Will Schwalbe is coming back to mid-Missouri! Like, NEXT WEEK, PEOPLE.

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Do you see all those lovely people? This is a photo I took minutes before one of the last events of this year's Unbound Book Festival got under way - Vivien Jennings of Rainy Day Books in conversation with Will Schwalbe. The place was absolutely packed - you can see some of our wonderful volunteers bringing in more chairs on the right.

This was actually Will's THIRD event that day, although you would never have known it from his irrepressible enthusiasm and wit. (Not only is he charming and super-smart, the man is also indefatigable.) He and Vivien talked about his wonderful book, BOOKS FOR LIVING, which is a love letter to reading and the joy of books. It was a perfect way to end the festival and one that will live on long in the hearts and minds of everyone who was crammed into that beautiful room at the end of that beautiful day. 

I am posting about this today because next Thursday, September 28, Will is returning to mid-Missouri. He'll be speaking in Jefferson City about his first book, THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB, which has been chosen as this year's Jeff City Capital Read. The event starts at 7.00 p.m. at the Missouri River Regional Library, 214 Adams Street, Jefferson City. Those of you who saw Will at Unbound will need no further prompting to mark your calendars. If you missed him in April, please - do yourself a favor and attend this free event next week. THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB is a delicious meditation on the magic of books, and it's a deeply moving tribute to his mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe. It's a beautiful, inspiring book. 

See you there next Thursday?

Posted on September 19, 2017 .

Our newest author announcement? Wait, wait, don't tell me...

Each year at Unbound we try and invite a broad range of writers and poets from a variety of backgrounds. All enjoy varying degrees of fame (or notoriety) but our next author is the first person we've invited who is regularly read by upwards of 20 million people and who is also a stalwart on one of radio's most popular weekly comedy shows.    

It's Amy Dickinson.

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Amy writes the “Ask Amy” advice column which is widely syndicated throughout North America. She is also a regular panelist on the popular NPR comedy quiz show, “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me…!”  She grew up on a dairy farm in Upstate NY, and has lived in New York City, Washington DC, London, and Chicago.

Amy’s 2009 memoir, “The Mighty Queens of Freeville,” became a NYT bestseller. Her new memoir, “Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things” (Hachette) covers her decision to move back to her hometown, and her mid-life marriage to a local builder who she first met in 7th grade. She is the mother and stepmother to five daughters.

We can't wait to welcome Amy to Columbia!


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Posted on September 18, 2017 .

New Author Announcement: Therese Anne Fowler

We're very excited to announce that New York Times bestselling author Therese Anne Fowler will be attending Unbound next April. If you've ever wondered what it's like to watch your novel be adapted for the screen - well, Therese would be the person to ask. Her novel, Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, has been adapted as an original television series for Amazon Studios, starring Christina Ricci. The second season is currently in production.  And if you enjoyed last year's conversation between Nancy Horan and Melanie Benjamin on writing fiction about real-life personalities, you won't want to miss this.

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Therese, a native of Milan, IL, is the author of the New York Times bestseller Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. Her essays have been published internationally in newspapers and magazines such as The Week, the London Telegraph and Harper's Bazaar, and her fiction is available in numerous languages worldwide. Her upcoming novel about Alva Vanderbilt Belmont is forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press.

Therese earned a BA in sociology/cultural anthropology and an MFA in creative writing, both from NC State. A proud member of Phi Beta Kappa and PEN America, she lives in Raleigh, NC, with author and professor John Kessel and their three endearing but incorrigible cats.

Posted on September 11, 2017 .

First Author Announcement for 2018... Christina Baker Kline!

The time has come to start telling you about all the wonderful authors we are lining up for our third annual festival, which takes place on April 19-21, 2018. First up, we're thrilled to announce that we'll be welcoming gazillion-selling author Christina Baker Kline to Columbia!

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Christina is the author of six novels. Her most recent novel, A Piece of the World, is based on the iconic painting Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth, and was an instant New York Times bestseller when it was published in February this year. Christina will be talking about this book as part of an Unbound panel about Andrew Wyeth.


Christina's previous book, Orphan Train, spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list, including five weeks at # 1, and has been published in 38 countries. More than 100 communities and colleges have chosen it as a “One Book, One Read” selection. Her other novels include The Way Life Should Be, Sweet Water, Bird in Hand, and Desire Lines.


In addition to her fiction, Kline is co-author, with her mother, Christina Looper Baker, of a book on feminist mothers and daughters, The Conversation Begins, and the editor of four nonfiction anthologies. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Money, More, and Psychology Today, among other places. She is a member of the Advisory Board for Roots & Wings, a nonprofit that provides support for at-risk adolescent and aged-out foster care youth. 

Posted on September 7, 2017 .

Matt Wilson's "Honey and Salt"


As we make plans for the third chapter of Unbound, we're exploring interesting ways in which our literary festival can grow. One of the ideas we're most excited about is a collaboration with the wonderful "We Always Swing" Jazz Series, which has been bringing world-class jazz to mid-Missouri for an astonishing twenty-three years now. Unbound is proud to announce that we have teamed up with the Jazz Series to bring the mercurial drummer Matt Wilson to Columbia with a unique performance that brilliantly combines both jazz and poetry. Lit fest meets jazz fest. What's not to like?

