Women Who Wrote Hollywood - Citizen Jane Unbound!


There are many wonderful arts events and festivals that take place all year round in Columbia, and we’re always delighted to partner with our fellow festival warriors. This weekend the always awesome Citizen Jane Film Festival comes to town for their annual celebration of all things related to women and film. It’s a stunning festival, with great movies and fascinating events and discussions, and you should all totally go. (And, of course, like Unbound, Citizen Jane’s home is Stephens College.)

This year we’re pleased to partner with Citizen Jane to present a book discussion about WHEN WOMEN WROTE HOLLYWOOD, a collection of 23 new essays that focuses on the lives of female screenwriters of Golden Age Hollywood. These women's work helped create some of the most unforgettable stories and characters beloved by audiences, but their names have been left out of most film histories. The contributors trace the careers of such writers as Anita Loos, Adela Rogers St. Johns, Lillian Hellman, Gene Gauntier, Eve Unsell and Ida May Park, and explore themes of their writing in classics like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Ben Hur, and It's a Wonderful Life.

The conversation will take place at Columbia’s new independent bookstore, Skylark Bookshop, at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, November 3. Nine of the authors whose work appears in this collection will read from their work and discuss the role of women writers in the early days of film. It promises to be a fascinating discussion. Books will be available for purchase and signing after the event. This event is free to the public and does not require a ticket or pass to the Citizen Jane Film Festival.

Hope to see you there!

Posted on November 1, 2018 .

And... our Kids Keynote is Jacqueline Woodson!


Many of you probably know by now about Unbound’s “Authors in the Schools” project, which has been growing every year we’ve done it. Last April eight different authors visited twelve different schools within the Columbia Public School system on the Friday before the festival itself. At least one classroom in every grade from Kindergarten to 12th Grade was visited by an author, and between them, the Unbound writers spoke to a total of approximately 3,500 students. It was quite a day.

This year we’re looking to do more of the same, and we could NOT be more delighted to announce that none other than the truly phenomenal Jacqueline Woodson will be our “Kids’ Keynote” for 2019. Jacqueline will be coming to Columbia on Friday, April 19, to give a presentation to Columbia’s 8th graders at the Missouri Theatre.

Jacqueline Woodson is one of the most beloved writers of children’s literature working today. She has won just about every available award and prize (including, to name just a few, the Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Newbery Honor Medal and, ahem, a NATIONAL BOOK AWARD.) She is also the Poetry Foundation’s Young People’s Poet Laureate, and this year the Library of Congress appointed her National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.


Jacqueline has written award-winning books for just about every age, from beautiful picture books to middle grade titles to YA. She is a wonderful and compelling speaker and we know she is going to give the students an experience that they’ll remember for a long, long time to come. We can’t wait to welcome her to Unbound!

Jacqueline’s appearance is made possible in part by a generous grant from the University of Missouri Chancellor’s Distinguished Visitor Program and we’re very grateful to Angie Zapata for all her hard work in making this happen.

Posted on October 29, 2018 .

George Saunders is our 2019 Keynote!

We at Unbound HQ have been hard at work to put together next year's event. We're planning some panels and conversations that we think you're really going to love. But more of that another time... today we are beyond thrilled to announce that our keynote speaker for next year's festival will be the very great and very wonderful George Saunders.

 George Saunders. Really.

George Saunders. Really.

The recipient of a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (the fabled “Genius” Award), George Saunders is the author of a novel, four collections of short stories, a novella, a book of essays, and an award-winning children’s book. His long-awaited novel and most recent book, Lincoln in the Bardo, was published in 2017, and was a #1 New York Times bestseller and won the Man Booker Prize. His short story collection, Tenth of December was a finalist for the National Book Award, and winner of the 2014 Story Prize for short fiction and the 2014 Folio Prize. His other collections include the bestselling Pastoralia, set against a warped, hilarious, and terrifyingly recognizable American landscape; CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, a Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, and In Persuasion Nation, one of three finalists for the 2006 Story Prize for best short story collection of the year.

Saunders is also the author of the novella-length illustrated fable, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, which takes us into a profoundly strange country called Inner Horner, and the New York Times bestselling children’s book, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, illustrated by Lane Smith. Congratulations, by the Way is a book containing the funny yet uplifting graduation speech Saunders gave at Syracuse University, which went viral shortly after its delivery.

