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Represent Gwinnett at book festival

How can you sit there calmly reading the newspaper?

You should be at the Decatur Book Festival right now, cavorting with the likes of novelist Michael Connelly and humorist Roy Bount Jr. Well, maybe not actually cavorting, but you get the picture.

Since you're reading my column, I'll give you a pass. And to make my editors happy, go ahead and read the rest of the paper, too. But as soon as you're done, get on down to Decatur Square - a pleasant half-hour commute on Sunday afternoon, as opposed to three hours Monday morning.

In fact, if you leave right now, you can still catch a best-selling author. I say that with confidence because the festival is stacked to the old courthouse rafters with best-selling authors, appearing on five different stages. More than 100 authors, to be exact, most of whom (I have it on good authority) will be stone-cold sober.

True, if you're just now hearing about the festival, you've already missed a day. Then again, where've you been? The Daily Post has been touting the event for weeks, including a lengthy write-up in last Sunday's edition.

You should have also seen colorful book festival posters on display at your local Gwinnett Public Library branch.

I say you should have, but of course you didn't, because the county's library system wouldn't allow festival organizers to display the posters. I can certainly understand their reasoning. Why would a library want to promote something like books?

Still, there's still plenty of time to get down to the festival today and several reasons to consider making the trip:

•Represent, dog. I'm not saying Gwinnett has a reputation for being non-literary. OK, I am saying that. But the perception is false. Lots of Gwinnettians love books. It's just that some of our more snobbish neighbors to the west seem to think our favorite thing to do with them is start a bonfire. A few hundred Gwinnett County tags spotted around downtown Decatur would go a long way toward dispelling that misconception.

•Fun for the whole family, yada yada. A cliche, maybe, but true nonetheless. In addition to readings and panel discussions by authors, festivities include live music, parades and cooking demonstrations. There's even a stage featuring children's authors, not to be confused with childish authors, who for the most part weren't invited.

•Every person counts. With more than 40,000 visitors expected, the Decatur Book Festival is already the biggest literary event to hit Atlanta since Lewis Grizzard's fourth marriage. But the more attendees, the more likely we are to make this an annual event, like the Hawks missing the playoffs.

So get up off your duff and head on down to Decatur to join a few thousand of your closest friends as we celebrate the written word. Just be sure to finish my column first.

Lawrenceville resident Rob Jenkins serves on the Board of Directors for the Decatur Book Festival. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.