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3 Days of Literary Heaven in Nashville

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By Wayne Lazarus on September 21st, 2009

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Ever finished a book and wanted to ask the author a question? If it was a recent book, chances are you will find the author at a book festival. Here you will not only meet other people with the same question, but you’ll see plenty who enjoyed the book as much as you did. You’ll also discover that the printed word is still quite popular.

Book festivals feature author sessions where fans can hear their favorites read (and answer those questions) as well as other panels of interest to book lovers. You will discover new authors and see the latest releases, (before they become best-sellers.) Most states have literary festivals, and many have been patterned after the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville, now in its 21st year.

Set on the War Memorial Plaza, sessions are held in the hearing rooms and the Senate and House Chambers of the State Capitol. But don’t let its age or dignified setting fool you. The Southern Festival of Books keeps up with technology – offering podcast downloads of authors and a Twitter contest. The festival, held the second full weekend of October, lasts for three days as more than 20,000 attendees browse booths set up by publishers and book exhibitors, listen as some 200 authors discuss their inspirations, work habits and next books, even stand in line to get books signed. Attendance at the Southern Festival of Books is free. It includes cooking demonstrations, children’s author readings and of course, music. Being located in Music City with its great food, entertainment and famous southern hospitality is a considerable bonus.

Fall is a popular time for book festivals. The AJC Decatur Book Festival in Atlanta is held Labor Day Weekend and draws over 70,000 to hear its 350 authors. The National Book Festival is held in Washington, D.C. in late September, the Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge in mid-October, as is the West Virginia Book Festival in Charleston and the Texas Book Festival is held in Austin in late October. (Photos courtesy JMWPhotography.)

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