There's a lot of hype about the live music scene in Texas's capital city, but what many people don't know is that Austin, Texas's literary scene is equally energized. As a native of Austin, I'm going to let you in on a little secret: the city is a book-lovers paradise — a dreamscape where literary events, author readings, and book festivals are just par for the course. And the weather is beautiful to boot. What's not to love? Pack your sunnies and a copy of your favorite paperback, and get on a flight to Austin as soon as you can.
Many of Austin's best literary events take place in the spring and summer, but there's much to enjoy in fall and winter, as well. (And it's lovely outdoors year round!) There's so much to enjoy as a reader, and these literary hot spots are sure to welcome you in true Austin fashion: with open arms and a cold beer.
I love my city because it's teeming with art just waiting to be enjoyed. No matter your literary tastes, Austin has something for you. No matter if you're just passing through or if you're a bona fida Austinite, every book-lover absolutely needs to visit these spots:
This indie bookstore is Austin's hub for all things literary, and it's one of my favorite places on earth. The largest independent bookstore in Texas, BookPeople is known for their friendly atmosphere, tons of great books and staff recommendations, and incredible events all-year round.
Located on the Drag — the section of Guadalupe Street that runs along the western edge of the University of Texas — Malvern Books is the perfect place to discover your new favorite author. They specialize in "visionary literature and poetry from independent publishers, with a focus on lesser-known and emerging voices the world needs to hear."
3The Texas Book Festival
The Texas Book Festival is one of the country's coolest book festivals. TBF takes place every fall in the State Capitol and its surrounding grounds, and the festival features hundreds of stellar authors, tons of great panels, and lots of amazing stalls to check out — all for free! Plus, TBF raises money for some incredible literary causes, including the Reading Rockstars Program which brings authors to Title I schools across Texas to inspire young readers.
4Lit Crawl Austin
Drink and play games with authors! This literary bar crawl, collaboration between the Texas Book Festival and Litquake, takes readers all across the East side of the city. Through Lit Crawl Austin, I've experienced so many crazy things — from authors playing literary Cards Against Humanity to a reading with R.L. Stine in the Texas State Cemetery.
5Austin Bat Cave
Austin Bat Cave is a great nonprofit that provides free writing programs for children and teens ages 6-18. They also have some adult programs, and the proceeds from the classes fund their youth workshops. This is a rad volunteer opportunity for any bookworm wanting to get involved with their community. Plus, ABC hosts amazing literary events, including their fantastic storytelling series, Story Department.
6Austin Poetry Slam
The Austin Poetry Slam is an absolute must-attend. Every Tuesday at the Spider House Ballroom, poets compete against each other for three incredible rounds — and it's all judged by members of the audience. These performances are incredible, and I've never once left the slam without feeling a fire under me.
7Fifth Dimension Books
Fifth Dimension Books is a sci-fi/fantasy bookstore on WHEELS. You can often find this mobile bookstore parked on the Drag at 25th and Guadalupe or in Hyde Park at 43rd and Duval (right by Quack's Bakery!), and you can always check their website to see where they'll be. This friendly store is always fun to check out, and they have a great selection.
8Texas Teen Book Festival
If you love YA, you can't miss the Texas Teen Book Festival, held every fall at St. Edward's University. It's basically YA-reader heaven, featuring so many of your favorite young adult authors. (And it's free!)
BookWoman is Austin's premiere feminist bookstore, so it's obviously a must-visit. Serving Austin for 40 years, the store features a great selection and incredible events. It's an important feminist and queer community space that you won't want to leave.
10The Harry Ransom Center
UT's Harry Ransom Center is an excellent, free museum that features literary exhibits and events. And did you know that you can also use their extensive collection of manuscripts, rare books, and literary artifacts for any project you're working on? They have some seriously amazing collections.
11The O. Henry Museum
O. Henry is one of Austin's most famous writers, and any literary history buff is going to want to check out his house on East 5th Street, which features artifacts from the his life and work.
12O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships
Speaking of O. Henry, Austin is home to amazing pun-off that will knock the proverbial socks off of every pun master. Bring your lawn chair and settle down for some top-notch word play. This year's pun-off is scheduled for May 13.
Austin Shakespeare is Austin's number one Shakespeare organization. In addition to putting on a regular season of fantastic plays, they also produce free Shakespeare in the Park at Zilker Park every summer.
14One Page Salon
One Page Salon is a monthly event at the North Door, in which writers share just one page of a work-in-progress. It's super fun, and a great way to discover new writers and get inspired.