Carl Bernstein and Congressman Jamie Raskin Headline Book Fest Sunday

Dozen writers, wine garden and food, and children’s corner featured in free Books in Bloom in Merriweather District in Downtown Columbia

Carl Bernstein

The Downtown Columbia Partnership and Howard Hughes Corporation host the sixth annual Books in Bloom festival, the region’s largest progressive book and literary festival on Sunday, May 15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. at Color Burst Park in the Merriweather District of Downtown Columbia. This year’s festival will continue the focus on activism through literature and open dialogue surrounding race, gender, diversity, freedom of speech and banned books.

In addition to an incredible lineup of authors and writers, Books in Bloom will offer a day full of fun with a pop-up bookstore with dedicated banned section, curated wine garden, children’s corner with activities including a bookmark making section, exclusive food and beverage offerings from local favorites, photo booth and more.

This year’s lineup includes headliner Carl Bernstein, the Washington, DC-native author and Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter who famously broke the Watergate story. Bernstein will discuss his latest memoir Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom, recalling his beginnings as a young journalist in Washington, DC, with stories of the Kennedy era and the civil rights movement. Other notable authors include congressman Jamie Raskin, representative for Maryland and author of Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth and the Trials of American Democracy. The memoir chronicles Raskin’s world-changing first 45 days of 2021, including the loss of his son to suicide, living through the insurrection of the Capitol, and his leading efforts towards the impeachment of President Trump.

Additional authors featured this year include:

  • Amanda Montell, Baltimore-native, linguist, podcast host and author of Cultish: The Language of Fanaticism
  • Daniela Pierre-Bravo, Morning Joe producer and co-author of The Other: How to Own Your Power at Work as a Woman of Color
  • Chris Finan, executive director of the National Coalition Against Censorship
  • John Paul Brammer, columnist, running the popular LGBTQ advice column “¬°Hola Papi!”, illustrator and author of new memoir
  • Kathryn Schulz, Pulitzer Prize winning author, staff writer at The New Yorker and author of the memoir Lost & Found
  • Leslie Pietrzyk, author of Admit This to No One, a collection of stories set in Washington, DC
  • Sufiya Abdur-Rahman, professor at Washington College and author of Heir to the Crescent Moon which chronicles her family’s complicated relationship with Islam
  • Jonathan Katz, author of the new novel Gangsters of Capitalism: Smedley Butler, the Marines, and the Making and Breaking of America’s Empire and reporter famously providing the first international alert of the deadly 2010 Haiti earthquake
  • Melissa Scoles Young, DC local author of The Hive, and editor of Grace in Darkness and Furious Gravity, two anthologies of new writing by D.C. women writers and professor at American University
  • Jess McHugh, writer, editor, researcher and author of Americanon, which takes a deep dive into how bestselling books become bestsellers and how they shape our world
  • PEN America Panel – “Defending the Freedom to Read, Learn, and Teach”, PEN America is a literary nonprofit comprised of journalists, writers and more all united around the goal of celebrating and defending the freedom to write
  • Banned Books Panel, comprised of top journalists and reporters discussing banned books, media censorship and the current journalistic landscape. Featured panelists include: Elahe Izadi, The Washington Post, Ariana Figueroa, States Newsroom, and Matthew Winner, Head of Podcasts at A Kids Book About

The festival and all associated events are free and open to the public. For more information and a final event schedule, follow on Instagram @merriweatherdistrict and visit