Happy Holidays from Texas Book Festival!

From every one of us at Texas Book Festival, we wish you a happy holiday season and a joyous New Year! Thank you for your support and contribution to the success of our programs and events this year. We look forward to discovering more exciting and engaging stories in 2022. Below are some end-of-the-year thoughts from the entire staff. Cheers!

Seeing the happiness in people’s eyes (since I couldn’t see their smiles behind their masks) and hearing their laughter during Amor Towles’ Festival session. I’ve missed seeing the connection an author makes with a live audience. I also was blown away this year by how teachers and students have made the best of virtual learning. The kids in Breakthrough Central Texas had such great questions for Emmanuel Acho in their own virtual session with him. It’s all about impactful moments. I can’t wait to bring everyone together around more of them in 2022 and hope everyone has a safe and happy holiday season until then! – Lois Kim, Executive Director

I loved seeing our Texas Writer Award winner Don Tate create a drawing for an excited young reader in-person, I loved meeting poster artist Clemente Guzman for the first time, I loved seeing the line of people wrap around the Austin Public Library to see authors. Now with an appreciation for reaching out through virtual programming, I got a kick out of Ethan Hawke logging in at 2 am his time from Eastern Europe, eating M&Ms to stay awake for his chat with Greg Ruth and Richard Linklater. Overall, I remain so thankful for all the storytellers, sharing their joy, sadness, activism, anger, and love during this time and always. – Claire Burrows, Deputy Director

In January 2021, on the heels of our first fully virtual Festival, we had little idea what the future held insofar as in-person vs. virtual events. Where we ultimately arrived was our first hybrid Festival, and some of the memories I cherish most were those opportunities to once again see authors, attendees, and volunteers in-person. There will long be a place for virtual, and yet there’s a magic to face-to-face experiences that is very difficult to replicate. – Matthew Patin, Literary Director

As 2021 comes to a close, I reflect on all of the different ways the Texas Book Festival has brought our community together. It has been wonderful to hear from you and see you at our Festival and come together to celebrate our love of books and reading. – Nicole Wielga, Logistics & Volunteer Coordinator

2021 has been a year of uncertainty, but in spite of that, TBF was still able to pull off a hybrid Festival. Working my first in-person Festival cemented the magic of in-person events for me—there’s nothing like watching the light in someone’s eyes as they listen to their favorite author speak. Here’s hoping for more magic in 2022! – Gavin Quinn, Programs & Financial Coordinator 

This year has been a whirlwind, but I am so proud to be a part of the TBF team! From the top of the year to the very end, I’ve witnessed the TBF team (including staff, interns, volunteers, authors, students, teachers, librarians, community partners, and even family members) come together to contribute to a successful Festival and year of programming and events! We can’t wait to see what next year has in store! – Ke’ara Hunt, Communications & Marketing Coordinator

Nothing beat standing at the back of the packed Austin Public Library Special Events Center for our in-person programs. With a year of ups and downs, it was starting to feel impossible but at last authors and readers were back in one place again! – Susannah Auby, Development Associate

As the newest member of the TBF team, I had the awesome opportunity to dive into my new role during the week of the Festival. In the course of a very busy and exciting first few days, one of my favorite experiences was getting to attend Reading Rock Stars author visits at a local elementary school. Seeing students’ joy while engaging with authors and receiving their own copies of their beautiful books is something I won’t soon forget. – Michelle Hernandez, School & Community Programs Coordinator

P.S. If you missed a session from this year’s Fest or want to rewatch some of your favorite author conversations, head over to our website to stream all of the 2021 Virtual Sessions through December 31, 2021

A Day in the Life of an Event Production Intern

As an intern for THE Texas Book Festival, there are few things more exciting than Festival weekend. After months of hard work, everything comes together for two glorious days of all things reading and writing, and for interns, it also means two full days of in-person action. I’m here to break down what it looks like.

Saturday, October 30 – Festival Day One

8:00 AM – Arrive at Symphony Square

There’s nothing quite like telling yourself you’ll get up with enough time to eat breakfast and make coffee before you leave the house, and then doing neither. Lucky for me though, the Book Festival bosses were prepared for this type of disaster and had bottomless coffee at the ready for us. We got the lay of the land, chugged our hot bean juice, and started prep for the Festival.

