Love books? Love knowing how authors get their ideas? Then you’d love the LA Times Festival of Books.
Being surrounded by books has always made me happy. My living room growing up had one whole wall, floor to ceiling, dedicated bookshelf space. Three blocks away was an independent bookstore. I would take my babysitting earnings and get lost among the shelves looking for books to buy with my hard earned cash. And then there was the local Public Library, just a few miles away. So heartwarming to thumb through the card catalog (yes, it was that long ago) searching for that perfect book.
I had heard about the LA Times Festival of Books for much of its 19 years. I had even been invited a few times to go with other book-minded friends. But since it was a distance from my home and required an investment of an entire day to attend, I had declined. Until this year. I applied for and was granted an official press pass to the event. That ended up being the incentive I needed to drive on a Saturday to the University of Southern California and join an estimated 100,000 other book lovers basking in everything books.
The LA Times Festival of Books took over the USC Campus. Lecture Halls were transformed into conversation rooms hosting panels of authors brought together by certain topics. Stages were erected for open air interviews of popular authors. Tents popped up in several locations housing all kinds of literature inspired vendors. There were stations with hands-on activities for children of all ages. And the food. Food trucks, carnival food, campus catering. So many things to see and do. Since the event is free, my press pass wasn’t about the admission. Rather, it enabled me to sample everything there was to offer, going straight to the front and not having to wait in lines. I sat in on two book discussions. One was with the most popular Young Adult Fiction writer on the planet currently: John Green. When he got on stage it was like a rock star entered the room. So much screaming and cheering. I guess that is a good sign to see so many people of different ages getting so excited over an author and his books.
My grandma status determined the other discussion I went to: a foursome of Children’s Picture Book writers including Mac Barnett, Doreen Cronin, Jennifer Fosberry, and John Rocco. It was interesting to discover that three of them had pretty successful lives before they got in to writing children’s books. John had been a set designer for Disney; Jennifer had been a scientist and Doreen was a lawyer. Mac always wanted to write children’s books. Their life experiences growing up are what inspire their stories. And I learned a fun fact: picture books are 32 pages long.
Walking among the vendor tents, not only did I see a lot of books and things associated with books, but I came across this 11 year old author, Titus Andrew M. Bonifacio, signing his books.
There was so much to see and do. I was there the entire day from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. When the day was over, I was happily exhausted.
Next year’s event will be held April 18 and 19. Press pass or no press pass, will I go again? You bet. Finding a new avenue to be surrounded by everything books was thrilling. After all, a book lover can never get enough of wonderful books.