A few weeks ago, I went to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Although I have always been a bibliophile, I have never had a chance to visit this event. Something always got in the way. Not this year though. I was lucky enough to attend day one of the festival with my wife and my infant son.
The festival of books took place on the campus of the University of Southern California on the weekend of April 12 and 13. This was the 19th year of the event and the second year in a row that USC has hosted. More than 150,000 people of all ages attended the festival making it “the largest and most prestigious literary event in North America,” according to the LA Times.
Let me begin by saying that it was great to see such a large turn out for a festival whose main focus was literature. It kind of restored some hope for humanity in my mind. I mean, to be honest, I knew people still read, but I didn’t think they really cared about literature. I hate crowded places, but it was pleasant to share the day with thousands of book lovers.
A major highlight of the festival is the opportunity it gives readers to interact with authors. Besides the array of book signings (I think John Green had the most impressive line on Saturday, but Veronica Roth may have topped it on Sunday), the festival also offers a plethora of dialogues with writers. The spectrum of literature was well represented. There were Q & A sessions, more like conversations, set up all across the campus with authors from every genre. Some of the sessions began with readings from the writers. I know Sandra Cisneros read from her latest work, as did poet Tony Barnstone and children’s author Kadir Nelson.
The LA Times Festival of Books is free to the public. There are some admission fees to some of the larger panel discussions, but most of these were less than $5. The funny thing is that I really went to the festival of books with the intention to meet author Gris Grimly, but I never found his booth. Grimly is a graphic novelist that takes classic literature and illustrates it in his creepy and macabre style. Some of his titles include Tales of Mystery and Madness (in which he illustrates four of Poe’s timeless short stories), The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and more recently Frankenstein. His art is fantastic.
I did find several cool booths selling literary apparel. One such booth was NovelT. Here is a Poe shirt that I had to purchase. Get it?
I also found several amazing books in the children’s literature section. I have become a fan of this genre over the past five months. Bedtime will never be the same.
The LA Times Festival of Books is a wonderful tradition that brings literacy to the forefront of our social media driven world. There was way too much to see, feel, and experience (which is a great thing to say about any event). It is the celebration of books in an academic and fun setting with food and music in a beautiful city. What more can you ask for?