Virtual Book Launch: Natalia Sylvester releases ‘Running’ July 14

We’re thrilled to host a virtual book launch party for Austin author Natalia Sylvester’s new book Running, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 14.

Running tells the story of fifteen-year-old Mariana Ruiz, a Cuban American teenager whose senator father runs for president. As the campaign unfolds and Mariana’s family is thrust into the spotlight, she discovers she doesn’t align with her father’s political positions, and she learns to stand firm in her beliefs and find her voice.

Register for the free event here.

Get a signed, personalized copy of Running from our friends at BookPeople.

From the Lit Director’s Desk: Pride Reads

Pride doesn’t begin and end in June. Though the month may be coming to a close, 2020 is rich with newly published adult and young people’s books by LGBTQ+ authors and/or about LGBTQ+ characters.

Below are just a few proud books that have crossed our desks and radars this year, including links to where to buy or preorder many of them from our friends at BookPeople. Some we’ve read, some we’re looking forward to reading, and a few you might even see online at the Texas Book Festival this fall.

Happy reading!


Young People’s Literature

Winter and Spring 2020

Summer 2020

Fall 2020

  • Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas (Macmillan/Swoon Reads, September 2020)
  • How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi (Penguin/Viking Books for Young Readers, September 2020)

July Book Club: ‘The City We Became’ by N.K. Jemisin

For the July pick for the Austin360 Book Club powered by the Texas Book Festival, we’ll be reading The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, a New York Times bestselling and three-time Hugo Award-winning author. This urban fantasy, the first in an intended series, asks: What if a city were a person? Or multiple people? What do those people look like—and what must they do to save New York City from sure destruction? It’s a fantasy novel that wraps in very real themes of race, oppression, xenophobia, and cultural conflict.

We’re planning to discuss the book in late July, so stay tuned for updates! Join the book club on Facebook here.

Past 2020 book club picks:

2020 Texas Book Festival goes virtual

The Texas Book Festival will go entirely virtual for our 25th anniversary, as our primary concern is keeping our readers and authors safe. Due to concerns surrounding in-person gatherings in light of COVID-19, the 2020 virtual Texas Book Festival will now take place October 31 through November 15. Moving to an all-virtual Festival will give us the opportunity to expand our annual Festival weekend to two full weeks of virtual programming. We hope this means many more of you can attend our events from the comfort and safety of your living room, near and far.

We’ll miss seeing all of you throughout the grounds of the Texas State Capitol and along Congress Avenue in Austin this year, but we recognize that our mission of bringing together readers and authors to celebrate books and literacy is, in some ways, more important than ever. Books help keep us connected, after all, and we want to stay connected to you by offering two weeks of author panels and interviews, readings, and more.

This year’s virtual Festival will feature more than 125 authors, including programming for adults, young adults, middle-grade readers, and children. Stay tuned for more announcements coming soon!

Stay tuned to our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts for more 2020 Festival updates! Sign up for our newsletter here to be the first to know.

June Book Club: ‘How We Fight For Our Lives’ by Saeed Jones

We’ve chosen Saeed Jones’ memoir How We Fight For Our Lives as the June pick for the Austin360 Book Club powered by Texas Book Festival. 

In this multiple award-winning memoir, Jones writes about growing up gay and black in the South. Vividly relating episodes from his youth and early manhood, Jones writes powerfully—with the kind of naked honesty that feels necessary—about his deep bond with his mother, the joy and pain in early sexual encounters, and all the ways his race, relationships, and queerness impact his experiences as he fights his way into finding himself. 

We’re thrilled to share that Saeed will be joining us for a free virtual book discussion on Thursday, June 25, at 7 p.m. Jennifer Wilks, Associate Professor of English & African and African Diaspora Studies at The University of Texas and TBF Board of Directors member, will moderate the discussion. We’re looking forward to discussing this important, beautiful book with you all.

Buy How We Fight For Our Lives from BookPeople here.


Register to attend the free virtual discussion

Here’s what your favorite authors’ writing spaces look like

For the past two months, Texas Book Festival staff—and countless people across Texas, the United States, and the world—have been working from home. But for many writers, that’s nothing new. They’re used to finding spaces at home that make them feel creative and inspired so they can pour their energy into writing your favorite novels, memoirs, poems, and more. That’s why writer and producer Maya Perez created the Writing Spaces Project on Instagram to showcase photos of writers’ workspaces (you can see some of Maya’s favorites in her piece on Electric Literature here). If you’re feeling creatively stuck, here are a few of our favorite writing spaces from Maya’s Instagram account, including some former TBF authors and friends of the Festival.

