The 18th annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was held on April 20th and 21st at its usual spot, The University of Southern California, and it was my first time attending it. According to the Festival of Books website, the purpose of the event is “to bring together the people who create books with the people who love to read them.” All over the campus, local booksellers, publishing companies, writer’s groups, writers, and more set up tents and booths where visitors can freely browse.
Oh, yeah, that’s right, the event was free (except for parking).
The best part of the festival, in my opinion, are the author “conversations” held at different times in different locations. There are numerous themed stages set up, from the Young Adult Lit stage to the Poetry stage. The best way to navigate the event is to look at the schedule online (or through the Festival app on your phone), find the performances or conversations you’re most interested in seeing, and plan your day accordingly.
Lucky for me, two of my favorite authors of all time, Margaret Atwood and Rachel Cohn, happened to be speaking on Saturday. Atwood is a Canadian writer who’s penned such classics as The Handmaid’s Tale and one of my favorite novels The Blind Assassin, which I first read about two years ago. My friends and I arrived a few minutes late, so we were only able to catch the audience Q&A part of the conversation. I watched her adoringly from the balcony of the Bovard Auditorium. My view wasn’t spectacular, but I heard her elegant, firm voice clearly, and was thrilled to simply be in her presence.