everything You Need to Know

The Library of Congress hosts a 10-day event featuring more than one hundred authors in programs entirely available online

national book festival
Rep. Sharice Davids

Organized around the theme “Open a Book, Open the World,” the 2021 National Book Festival presented by the Library of Congress is a 10-day event featuring more than one hundred authors in programs entirely available online.

A total of 35 Video-On-Demand programs are currently available to watch anytime, including Rep. Sharice Davids (Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman), who will discuss her autobiographical tale for young readers about becoming one of the first Native American women elected to Congress and the first LGBTQ Congressperson representing Kansas.

Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz (The Chance to Fly) discuss their uplifting tale of a 13-year-old who stumbles into a chance to appear in Wicked despite her use of a wheelchair, inspired by the bisexual Stroker’s story as a pioneering wheelchair-bound Tony-winning actress. Meanwhile, Indiana-based author and composer Jay Coles (Things We Couldn’t Say) will talk about his novel for young adults about a bisexual Black boy finding first love.

Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o will discuss Sulwe, her picture book for children, and share her personal struggles with self-image as a child in conversation with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

national book festival
Roxane Gay — Photo: Reginald Cunningham


Bisexual New York Times contributing opinion writer Roxane Gay will talk about her approach as a Black feminist and her path as a writer. And award-winning actor Michael J. Fox will speak about gratitude and optimism during difficult times as well as his work in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.

Psychologist and author Adam Grant (Think Again) and BBC News anchor and author Mishal Husain (The Skills) will discuss the pandemic’s transformation of the workplace and the benefits of thinking like a scientist in one’s everyday life. Finally, Diane von Furstenberg will discuss her book No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality and how she has used fashion as a source of empowerment for herself and other women.

Additional highlights include “With Great Responsibility: The Spider-Man Origin Story in Art and Comic Books,” a virtual discussion featuring insights from experts about the creation of the teen superhero (9/23, at 3 p.m.); chefs Hawa Hassan and Marcus Samuelsson in conversation with Washington Post senior critic-at-large Robin Givhan (9/23, at 4 p.m.); and Rodney Scott and Trisha Yearwood discussing their own culinary careers with News4 Today co-anchor Jummy Olabanji (9/23, at 7 p.m.).

The National Book Festival runs through Sunday, Sept. 26. For a complete list of programs available online visit

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