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Suspense novelist David Baldacci will headline Fairfax County Public Library’s first Local Author Book Festival (photo by Allen Jones)

For local bookworms who missed out on last month’s National Book Festival in D.C., you’re in luck.

Fairfax County Public Library will launch a book festival of its own on Sept. 30 with an exclusive focus on writers based in Northern Virginia.

That mission separates the Local Author Book Festival from not just the Library of Congress literary extravaganza, but also George Mason University’s annual Fall for the Book, which will mark its 25th year in October with top-billed guests like “High Fidelity” author Nick Hornby and Man Booker Prize winner Marlon James.

“You would be surprised at the number of writers who live in Northern Virginia!” FCPL Program and Educational Services Director Renee Edwards said. “Every year, we get requests from writers who want the library to host author events where they can meet the public and talk about their books. To bring special attention to our writers and give them the opportunity to meet community members and talk about their books, we are hosting our first Local Author Book Festival.”

Kicking off the festival at 9:30 am with a V.I.P. meet-and-greet at Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road) will be bestselling suspense novelist David Baldacci. The Fairfax Library Foundation, which is sponsoring the festival, describes him as a “Fairfax County favorite son.”

The meet-and-greet will be limited to 50 people, who must purchase a $75 ticket to attend. However, as the festival’s headline speaker, Baldacci will also discuss his novels and answer questions in a free presentation from 11 a.m. to noon, followed by a book sale and signing.

Meet-and-greet participants will get a reserved seat for the general presentation.

A lifelong Virginia resident, Baldacci is a mainstay of the local literary scene, appearing in past events at various county library branches and launching a book at Bards Alley in Vienna last year. The Fairfax Library Foundation honored him and his wife in 2012 for starting the Wish You Well Foundation, a Reston-based charity that supports literacy programs.

“David Baldacci is a local author who is a fan of public libraries. In the past, he has presented at several of our branches and people are always excited to hear him speak!” Edwards said. “We think he is the perfect author to kick off the Local Author Book Festival.”

Overall, there will be 40 authors at the inaugural Local Author Book Festival. FCPL invited authors based on a list of people who had signed up to present at the library, according to Edwards, who says “there was a lot of interest.”

Other confirmed participants include “Instant Pot Asian Pressure Cooker Meals” author Patricia Tanumihardja, “Chronicles of a Royal Pet: Princess and an Ooze” author Ian Rogers, “Havana Hardball: Spring Training, Jackie Robinson, and The Cuban League” author César Brioso, and Jennifer Garman, author of “Flourish: 7 Ways Gratitude can Transform Your Life.”

In addition to allowing community members to meet local authors and buy their books, the outdoor festival will feature snacks, a bookmaking area for kids, a caricature artist, a Silly Shotz photo booth, a raffle for $25 Visa gift cards, and more.

While this festival last just one day, concluding at 3 p.m., FCPL hosts author events year-round. This fall, the library is planning to bring back its Indie Author Day program, which is dedicated to recognizing self-published authors.

Edwards says the library hopes to invite 24 authors to participate in virtual panels from Nov. 1-4.

“Authors and books are our business!” Edwards said. “We love bringing special attention to the people who are right next door — in our county — that may go unnoticed. It is important to us to make sure we are always connecting readers to books.”

Amber Taylor has signed a lease to open Fonts Books & Gifts at 6262B Old Dominion Drive in McLean this fall (courtesy Amber Taylor)

McLean is getting its own independent bookstore, filling a geographical gap in between Vienna’s Bards Alley and One More Page Books in Arlington.

In fact, Fonts Books & Gifts owner Amber Taylor prepared to launch her own business by working as a bookseller and events manager at One More Page.

Taylor says opening her own store was her goal when she met with One More Page owner Eileen McGervey for coffee and a chat about four years ago. McGervey mentioned that she was hiring and suggested working at the Arlington shop would give Taylor useful experience.

“I immediately took her up on her offer (while still running my consulting business),” Taylor told FFXnow by email. “I truly believe the education she and her whole team gave me will be a key to my success. I’m excited to add another bookstore to the growing family of stores in Northern Virginia.”

Located at 6262B Old Dominion Drive in Chesterbrook Plaza, Fonts Books & Gifts will officially open its doors in October, but McLean residents can already support the business with purchases online through and, for those inclined toward audiobooks.

In addition to books, the store will sell “unique gifts, greeting cards, journaling supplies, candles, stickers, ‘dry’ spirits and non-alcoholic beer, and more,” according to a press release.

Fonts also plans to host author events and book signings, book club meetings, journaling classes, comedy nights, and other activities, including fundraiser evenings to benefit local schools and nonprofits.