Wilson's new album, HONEY AND SALT, features music written to accompany the work of iconic American poet Carl Sandburg.  While the studio recording features various musicians and actors like Jack Black performing the poems, at Unbound you'll be able to hear this year's crop of visiting authors and poets read them live. It's going to be a wonderful, lively celebration, and a fitting climax to this year's festival. The album recently received a (rarely given) five star (= "masterpiece") review from Downbeat, which you can read here.

The concert will take place at 7.00 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, 2018, in the First Baptist Church on Broadway, just over the road from all the day's other literary events at Stephens College. This event also serves as the end-of-season finale for "We Always Swing". Tickets are available at the Jazz Series website, but if you call the box office at (573) 449 3009 and mention Unbound, they'll give you a discount.

See you there!

Posted on August 29, 2017 .

Here we are again...

Well, hello.

Did you miss us?

We've been taking a short break from the online world, but that's not to say that we haven't been very busy getting ready for next year's festival. We have already lined up an amazing list of wonderful authors for 2018, and can't wait to start telling you all about them. 

The third edition of Unbound will be bigger and better than ever, with new events in new venues, stretched over a longer period of time. We are growing in all sorts of interesting ways.

We'll be announcing one of our most exciting new developments in the next couple of days - a great collaboration with one of the other marvelous nonprofits in town. Watch this space. 

And just in case you haven't already done so, be sure to sign up for our newsletter by filling in the form at the bottom of every page of the website - that's the best way of making sure you don't miss a thing.

More soon!

Posted on August 21, 2017 .


What an amazing weekend! The readings, the talks, the panels, the performances... and then there was Salman Rushdie.

Thank you to absolutely everyone who came to Chapter Two of the Unbound Book Festival. It was all we could have hoped for, and more. We'll be posting many more pictures in due course, but for now here's a good one of the crowd in Jesse Auditorium taken by our photographer-in-chief, Shane Epping, a few minutes before Salman Rushdie was due to take the stage.

We'd like to thank all the authors and poets who came from across the country to Columbia for the weekend, for their brilliance and wit and generosity; the staff of Jesse Hall and Stephens College who welcomed us with such warmth and professionalism; and, of course our incredible team of volunteers who gave up their weekend to make sure things went smoothly.

Also, may we ask you a favor?

If you attended Unbound this year, we'd be very grateful if you would take about 45 seconds to complete our online questionnaire, which you can find by clicking here. Please give us your feedback and thoughts. It will help us as we start to plan for 2018 (there's no rest for the wicked, you know.) We're still learning about a lot about what works and what doesn't, and we would appreciate your input.

Many thanks! And mark your calendars for April 20 and 21, 2018!

Posted on April 25, 2017 .

Elephant Poems

Remember this?

This is Penelope, who made her first appearance at last year's festival. She is a rare breed of elephant, from the genus Elephas Maximus Poetica, whose principal purpose is to bring joy to the world via the magic of magnetic poetry. 

This year, look out for Penelope on the campus of Stephens College on Saturday, and bring your Poetry A-Game. We're asking people to make up poems using the magnetic words provided, take a photo of the poem, and then post it to twitter using the hashtag #unboundelephantpoems. We'll re-post the best of them and the one we judge the winner will receive a book signed by one of our festival guests.

Posted on April 17, 2017 .

Exciting News! C-SPAN is coming to Unbound!

Well, maybe we're doing something right.

If we may be permitted to blow our own horn for just a moment, we're very pleased to announce that we've just received confirmation that some of the panels on Saturday will be filmed and broadcast by C-SPAN, as part of their "Book TV" coverage.

We're thrilled by this news, and proud to have achieved this in only our second year. Onwards and upwards!

Posted on April 13, 2017 .

In Dog We Trust

Oh, this will be fun! In honor of our host Stephens College's enlightened policy on student pets - it's one of the most animal-friendly campuses in the country - we thought it would be a good idea to feature a panel on writing about man's best friend.

Dogs have always featured heavily in literature of all kinds. Bettyville author George Hodgman (proud owner of Raj) will moderate this lively panel that will discuss the challenges and rewards of writing about dogs across a variety of genres. Joining him will be:

Julie Barton is the New York Times bestselling author of DOG MEDICINE, HOW MY DOG SAVED ME FROM MYSELF (Penguin, 2016). She lives in Northern California with her husband Greg, two children, and small menagerie of pets. 

Meg Kearney is author of two books of poems for adults and three novels in verse for teens. Her award-winning picture book, Trouper, is illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Scholastic, 2013.) 

Cleopatra Mathis has published seven collections of poetry. Most recent is Book of Dog, which won the Sheila Motten Book Prize. Her work has won her two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, two Pushcart Prizes, and the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Posted on April 10, 2017 .