Non-Fiction, We Chit Chat

My Day At The 2018 National Book Festival


Warning: Lengthy and photo heavy post

I am not from the area so I had never heard of this awesome event. A friend mentioned it to me two days before and I knew I had to make my way to it. It had an impressive and robust line up and best of all, it was free!


It is basically a day long event, held every year in DC, from 8am – 7.30pm that’s all about books. It’s broken out into many different sections by genre such as Teens, Fiction, Science Fiction, Poetry and many more. There are different authors lined up to speak in sessions where they talk about themselves, their book, read excerpts and answer questions from the audience.


The convention center is so huge that getting from one end to the other was a job in itself. The event does have a substantial number of volunteers who were very helpful in navigating me around. I also downloaded the event app to get alerts on any changes (which happened as Amy Tan subbed for Madeline Albright and I got the alert too late and didn’t make it in to see her) but maps were on hand and signs everywhere.



My first stop was to see Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage (you can read our review here) and she was hands down the best person I saw that day. The event made me realize that just because you are a writer does not mean you are an eloquent speaker but this does not apply to Jones. She was fantastic and captivated the room and even people who had not read the book were eager to. She shared her struggles in finding an audience and how her life legit changed within a year.

I went up to ask a question and asked if she thought Celestial and Roy would have made it in marriage if he had never gone to jail, she said “who knows? But I think so” but I think she misunderstood my question as she went on to answer how it’s much harder to succeed at any thing being black so having the stigma of a jail sentence would probably have made it harder. I wasn’t going to be the one to correct her in a room full of hundreds.


Next, I went into the Understanding Our World section as I knew no author in that area. I wandered into Sujatha Gidla’s session. She spoke on her book which is based on the caste system in India and living life as an “Untouchable”. It was an underwhelming session. Her excerpt was so long and she isn’t the best reader and kept stumbling over words. Overall, I left the room with no interest in reading her book, even though it was an interesting subject.

Roxane Gay looks very uninterested but she was actually a bit funny. Can I also mention every session had an ALS rep signing for people hard of hearing. So cool.

I don’t think I have ever read a graphic novel or comic in my life but I headed over to that section as Roxane Gay was in session and it was about her Black Panther strip. Roxane was herself and as expected an outspoken advocate for black people, women, non size zero and worked that into most of her answers. I was however interested in a comic she said she is working on that features 3 generations of women who become thieves.

I then wandered around to the kids sections and there was a cool parade of states where states had their own booths and kids were given a map and they could go from booth to booth to get their maps stamped.

View from the top for the passport of states
I thought New Mexico had a cool aesthetic


If you have been reading this blog you know that I do not buy books as mentioned here so I had no business being at the book signings but I snuck in to take some pics.

Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko
Amy Tan best known for Joyluck Club

I was really looking forward to seeing Celeste Ng as I have just read Little Fires Everywhere which I absolutely loved (here). The room was packed so I didn’t get a good seat like the other ones and she seemed nice but she wasn’t a really captivating speaker. My friend wasn’t convinced to read her book.

Her session was moderated by Rumaan Alam, author of Rich and Pretty (which I didn’t think was a very good book, seemed like a man imagining how women operate) and although her book centered around race and was expected it took over a huge portion of the conversation which was good and bad because Alam did say he didn’t want to make her reductive to just race but proceeded to do just that. I did like a line she said where she said if there is anything she is an advocate of, she is an advocate of empathy.


Overall, although long, I think it was well worth it. I like how inclusive the event was and when I say inclusive, I mean in all ways. It warmed my heart to see kids and their parents, just happy to be around books and an event for them to do with their parents. There were a lot of diversity with authors of color and women fully represented. There was even a booth that shared info on the National Library for The Blind and Handicapped.

It’s a cool way to also learn things and expand your mind on things you have never thought about. Seeing authors beyond the characters they put on paper is also an experience. So basically, if this ever rolls around in your area I’d recommend you attending and experiencing it for yourself.

Let me know if you have any questions and in the mean time…more pictures!




One of the lines
One of the kid authors
PBS was on hand doing interviews
Snuck a pic of Madeleine Albright as she waited for her interview. She had just come from John McCain’s funeral.
We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: Reading Goals Check-In + A GIVEAWAY!

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At the very beginning of the year, we talked about our reading intentions for the year. In the spirit of accountability, we decided to do a check-in to see where we all are in our reading for the year. Think of it as encouragement if you are lagging behind or kudos if you are right on track.

