Southern Festival of Books 2020 Preview: It’s Almost Here!

The Southern Festival of Books starts tomorrow!

Usually this time of year, we are getting ready to set up a big tent on Legislative Plaza and fill it with books upon books upon books. Of course, this year is different. We won’t necessarily miss the part where we have to haul all those heavy boxes around. (OK, maybe Cat Bock, our powerlifting inventory manager, will miss it.) And the fact that the festival is virtual this year isn’t just good for our lower backs — it means it will be easier than ever to see everything you want to see. No rushing from the parking garage or scrambling between sessions!

We also know that many of our readers are from places far from Nashville, and this year you don’t need to take a road trip to attend our hometown festival. How great is that? Of course there will be some adjustments, but we’ll get through them together. So, let’s get started…

Here’s the part that will be different

Videos of all the sessions will be streaming through the festival app (available via Android or Apple). You can also access all of the livestreams from a computer (no download required) through this website right here. Easy, right?

The folks at SFB tell us the computer method is more interactive, as it allows for more engagement with other attendees and staff through moderated chats. In other words, it will feel more like a festival this way. Plus, you’ll get access to giveaways!

If you miss an event, you can catch recorded versions of many sessions on the festival YouTube or Facebook pages.

Here’s the part that will be the same

Ann Patchett. Photo by Heidi Ross

Authors. Lots of them: Yaa Gyasi, Ayad Akhtar, Brit Bennett (National Book Award longlist), Nikky Finney, Kiley Reid (Booker Prize longlist), Erik Larson, Joy Harjo (U.S. Poet Laureate), Natasha Trethewey, C. Pam Zhang (Booker Prize longlist) and Julia Alvarez, to name just a very few.

Nashville writers on that list include Tiana Clark, Jordan Ritter Conn, Lisa Donovan, Caroline DuBois, Jennie Fields, Mary Robinette Kowal, Andrew Maraniss, Mary Laura Philpott, Alice Randall, Ruta Sepetys, Rob Simbeck and Jamie Sumner to name a few more.

Here’s a link to the entire list of authors.

And here is a link to the schedule, which lets you know, for example, that everything kicks off with Ann Patchett interviewing Yaa Gyasi tomorrow night at 7:30, or that Musing editor Steve Haruch will be in conversation with Margaret Renkl on Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 6:30pm.

There also will still be book-related fun for all ages, including appearances by Meg Medina, Karina Yan Glaser, Elizabeth Bunce, Courtney Stevens, Rita Lorraine Hubbard, Sharon Cameron and more.

Here’s the part that will be the same but also different

We are proud to be the official bookseller of the Southern Festival of Books (same) but will be handling all sales this year online (different). You can visit our SFB shop here, and you can also shop by section:

As always, a portion of every sale will go toward supporting the festival and Humanities Tennessee!


This is part of our Southern Festival of Books preview series. See our interview with Cinelle Barnes, editor of A Measure of Belonging, and look forward to Authors in Real Life featuring C. Pam Zhang and an interview with Connor Towne O’Neill, author of Down Along With That Devil’s Bones.