Your Guide to the Southern Festival of Books

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From panels to performances, here’s all you need to know for this weekend’s event

The 34th annual Southern Festival of Books is returning to downtown Nashville this weekend!

Presented by Humanities Tennessee, the festival will welcome approximately 175 authors and 25,000 visitors to War Memorial Plaza and the Nashville Public Library this Friday through Sunday, Oct. 14-16. From panels to performances, the family-friendly event has something for everyone, and best of all, it’s completely free. Here’s a look at what to expect from this year’s Southern Festival of Books. For the full list of events and more info, visit sofestofbooks.org.

Panels, Please!

The festival will feature over 90 panels — the perfect opportunity to hear from your favorite authors! On Friday at 1 p.m. in NPL Conference room 1A, novelists Kendra Allen and Toya Wolfe will share their perspectives on racism, healing, and the effects of oppression as they discuss coming of age in the midst of racist institutions. Friday at 1:30 p.m. in NPL Conference room 1B, Iraqi-American author Dr. Zaid Brifkani is joined by Korean-American author Marie Myung-Ok Lee to discuss pursuing a dream while dealing with family myths and inheritances. Destiny Birdsong, Dolen Perkins-Valdez, and LaToya Watkins sit down on Friday at 3:30 p.m. in the NPL Auditorium to discuss their latest novels, which serve as searing meditations on grief, female strength, and self-discovery set against a backdrop of complicated social and racial histories.

Music to My Ears

The festival’s music stage showcases live performances from a variety of artists, including Dan and Faith, Los Tremendous Barbaros, and more! All genres of music will have a place at the festival, from traditional folk to poetic pop. A few performances you don’t want to miss include:

  • Singer-songwriter Larysa Jaye brings a twist to the Acoustic Soul Music scene on Saturday at noon.
  • Janelle Means, creator and founder of Soul Vibes G.L.O.B.A.L., will showcase her impressive vocals on Saturday at 11:15 a.m.
  • Featured on NBC’s The Voice, Nashville-based indie-pop artist Ele Ivory will grace the stage on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Performances will be going on all day, every day. The full lineup of musical guests can be found here.

Not a Book Person? No Worries.

In addition, to live music, the festival boasts a variety of live entertainment acts on the Performance Stage. Don’t miss appearances by Nashville Shakespeare Festival (Saturday, 2:30 p.m.), Fire Phoenix Belly Dance (Sunday, 4 p.m.), poet Guru MIC (Sunday 2 p.m.), and Young Writers Workshop (Saturday, 1:15 p.m.). Other performances to look forward to include an adults-only puppet show, spoken word artists, interactive art, and a jazz interpretation of Shakespeare.

Sign Here

Many of the festival’s authors will be participating in book signings after their panels. This is a great chance to meet the writers and take home a unique and personal souvenir!

The full signing schedule can be found here.

Come One, Come All!

The festival is completely free and a great outing for kids of all ages. If you’re planning to bring your little one, make sure to stop by the Youth Stage for a performance from Frog and Toad, Farmer Jason, and more!

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