Make the Most of the 2019 Texas Book Festival

Get to know the ins-and-outs of this year’s literary spectacular, descending on the Capitol October 26 & 27

By Holly Cowart
Texas Book Festival
Photograph by Julia Keim.

If there’s one thing Texans know, it’s tradition. Fall in Austin wouldn’t be complete without the return of the much-anticipated Texas Book Festival, taking place on October 26 and 27. One of the largest of its kind in the country, the annual celebration was started by former First Lady Laura Bush in 1995 and has since continued to draw thousands to our city, all for the love of literature.

With the Capitol grounds as a home-base, book enthusiasts will gather for a chance to meet and hear from award-winning and revered authors. Not only is it free to the public, but there will be something for every type of reader. Of the 275-plus authors, you’ll find mouth watering cookbooks to spine-chilling crime tales and everything in between. Even younger readers will have plenty to explore with a day full of family activities and YA author stops. For the culinary-inclined, make your way to the Central Market Cooking Tent for a lineup of demonstrations by local and national restaurants and chefs.

Photograph by Bob Daemmrich.

But whether you’ve had your book bag ready for weeks or are just discovering this extravaganza, it can definitely feel overwhelming. There are a few things you should know about navigating the tents to help make the most of your days.

First thing’s first – research is key. Making a schedule will save you loads of time and help you keep track of the numerous happenings throughout the two-day fest. Don’t miss exciting opportunities like a presentation from the New York Times-bestseller Malcolm Gladwell or signing by Pulitzer Prize-winner Samantha Power, who served as the US Ambassador to the United Nations. And you can’t forget to check out the impressive local additions as well, including fiction writer Attica Locke, who was this year’s recipient of the Texas Writer Award.

Check out six titles we’re excited to see at this year’s Texas Book Festival.

Since each event is first-come, first-served, plan to get there ahead of time to ensure a spot. Texas Book Festival also offers the option to purchase a Book Ticket, which allows the holder to gain early-access to seating and a guaranteed signed copy. Books can otherwise be purchased at the onsite BookPeople Sales Tents, with proceeds going towards the nonprofit’s Reading Rock Stars program and Library Grants initiative.

During your free time, pay a visit to the array of exhibitor tents and food trucks. You can snag gifts for your favorite readers and learn about impactful Austin organizations in between tasty treats like Amy’s Ice Cream and Roppolo’s Pizzeria. 

Last but not least, festival-goers should also be aware of the fun taking place outside of the festival grounds. Although the First Edition Literary Gala is sold out, you can still enjoy a treasure hunt of cocktails during Lit Crawl Austin. Kicking off at 5pm on October 26, five participating bars will host a variety of literary-themed games conducted by presenting artists and authors. Stop by Cheer Up Charlie’s for a Literary Death Match before mozying over to Empire Control Room’s Story Bar, a Texas Book Festival and Austin Film Festival show down. Just make sure to dress comfortably as you spend the night hopping around the Red River Cultural District.

A scene from last year’s Lit Crawl Austin.

Whether you’re relishing in a longtime tradition or just starting your own, spend the weekend celebrating the love of reading while supporting the Texas Book Festival and the community they empower. We’ll see you there!


Read More From the Architecture Issue | October 2019


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