Leggy: How’s your reading been so far?

Taynement: Frustrating. I’m tired of being disappointed. I can’t say that I’ve read a lot of great books yet this year and that makes me not so eager to read because I don’t want to face disappointment again. I need to do better with my choices. How about you?

Leggy: Yeah, it’s been a crappy year for me as well. The only non fantasy book I’ve given above 3 stars is Everything Here is Beautiful and We’re Going to Need more Wine. I haven’t read any literary fiction that has blown my mind this year, I have way too many 2 and 3-star books on Goodreads.

Taynement: An American Marriage is my only 4-star book so far. I did like that one.

Leggy: Do you think this year has just been a crappy book year or we’re not finding the right books for us?

Taynement: I’m going to go with a combination of our book choices and hyped books not meeting our expectations. I’m pretty sure there are loads of books that are good that just aren’t buzz books, so we’ve overlooked them. The disadvantage of reading books I don’t care for is that, it slows me down immensely as it takes me longer to finish.

Leggy: Me too and at the end I’m just sad.

Taynement: What has been your least favorite book so far?

Leggy: I haven’t really hated any book this year. I have a shit ton of 2 and 3-star, really average, not even worth hating books and you know I love to hate books. What about you?

Taynement: My least favorite book so far has been Windfall by Jennifer Smith. Terrible YA, terrible audiobook narrator. On the bright side though, I think I fed off your reading goal and I have somehow read a number of books with Black characters. 5 of my 12 books have met that description.

Leggy: I feel like every book we’ve read together has been written by a Black author and all women too. I’ve been killing my reading goal this year. I’ve read 29 books so far but I always start off strong and then taper off towards the end of the year so we’ll see how this year ends. I’ve also started The Count of Monte Cristo. That book is huge but I’m really enjoying it. It’s absolutely readable for a book that was written in 1844 . Any books you’re looking forward to reading?

Taynement: Not really. But I do have a saved reading list and two recommendations that comprise of mostly Asian authors. I’ve come to the realization that I have an affinity for Asian authors. I almost always like their works. So I’ll say I have hopes of breaking the “meh” book streak with them.

Leggy: I told you you’d like Everything Here is Beautiful. Asian author too. Deals with mental health, immigration, family. I quite enjoyed it.

Taynement: Yeah, it’s on my list. One last thing is, I’ve surprised myself by committing to a YA trilogy – two things I claim not to like (YA and trilogy books) It’s The Thousandth Floor series. I quite like it. Looking forward to the last book. It’s not a great book but I enjoy it.

Leggy: Cool. So what are you currently reading? I’m working through two books – The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas and Other People’s Houses by Abbi Waxman and hoping to start Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi soon.

Tayenment: Currently making my way through The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and hope to pick up AND commit to reading Freshwater again, this time.

Image result for amazon $50 gift card

On to the fun part!

As a thank you for supporting us and as encouragement to keep up the good work and keep reading, we are giving away an Amazon gift card so you can knock some books off your TBR list. All you have to do is:

  1. Follow us on Twitter (@2nightstands) OR Instagram (@nightstands2). If you are already doing that, then you’re a rock star and you just have to do #2.
  2. Leave a comment on this post letting us know what your favorite book of the year is, so far. Don’t forget to leave your handle when you do this so you can be contacted to get your email address if you win.

The winner will be mentioned in next week’s post. So, make sure to check back on Monday, May 7 to see if you won! Feel free to tweet us if you have any questions.

Have a lovely week and Happy Reading!

Leggy & Taynement

Fiction, We Chit Chat

We Chit Chat: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Image result for an american marriage

But home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.”

Taynement: So what did you think?

Leggy: I thought it was okay.

Taynement: Wow. Just okay? I absolutely loved it

Leggy: I have to say. I really didn’t like the blurb the publishers wrote for this book. I hate that they told us exactly what was going to happen so I spent like the first 50 pages just waiting for the “event”. It made my reading experience seriously unbearable.
You know I had the hardcover so the blurb was literally there. I didn’t even go seeking any spoilers

Taynement: Oh per usual, I didn’t read one. Well I’ve always said that you’re a destination vs. the journey person. Because, I don’t think the actual event and circumstance mattered and was more about everyone’s reactions to it. What I loved about the book is that as I get older I’ve been saying how human relations can be so complicated and I think she captured it with this story. The complexity of it all, especially within a marriage.

