Gaithersburg’s Literary Spring Fling

If it’s May, it must be time for the Gaithersburg Book Festival!

The annual celebration has become a literary highlight of spring in our region, bringing scores of authors to a park-like setting in the historic center of Gaithersburg to talk about their works and sign books. And that’s only part of the action. The festival, which takes place this year on Saturday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., also will feature musical performances, writing workshops on everything from college admissions essays to the art of mysteries, and lots of fun programming for kids in a Children’s Village.

Food trucks will abound, and for a second year the Brew and Vine Café by Dawson’s Market will serve craft beer and local wine in addition to coffee and gourmet snacks.

Started in 2010, the festival was conceived by Jud Ashman, then a Gaithersburg council member and now the city’s mayor. Today, a committee of city staff and volunteers produces the event, and funding comes from an assortment of sponsors. Attendance is free, and P&P is proud to be serving for the sixth year as the festival’s official bookseller.

As in previous years, the list of participating authors is expansive and impressive. Among the accomplished writers will be: Sidney Blumenthal, Eleanor Brown, Jennifer Close, Peter Cozzens, Alex George, Laura Lippman, Beth Macy, Joan Nathan, Mark Shriver, J. Courtney Sullivan, David Swinson, and Neely Tucker.

Other noteworthy authors include: Jessica B. Harris, an expert in African food and its movement into American cuisine (she curated the popular cafeteria of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture); and Jack Viertel, a Broadway producer and artistic director of New York City Center’s Encore! series (he’ll be in conversation with Montgomery County’s own Jason Loewith, Olney Theatre’s artistic director).

P&P staff won’t just be selling books at the festival but also will be involved with events. Mark Laframboise, our chief book buyer, will converse with Dominic Smith and Eleanor Brown about “female reawakening novels,” and Liz Hottel, P&P’s events director, will speak with Nathan Hill about his debut novel The Nix and moderate a panel with Jami Attenberg and Jade Chang about “modern families searching for meaning.”

This year features a particularly strong lineup of writers of books for children and young adults. Participants include: Doreen Cronin, Kimberly Willis Holt, Michelle Knudsen, Tom Lichtenheld, Meg Medina, Dave Roman, and Carol Weston.

To find out more about what’s planned for the day, visit

— Brad and Lissa

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