Saunders’ book of essays, The Braindead Megaphone, received much critical acclaim and his nonfiction writing appears regularly in The New Yorker, GQ, and Harpers Magazine. His work has appeared in the O’HenryBest American Short StoryBest Non-Required Reading, and Best American Travel Writing anthologies.

In 2001, Saunders was selected by Entertainment Weekly as one of the one hundred top most creative people in entertainment, and by The New Yorker in 2002 as one of the best writers under 40.  In 2006, he was awarded both a MacArthur Fellowship, for “bring[ing] to contemporary American fiction a sense of humor, pathos, and literary style all his own,” and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2013 TIME Magazine listed Saunders on its list of 100 Most Influential People in the World. He teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Syracuse University.

George Saunders will be speaking at the Missouri Theatre at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, April 19, 2019. As in previous years, this event will be completely free. Tickets will be available for online reservation ahead of time, as usual, but this year they won't be available until early next year. Don't worry - we'll give you plenty of notice!

Posted on October 22, 2018 .

Tiffany Jackson is nearly here!


As part of the plan to expand Unbound beyond the third weekend in April, YA rockstar Tiffany Jackson is coming to Columbia this week! Tiffany will be making appearances at several local high schools during her visit to Columbia, where she will be talking about how readers can develop empathy through literature, and also about the importance of reading diverse books.

Those talks are for students only, but on Thursday, October 4, she will be making a public appearance at Skylark Bookshop. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. - and like all Unbound events, it is open to all and is completely free to attend. You won’t want to miss what is bound to be a brilliant and engaging talk by one of the most exciting talents currently setting the YA world alight!


Posted on October 2, 2018 .

Spreading the Love.

Unbound is free for the public to attend, but we do ask that guests bring a book with them to donate - that’s why we have “book bins” outside every venue at Stephens College. After the festival is over, we distribute those donated books to members of our community. We’ve been assisted in this task by various local nonprofit organizations in the past; this year our friends at the Columbia Housing Authority stepped in to help.

And how. Rather than simply find eager readers to give the books to, CHA went the extra mile. Actually, several extra miles.

little library.jpg

This is a photo of one of FOUR “little libraries” that Job Point Youth Build constructed for CHA. Supplies for the libraries were donated in part by Job Point Youth Build and were supplemented by funds from the CHA Resident Services Department. Youth Build participants perform a service project in the community every other Friday, and the libraries were selected as a project that they worked on over several weeks. We think they look fantastic. (Also, the Moving Ahead Program, which is a free, afterschool program for low-income families, has agreed to have participating children paint and decorate the posts of the libraries with themes related to books they enjoy.)

These libraries have been placed in four separate CHA locations*, and each is stocked with books that CHA received from our Unbound Guests last April. Anyone can take a book to read whenever they’re passing - the idea being that whenever you take a book, you bring one you’ve already read as a replacement. And so these little libraries will be perennially replenishing their stocks with new books, and people get to read new books - all for free.

We probably don’t need to tell you how wonderful this is. One of Unbound’s missions is to spread a love of reading throughout all ages in our community, and these bright, beautiful boxes of books will go a long way to achieving that goal - year round. We’re very grateful to Job Point Youth Build, the Moving Ahead Program, and especially the Columbia Housing Authority, for their amazing work in getting our community reading!

* Locations are: the CHA Administration office on Switzler St., the Bear Creek Family Townhomes Site at Rangeline and Elleta Blvd., the Stuart Parker Apartments site which includes Lincoln/McBaine intersection and Unity/Oak intersection.

Posted on September 20, 2018 .

Tiffany Jackson is Coming to Columbia! (Allegedly.)

One of the long-term goals of the festival is to expand our activities beyond the third weekend in April to a year-round series of literary events for the community. We’re delighted to announce that award-winning and best-selling author Tiffany Jackson will be our first “out-of-season” guest. Tiffany’s appearance is made possible by the participation of the Columbia Public Schools Foundation, and we are very grateful for their wonderful support.

One of the most exciting new voices in YA fiction, Tiffany will be making appearances at several local schools during her visit to Columbia, where she will be talking about her books and writing career. On Thursday, October 4, she will be making her only public appearance at Skylark Bookshop. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. - and like all Unbound events, it is open to all and is completely free to attend. We’re billing the event as a Family Book Club - we hope that both children and their parents will come having read her award-winning debut novel, Allegedly, and ready to discuss the book.

