Southern Festival of Books 2022 Preview: Back and Better Than Ever!

Book lovers rejoice! The annual Southern Festival of Books is returning to The Plaza this year after shifting to a virtual platform in 2020 and 2021. Presented by the amazing folks at Humanities Tennessee, the Festival is among the oldest literary festivals in the country and will bring 150+ authors (Andrew Sean Greer, Margo Price, Malinda Lo, Jami Attenberg, and Alan Gratz, just to name a few) to Nashville from October 14th to the 16th. We here at Parnassus couldn’t be more excited to break out our tent again and spend the weekend with authors and book lovers from near and far. Musing editor Sarah Arnold talked to Serenity Gerbman, Humanities Tennessee’s Director of Literature & Language Programs, about this year’s festivities and what attendees can expect!

Serenity Gerbman | Humanities Tennessee

Sarah Arnold: The Southern Festival of Books is back live and in person on The Plaza this year (yay!). What has it been like pivoting back to organizing an in-person festival?

Serenity Gerbman: It’s a little bit like riding a bicycle again. Being in person requires a lot more planning and work. Our crew here is really focused on making sure we are still tracking the small details that are important to a smooth experience for authors and visitors. It’s also exciting and seems kind of amazing that all of these incredible authors will be gathering in one place!

SA: Are there any changes to the usual in-person experience that long-time Southern Fest fans should know about?

SG: This isn’t new, but it is just a reminder that we encourage folks to download and use the Festival app!  It’s free for iPhone and Android, and app users will get real-time updates on session changes. They can also customize a schedule for use during the weekend, which is quite handy. For those who like a printed schedule (We love paper, too!), we will have the printed programs as always, with support from our friends at the Nashville Scene.

SA: Two years have passed since the last in-person edition of Southern Fest, and a lot of folks have moved to town in that time period. What should first-time festival goers know about this year’s festivities?

SG: First, they should know that it is entirely free! Secondly, there are different ways to experience the Festival. Some people love attending sessions, hearing authors read and talk, and asking questions. Others buy stacks of books and primarily go to signings. Some come and enjoy an outdoor Festival with three performance stages, food trucks, and lots of exhibitor booths plus the Parnassus Books tent to browse. Everyone is welcome.

SA: How can folks get involved in the festival? Are there any volunteer opportunities?

SG: Absolutely, and thank you for asking! Here is some information about volunteering and a signup form.

SA: If you had to pick just one aspect of the festivities you’re most excited for (a tough ask, we know!), what would it be?

SG: I am most excited to be immersed in the Festival community in person again, to seeing old friends and making new ones on the Plaza. And to hearing what people are planning to read next!

We hope you’ll join us on The Plaza on October 14-16! If you’d like to support the Festival and all of the incredible work Humanities Tennessee does, please consider making a donation.

This year’s Southern Festival poster | Designed by Laura Baisden @campnevernice