Paul is a book fairy in Florida, USA, and when he was invited to a library conference in Washington, D.C., he could think of nothing more fitting than to take some books to hide! Here is Paul’s account of his trip.
I Believe in Book Fairy Americana
When Book Fairies are traveling, they bring books!
Last weekend I went to Washington, D.C., for the first time for the 2019 ALA Annual Conference, and I thought it would be fun to bring a few books to leave in random places throughout the city. (Naturally, I gleaned a handful of extra books from the conference’s exhibit hall to leave around the city too!) I try to do book drops every time I travel because it’s so much fun discovering a new place and leaving a little gift for someone else to happen upon in their discovery of it.
By the time my plane landed in D.C., I’d already gotten an aerial view of the Arlington National Cemetery, the Washington Monument, the White House, and the Capitol Building! Thank goodness for this because I didn’t get nearly as much time as I’d wanted to go sightseeing and to simply be a tourist. One of the not-so-fun things about traveling for professional development is that personal, fun time is rather limited. But I’ll take what I can get!
I started my trip with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum—my top museum priority for my D.C. itinerary—and ended it with a visit to my friend Grace who graduated from Georgetown University with her J.D. at 24. I ate at a different restaurant or two every day, went to Green Lantern for a fun night out, Ubered all over the place, and saw so many statues, buildings, and monuments along the way.
Book Fairy Drop #1
At the Holocaust Museum, I left the children’s book I Am a Star: Child of the Holocaust, by Holocaust survivor Inge Auerbacher, in a room where visitors could listen to a record of other survivors telling short stories about their lives during World War II. On my way out of the museum, I stopped by their shop and was thrilled to find Holocaust survivor, author, poet, and artist Elly Berkovits Gross signing her books! Of course, I purchased one—Elly: My True Story of the Holocaust—for her to sign and requested a quick selfie. This was indeed the highlight of my D.C. trip!
Book Fairy Drop #2
One sunlit night (the sun doesn’t set in D.C. till after 9 p.m. some days!), our Book Fairy Pride Focus Day actually, I went to Compass Coffee for a delicious coconut milk latte and left The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, out on a bench in front of the café underneath a Pride flag. Throughout my visit in D.C., I saw so much Pride—flags, decorations, shop displays, food items, and so much more. Even the stairways, windows, or entrances of nearby churches had Pride flags and decorations—there was Pride everywhere! I haven’t seen much Pride representation in Florida to be honest, so seeing all the decorations in Washington, D.C., was both surprising and uplifting.
Book Fairy Drop #3
When I visited my friend Grace for coffee at Sidamo Coffee & Tea near Gallaudet University (a private university for the education of the deaf and hard of hearing), I stopped by Solid State Books—because what Book Fairy thinks they actually have enough books?—and left an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) of Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. (I’m not a fan of Book Fairies doing book drops in bookstores or other retail stores, but since this one was clearly labeled as an ARC, there was no chance it would be confused with a book that the bookstore was selling.)
Book Fairy Drop #4
At Solid State Books, I saw a book drive donation box for An Open Book Foundation, a D.C.-area literacy nonprofit that brings children’s authors and illustrators (and their books) to local students. As a school librarian, I have a soft spot for my kiddos and for supporting children’s literacy, so I left a book (originally intended as a gift for a friend) in the box—it was an ARC of Hope: Project Middle School, by Charmed actress Alyssa Milano. My trip to D.C., although for a library conference, was made so much richer through my book drops and the great experiences that went along with them. I can’t wait to go back to the Capitol and make more literary memories!
Thank you to Paul for sharing his book fairy travels with us! If you have a story to share, send some pics and a couple of paragraphs to firstname.lastname@example.org 🙂
Would you like to join The Book Fairies?
Anyone can be a book fairy! Just grab some stickers and ribbons, add them to some books you want to hide for strangers, and find places in your neighbourhood – or on your travels – to leave them to be found!