Dog-ear this: The Daily Texan’s Guide to the Texas Book Festival


Katie Walsh

While thousands of flower crown-clad hipsters stormed the streets last weekend for Austin City Limits Music Festival, a crowd of well-behaved booklovers will flood the city for the 20th Annual Texas Book Festival this weekend. Speakers such as A Series of Unfortunate Events writer Daniel Handler, known by his pseudonym Lemony Snicket, and “The House on Mango Street” author Sandra Cisneros will join children’s book authors, cookbook writers, photographers and live musicians for a weekend of panels, talks and activities at the Texas State Capitol. Here is The Daily Texan’s guide to making the most of the weekend.

1. Make a plan before you arrive.

The Texas Book Festival isn’t ACL. Haphazardly hopping from panel to panel is not an effective way of getting the most out of the festival. Don’t be the vegetarian that unknowingly walks into the “History of Franklin’s Barbecue” panel. Choose your panels beforehand and be on time because panels close their doors once seats fill up. Be aware that some panels are located in Festival Friends pass-designated venues, meaning that priority seating is reserved for attendees who donated over $100 to receive a Festival Friends pass.

2. Bring a Sharpie for spontaneous book signings.

Although official book signings will follow immediately after each session, you never know when you’ll bump into your favorite author on the way to the bathroom. Come prepared with a Sharpie in your back pocket and your favorite book from home in hand. Note that attendees are allowed to only bring one pre-owned book for signing, the rest must be bought on-site at the Barnes and Nobles Sales Tent. Receipts must be shown at the signing. 

3. Join your favorite authors for outdoor activities before the festival.

At 8 a.m. Saturday morning, Texas Book Festival authors Carmiel Banasky, Alexandra Kleeman, Katherine Taylor and Allyson Hobbs will join Congress Avenue Kayaks and anyone who RSVPs for a kayak on Lady Bird Lake. 

At the same time, festival authors Neal Pollack, Catherine Lacey, Elisa Albert and Meera Subramanian will meet on the Capitol lawn for an hour of yoga with the first 20 guests to RSVP. 

Authors H.W. Brands, Lawrence Wright, Steve Harrigan, Lydia Gil, and Thomas McNeely will also gather for a morning bike ride around downtown at the same time. 

4. End your day with a Lit Crawl event. 

Lit Crawl Austin is the late-night extension of the Book Festival. Performances, games, trivia matches, yoga, music and storytelling events with festival authors will be scattered across venues on the East side Saturday night. 

5. Be aware of all the rules inside the Capitol building.

Flash photography, food and drink are prohibited inside the Capitol building. They ask that people limit non-flash photography and be aware of what they are touching and where they place their backpacks to avoid damaging historic pieces.

6. Use alternative modes of transportation.

Busing, walking and biking are your best bets to get to the festival because of complicated road closures. But if you are driving, free parking is available in several lots between 12th and 15th streets on San Jacinto boulevard and on the corner of 15th and Colorado streets. Free Uber rides are available for first-time users up to $20. 

7. If all else fails, head to the Information Booth.

If you’re in need of first aid or directions or have lost something, head south to the corner of 11th and Colorado Street where someone at the information booth can help you out.

Texas Book Festival

  • Where: Texas State Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave.
  • When: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Sunday
  • Admission: Free