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Save the dates for Baltimore and Washington book festivals

September's a big month for bibliophiles, as Baltimore and Washington stage their book festivals. And this year, for the first time in recent years, the festivals don't fall on the same weekend, allowing readers to catch both packed slates of authors and events.

The National Book Festival, held on the Mall, kicks off first, on Sept. 22-23. The event always has a star-studded lineup, and this year it includes Thomas Friedman, T.C. Boyle, Geraldine Brooks, Robert A. Caro, Sandra Cisneros, Patricia Cornwell, Junot Diaz, Charlaine Harris, Walter Isaacson, Jeff Kinney, Marilynne Robinson, and Mario Llosa Varga.

The Baltimore Book Festival runs Sept. 28-30 in Mount Vernon -- and always makes for a great weekend. There are interesting panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, and literary walking tours of the area, where greats such as Henry James and John Dos Passos once trod.

Among the authors appearing in Baltimore are Emily Giffin, "Where We Belong;" Laura Lippman, "And When She Was Good;" Laura Amy Schlitz, "Splendors and Glooms;" and Michael Tucker, "After Annie." Steven Galloway, the author of "The Cellist of Saravejo," will also appear as part of the Maryland Humanities Council's One Maryland One Book program.

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