Amanda Eyre Ward

Natalia Sylvester

View this post on Instagram

"This is a picture of my backyard writing space. Ever since we went on lockdown I've been finding the most comfort in spending time outdoors, and being out here in our yard reminds me to be grateful for what we have and not take it for granted. The picnic table is something we only got a few months ago; it has special meaning because my husband and I bought it in the weeks following a pretty intense health scare. The day we rented a pick-up, loaded it with this (massively heavy) wooden picnic table and then spent the afternoon setting up string lights and an umbrella in our yard felt like a triumph, a small declaration that even in hard times we could still create this space of happy, peaceful sanctuary. It continues to provide me with a sense of calm in this new kind of uncertainty." Text & 📷: Natalia Sylvester . . . RUNNING is out July 14 from HMH/Clarion Books . . . #writingspacesproject #whereiwrite #outsidewriting #writingwithview #whatiwrite #writing #amwriting #NataliaSylvester #Running #YA #EveryoneKnowsYouGoHome #ChasingTheSun #novels

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Richard Santos

View this post on Instagram

“Over the years I've learned to write in all sorts of spaces: several dining room tables, hospital cafeterias, the break room at the school where I teach, my old desk job, but none of them have been as comfy as this recliner. Lately I've been setting my iPad on my lap, extending my legs, and doing the best writing I can with a new baby and a full house. I can also look outside and watch the cat chase bugs and the thin oak trees swaying in the breeze. Usually there's a bluetooth speaker nearby playing something ambient or classical and a fan on high to drown out any noise from the other room. Working on novel revisions has been difficult but I've been writing reviews, profiles, and essays; most importantly I've been forgiving myself for not writing as much as I should. I can blame my lack of productivity on lots of factors, but the chair is blameless." Text & 📷: Richard Z. Santos . . . Trust Me by Richard Z. Santos Arte Público Press, 3/31/20 . . . #writingspacesproject #whereiwrite #whatiwrite #writing #amwriting #RichardZSantos #TrustMe #novel #artepublicopress #revisions #reviews #profiles

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Jacqueline Woodson


Lara Prescott

S. Kirk Walsh

Kate Minchin



Alexandra Potter

Erin Bowman

Maya Linnell


Introducing Read Together Texas

Read Together Texas is a Texas Book Festival initiative to connect readers of all ages with the children’s books that we love. Whether you’re looking for a family storytime, an educational resource for an at-home learning activity, or just want to introduce your child to new stories and ideas, we are so lucky to have authors, Texas leaders, and friends of the Texas Book Festival reading their favorite children’s books, like TBF Executive Director Lois Kim and authors Robin Ward, Xavier Garza, Varsha Bajaj, and more. 

We will also be sharing resources to help make the most of the storytimes with accompanying activities and curriculum. Visit our Read Together Texas page to find English- and Spanish-language videos, as well as learning resources. We will be updating this page with new storytimes as we find new ways to connect to each other during this time. New videos will be added on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Happy reading!

May book club pick: ‘The Glass Hotel’ by Emily St. John Mandel

Join the Austin360 Book Club powered by the Texas Book Festival this month in reading The Glass Hotel, the latest book by author Emily St. John Mandel.

The book, which you can purchase from our partners at BookPeople here, is a novel “set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events-a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.”

Read the full description:

Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby’s glass wall: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.

In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives.

Join the book club on Facebook to discuss the book and check out our past reads!


WATCH: Three 2020 Whiting Awards poetry winners read their poems

Creative writing supporters The Whiting Foundation annually choose 10 emerging writers as recipients of the Whiting Awards in various genres. This year, four poetry award winners were chosen. The Whiting Foundation shared videos from three of the four winners reading from their recognized works. Watch the videos below, and visit the Whiting Awards website for more information on these three winners, as well as the other seven writers recognized in this year’s awards.

Genya Turovskaya – Buy The Breathing Body of This Thought 

Aria Aber – Buy Hard Damage

Diannely Antigua – Buy Ugly Music

Earth Day book recommendations for the whole family

Happy Earth Day! In observation of the holiday, and all of Earth Week, we’ve asked our community partners and friends to share their recommended environmental reads.

Keep Austin Beautiful

Austin Parks Foundation

Waterloo Greenway

Texas Land Conservancy