I was on the front line initially, scanning tickets and checking covid vaccination cards for all our fellow book enthusiasts. It was family day at the festival, and kids who are already far more well-read than me lined up with their parents to see their favorite books read and signed by the authors waiting inside. We would make brief chit-chat, scan their tickets and send them in for the show. I bounced between this, and parking lot duty for the first few hours in between other small tasks like tapping up posters or refilling my coffee cup.

12:00 PM – Assistant Producing and Book Presenting

I left my fellow interns to manage the check-in and headed to the author green room to set up for one of the last virtual panels of the Festival. As book festival interns, we all learned how to assistant produce online sessions for the week leading up to the in-person events. It mostly consisted of monitoring the audience chat to make sure nothing inappropriate was said and sending audience questions over to authors and moderators once Q&A was up, but we also just got to listen in on some very interesting discussions with authors all over the country. That Saturday the session was a discussion of the book “Forget the Alamo,” and the audience commentary was expected to be hot, but our attendees impressed us (as they always do) with civil conversation and interesting and relevant questions for the authors. I had to sign off quickly though so I could get to my next station: book presenter.

As authors read their books to the children in the audience, two interns would stand on either side of them with copies of the books open wide for everyone to see the illustrations. We not only got a good story read to us, but we were also able to see the effects the story had on the kids. More than anything though, it made me jealous of the kids growing up in 2021. The books that were read Saturday were not only fun stories with beautiful pages but thought-provoking and informative. I don’t think I ever had a children’s book that tackled race or immigration issues, and it was fantastic to see those stories being told for a young audience in such a tasteful way. But all good things must come to an end, and after a few readings, it was time for the Lit Crawl.

4:00 PM – Cheer Up Charlies

The best part of any day, the bar. While everyone at Symphony Square transitioned the area from kids shows to the cocktail party, I headed down the street to Cheer Up Charlies with a table, a few bags of books, and a hankering for a good time. Another intern and I set up a table inside the bar for a book swap, laying out books from the festival for people in the audience to take and trade out with books of their own. As the bar filled up the Lit Crawl shows started, first with the Writers League of Texas hosting a game of book quotes, and then with an author line up where Texas authors answered audience questions using only words from their books. Honestly, this was the most fun part of the festival for me. I got a chance to talk with people on the crawl as they came up to our table for books and I got to enjoy the programming. Not to mention how cool of a venue Cheer Up Charlies is. After the games had ended, we packed up our table and the few remaining books and took the crawl over to Symphony Square.

And that’s where my day ended! The rest of the interns helped close up the cocktail party a few hours later, but I went home to get to bed early for set up at 6:00 AM for day two of the Festival. I didn’t know what to expect going into Festival weekend, but I couldn’t have asked for a better time. It was great to bond with the other interns and TBF staff, and it was great to participate in what ended up being a really great production. Whether you were part of the Festival or a participant, everyone there made it a great experience and I can’t wait to attend next year!

Join us at Austin Central Library!

Join us at Austin Central Library for a special day of in-person and online Adult Programming with the Texas Book Festival!

About this event

Please note: all attendees must provide proof of vaccination (OR negative COVID test within 72 hours of event) to attend.

Sign up for each session you would like to attend. All sessions will also be available to stream online.

Schedule: Doors open at 9:30 am

10:00 am – Amor Towles in Conversation about The Lincoln Highway in the Special Events Center (1st Floor)

Amor Towles—New York Times bestselling author of The Gentleman of Moscow—talks about his latest novel, The Lincoln Highway, a multi-perspective story that takes place over ten days and hundreds of miles in 1950s America.

10:00 am – Texas Institute of Letters Presents: Meet the 2020 TIL Award Winners in the Reading Room (4th Floor)

Join 2020 Texas Institute of Letters 2021 award winners for a discussion moderated by TIL president Sergio Troncoso. Since 1938, TIL has honored works of literature by authors born in Texas, who have lived in Texas for a period of five years, or whose subject “substantially concerns” Texas. Hear three of the authors recognized this year by TIL’s distinguished membership—Marisol Cortez (Luz at Midnight; winner, Best First Book of Fiction), David Meischen (Anyone’s Son; winner, Best First Book of Poetry), and Christina Soontornvat (A Wish in the Dark; winner, Best Middle Grade Book)—read from and discuss their works.