Daniel José Older called the novel a “riveting, gut-wrenching thriller and a stunning debut.” Jason Reynolds had this to say: “I have to admit, it’s been a while since I’ve been this rattled by a story. Tiffany D. Jackson chips at the world, then cracks it, then shatters it into shards of discomfort and complexity for the reader to grapple with it. Allegedly, undoubtedly, will linger long after it’s over.” This gritty, haunting novel will leave its mark on you.


Tiffany D. Jackson is the author of the critically acclaimed ALLEGEDLY and  MONDAY’S NOT COMING (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books). A TV professional by day, novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves with her adorable Chihuahua, Oscar, most likely multitasking.

Here’s a selection of the stunning praise that her debut novel has garnered:

★ “With remarkable skill, Jackson offers an unflinching portrayal of the raw social outcomes when youth are entrapped in a vicious cycle of nonparenting and are sent spiraling down the prison-for-profit pipeline. This dark, suspenseful exploration of justice and perception raises important questions teens will want to discuss.” (School Library Journal (starred review))

★ “Searing and true. Effectively joins Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow (2010) to become another indictment of the penal system’s decimating power beyond its bars and, more subtly and refreshingly, a pro-reproductive-justice novel.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

★ “The characters are complex, the situation unsettling, and the line between right and wrong hopelessly blurred. It’s also intensely relevant, addressing race, age, and mental illness within the criminal justice system. Well conceived and executed, this is an absorbing and exceptional first novel.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))

★ “Suspenseful without being emotionally manipulative, compelling without resorting to shock value, this is a tightly spun debut that wrestles with many intense ideas and ends with a knife twist that will send readers racing back to the beginning again.” (Booklist (starred review))


We can’t wait to welcome Tiffany to Columbia next month - we hope we’ll see you at Skylark Bookshop on October 5!

CPSF Logo 2016.jpg
Posted on September 10, 2018 .

FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER - a public lecture by Loung Ung

Screen Shot 2018-08-06 at 3.47.16 PM.png

More bookish goodness going on in Columbia, this time courtesy of our friends at the University of Missouri Honors College.

The annual Honors College One Read this year is the astonishing FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER by Loung Ung, a childhood survivor of the Camdodian genocide under the regime of Pol Pot. The book presents a riveting narrative of war crimes and desperate actions, the unnerving strength of a small girl and her family, and their triumph of spirit.

One of seven children of a high-ranking government official, Loung Ung lived a privileged life in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh until the age of five. Then, in April 1975, Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge army stormed into the city, forcing Ung's family to flee and, eventually, to disperse. Loung was trained as a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings were sent to labor camps, and those who survived the horrors would not be reunited until the Khmer Rouge was destroyed.

Harrowing yet hopeful, Loung's powerful story is an unforgettable account of a family shaken and shattered, yet miraculously sustained by courage and love in the face of unspeakable brutality.

The author will be speaking at the Missouri Theatre at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 16. The event is free and open to the public. We are proud to co-host this event with the Honors College. It will be a spell-binding presentation. Don't miss it!

Posted on August 6, 2018 .

We Want Your Feedback!

We have a small favor to ask you.

As Unbound continues to grow and develop, so does our responsibility to be more accountable and more responsive to our community's wishes and needs.  We can't do that properly without your participation - and so we would love to know how you think we're doing.

So, please, if you can spare a moment, drop us a line and tell us what you think about the festival. What did you like? What didn't you like? Are there things you would like to see more of? Are there particular writers or genres or topics that you think we should cover?

In a nutshell, we're asking: how can we make the festival better?

If you have a few moments, we'd really appreciate it if you would share your thoughts with us. We have deliberately made this form as general as possible, because we don't want to prescribe the limits of what people tell us about. Feel free to share your thoughts on anything you think might be helpful. We want to know what you think.

Thanks so much!

Posted on June 18, 2018 .

Remember This?

Hard to believe that this was only a month ago.

This lovely film was put together by Shane Epping and his team and we think it beautifully captures the spirit and the energy of this year's festival. We hope it captured a few of your memories, too. Enjoy!

Posted on May 23, 2018 .

Thank You.

Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's festival - the authors, the volunteers, the staff and students at Stephens College - and, of course, to everyone who came to attend an event. What an incredible day it was. We're all under doctor's orders to stay in bed for a week, but here are a few photos, taken by Michael Cali, of what went on on Saturday. More to come later.

Posted on April 23, 2018 .