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Southern Literary Festivals for Fall 2018

Fall is upon us and with November being National Literary Month, that means it’s the season of autumnal literary festivals.

The first festival of the fall season is The Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word in Nashville, Tennessee. This festival kicks off the second weekend of October, and it is free to the public. This festival is held by Humanities Tennessee, an organization that promotes lifelong learning and creativity for the people of Tennessee. Featured authors at this year’s festival include Kimberly Belle, Rick Bragg, Alexander Chee, Susan Cushman, J.T. Ellison, Jeremy Finley, Charles Frazier, Silas House, Tayari Jones, Bobbie Ann Mason, Celeste Ng and lots more. Head over to Nashville on Friday, October 12, for a weekend of books, art and fun.

In Austin, Texas, the Texas Book Festival will start on Friday, October 26, and runs through Sunday, October 28. It is free, open to the public and sure to please with a lit crawl full of performances, food, music and books. The lineup of authors for this festival includes Jeff Abbott, Annie Barrows, Sandra Cisneros, Glory Edim, Julia Heaberlin, Caleb Johnson, Kiese Laymon, Cecile Richards, Michelle Tea, Luis Urrea and more.

Charleston, South Carolina, is celebrating with two festivals this season: Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival and YALLFest. Charleston to Charleston is an intellectual bonding between the Southern city and the museum in Charleston of Sussex, England. The merging of these artistic endeavors only came to fruition last fall, and speakers included Booker Prize-winning poet and novelist Ben Okri, British journalist Miranda Sawyer and British novelist Jeanette Winterson.

This year, the festival starts at 2 p.m. on Thursday, November 8, with a discussion on modernist painter Vanessa Bell. Throughout the entire weekend, there are lectures, signings and presentations in Charleston, including a showing of the film “Denial,” scripted and introduced by David Hare and starring Rachel Weisz, a discussion of Margo Jefferson’s memoir Negroland and a talk with United States District Judge Richard Gergel about his upcoming book

YALLFest is a young adult book festival spanning Friday and Saturday of the same weekend as Charleston to Charleston, so you can attend both. YALLFest starts on Friday, November 9, with book signings, featuring authors like Victoria Aveyard, Soman Chainani, Nicola Yoon, Megan MirandaNatasha Ngan, R.J. Palacio, James Patterson and more. More book signings, author panels, and YA novel presentations make up the majority of this festival.

If you are closer to Louisiana, consider visiting downtown Baton Rouge on Saturday, November 10, for the annual Louisiana Book Festival. Featured authors for this year’s festival include Mary Miller, J.C. Sasser, Bren McClain, Nicole Seitz, Tiffany Quay Tyson, Minrose Gwin, Michael Farris Smith, Kimberly Belle, Ernest Gaines, Billy Coffey, Quvenzhane Wallis and Amy Brashear. All day long, there will be food vendors, live music, presentations for kids and teens and more. There will even be a book club-esque discussion group called One Book, One Festival, so if you would like to participate in that, get started on E. P. O’Donnell’s The Great Big Doorstep: A Novel.

On November 10 in Milton, Georgia, the Milton Literary Festival takes place at Milton’s City Hall Complex. The featured authors for 2018 include Colleen OakleyKate T. ParkerHolly McClure, Bobby Nash and more.This festival is free and family friendly with lots of food, music and activities for kids. Also, if you purchase a book at the festival’s online bookstore, you will receive 20 percent off any book purchased at the festival and can get it signed by the author.

The Kentucky Book Festival is set for November 12-17 in Lexington. Over the course of the week, there will be readings from authors and poets like Wendell Berry, Rita Mae Brown, Silas House, Bobbie Ann Mason (pictured) and Michael Sokolove, a cocktail party for The Bourbon Country Cookbook by David Danielson and Tim Laird, trivia and more. On Saturday, November 17, dozens of authors with more than 500 titles for purchase will be at the 37th Annual Kentucky Book Fair.

What are you waiting for? Pack your bags (but leave room for a few new books) and set out on the road for one of these literary festivals.

Bobbie Ann Mason photo by LaNelle Mason. 

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