Tag Archives: Libba Bray

Texas Book Festival 2011

25th October 2011

Ahh. I am exhausted (thus no post yesterday), but this weekend was fantastic. I was in Austin for the Texas Book Festival. At lunch, I met up with Cassandra from Indie Reader Houston and JT of A Pretty Book, as well as my bff Sommer, and my mom, and I think we all ended up having a pretty great day.

I was able to attend 5 panels, which was really great, and this year, I felt much less guilty about leaving one early and ducking into another a bit late. The schedule is chock full of good stuff, so that’s expected. Here’s a rundown of the panels I sat in on:

Sarah Dessen and Libba Bray:

These two are mainly young adult authors. Sommer and my mom are big fans, so I followed them over. They were both funny, but there wasn’t anything that really pulled me in. The moderator let them do a lot of talking, so it was a bit of “rah rah, we love each other.” Since I wasn’t overly enthusiastic, JT and I ran over to another panel.

Chad Harbach, Justin Torres, and Amy Waldman:

These three debut authors have received a lot of critical acclaim, so this panel was devoted to this sort of phenomenon. There was nothing really all that interesting. I think all three are a bit shocked, so there was a lot of: “What do you think of all of this attention?” “Wow. It’s amazing.” Eh. I expected a bit more, but honestly, the panel is very much crafted by the moderator. If the moderator doesn’t introduce anything new, then there isn’t a lot of hope for something new.

Andy Borowitz:


Oh. My. Gosh. You guys are negligent. Why have you all not introduced me to The Borowitz Report before now? He talked about his new book, The 50 Funniest American Writers, a compilation that I can’t wait to get my hands on. Then when I got back to the hotel I laughed until I cried reading his Twitter feed.

However, my favorite panel of the day was the first one I went to with my mom. She and I also had great luck when we stumbled upon our favorite panel last year. It’s amazing the books and information you stumble upon at the festival:

Candice Millard:


President Garfield. Chester Arthur. These are names I vaguely knew but was never all that interested in…until Candice Millard showed me the error of my ways.

Her book Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President is one I cannot wait to crack open. I never had any idea what an impressive figure Garfield was, a poor young man who vaulted himself, through careful study, into the presidency of a university; a man not interested in the presidency but voted into office by Americans impressed with him; a man shot by a delusional supporter who went on to live in immense pain for three months.

Millard’s passion for her subject matter was incredibly persuasive and honestly reminded me of myself when I get on my obscure little tangents. She was an impressive speaker who obviously knew how to make history interesting.

I’ll leave you with the moment that brought tears to my eyes. President Garfield knew he was dying and requested to see the sea once more. A wealthy man offered up his New Jersey beachfront house, and train tracks were laid to its location. However, the train would not go up the final hill, and bystanders along the way lifted Garfield’s train car, carrying him all the way to the property. Amazing.


The weekend was, as always, wonderful and bookish. This was my 3rd annual trip to the Book Festival, and I thank everyone involved who makes it such a fantastic event that supports libraries and literacy programs.

Plus I picked up some great posters from past festivals for my classroom for $5 a piece. Score!

Hope all those involved in the Readathon had a great time.

Get ready, y’all…it’s Texas Book Festival time!

28th September 2011

Ok, so maybe I’m just reinforcing the hick-ish view of Texans by this title post, but I am super excited about this year’s book festival. Texas Book Festival is an annual event in Austin, and this year it will be on October 22 and 23. Austin in the fall is fantastic, not too hot and not too cold. Plus, the line-up is, as always, spectacular. Some big names this year are Lev Grossman, Libba Bray, Tom Perrotta, Chuck Palahniuk, Ernest Cline, Marcia Clark, Sarah Dessen, and many others. My favorite part, though, is just being in an art-friendly town with other people who truly appreciate books.

Some of the personal highlights of past festivals including hearing Margaret Atwood speak in a fantastic old theater and listening to “Literature on the Lam,” a great panel with four new-to-me nonfiction authors talking about their books on John Wilkes Booth, James Earl Ray, Al Capone, and El Chapo. My mom and dad have come along the last two years, and it’s just really fun. The proceeds from the festival go to the event itself and to literacy and library projects across Texas.

Aside from the bookish environment, one of my favorite parts of last year’s festival was getting to meet other bloggers! It was the first time I met any book bloggers in real life. Amanda from The Zen Leaf organized the blogger meet up, but I don’t think she will be there this year. I wanted to see who might be interested in getting together and when. I will go up Friday afternoon, so I would be available for drinks Friday evening or possibly lunch on Saturday.

Check your schedule, and leave me a comment if you’re interested. And Feminist Texican and Indie Reader Houston… you better be there!