However you come down on the past eight years of neocon rule, the National Book Festival that the First Lady’s office helped create is inarguably a good thing. A few writers—Sharon Olds, most notably—have refused to participate in the event to better register a complaint about its makers, but with the imminent departure of Laura Bush, there’s genuine cause to worry that the fest may not reappear. And that’s inarguably a bad thing. Removing the fest from the National Mall not only means the doofy kickball players win, it takes a real whack at the city’s cultural life—between the high-class novelists, C-SPAN tote bags, and children singalongs, few D.C. events so perfectly capture the city’s wonky-nerdy-playful qualities. The long book-signing lines aren’t much fun, but the opportunity to see a wide range of poets, writers, and historians at their most open and playful in one spot is hard to pass up. Mark your calendars: the next (final?) one is Sept. 27.

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