LA Times Festival of Books 2018

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Author: Ariel Landrum

Bibliophiles gathered in Los Angeles on April 21st and April 22nd, 2018, for the 23rd Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The largest book-loving event of its kind, this year it attracted upward of 150,000 people. The free event ran Saturday and Sunday in its eighth year on USC’s campus.

Essentially a bookchella, this festival featured small and large press vendors, panels, book signings, performances, and even VR experiences. Many stages throughout the campus had live music, poetry slams, and interviews.

Vendors from an assortment of publications were present, as well as shops selling new and used books. Unlike at a traditional festival, these merchants offered great discounts for buying books on-site, some as low as seven bucks! All the authors present for the weekend’s festivities even had their books for sale at their signing.

Panel topics ranged from the passion of writing to politics to podcasts. Speakers varied from writers to musicians to actors. Attendees could chance to see their favorite writers by waiting in line; devotees purchased an all-access pass.

One of the larger panels to kick off the weekend was that of Joyce Carol Oates and her conversation with the host of KCRW’s Bookworm, Michael Silverblatt. The Queen of Gothic short stories discussed historical responses to controversial topics in books and answered fan questions about inspiration. Silverblatt, despite a sprained ankle, quipped that what hurt most was learning that his friend Oates did not win a Pulitzer prize for her most recent novel, A Book of American Martyrs.

These roundtables ended with free signings in tented areas. Many fans came with carts filled with books and had to make the agonizing decision of either attending a panel and possibly missing a signing or waiting in line for a signing but missing the panel. The longest signing line of the weekend, which wrapped around the tents and spilled onto the campus walkway, was for Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series. People of all ages camped out in line hours before the signing.

Outside on the main stage, people saw various well-known faces from the entertainment industry. Gabrielle Union mastered this stage, discussing her new book, We’re Gonna Need More Wine, a collection of essays focused on gender, race, and the modern woman in Hollywood. Showing off the spirit of the book, when asked how she responds when having sexy scenes with attractive actors, Union joked that she hoped it was them that couldn’t keep their cool with her.

No festival is complete without freebies. At the information booth, guests were given free plastic totes to hold their purchases. During this hot weekend, the gracious people at Honest Company provided samples of their lemonade, while the Pantages Theatre gave out free water in logoed bottles. Kind Bar was even present, sampling out their peanut butter granola bars.

The Kids’ Zone was created just for new readers. Laughing children got their faces painted and took photos with The Cat in the Hat. Guest speakers read to seated tikes from a large stage during children’s reading hour.

Young and old bookworms can celebrate their passion for reading at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Plans for next year’s event are underway, so save the dates from Saturday, April 13, to Sunday, April 14, 2019. For anyone that missed their year’s event, interviews from various authors were recorded through PBS Books.

For tickets and details on the LA Festival of Books: http://events.latimes.com/festivalofbooks/

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