Love books? Austin ranked best Texas city for readers

If you’re a book lover and you live in Austin, you’re in the right place, according a Texas book publication.

Lone Star Literary Life ranked Austin the No. 1 “bookish destination” in Texas. The publication noted Austin’s ties to the poet O. Henry (he lived here in the 1880s) and the “Philosophers’ Rock” sculpture at the entrance of Barton Springs Pool, which represents authors J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedicheck and Walter Prescott, who used to gather at the pool for “Austin’s first literary salon.”

Red Carpet Books operates a popular booth along Congress Ave for people to shop for bargain prices during the Texas book Festival Saturday October 17, 2015. The Texas Book Festival celebrates 20 years bringing as one of the largest and most prestigious literary festivals in the country. The annual festival features over 250 nationally and critically recognized authors, exhibitors, live music, local food trucks, family activities, and countless opportunities to meet authors and fellow book lovers on the Texas State Capitol and surrounding grounds.
RALPH BARRERA/ AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Another top reason why Austin’s great for readers? The Capitol City is home to the Texas Center for the Book, a nonprofit which supports promoting literature and literary programs throughout the state. Austin’s status as home to several universities is also a statement to its literary prowess: The University of Texas alone has 17 libraries, plus the Harry Ransom Center, which is home to the archive of Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez. Austin is also home to 20 public library branches offering books and education to citizens, and the new Faulk Central Library is set to open in May.

Of course, the list also mentions the Texas Book Festival which takes place in the fall in and around the Texas State Capitol. The festival, founded by Laura Bush, recently hosted appearances by Jenna Bush Hager, Lois Lowry, Diane Guerrero, Maria Semple and more award-winning writers and authors.

The marquee at BookPeople during a book signing event with Bruce Springsteen on Thursday December 1, 2016. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

And a ranking of Texas book-friendly cities wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Austin’s bounty of independent bookstores like BookPeople, BookWoman, Malvern Books, Resistencia Bookstore, South Congress Books, Austin Books & Comics, MonkeyWrench Books, and Brave New Books. BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore, hosts more than 300 events every year, hosting authors and visitors like Bruce Springsteen, Hillary Clinton, Kenny Rogers, Wendy Davis and more.

PHOTOS: Bruce Springsteen at BookPeople in 2016

Austin’s not the only bookish area in Texas—also ranked in the top 10 (in order) are Houston, Dallas, Abilene, the Permian Basin, San Antonio, Fort Worth, the Rio Grande Valley, El Paso, and Angelina and Nacogdoches counties in East Texas. See the full list of “Texas’s Top Ten Bookish Destinations” here.

 

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