Reader Riot Book Festival Brings Authors, Book Fun to Florence

By  | April 23, 2017 | Filed under: News

FLORENCE– The Florence-Lauderdale Public Library is ready to riot, but it just might be the nerdiest riot you’ve ever heard of. That’s because the library, along with a committee of community volunteers, is hosting the Reader Riot, a free two-day book festival featuring dozens of authors, vendors, and activities. The Reader Riot will take place on April 28 and 29 at FLPL and a variety of downtown Florence venues.

“Since this is the first book festival we’ve ever had in the Shoals, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about what exactly it is you do at a book festival,” said Nancy Sanford, Executive Director at Florence-Lauderdale Public Library. “The answer is that you get to attend talks by some of your favorite authors, and you can meet them and get books signed. There will also be hands-on writing and craft activities for all ages, and you’ll be able to browse and shop with book-related vendors, such as local authors, presses, and artists.”

Featured Authors
Of course, the authors are the main draw of any book festival, and the Reader Riot has a slate of 18 featured guests that include best-sellers and authors of all ages and many genres:

  • L. Stine (free tickets for guaranteed seating are sold out)
    Children’s and young adult author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series
  • Melanie Benjamin
    Historical fiction author of The Swans of Fifth Avenue and The Aviator’s Wife
  • Tim Crothers
    Journalist and nonfiction author of The Queen of Katwe (adapted into a 2016 Disney film)
  • Watt Key
    Young Adult author of the critically acclaimed Alabama Moon
  • Tobias Buckell
    Science Fiction author of Crystal Rain, Arctic Rising, and the upcoming Halo: Envoy
  • Lori Nicols
    Children Author and illustrator of the Maple & Willow series
  • Frank X Walker
    Founder of the Affrilachian Poetry movement, and author of the poetry collections Affrilachia and Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers
  • Randall Horton
    Memoirist and Poet, author of Hook: A Memoir and Pitch Dark Anarchy
  • Barnabas Piper
    Christian nonfiction author of The Curious Christian, Help My Unbelief, and The Pastor’s Kid
  • Donika Kelly
    Author of the poetry collection Bestiary, which was on the Longlist for the National Book Award
  • Michael Knight
    Novelist and Short Story writer, author of Eveningland and The Typist
  • Sarah Kaufman
    Artist/Illustrator and author of The Circus
  • Irene Latham
    Children’s author and poet, author of Fresh Delicious, Leaving Gee’s Bend, and Don’t Feed the Boy
  • Norbert Putnam
    Muscle Shoals music icon and author of Music Notes
  • Ralph Voss
    Scholar and author of Truman Capote and the Legacy of In Cold Blood
  • Ed Bridges
    Historian and author of Alabama: The Making of an American State
  • Kevin Kilburne
    Chef and author of The Southern Table
  • Elizabeth Patterson
    Children’s author of Half the Giraffe

Each of these authors will present at least one talk and will have a scheduled book signing. Their books will be on sale throughout the festival, and many of them are for sale now at the library, so you can read them before the festival and already have your copy to get signed. For a full schedule of events and their locations, you can visit

Activities, Vendors, and Activities
The featured authors aren’t the only reason to come to the Riot.

“This isn’t a book festival where all you do is sit and listen to authors speak,” says Reader Riot committee chair Debra Dombrowski. “When we say this is a festival, we really mean it. You’ll be able to visit and shop with vendors, write some haiku on the fly, listen to your neighbors sharing their favorite poems, and make your own book art. You can bring your kids to have lunch with their favorite book characters and to enjoy face painting and juggling, or you can bring your teenager for a writing workshop or to make comic book art. There will be authors and activities for all ages, and it’s all focused on books and literature.”

Plus, the Reader Riot will include an Authors Alley Vendor Bazaar featuring even more authors, small presses, and book-related art and clothing. The vendors and most of the activities will be on the library lawn and in Wilson Park, with the old library building at 218 N Wood Avenue serving as a rain location.
The Reader Riot is a free event, thanks to a number of community sponsors including the University of North Alabama College of Arts and Sciences, as well as Listerhill Credit Union. There will be a cost for a Friday night barbeque dinner and for meals at the Book Character Lunch, but no one will have to pay to meet authors or participate in the festival.

Visit for the full festival schedule and for information about all featured authors. Festival programs are also available at FLPL.

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