One our favorite cultural events of the year takes place this weekend, October 12-14 at the Legislative Plaza. The Southern Festival of Books is a free event that offers “readers and writers an opportunity to interact, and create a public community that promotes and celebrates the joy of reading and of lifelong learning.” In short, if you love books, reading and writing, this Festival is for you.
Each year the Festival brings about 250 of the nation’s and region’s finest authors to Nashville. There are mystery writers, acclaimed bestselling and debut novelists, poets, biographers, chefs and children’s authors. Every author on the program takes part in a session, either a solo reading or a panel discussion, followed by a book signing in the Author Signing Colonnade. Books by all the participating authors are available for sale at Festival book sales area, where proceeds support the Festival.
There’s also entertainment throughout the weekend. The Chapter 16 Stage highlights readings and other literary performances. The Café Stage features music by some of the area’s most talented songwriters and poets. Children events take place on the Youth Stage, with appearances by favorite characters, musicians, artists, and storytellers.
For NPT, the Festival is a golden opportunity to grab numerous nationally recognized authors for our popular show, A Word on Words with John Seigenthaler. Seigenthaler’s capacity to absorb books and interview authors is always something to behold, but on this weekend, he truly amazes. We’ll be shuttling authors from the Festival to the NPT Studios all weekend, and in three days, Seigenthaler is scheduled to interview eight authors, Frye Guillard (Books That Mattered: A Reader’s Memoir ); Judith Viorst (Lulu Walks the Dog ); Jack Hitt (Bunch of Amateurs: In Search for the American Character); Buzz Bissinger (Father’s Day: A Journey into the Hearts and Mind of my Extraordinary Son); David Maraniss (Barack Obama: The Story ); Leonard Pitts (Freeman: A Novel ); Brian McNight ( Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia); and R. L. Stine (Red Rain: A Novel ).
Seigenthaler is also good for a recommendation. A few years ago I asked him who I shouldn’t miss at the Southern Festival of Books. He recommended Kathryn Stockett, whose book, The Help, was not yet the sensation or the movie it was to become. She was fantastic. I bought the book right then and there and had Stockett sign it, and have John to thank for the tip.
It was just one of many fantastic moments I’ve personally experienced at the Festival, up there with Richard Price reading from Lush Life and unleashing all sorts of profanity not often used in legislative meeting rooms.
This year’s list of authors, both the known and soon-to-be known, is full of potential for fantastic moments for you as well. Some of the big names this year include Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins); Pulitzer Prize and MacArthur Grant recipient Junot Diaz (This Is How You Lose Her); J.R. Moehringer (Sutton); Katherine Patterson (The Flint Heart); Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl); Stine (Red Rain); AJ Jacobs (Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection); Viorst (Lulu walks the Dog); Alice Randall (Ada’s Rules: A Sexy, Skinny Novel); and rising star Karen Thompson Walker (The Age of Miracles). Get the full list of authors here.
NPT is proud to partner with the Festival this year, and will be onsite all weekend with a booth (27 … come visit us) and all sorts of goodies to thank you for supporting us. We’ll also be a friendly ear to share all your fantastic (and profanity laden) author moments with.
See you down there!