The Utah Humanities Book Festival Celebrates its Milestone 25th Anniversary!

Sponsored: What started as a small, one-day book festival at Westminster College in 1998 has grown to a statewide celebration of literature.

This fall, the Utah Humanities Book Festival, the state’s only statewide book festival, celebrates its 25th anniversary of inspiring Utah communities through the deep appreciation of reading and literature. Thanks to community partners, readers, and authors, what began as a small book festival with local bookstores and authors on the Westminster College campus, has grown to the largest book festival in all of Utah, one that is inspiring every generation to learn and grow through the love of reading.

Each year, the statewide celebration of literature takes place through September and October and involves over 100 events thanks to valuable partnerships with communities all over Utah.

In honor of literature, a variety of organizations throughout the state will be hosting in-person and virtual Book Festival events showcasing local and national authors, such as Nathan Hale, US poet laureate Joy Harjo, Shazia Manzoor, Azar Nafisi, and Miss Lil Hot Mess, among other talented authors from all genres, ensuring readers have a wealth of options to choose from across the state.

As was the goal of the inaugural book festival in 1998, participants are encouraged to engage with authors and fellow attendees in meaningful and creative ways that foster a sense of connection and appreciation for literary works across all categories.

(Utah Humanities Book Festival) | Antonio Lopez, author of Gentefication, reading at Slam the Islamophobia at the Lost Eden Gallery in 2021.

For the past several years, the book festival has intentionally focused on serving the entire state by partnering with local organizations readers already know and love. This effort has resulted in scores of organizations bringing Utah communities together around literature for the purpose of having conversations, sharing stories, appreciating the relevance of literature in our lives, and learning together.

Conversations around National Banned Books Week

The annual Utah Humanities Book Festival celebrates literature, but that’s only the beginning; it gives communities the opportunity to have deeper conversations about current issues. For example, there will be Festival events commemorating National Banned Books Week to open dialogue about the appropriateness of removing books from public libraries, controversial content within books, and the role of literature in education and society.

The series, called Reading Dangerously, has partnered with the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah and the Utah chapter of PEN America to host conversations at public libraries in Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Park City about challenged titles including, The Bluest Eye by Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison, Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe, All-American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brenden Kiely, and Call Me Max by Kyle Lukoff.

While the series includes traditional book clubs and lectures, the lineup also includes community conversations where the public is encouraged to engage in civil dialogue with scholars and experts across the political spectrum knowledgeable about these issues, including romance author and book reviewer at My Book Cave Rachel Nunes, censorship and communications scholar Dr. Richard Price, teacher-librarian Davina Sauthoff, and school psychologist Laurel Woods.

(Utah Humanities Book Festival) | Tope Folarin, author of A Particular Kind of Black Man, answering student questions at Snow College in 2021.

Book Festival Highlights

The 2022 Utah Humanities Book Festival is for everyone and is thoughtfully designed to be inclusive. The Book Festival is proud to offer over 120 events featuring five unique categories to appeal to readers of all ages and interests: Children’s & Teens, Environmental Events, Fiction & Non-Fiction, Marginalized Voices, and Poetry & Spoken Word.

Check out each category as well as the Book Festival Calendar for details and the latest event updates.

A glimpse of what’s in store for the 25th celebration:

  • This year’s Utah Humanities Book Festival will feature a first-of-its-kind alternate reality game which invites readers to visit landmark locations in Salt Lake County and solve puzzles to unlock the next part of the story. The alternate reality game follows an unsheltered Latina teenager as she communes with the ghosts of Utah’s greatest LGBTQ+ authors.

  • Celebrate nature and traverse Utah’s breathtaking landscapes with the Humanities in the Wild series.

  • During Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), Utah Humanities will be working with the Hispanic Heritage Month parade and others to feature Latinx authors, including Jose and Kelly Carlos, René Colato Laínez, Plumas Colectiva, and more.

  • As the Mayor’s Office for New Americans throws its annual Welcoming Week, a national program dedicated to welcoming immigrants and refugees to America, the Book Festival will have a strong lineup of events focusing on immigrant and refugee authors, including Shazia Manzoor, Lily Havey, Cynthia Guardado, among others.

For a quarter century, Utah Humanities has inspired individuals and communities throughout Utah by creating the state’s largest annual book festival. In 1998, the first Festival was a one-day event, and now 25 years later, the Utah Humanities Book Festival lasts through September and October, dramatically expanding to feature over 100 authors and host over 120 events in over 15 communities across the state.

(Utah Humanities Book Festival) | Darren Parry, author of The Bear River Massacre, signing books at the Brigham City Library in 2021.

Celebrating the power of literature in all forms

Whether a book is fiction, self-help, romance, historical, educational, religious, a children’s book, a biography, or a comedy, the Festival celebrates it. As Utah’s signature literary event, the Book Festival represents the true power of literature, and how it can educate, inspire, expand minds, and ultimately enrich the lives of readers.

The Utah Humanities Book Festival is made possible with the support of community partners across the state, including libraries, bookstores, universities, cultural organizations and more. Utah Humanities gives many thanks to its generous sponsors who have made this incredible festival possible: the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation, the R. Harold Burton Foundation, the Salt Lake City Arts Council, Salt Lake County Zoo, Arts & Parks Fund, Weber County RAMP, the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, The King’s English Bookshop, Weller Book Works, Under the Umbrella Bookstore, The Book Bungalow, the ESRR Impact Endowment, the ESRR Humanities and Arts Endowment, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Salt Lake Tribune, and SLUG Magazine.

To learn more about the 2022 Utah Humanities Book Festival, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, and to find Festival events near you, visit their website today.