11:00 am – On Climate, Energy, and Texas in the Reading Room (4th Floor)

Less than a year since the big “Texas Freeze” and mere months since the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its most current—and most urgent—report, two Texas authors gather to examine the past, present, and future of alternative energy and its potential to avert disaster. Andy Bowman’s The West Texas Power Plant that Saved the World tells the story of an unassuming facility in Pecos County that could offer the blueprint for a renewable-energy future. Carey W. King’s The Economic Superorganism cuts through highly charged and seemingly incompatible narratives around economics and energy and provides a realistic understanding of this most complex of subjects.

12:00 pm – Maria Hinojosa in Conversation about Once I Was You in the Special Events Center (1st Floor)

Maria Hinojosa, veteran journalist and executive producer of Peabody Award–winning program Latino USA, has spent nearly thirty years reporting on immigration and the communities the mainstream media too often overlooks. In new memoir Once I Was You, Hinojosa illustrates—via her own family’s experiences growing up on the South Side of Chicago—a story of migrating to the United States. Join her as she discusses her own experiences and the public impact of the rhetoric surrounding immigration.

1:00 pm – Texas History in Black and Brown in the Reading Room (4th Floor)

Join Texas Christian University history professor Max Krochmal, former UT-Austin journalism professor Bill Minutaglio, and University of North Texas history professor J. Todd Moye for a conversation about Texas history through the lenses of politics, race, struggle, and resistance. New books Civil Rights in Black and Brown: Histories of Resistance and Struggle in Texas and A Single Star and Bloody Knuckles: A History of Politics and Race in Texas explore long-neglected figures and events in the Lone Star State.

2:00 pm – Being Texan: Texas Monthly Editors in Conversation about the Lone Star Way of Life in the Special Events Center (1st Floor)

Texas Monthly editors Kathy Blackwell, Wes Ferguson, José R. Ralat, and Mimi Swartz share with audiences the treasures found in Being Texan: Essays, Recipes, and Advice for the Lone Star Way, a rich anthology of Texas tales, artifacts, and reportage.

3:00 pm – Writers’ League of Texas Presents: Novels as Big as Texas in the Reading Room (4th Floor)

Join authors Stacey Swann (Olympus, Texas), William Sibley (Here We Go Loop de Loop), Kelsey McKinney (God Spare the Girls), and Simon Han (Nights When Nothing Happened)—all of whom have authored new novels featuring the Lone Star State as backdrop, and in some cases as character in its own right.

4:00 pm – The Devil’s Treasure: A Conversation with Mary Gaitskill in the Special Events Center (1st Floor)

Since the debut of her revered short story collection, Bad Behavior—which included the story adapted into the 2002 film Secretary—Mary Gaitskill has lent brutal honesty and formal daring to the literary scene. “She catches cruelty and inexplicable desire, what she has called ‘the dirt within,’ as well as any writer we have,” as Dwight Garner of the New York Times has put it. Gaitskill’s new book, The Devil’s Treasure, is no less audacious than her previous work. Linked together by the story of a girl named Ginger who discovers a portal to hell in her own backyard, Gaitskill’s latest, richly illustrated work presents excerpts of her previous novels, including 2005’s Veronica and 2015’s The Mare, as well as a memoir—all of it stitched together with authorial commentary.



2021 Lit Crawl In-Person!

We have more Lit Crawl events coming your way! Join us at Cheer Up Charlies (900 red River St.) and Symphony Square (1111 Red River St.) for our in-person Lit Crawl sessions featuring authors Stacey Swann, Simon Han, Maurice Chammah, Tomás Q. Morín, and more!


5:00 PM – 6:30 PM CST, Writers’ League of Texas Presents: Swipe Write: The Texas Author Match Game

Have you been looking for love in all the wrong pages? Tired of blind dates with books that go nowhere? Are you ready for that next great read that really gets you? Join us for this Lit Crawl Happy Hour to meet your perfect match—we’ll supply the books (by Texas authors), you bring your A-game.

