Guide to the 2023 Southern Festival of Books in Nashville

The annual literary festival welcomes 150 authors to Nashville for two days of public programming. Here’s what to know ahead of the event.

Piles of books are stacked on a table as festival-goers pick through them.

Don’t forget to stop by the Parnassus Books tent.

Photo via Humanities Tennessee

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Book lovers rejoice. The Southern Festival of Books returns to downtown Nashville on Saturday, Oct. 21-Sunday, Oct. 22.

Humanities Tennessee announced the lineup for the 35th annual event, and no surprises here, it’s a real page turner.

What’s new this year

Location: SFoB will be held in person at three new locations — Bicentennial Mall, the Tennessee State Museum, and Tennessee State Library.

Student Day: For the first time,  the festival will welcome 1,000 Davidson County students on Friday, Oct. 20. There will be meet-and-greets, book giveaways, educational programming, and an appearance from novelist Carl Hiaasen (“Hoot” and “Flush”).

Community events: Mark your calendars the week leading up to the festival for a National Black Poetry Day event at East Park (Sunday, Oct. 15) + a ticketed author talk with science fiction writer John Scalzi at Parnassus Books (Thursday, Oct. 19).

What to expect

The Southern Festival of Books is known for hosting a wide variety of programming, and this year is no different with:

  • Authors, publishers, and booksellers
  • Panels, signings, and readings
  • Three performance stages for music, performing arts, and children’s activities
  • 60 vendors and food trucks

No genre is off limits — expect everything from fiction and nonfiction to young adult literature, poetry, science fiction, and mystery.

The lineup

This year’s lineup is stacked with local, regional, and national authors. Some of the major appearances include Terrance Hayes, Chrissy Metz, Ann Patchett, Margaret Renkl, and Gary Gulman.

Plan to hear from local authors like historian Rachel Louise Martin, architect Kem Hinton, restaurateur Randy Rayburn, poet Mark Jarman, musician Kevin Griffin, and novelist Lauren Thoman.

Bonus: Additional authors and other special announcements will be added to the list every Friday.

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