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.

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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!

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Posted on September 10, 2018 .

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

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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 .

What. A. Night.

Zadie Smith and Camille Dungy in the Missouri Theatre last night were incredible. Brilliant, funny, insightful, wholly original. Here are a few photos for you. Now, if you'll excuse us, we have a festival to go and put on...

Posted on April 21, 2018 .

Unbound 2018 is Under Way!


Launched on an ocean of local whiskey and buoyed by slices of delicious homemade pie, this year's Unbound Book Festival got under way last night with Pie and Whiskey, a sold-out event that featured twelve writers and poets reading pieces - about pie, or whiskey, or both - written specially for the occasion. Our thanks to Michael Czyzniejewski, Gabriel Fried, Nina Mukerjee Furstenau, Alex George, Kate Lebo, Dana Levin, Samuel Ligon, Robert Lopez, Phong Nguyen, Kate Nuernberger, Robin Sloan, and Steve Yarbrough for their performances. Thank you to our wonderful pie-makers (that was a lot of pie) and to our friends at Dogmaster Distillery for being so generous with their delicious whiskeys. Thanks to our amazing volunteers, always. And to Shane Epping for these photos!

 Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

Nina Mukerjee Furstenau

 Sam Ligon

Sam Ligon

 Kate Lebo

Kate Lebo

 Dana Levin

Dana Levin

 Robert Lopez

Robert Lopez


Posted on April 20, 2018 .

Events for Writers!

Unbound is primarily designed for audiences of readers, but every year we put on a couple of events designed to interest and engage writers and would-be writers. And there are a lot of those in this town.

From 2:00 to 4:00 in the Warehouse Theatre, Melissa Stan from The Story Center Program in Kansas City will be giving a workshop with tips on how to edit and refine your work through skills developed by oral storytellers. Attendees can put their story to the two-minute test and see where their story needs work.  They will learn about the importance of word flow, choice, and tempo and get an idea of how your story sounds in the heads of readers.  This workshop will provide invaluable insight and tips for both experienced and beginner writers alike. Bring some of your writing with you to work on!

 Melissa Stan

Melissa Stan

Earlier in the day (10:00, to be exact) we're putting on a panel about self-publishing. As self-publishing technology continues to develop, more and more people are publishing their work without the need for “traditional” publishers. These days anyone can publish their novel that’s been sitting forgotten in that bottom drawer. Come and discover some of the tricks of the trade from this panel of experts – two successful self-published authors, a graphic designer, and a representative from IngramSpark, one of the largest companies offering self-publishing services. Come ready to ask questions!


Posted on April 11, 2018 .