6:30 PM – 7:30 PM CST, American Short Fiction Presents Dear Buffalo (A Lit Crawl Event)

Get answers to your greatest questions about life and love, straight from the pages of bold and exciting literary works. In this program, authors will offer advice to questions from ASF editorial staff and the audience by selecting (at random) quotations from their new or forthcoming books. With Simon Han, Taisia Kitaiskaia, Adam Soto, Stacey Swann, and Jenny Tinghui Zhang.

Seats are limited and registration is required here.

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM CST
, Scary Stories to Tell in the Bar: Austin Bat Cave Presents Story Department (A Lit Crawl Event)

Story Department is Austin Bat Cave’s live storytelling event, similar to the Moth. Stories are typically ten minutes long, rehearsed, and based on a theme that is wide open for interpretation. Join us to hear writers Dalia Azim, Sindya Bhanoo, and Maurice Chammah tell true stories on the theme Scary Stories to Tell in the Bar.

8:00 PM – 9:00 PM CST, Awst Press Presents: Lit Crawl Against Humanity

Lit Crawl Against Humanity is a “party game for horrible people.” Join Austin-based Awst Press, along with Austin poet Tomás Q. Morín and other writers, for fun times and a shared vigilance against tripping into nearby Waller Creek.

Please refer to the code of conduct prior to attending in-person events.

Join us at Symphony Square!

Join us for a very special Family Day with the Texas Book Festival!

About this event
Please note: all attendees age 18+ must provide proof of vaccination (OR negative COVID test within 72 hours of event) to attend.

Schedule: Doors open at 10:00 am, please arrive early to go through the check in process.

Morning Story Time

10:00 AM – (EN ESPAÑOL) Mis dos pueblos fronterizos con David Bowles

10:45 AM – Storytime: The Old Boat with Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey

Fans of The Old Truck will love The Old Boat! This is a story of exploration, and this journey with a boy and his boat celebrates the beauty of nature and the family we make along the way.

11:30 AM – Storytime: El’s Mirror with Bavu Blakes

Do you remember how you were feeling on your very first day of school? In this story, El is about to start kindergarten when he faces some unexpected challenges. But with the help of his family, El will learn to find his way and begin to understand this new world around him.

12:15 PM – Storytime: The Color Collector with Nicholas Solis

One day a boy notices the new girl picking up all kinds of litter on her way home from school. Filled with curiosity, he asks her about it! She then shows him the mural in her room that shows the village she left behind, and he learns how the two of them can be alike and different at the same time, and how incredible it is to make new friends.


Afternoon Story Time

1:45 PM – Storytime: My Two Border Towns with David Bowles

A boy travels across the US-Mexican border with his father to have a fun day eating their favorite foods, visiting family, and most importantly checking in with their friends seeking asylum. Come listen to author David Bowles discuss his own experiences crossing the border with his father as a small boy!

2:30 PM – Storytime: Pigskins to Paintbrushes with Don Tate

Have you ever felt super excited about two different things? So did Ernie Barnes. In this story, young Ernie feels different from kids his age, so he takes refuge in his art. But, trying to fit in, he joins the school football team, and that leads him to a professional football career! But Ernie never loses his passion for art. Come join Don Tate as he discusses the incredible true story of Ernie Barnes, who never lost sight of himself and kept chasing his dreams.

3:15 PM – Storytime: Slow Down, Tumbleweed! with Haven Iverson

Sometimes in our fast-paced world we can all feel a little bit like a tumbleweed—rolling, rolling, rolling in the wind. When Mabel the tumbleweed gets stuck on a fence one day, she learns how to sit in the stillness and observe the quiet around her. Join author Haven Iverson as she talks about how you can celebrate the beauty of the world right where you are, no matter how fast you’re moving.

4:00 PM – Storytime: The Larger-Than-Life Story of Texas Governor Ann Richards w. Meghan P. Browne

Before the world knew her as Ann Richards (in the past the governor of Texas!) she was Dorothy Ann Willis. As a teenager she found a love for serving her community, which led her all the way to the nation’s capital, where she learned about government and politics. Join author Meghan P. Browne as she reads from her book! And talks about this larger-than-life personality who was able to take on the “political boys’ club” to become both governor and an inspiration to countless others after her.


Meet the 2021 Kirkus Prize Finalists

UPDATE: This session is now streaming. Watch the full panel here!