Some events could be held in a small outdoor reading area behind the 1,045-square-foot store that can accommodate eight to 10 people.

“One of my favorite things about local bookstores is the community they nurture,” Taylor said. “Customers and booksellers develop long relationships, driven by a shared love of books and stories. They help each other explore unknown worlds and topics. And, there is always something new coming in the door.”

Though originally from Ohio, Taylor says she has been an Arlington resident for 25 years, 10 of them in a neighborhood right on the McLean border. She notes that her daughter attended the Montessori School of McLean, which is directly behind Chesterbrook Plaza.

While this is her first attempt to run her own bookstore, Taylor says “books have always been an important part of my life and that of my family.” An avid reader, she has aunts and cousins who’ve worked as librarians and publishers.

She’s eager for Fonts to join Fairfax County’s growing independent bookstore scene, which also includes the kid-focused toy and book store Child’s Play at 6645 Old Dominion Drive.

“The importance of books and stories has just always been part of me,” Taylor said. “I am thrilled to now be a member of the independent bookstore community, especially at a time when it is more important than ever to support diverse and creative voices.”

Children’s Summer Reading Festival tote bag (courtesy Xande Anderer/Fairfax Library Foundation)

As the new school year approaches, young readers can celebrate summer reading this Sunday (August 13).

The Fairfax Library Foundation will bring a second edition of its Children’s Summer Reading Festival to the Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road) from noon to 3 p.m.

Admission is free, and children and families can enjoy face painting, a bounce house, food trucks, a mini zoo and other attractions. The event doesn’t require tickets, but attendees who reserve a spot via Eventbrite can get a festival tote bag while supplies last.

In early June, Lorton Library (9520 Richmond Highway) hosted more than 1,200 attendees at the inaugural edition of the festival, according to an FLP press release. At the event, more than 240 children registered for Fairfax County Public Library’s summer reading program.

This Sunday’s date is a rescheduling — Chantilly Regional Library was originally slated to host the festival in late June. Families can also attend an outdoor screening of Frozen at the library Saturday night (Aug. 12).

Also open to adults, FCPL’s summer reading program runs through Aug. 18, and it’s still possible to register. Participating readers have already exceeded the 50,000-book goal for the community by more than 30,000 books.

Participants in the summer reading program can earn virtual badges for completing reading goals. After readers meet their goals, they can get a coupon sheet with offers from businesses and the Fairfax County Park Authority.

Scrawl Books in Reston Town Center (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Locals are hunting for Waldo throughout Reston and Herndon this month.

Scrawl Books, a local bookstore in Reston Town Center, has launched a scavenger hunt that challenges individuals to find Waldo all month long at various locations around Reston and Herndon.

The scavenger hunt is a community event organized by Candlewick Press, the publishing house behind the “Where’s Waldo?” book series. Scrawl Books is one of 40 bookstores chosen to take part in the event nationwide.

“The event did happen online in 2020, but was on hiatus last year, and we’re absolutely thrilled that Waldo is back and hiding around Reston and Herndon this July,” said Leah Grover, a spokesperson for Scrawl.

Residents can get their passport stamped at 10 businesses where Waldo is reportedly hiding. Passports are available for pick up at Scrawl Books, the list of businesses, and online.

  • Scrawl Books
  • Art Insights Gallery
  • Reston Museum
  • Good Wolf Gear
  • Elden Street Tea Shop
  • Weird Brothers Coffee
  • Lake Anne Coffeehouse & Wine Bar
  • Mayflowers Floral Studio
  • Reston’s Used Bookshop
  • Chesapeake Chocolates
  • Cinnamon Tree Dance Shop
  • A Thousand Stories Herndon Books
  • Pollo Peru
  • Mason’s Famous Lobster Rolls
  • Reston Art Gallery

The scavenger hunt will conclude with a celebratory event at Scrawl Books (11911 Freedom Drive) on July 31 at 7 p.m. The event will include games, activities and a grand prize drawing.

Patrick Henry Library entrance design concept from September 2022 (via DPWES/Town of Vienna)

Vienna residents can get a look at their library’s past and future next week at a book talk that will double as a reveal of the planned design for the new facility.

Design plans for the upcoming Patrick Henry Library renovation will be unveiled to the public for the first time at a “Liberty and Libraries” event at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE) on Wednesday, June 28, according to the event page.

Fairfax County Public Library Director Jessica Hudson and a member of the Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services’ Capital Improvement Program (CIP) team will be in attendance.

In addition to the design unveiling, the event will feature a talk by local librarians Chris Barbuschak and Suzanne LaPierre about their book “Desegregation in Northern Virginia Libraries,” which delves into the racist practices deployed by FCPL and other public library systems when they emerged in the 1930s and the subsequent fight to integrate them.

