JANS – Thousands attended the 2023 Mississippi Book Festival where book lovers heard from hundreds of authors in panel discussions and conversations at the State Capitol and Galloway Methodist Church. Over a three-day period, the Mississippi Book Festival reached more than 14,000 Mississippians in events in all parts of the state.
The downtown Capitol Complex was awash with visitors from across the country, eager to hear from a wide range of authors, such as Lois Lowry, Richard Ford, Mike Pence, Jason Reynolds, Richard Russo, James McBride, Harrison Scott Key, Jeanette Walls, and Ann Patchett.
According to Ellen Daniels, festival executive director, “More than 263 authors participated in Saturday’s [Aug. 19] festival, including 169 on 47 official panels and another 95 authors meeting the public in Author’s Alley. Many of the panels were standing room only, and our nine booksellers sold thousands of books.”
On Aug. 18, Jason Reynolds, one of the book festival’s visiting middle-grade authors, spoke to more than 7,000 students through his in-person presentation in Thalia Mara Hall and through a live-streamed event to close to 300 classrooms all over the state. At the conclusion of the in-person sessions, every student was given a free copy of his latest novel, Miles Morales Suspended: A Spider-man Novel. “There is nothing quite like a student having a chance to hear directly from a nationally-recognized author, to learn what it’s like to write a book, and to create stories and characters,” said Daniels.
Thought-provoking panel discussions took place throughout the day, giving participants unique insights of the writers. Daniels added, “It has never been more important to promote books and the stories within them, and the book festival does a wonderful job celebrating Mississippi’s love of books and writers. Our great writers are household names, and many of their stories are our stories.”
(Photos: Mississippi Book Festival and Josh Martin)