Austin may be known for its thriving music scene, but its literary scene is also buzzing with life. From unique bookstores to author readings to book festivals, the city has plenty to offer book lovers. While many of the events take place during the spring and summer months, there’s plenty to choose from year-round. So, start packing your bags because I’ve got a list of literary events and destinations to fill your next (or first) trip to Austin.
1) The Texas Book Festival
The Texas Book Festival is one of the nation’s longest running and most prestigious book festivals, and it’s easy to see why. Taking place every fall, the festival is held in the State Capitol and its surrounding grounds. It features a wide variety of author panels, book signings, live music, local food trucks, children’s activities, and more. With the help of sponsors, foundations, and individuals, the festival is free to book lovers of all ages. I’ll also add that it’s by far one of my favorite book festivals I’ve ever been to.
2) Lit Crawl Austin
You’ve heard of bar crawls, but have you ever been on a lit crawl? Join authors and fellow readers alike for a night of games, trivia, and storytelling sessions held across East Cesar Chavez and other East Side venues. I can also guarantee there will be beer somewhere along the way. For more information, click here.
3) Austin Poetry Slam
If you’re ever in Austin on a Tuesday night and you’re in the mood for some poetry, then the Austin Poetry Slam is for you. Poetry is judged by the audience and poets compete against each other for three rounds. If you want to get involved make your way down to the Spider House Ballroom and be sure to register before 8pm!
4) Texas Teen Book Festival
YA fans rejoice because this is the festival for you. Held every fall at St. Edwards University, the Texas Teen Book Festival was created to connect teen readers, introduce aspiring authors to established authors, and promote life-long reading.
BookPeople is the largest independent bookstore in Texas. They are known for their friendly atmosphere and they host events throughout the year. Be sure to pop in for your next favorite book or for helpful staff recommendations for your next read.
6) South Congress Books
South Congress Books is probably my favorite bookstore in the city. From its cozy atmosphere to its funky aesthetic to its wide variety of used books, you’ll fall in love the moment you step inside.
7) The Harry Ransom Center
UT’s Harry Ransom Center is a free museum that celebrates all things literary. You can also use their extensive collection of manuscripts, rare books, and rare artifacts. Here’s to all the literary discoveries you’ll make.
8) The O. Henry Museum
Learn more about one of Austin’s, and America’s, most famous writers. His house on East 5th Street features artifacts from his life and work every literary history buff is sure to love. There’s also a pun-off held with his namesake every summer.
9) The Austin Public Library
Libraries are for lovers, and there’s a lot of love for this one! With locations throughout the city, the Austin Public Library hosts a myriad of events and offers great public spaces. They also have a sparkling new central branch located downtown.
BookWoman is Austin’s premiere feminist bookstore. It has been serving Austin’s feminist and queen communities for 40 years and counting. Stop in and shop their life-changing selection of books and keep their list of events in mind.
11) Austin Shakespeare
Even the Bard himself couldn’t stay away from Texas. Austin Shakespeare is the city’s number one Shakespeare organization, hosing a regular season of plays and free Shakespeare in the Park at Zilker Park every summer. Audition for their next production or just grab yourself a seat. You won’t be disappointed!