Our picks for the Texas Book Festival

Dylan Davidson

This weekend’s headliners are literary rock stars. 

This weekend is the annual Texas Book Festival. Featuring dozens of authors in genres from fiction to cookbooks, the book festival draws readers of all stripes for a weekend of culture and entertainment. And reading, of course. Every event is free and open to the public.

The Daily Texan picked just a few of the authors and events to catch this weekend. 


Literary Death Match — Paramount Theatre, Saturday from 10 to 11 a.m.

Watch as four famous and emerging authors perform seven-minute readings from their work, as a panel of judges berate them afterwards with off-the-wall commentary before selecting two finalists and, eventually, a winner. A fun mix of literary and comedic entertainment, Literary Death Match aims to liven up the way people look at reading and writing. Saturday’s competitors will be Jonathan Lethem, Chris L. Terry, Nina McConigley and Sasha West.


James McBride and the Good Lord Bird Band — Music Tent, Saturday from 11 to 12 p.m.

James McBride — screenwriter, musician and National Book Award finalist — will perform with his band named after his highly-acclaimed novel “The Good Lord Bird.” McBride and his band play a mix of jazz, gospel and funk. Don’t miss him afterward at his next event, “A Conversation with James McBride and Ray Robertson” at the Capitol.


Zealots — House Chamber, Saturday from 4 to 4:45 p.m.

Reza Aslan, religious scholar and author of the controversial “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” will have a conversation with author and screenwriter Owen Egerton. There’s sure to be some interesting discussion here. It’s a “Fast Pass” session, though, which means that seating will fill up quickly. Get there early.


Lit Crawl — Saturday night

There will be dozens of events across Austin’s east side featuring both beloved and emerging authors. Compete against Reza Aslan in a game of “Nerd Jeopardy” at Cheer Up Charlie’s on 6th street, visit the Texas State Cemetery for a spine-tingling reading by R.L. Stine or play a few rounds of “Literary Mafia” with Jonathan Lethem and Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket) at the White Horse on Comal street. Lit Crawl is a collaboration between the Texas Book Festival and San Francisco’s Litquake. 


Sherman Alexie — House Chamber, Sunday from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m.

Critically-acclaimed writer Sherman Alexie will speak about his latest book “Blasphemy,” as well as the 20th anniversary of his first collection “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” Famous for novels such as “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” Alexie is one of the biggest names at this year’s festival, so arrive early. Alexie will also be at UT on Oct. 28 for the TILTS event “Adapting Ethnicity.”


“When Did You See Her Last?” — Capitol Auditorium Room, Sunday from 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.

Lemony Snicket, the prickly and reclusive author of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” and “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” will read from his latest work “When Did You See Her Last?” This event, described by the Texas Book Festival as “Lemony Snicket asks all the wrong questions” is sure to be as mysterious and entertaining as the author himself. Like Aslan and Alexie, this is a “Fast Pass” event, so be sure to arrive early if you’re hoping for a seat.