My Top Texas Book Festival Panel Picks

If you’ve followed me for any time at all, you know you’ll rarely find me without a book. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, children’s books or anything in between, I’m constantly reading several books at a time. And there is nothing I love more than talking to authors about how and why they crafted their story—and getting other people excited about books, too. That’s a large part of why I started the N&G Book Club this spring: to encourage people to read more.

One cool thing about living in Austin is that the city is home to the Texas Book Festival, an annual festival that’s been bringing hundreds of authors to town each fall for 25 years. Of course, everything has moved online this year, but that just means anyone can participate in the panels with a range of authors, from big names to buzzy up-and-comers. 

Head here to find out how to attend the free virtual festival (the adult program runs from Nov. 6 to Nov. 15.), and then check out my top Texas Book Festival panel picks. It’s going to be a great event—you may even see me at one of the panels!

The Vanishing Half: Brit Bennett in Conversation – Thursday, Nov. 12 at 10 a.m.

Author Brit Bennett discusses one of the hottest books of the year, her novel The Vanishing Half. The book follows twin sisters who run away from a Louisiana town at the age of 16. For the next twenty years, one sister lives as a black woman, while the other lives as a white woman. The masterful look at race and family was longlisted for the National Book Award and has been on The New York Times Best Seller list for 22 weeks.

Life in Food: New Memoirs from James Beard Award Winners David Chang and Lisa Donovan – Friday, Nov. 13 at 10 a.m.

I’m honored to introduce this panel featuring Momofuku’s David Chang, author of Eat a Peach—our November Book Club pick!and prize-winning pastry chef Lisa Donovan, author of Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger. The two James Beard Award winners discuss their new memoirs, which explore the food industry, sexism, mental illness, and more. 

The Origins of Our Discontents: Isabel Wilkerson in Conversation with Saeed Jones – Saturday, Nov. 14 at 12 p.m.

In her book Caste, which was longlisted for the National book Award, Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson explores our country’s invisible caste system, composed of race, class, and gender. Oprah selected Caste for her August Book Club pick and said this: “It explains why we are where we are in terms of racial injustice and inequality, and it shows us how to rebuild a world in which all are truly equal and free.” 

Environmental Activists Erin Brockovich and Catherine Coleman Flowers in Conversation – Saturday, Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.

This panel is right up my alley! It features Erin Brockovich—yes, that Erin Brockovich—author of Superman’s Not Coming: Our National Water Crisis and What We the People Can Do About It. She’s talking to 2020 MacArthur Fellow Catherine Coleman Flowers, author of Waste: One Woman’s Fight Against America’s Dirty Secret. They’ll be discussing sustainability, environmental justice, and our country’s water systems and policies. Yes, please! 

Writers’ League of Texas Presents: Texas Debut Novelists – Sunday, Nov. 15 at 10 a.m.

This panel highlights three up-and-coming Texas novelists: Richard Z. Santos, James Wade, and Bryan Washington. You may remember Bryan from the June Book Club pick, Lot, his book of short stories. He is so amazing, and his new novel, Memorial, is getting tons of buzz. I can’t wait to read it! 

Specters: New in Haunting, Psychological Fiction – Sunday, Nov. 15 at 2 p.m.

Another Texas-born author I’m obsessed with is Stephen Graham Jones, who wrote The Only Good Indians. Stephen is a Blackfeet Native American, and his horror novel about a native American who is haunted by an elk that he and three friends killed when they were boys is insanely scary. He’s on this panel with Ottessa Moshfegh, author of Death in Her Hands, which is the story of an elderly widow who finds an ominous note while walking in the woods.

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1 Comment

  • Kim Jacobs

    Gen, I love how much you support the literary arts. Reading is so important to development in both children and adults. Without books and stories, life would be so boring. The best part of reading a book, to me, is losing myself in its magic, picturing it all in my head as it unfolds.

    Thank you.

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