The Texas Book Festival welcomed Austin’s book lovers Oct. 26 through 28, kicking off with the First Edition Literary Gala, a black-tie evening event at the Four Seasons Hotel downtown.
Story by Megan Price
Filled with tents featuring author talks, book signings, book sales and readings, Congress Avenue was quite a bustling street. Boasting over 250 authors of different genres and over 100 exhibitors, the festival offered something for everyone. “I love getting to be a part of the festival because it is such a fun community event,” Book People volunteer Carly Wells says. “There is so much going on, and it is just an event filled with positive energy.”
Giving back to children and community members, the festival, which is a non-profit organization, raises money to provide grants to Texas public libraries, as well as funding for Title I schools and literary programs such as Reading Rock Stars. “It is a great opportunity to give back to the community,” festival attendee Karaline Bunch says. “What the organization does for Austin and other surrounding places is so meaningful, and I know the libraries are grateful.”
Compared to past festivals, changes have been made to this year’s events in order to enhance the weekend. New events have been created, and more genres are receiving more recognition, such as young adult and children. “One new thing this year is we have a big Sunday final event off-site,” festival executive director Lois Kim says. “We are partnering with the Long Center to host an evening with Pete Souza.”
While featuring many authors, the festival directors brought their focus to new emerging talent this year. Authors such as Naima Coster, John Wray, and Xhenet Aliu were in attendance and all recently released debut novels. “There is so much excellent debut and breakout fiction,” literary director Julie Wernersbach says. “This has been a year of discovery, and I hope festival goers approach the festival this way.”
While the festival has always featured children’s authors, this year the festival organizers worked to create even more opportunities for the children in attendance. “This year, we hope to make the kids’ programming even better for families,” Kim says. “We are putting some of our biggest children’s authors into a large new program tent in front of the state capitol.”
This year the festival hopes to offer more than just book sales and donations, but also attempts to spread a sense of community throughout the Austin area, Bunch said. “It’s great promotion for locals,” Bunch says. “I love being able to spread some joy to the community during a time when there is so much division.”