“The [authors] will speak about the major civil rights activists who successfully desegregated local public libraries during the Jim Crow era,” the event page says. “The talk will highlight parts of the story that include the Vienna community and the establishment of the Patrick Henry Library.”

Set to run from 6:30-8 p.m., the event is free, but registration is encouraged.

“Liberty and Libraries” is part of Vienna’s Liberty Amendments Month festivities, which kicked off on Saturday (June 17) with a Juneteenth Celebration. Dubbed “Library Week,” the week of June 25 to July 1 will focus on the 14th Amendment that granted citizenship to everyone born or naturalized in the U.S., overturning the Dred Scott decision that denied citizenship to Black people.

Fairfax County’s proposed concept for the renovated Patrick Henry Library, as of September 2022 (via DPWES/Town of Vienna)

While this will be the first public presentation of the new Patrick Henry Library designs, earlier concepts were reviewed by the Vienna Town Council last year.

The county has proposed replacing the existing 13,817-square-foot community library at 101 Maple Avenue East with a roughly 18,000-square-foot facility accompanied by a parking garage. Planned features of the new library include a larger children’s section, technology upgrades and an outdoor plaza.

When presented with a concept last summer, the council feared the garage will dwarf the actual library, questioning whether a garage level could be moved underground or a second story could be added to the library to allow more open space on the 1.4-acre lot.

A more detailed concept presented in September appeared to allay those concerns, revising the parking garage from four levels to three with an open top deck featuring solar panels. The garage will have 209 spaces: 125 dedicated to the library and 84 available to the Town of Vienna for general use.


Barnes & Noble has officially opened a new chapter in Reston.

The national bookstore opened its newest location today (Thursday) at The Spectrum at Reston Town Center — space formerly occupied by Office Depot. The store opened at 9 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting by author Tania James, who also signed copies of her latest book “Loot.”

The opening marks a comeback for the bookstore, which had a store in the same shopping center nearly a decade ago.

Elisabeth Swift, the store manager of the Reston location, said opening the Reston location was an “obvious choice.” While working at other Barnes and Noble locations in the D.C. area, Swift said she frequently heard from customers lamenting the closure of the Reston store in 2013.

“Reston has been a community that has been passion about books and reading books forever,” Swift said.

When asked to comment on what the bookstore adds to the local mix — local bookstore Scrawl Books has a location in Reston Town Center — Swift said that the company is used to being in communities with other bookstores.

“The more bookstores the better, in my opinion,” she told FFXnow.

The nearly 28,000-square-foot store features a B&N Cafe, along with books, toys and gifts.

In a statement, the company noted that Reston’s location is the first to open in Fairfax County since 2019. The store was originally expected to open yesterday (Wednesday).

The Reston location will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays and between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m on all other days.

Grand opening day featured other events like storytime with Pete the Cat at 11 a.m. and book signings with author Liz Lawson. The store will host additional story times, author signings, and other special events over the next month.

One customer who recalled frequenting the old Reston Barnes & Noble said the new store is bigger, both in physical size and the amount of materials being sold. A self-described bibliophile, he was particularly interested in the history and current events sections.

“I’m quite pleased. I’ll hang out here sometimes,” he said while sitting at the cafe.

Reston resident Nicole Harker stopped by the grand opening with her two kids, who were drawn to the Legos in the children’s area.

“It’s a nice thing to have in Reston,” she said. “It’s a place I might take the kids to during the day. During the hot summer or if it’s too cold out for winter, we could come hang out here.”

Angela Woolsey contributed to this report.

The new Barnes and Noble in Spectrum at Reston Town Center opens next week (via Barnes & Noble/Instagram)

There’s less than a week left until Barnes & Noble will officially open its doors in The Spectrum at Reston Town Center.

Filling a space vacated by Office Depot in 2021, the nearly 28,000-square-foot bookstore at 11816 Spectrum Center will include a B&N Cafe, along with books, toys, games and gifts.

The grand opening next Wednesday (June 14) will feature a ribbon-cutting by author Tania James, who will also sign copies of her new historical fiction novel “Loot,” the company announced yesterday (Wednesday).

“We are delighted to open in Reston such a beautiful and impressive new bookstore,” Barnes & Noble CEO James Daunt said. “In an especially happy turn of events, we return to the same shopping center we had anchored over a decade ago. Nowhere is the success of brick-and-mortar bookstores better demonstrated than the opening of this very large new Barnes & Noble in Reston. Our booksellers…have created an exceptional bookstore for their community.”

James lives in D.C. and works as an associate professor of English for George Mason University, according to her official bio. Officially released on Tuesday (June 13), “Loot” is described by its publisher as “an exuberant heist adventure that traces the bloody legacy of colonialism” from India to England.

The opening is a comeback in Reston for Barnes & Noble, which previously had a location in the center several years ago. It will be the company’s first new store in Fairfax County since 2019, according to the press release.

The store will join a local literary scene that includes the nearby independent store, Scrawl Books, in Reston Town Center and Reston’s Used Book Shop at Lake Anne Plaza.

Store manager Elisabeth Swift said she is excited to bring the bookstore to Reston, which she describes a “town of readers.”

“Opening a new Barnes & Noble is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity I’ve looked forward to — creating an extraordinary team of dedicated booksellers, building a store together and embracing the community has been a fantastic experience for all involved,” she said. “We can’t wait to welcome readers into our stunning new bookstore.”

Photo via Barnes & Noble/Instagram

A girl holds a book at last year’s reopening of the Lorton Library, one of two hosts of the inaugural Children’s Summer Reading Festival (courtesy Fairfax County Public Library)

Fairfax County Public Library is kicking off its summer reading program with a different approach this year.

The Fairfax Library Foundation will launch its inaugural Children’s Summer Reading Festival at two libraries this month to celebrate the beginning of FCPL’s annual summer reading program.

“We hope these festivals help get Fairfax County kids and adults excited for our Summer Reading Adventure,” FCPL Director Jessica Hudson said. “This year’s summer reading theme is All Together Now so we thought throwing a huge party would be a good fit! Thank you so much to the Fairfax Library Foundation for organizing these festivals.”

The first festival takes place on June 10 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lorton Library (9520 Richmond Highway). The second event takes place on June 24 from 4-7 p.m. at Chantilly Regional Library (4000 Stringfellow Road).

The festival will include games, crafts, a bounce house, mini zoo, snacks, face-painting, food trucks and a photo booth.

Although both festivals are free, online registration is encouraged.

Registration for the summer reading program opens online on June 10. Paper logs will be available at all branches before the program kicks off on June 16. Individuals who register early will get priority for raffle entries to win Scrawl Books gift cards.

Adults who finish the program will get a coupon book and will be entered into other raffles for $25 gift cards for AMC, Barnes & Noble and VISA, along with other prizes — including four tickets to Escape Room Herndon.

In Chantilly, the festival will be followed by a free outdoor screening of Disney’s “Frozen: Sing-Along Edition,” Fairfax Library Foundation Development Director Cheryl Lee said.

The Reston location will open this summer (via Barnes & Noble/Instagram)

Barnes & Noble has revealed when its next chapter will open in The Spectrum at Reston Town Center.

The bookstore chain plans to host a grand opening on June 14, the company announced yesterday (Tuesday) in an Instagram reel.

The reel described the opening date as “tentative.”

“Mark your calendars because we’re going to have so much fun!” the post reads.

The bookstore takes space at 11816 Spectrum Center previously vacated by Office Depot. Barnes & Noble previously had a store at The Spectrum that closed in 2013.

The shopping center will also soon welcome Whole Foods Market, which plans to relocate from its current spot at Plaza America.

 Photo via Barnes & Noble/Instagram

LGBTQIA+ stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, and other gender and sexual minority identities (via Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash)

A private library for the local LGBTQIA+ community is expanding its reach in Reston.

NoVA Prism Center, a planned community center and private library, is working with Reston Museum to tour its collection books and resources on March 18. The pop-up collection will be featured at the museum from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The community is invited to come to the museum, relax with a book, connect with the local LGBTQIA+ community and support our mission to bring access to information about LGBTQIA+ lives, stories, and history to Northern Virginia while participating in the LGBTQIA+ community by gathering to celebrate ourselves, friends and loved ones,” event organizers said in a news release.

NoVA Prism was founded as a nonprofit in May 2022 by local educators and activists in response to an attempt to eliminate two books dealing with LGBTQ topics from Fairfax County Public Schools.

“As a LGBTQ+ run organization with roots in the community it serves, NoVA Prism Center & Library is an answer to both the threat of lost access for LGBTQ+ teens in the region, as well as being the community resource that the LGBTQ+ community desperately needs moving forward,” Leon van Der Goetz said on behalf of the organization.

NoVA Prism has pop-up events and hopes to open a physical location. Planning for the project is in the preliminary stages, and a location has not yet been determined. The organization is currently funded by individual and corporate donations.

Alex Campbell, Reston Museum’s executive director, said that the partnership came about after a board member connected the two organizations.

“NoVA Prism Center & Library was looking for a space to do a pop up event and the museum was a good fit,” Campbell said.

Reston Museum is a nonprofit organization that aims to preserve Reston’s past, form its present and influences its future. The museum features a collection of archival material and artifacts.

It’s open from Tuesday through Saturday.

Photo via Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash


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