The Literary Talent Cup Runneth Over: Alright, Alright, Alright Texas Book Festival!

by Lisa Davis on October 22, 2020 in Lifestyle, Living Texas, What I'm Reading,
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The mission of the Texas Book Festival is simple to “connect authors and readers through experiences celebrating the culture of literacy, ideas and imagination.”

This year, authors hailing from all over the Lone Star State are virtually converging for the Texas Book Festival (TBF) from Oct. 31-Nov. 15. But don’t let the “virtual” part fool you into thinking it will be any less amazing than past years. 

TBF’s Literary Director Matthew Patin says, “By going virtual, some things may look different this fall. But what hasn’t changed at all is the level of extraordinary literary talent we’re privileged to share with Fest audiences in Texas and, especially this year, beyond.” 

Among the host of Texas authors at the Texas Book Festival, Academy Award–winning actor Matthew McConaughey considers himself a storyteller by occupation, “believes it’s okay to have a beer on the way to the temple, feels better with a day’s sweat on him, and is an aspiring orchestral conductor.” Photo Vida Alves

This year’s two-week festival features a host of acclaimed Texas and beyond authors, including Academy Award-winning actor (and beloved Austinite) Matthew McConaughey, activist Erin Brockovich, suspense novelist Dean Koontz, and about 120 others from varying backgrounds and experiences. While the list of writers runs the proverbial gamut, their talent for stringing words together into meaningful content is just one of their common denominators.

One of more than 125 authors participating in the 2020 Texas Book Festival’s all-virtual sessions, Mikaila Ulmer is the founder and CEO of Me & the Bees Lemonade. Using her great-granny Helen’s flaxseed honey lemonade recipe, Mikaila launched her business from her home in Austin, Texas, in 2009. Photo courtesy Texas Book Festival

The Top 5 Handpicked Highlights

Nov. 6 at 3:30pm: National Medal of Arts winner Julia Alvarez’s book, “Afterlife” has been called the “most anticipated book of the year,” by “O Magazine.” It in, Alvarez tells the story of a retired English professor who finds a pregnant, undocumented teenager on her doorstep. 

Nov. 7 at 4pm: Beloved Austinite Matthew McConaughey is set to discuss his memoir of stories and life lessons in his book, “Greenlights.” For tickets to this event, check here.

Julia Alvarez left the Dominican Republic for the United States in 1960 at the age of ten. She is the author of six novels, three books of nonfiction, three collections of poetry, and eleven books for children and young adults. In 2013, President Barack Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts in recognition of her extraordinary storytelling.
Photo Brandon Cruz González

Nov. 8 at 6:00pm: Dr. Peniel Joseph will discuss his book, “The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr.” Dr. Joseph is the Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values at the LBJ School of Public Affairs as well as a professor of history, and founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Nov. 8 at 7:30pm: “Alexandra and the Awful, Awkward, No Fun, Truly Bad Dates” author Rebekah Manley will discuss her book. Manley runs the Texas Center for the Book, and works to encourage literacy, reading and library use in the Lone Star State.

Speaking at the Texas Book Festival November 8, Dr. Peniel E. Joseph is the author of numerous books on Black History, a contributing writer for, and a frequent national commentator on issues of civil rights, anti-racism, and democracy. Photo courtesy Texas Book Festival

Nov. 11 at 4pm: Freelance journalist and writer Jessica Luther discusses her book, “Loving Sports When They Don’t Love You Back.” Luther is currently a fellow in the Center for Sports Communication & Media at the University of Texas, and a PhD candidate in the Physical Culture and Sports Studies program at the University of Texas. 

Nov. 12 at 1:15 pm: The Go-Go’s (this writer’s favorite ‘80s girl band) guitar player Kathy Valentine will talk about her book, “All I Ever Wanted: A Rock ‘n’ Roll Memoir.” In it, Valentine credits her hometown of Austin, Texas for her diverse musical roots. 

Kathy Valentine is a working musician and songwriter known for being part of the all-female band the Go-Go’s. Catch her at the Texas Book Festival Nov. 12. Photo Christopher Durst

How the Festival Works

The festival starts off with the Texas Teen Book Festival on Oct. 31-Nov. 1 followed by the Children’s Program on Nov. 2-6. The Adult Program on Nov. 6-15 rounds out the event. The ever-popular, quirky Lit Crawl takes place Nov. 7-8 and Nov. 13-15 with different featured writers.

As always, the majority of the festival events are free and open to all, however, some events require a ticket purchase. For those who want access to all ticketed sessions, TBF is offering a “Festival Friends Passes” for a $100 minimum donation (books not included).

Cover: Past times at the Texas Book Festival. Courtesy photo

Lisa Davis lives in Austin and is an editorial assistant for Texas Lifestyle Magazine and content writer at