Books and Television

The National Book Festival (September 25-26) is fast approaching, and for many Washington readers, it is one of the highlights of the fall. Gigantic circus tents will sprout on the mall, thousands of people will gather to listen to their favorite authors, books will be bought and signed. Even I will be there, introducing Marilynne Robinson on Saturday and talking, on Sunday morning, about On Conan Doyle and my other books. Come ask me a few questions!

The National Book Festival being a really big show (or shoe, as Ed Sullivan used to say), many of its talks and events will be filmed and later televised by CNN.

Do members of the Reading Room watch such programs of “book TV”? Not being much of a television viewer at the best of times, I don’t think I’ve caught more than an hour or two of book programming in the past decade. Including The Charlie Rose Show. I’ve never even watched those programs in which I was featured. In this case, I know why: Too cringe-making, as they say in England.

In my youth, though, I loved author interviews on The Dick Cavett Show, so you would think I’d enjoy these modern-day descendants. I probably would. But I just haven’t. Have I been missing a lot?

Can members of the Reading Room share their own memories of bookish TV? What attracts you to such programming? What talks or interviews have been especially outstanding? Do you recommend searching for any online, to watch on Youtube? Please share your enthusiasm for televised book events—or tell us why you are indifferent to them, as I have been. I suspect that one reason I’ve never watched much is that my favorite authors are so seldom featured.

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