It is impossible to come away from the Texas Book Festival without having your imagination fired, your curiosity piqued and your views alternately confirmed and challenged.

Taking place over the course of two days in and around the Texas Capitol, the fest features author talks and signings, panel discussions, cooking demonstrations, live music and activities for kids.

Inside this guide is a look at some highlights from the journalists and critics for the American-Statesman in addition to a complete schedule of events and activities.

Enjoy.

5 ways to get the most from your book fest experience

Prepare for any weather. Some fests have had the backdrop of glorious fall days. Some have been as hot as late July. Many have been rain-soaked. Some have been all three on the same day. Layers and a small umbrella or poncho are not a bad idea.

Everything will take longer than you think it will. The Austin Film Festival is also happening that weekend as is Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva la Vida Festival and Parade. Crowds will be large, including in the area in front of the Capitol. Build in extra time to get where you want, including for parking, walking, or stopping for food and drink.

Look at a map of the Capitol before you go. Have a good idea of who you want to see (the schedule is inside this section), take note of where they are signing and look at a map before you go to the fest. Be polite to the volunteers -- they will know a lot about where to go, but not everything.

Be polite in the signing tents. Don’t bring extra books for the authors to sign, and if there is a line, be mindful of it. Assume that everyone in that line likes the author just as much as you do, if not more. Keep the lines moving.

Take a chance or two. The book festival is about celebrating ideas -- fictional, non-fictional, graphic, poetic. Try to go to one panel or event that you otherwise know nothing about. They can be the most revelatory.

Going to the Texas Book Festival?

(You should!) Here's what you need to know:

With the exception of a few events, the Texas Book Festival is free and open to the public.

Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 27 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 28.

Getting there: Check CapMetro’s website to plan your trip downtown. There are several drop-off locations near festival grounds with main routes running through Guadalupe, Lavaca and Red River streets.

Parking: The Texas Book Festival reserves garages that are free-of-cost for attendees. Metered street parking also is available downtown.

Book sales and signings: Books by festival authors will be available to purchase in BookPeople sales tents. A receipt from a BookPeople sales tent purchase must be presented to enter lines in book signing tents or venues.

Information: texasbookfestival.org. See the full schedule in this section and on the fest website.