Kirkus Reviews, the nation’s leading prepublication journal of book reviews, is proud to sponsor the annual Kirkus Prize, which bestows $150,000 divided by three winning writers. At this panel, you’ll hear a group of finalists of this year’s Prize—some of this year’s most intriguing and insightful writers—talk about their most recent books.

Panelists: Young Readers’ Literature

  • Wai Chim (author, The Surprising Power of a Good Dumpling)
  • Sharon G. Flake (author, The Life I’m In)
  • Nikki Grimes (author, Legacy)
  • NoNieqa Ramos (author, Your Mama)
  • Jacqueline Alcántara (illustrator, Your Mama)
  • Carole Boston Weatherford (author, Unspeakable)


  • Brian Broome (author, Punch Me Up to the Gods)
  • Dara Horn (author, People Love Dead Jews)
  • Tiya Miles (author, All That She Carried)
  • Katherine E. Standefer (author, Lightning Flowers)


  • Mariana Enriquez (author, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed)
  • Megan McDowell (translator, The Dangers of Smoking in Bed)
  • Jocelyn Nicole Johnson (author, My Monticello)

In partnership with Kirkus Reviews

  • Moderator: Tom Beer, Kirkus Reviews editor in chief
  • Format: This is a live, virtual event on CrowdCast (RSVP link above).
  • Chat: Feel free to use the chat box in CrowdCast to share your thoughts and virtually cheer for and share kudos with the session’s participants! Disorderly comments will be removed immediately. Please refer to the code of conduct

2021 Festival Schedule

The 2021 hybrid Texas Book Festival schedule is here!

We’re excited to finally share our official 2021 schedule with you! This year’s Texas Book Festival kicks off on October 23 and runs through October 31 and features both virtual and limited in-person author appearances. The Fest begins the weekend of October 23 and 24 with virtual young adult Texas Teen Book Festival programming and virtual children’s programming, followed by virtual adult author programming from October 25 to 31.

Children’s programming continues with select in-person appearances by picture book authors at Symphony Square in downtown Austin on Saturday, October 30, followed by an in-person adult Lit Crawl which will take place from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m CT. Adult author programming concludes the Festival with select in-person sessions at Austin Public Central Library on Sunday, October 31.

You can now register for all in-person sessions, which will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis to the capacity limit.

Due to Austin’s current Stage 4 Covid guidelines, we have put safety precautions in place to protect our attendees, authors, volunteers, and vendors. All attendees ages 2+ are required to wear a mask at all times. All attendees ages 18+ are required to provide either proof of vaccine or a negative Covid test performed no longer than 72 hours prior to the event. All venues will be at reduced capacity, and social distancing will be enforced.

We can’t wait to see you online and in-person, October 23-31! 

September Book Club: FIRST LOVE, TAKE TWO

We’re excited to announce our September Book Club pick, First Love, Take Two by author Sajni Patel. Purchase your copy today! Join us on Thursday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m. CT for a conversation with Patel and author Sonali Dev, who will moderate the discussion. Save your spot

Award-winning author Sajni Patel was born in vibrant India and raised in the heart of Texas. She draws on personal experiences, cultural expectations, and Southern flair to create worlds centered around strong Indian women. Once in MMA, she’s now all about puppies, rainbows, and tortured love stories. She divides her time between Hawai’i (where honu is her #1 obsession) and Austin (where she not-so-secretly watches Matthew McConaughey from afar during UT football games). Queso is her weakness and thanks to her family’s cooking, Indian/Tex-Mex cuisine is a real thing. She’s a die-hard Marvel Comics fan, an ube fanatic, and is always wrapped up in a story.

USA Today bestselling author Sonali Dev writes Bollywood-style love stories that explore universal issues. Her novels have been named Best Books of the Year by Library Journal, NPR, the Washington Post, and Kirkus. She has won numerous accolades, including the American Library Association’s award for best romance, the RT Reviewer Choice Award for best contemporary romance, multiple RT Seals of Excellence, has been a RITA® finalist, and has been listed for the Dublin Literary Award. Shelf Awareness calls her “Not only one of the best but one of the bravest romance novelists working today.” She lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two visiting adult children, and the world’s most perfect dog.

2021 book club picks: