March may mean Spring Break if you’re a grade-schooler or NCAA brackets and playoffs if you’re a college basketball fan. But any good booklover will tell you that what the month of March is really about is good books and the authors who write them, together, in one place (ideally under a big tent), with a little regional cuisine and thousands of kindred literary spirits.
And if that’s the case, then what the Ides of March today heralds is that the 2016 Book Festival Season has officially begun.
From the Tucson Book Festival in Arizona this past weekend to the Southern Literary Festival (March 24-26) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, from Seattle’s Norwescon (March 24-27) to the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival (March 30 to April 3) in New Orleans, March has a book festival for everyone . . . somewhere.
But the enjoyment isn’t limited to March. A committed book festival-goer could literally attend a book festival from now until fall and never miss a weekend. Which may explain why Seattle has not one but three book festivals this month. Or why how New Orleans doesn’t even drop the curtain on its Tennessee Williams festival before its Saints and Sinners Literary Festival opens on April 1, quickly followed by the New Orleans Edible Book Festival!
Austin has its own Edible Book Festival (April 1), and if you juggle your schedule right you can take it in and still make it west to the San Antonio Book Festival on April 2. April also sees the North Texas Book Festival (April 8-9) in Denton; the Word of South Festival (April 8-10) in Tallahassee, Florida; the LA Times Festival of Books (April 9 & 10) in Los Angeles; the Arkansas Literary Festival (April 14-17) in Little Rock, and the Bethesda Literary Festival (April 15-17) in Baltimore.
Even Hawaii gets in on the act with its Hawaii Book and Music Festival (April 30 – May 1) in Honolulu (Alaska gets in the act in October).
Whether you like your book festival a la Jane Austen (July, Louisville, Kentucky) or with a little soul (August, Springfield Indie Soul Festival, Springfield, Massachusetts) or a little spice (April, Hispanic Book Festival, Houston), a book festival awaits you.
I like to think of the book festival season as a booklover’s equivalent to Guy Fieri’s map of our country’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Only we’ll still be able to fit our britches when it’s over.
See you on the road!