Leggy: I had intense anxiety just waiting for the event to happen. I was literally like “here it comes, here it comes”. Anyway, what did you think of their marriage before the event? Did you think they were even going to make it even if the event never happened?

Taynement: I don’t think we had enough information to know if they would or not. Roy came off as a fuckboy, albeit a reformed one, but they did seem to have a connection.

Leggy: He really did. I didn’t quite like him

Taynement: Even though, as we got to know him better, he seemed like the embodiment of “masculinity so fragile”

Leggy: Yes, there were so many moments I was just like “screw this guy”

Taynement: But here’s where I give kudos to the writer. It was a complicated scenario. Yes he was in jail but they all knew he was innocent and that has to be the worst thing ever. I give kudos because I could see both sides. I certainly didn’t expect him to be rational.

Leggy: I know the author made it clear to us that he was innocent right from the beginning but a part of me only 100% believed it right at the end when he made that gesture. It redeemed him in my eye and I thought that was the absolute best way to resolve the situation

Taynement: Him not being innocent would have been such a cheap twist to have.

Leggy: What did you think of Andre? Were you ever mad at him at some point? Did you ever agree with Celeste’s father?

Taynement: I didn’t like Andre. I really thought the whole thing was a dick move. And I just saw him as a weak man

Leggy: I hated him so much, What a weak man! You had all your life to get with her.
All your damn life and you waited till this situation happened? I agreed with her dad.

Taynement: I’m trying not to give spoilers but I don’t even care that he’d loved her this whole time. So it was circumstantial love?

Leggy: He’s an arsehole. God and then that whole thing about going to talk to him first to inform him? That was such a dick move. Celeste owed him that trip, she should have been the one to tell him first. I was just disgusted with the both of them for that

Taynement: Roy Snr. for the win, btw! Anyway, If Celeste was as fierce and independent as they intended her to be she wouldn’t have been in this pickle, she came off as unsure. But then I thought of the speech her dad gave her saying she was one of those “lucky” people who’ve never been through much.

Leggy: That’s why her arse thinks she’s so strong and independent when she’s just playing at it

Taynement: Oh there was something I really liked about the couple. Where people have a safe word for sex. I liked that they had a safe word for when their fights were getting too intense. They really seemed to love each other. But it was so new, so who knows if it was young love.

Leggy: Yes, loved that! I’m going to adopt that. I think Roy was just impressed with her and her family. I don’t think they were suited but who knows? What did you think of the whole situation with Davina?

Taynement: I thought him and Davina were convenient, but I liked it. Also, about just being impressed by her family pedigree, that’s a possibility. Roy seemed like he was fighting himself. One of those African Americans who thought themselves bougie because they are educated with money in the pocket, when he was just a big ball of insecurity.
I won’t mention some of the harsh things he wrote in his letters to Celestial but I noted two quotes after his release that showed the kind of man he is. First when he is trying to win her back and he says “Ask me and I’ll forgive you” I’m like excuse you?

Leggy:Omg!! I caught this too. It infuriated me. Like what?!!! You were gone for five years and you need to forgive her? The nerve!

Taynement: And second, when he thought “I swear I didn’t want to hurt Celestial but I needed to know if I could”. This goes back to what I meant about this book encapsulating all of human complexities. There were a lot of emotions and common human feelings expressed so well. I feel like in the hands of a less skilled author, this book could easily have been a mess. There were like 500 different stories going. Family secrets included and not one time did it feel convoluted

Leggy: I think this book would be fantastic for a book club (coincidentally Oprah just made this part of her book club). So many themes to explore and discuss
Is this the author’s first book?

Taynement: Nope. Apparently she has 3 other books. I guess this book helps with your reading goal on reading more African American and female writers that you mentioned here. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was an adult book for lack of a better word. Always good when a book meets it’s hype.

Leggy: Yes, it definitely does. I’m conflicted on this book. Discussing it with you now I’m totally on board and I’m talking about all these layers and human complexities, but when I step away from it I feel a tad bit underwhelmed? I feel like I need to sit with this for a few more days but anyway for now, I gave it three stars and would definitely recommend. Also, can I just say that the cover is absolutely GORGEOUS in person?

Taynement: It is? nice. I gave it four stars.

Let us know your thoughts if you’ve read it. We’d appreciate your comments!


Taynement & Leggy