The rock musician Patti Smith won the National Book Award for nonfiction on Wednesday night for “Just Kids,” a sweetly evocative memoir of her relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe and the romantic days of bohemian New York.
Accepting the award to wild applause and cheers, Ms. Smith — clearly the favorite of the night — choked up slightly as she recalled her days working as a clerk in the Scribner bookstore as a young woman. “I dreamed of having a book of my own, of writing one that I could put on a shelf,” she said. “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.”