It’s the time of year when the world's literati (and Tom Hanks!) descends on the Capital City to take part in the 2017 Texas Book Festival. With 300 authors in attendance, dozens of panels, and plenty of parties to sift through, we’ve plotted out some of the best places to catch these literary talents — from panels on the Texas State Capitol grounds to east side dive bars to mid-morning mimosas.
Thursday, November 2
The Stars at Night Gala
Location: Zilker Clubhouse
An Austin original you may not even realize is based right here in town? The literary magazine American Short Fiction. While not an official festival event, there’s no better way to kick off a wordy weekend than with American Short Fiction’s second annual The Stars at Night Gala. There will be live country music, an open bar and the best skyline view in town from atop the Zilker Clubhouse. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased here.
Saturday, November 4
Sisters First: A Celebration Of Sisterhood
Location: House Chamber
It’s certainly possible to have a very full Texas Book Festival experience without ever standing in a line for one of the “big name” sessions. That being said, if you’re up for waiting, then this is one you shouldn’t miss. Austin natives and former first daughters Barbara Pierce Bush and Jenna Bush Hager showed off their writing chops with this viral letter to Malia and Sasha Obama last year. Now their new memoir, Sisters First, is already getting lots of attention with USA Today recently naming it one of five new books you don’t want to miss. Moderated by Brooklyn Decker, this panel will be a buzzy one.
What Unites Us National Launch: A Conversation With Dan Rather
Location: First Baptist Church
Okay, okay, you’ll definitely wait in a long line for this one, too. But we would be remiss if we didn't tell you Dan Rather is coming to this year's fest. If you’ve seen his Facebook posts all over your feed since the election, this panel might be for you. The journalist will be chatting with Texas Tribune CEO and co-founder Evan Smith about this past year, patriotism, our national identity and yes — his new role (at the age of 86!) on social media.
The Monsters Within
Location: Capitol Extension Room E2.016
Fiona Mazel’s new novel, A Little More Human, is brainy and quirky and pretty much impossible to put down. Jac Jemc’s The Grip of It is part horror story, part love story and totally terrifying in the best kind of way. We’re excited to see Jemc and Mazel in the same room talking about haunted prose and twisted plots. We imagine this panel to be a little like their books: A little bit spooky and totally smart.
American Wolf: A True Story Of Survival And Obsession In The West
Location: Texas Tent
Texas Monthly writer-at-large Nate Blakeslee’s new book is nonfiction, but it reads with the thrill of a rich novel. In it, Blakeslee tells the story of O-Sox, a Yellowstone wolf battling against hunters, cattle ranchers, and other wolves. Like any great piece of literature, American Wolf is about much more than O-Six, and we’re looking forward to hearing Blakeslee chat about the values clash currently happening in the West — and the United States in general.
Lit Crawl Austin is celebrating its eighth year with some kickass programming. Over the course of the evening, catch book fest authors reading, playing trivia, playing music, and engaging in general literary revelry all over the east side. Properly plot your crawling with the full schedule here.
SUNDAY, November 5
11 am-1 pm
Brunch with Gail Simmons
Maybe the fanciest thing you'll do all weekend? Sit down for brunch with Top Chef judge Gail Simmons at Olamaie. Chef Michael Fojtasek will be cooking a three-course brunch based on Simmon’s cookbook, Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased here.
Location: Capitol Extension Room E2.016
Do we have new, modern barriers to intimacy? It’s a question that authors Alissa Nutting and Lindsey Hunter will be tackling in their panel on Sunday. Both of their new novels — Made for Love and Eat Only When You’re Hungry, respectively — feature characters struggling to connect. Both also feature vivid scenes and serious emotional impact. As far as panels go, we’re pretty sure this is a near perfect pairing of two very talented novelists.