Arts & Culture

Book Bound: A Guide to the South’s Best Fall Literary Festivals

Where to encounter the latest page-turners and the authors behind them

Photo: courtesy of Miami Book Fair

The Miami Book Fair at Miami-Dade College.

Nashville author and Parnassus bookstore owner Ann Patchett said, “Reading…gives us the skills to be alone.” As much as Southerners are noted for their extraordinary socializing, even the most gregarious among us appreciate the solitary joy of a good book. And you’ll find plenty this fall at literary festivals across the South, where you can fraternize with fellow book lovers and find quiet moments of lit-fueled contemplation. 

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Carolina Mountains Literary Festival 

September 7-9, Burnsville, North Carolina

If you prefer bookish gatherings where the focus is strictly on the plot and not on the merch tables, head to the quaint mountain town of Burnsville. This celebration of Appalachian literature puts the focus on author discussions and events in small venues to allow attendees to enjoy the books and charming setting, no signing booths or swag allowed.

Virginia Children’s Book Festival

October 11, Farmville, Virginia

photo: courtesy of Virginia Children’s Book Festival
Author Victoria Kann at the Virginia Children’s Book Festival.

The largest kid’s book fest on the East Coast takes place in the lovely town of Farmville, home to Longwood and Hampton-Sydney Universities. Its lineup of authors reads like a who’s who of Caldecott and Newbery Award winners and includes Meg Medina, author of Merci Suárez Changes Gears; R.J. Palacio, who wrote the bestselling novel Wonder; and LeUyen Pham, who illustrated Bear Came Along

Southern Festival of Books

October 21–22, Nashville

Entirely free to the public, the Southern Festival of Books is one of the oldest literary festivals in the country and welcomes hundreds of authors to Nashville each year. Participants have the chance to visit book signings, watch performances, peruse exhibits, and attend author sessions with the likes of Carl Hiaasen and Ann Patchett.

Charleston Literary Festival

November 3–12, Charleston, South Carolina

One of the most intimate book events on the autumn docket brings bold-name authors (Margaret Atwood, Safiya Sinclair, Adam Gopnik) to small historical settings like the Dock Street Theatre and the Circular Congregational Church for compelling discussions. 

Texas Book Festival

November 11–12, Austin

photo: courtesy of Texas Book Festival

Launched to inspire Texans to love to read, this event in and around the state capitol offers a diverse lineup of authors spanning all genres and reading levels. (That means there are titles for you too, young adult readers.) But the big draw this year are stars like political leader and New York Times bestselling author Stacey Abrams, Time magazine editor Walter Isaacson, and former Saturday Night Live writer and humorist Curtis Sittenfeld. 

Miami Book Fair 

November 12–19, Miami

photo: courtesy of Miami Book Fair

If you like your reading events with a heavy dose of celebrity, consider the Miami Book Fair, held at Miami-Dade College. This year’s lineup includes memoir-focused discussions with actress Kerry Washington, media mogul Jada Pinkett Smith, and singer and social justice activist Joan Baez.