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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

This past weekend we all took a little field trip down to USC to partake in a grand event known as the Festival of Books! Filled with authors and readers alike, the festival was an event where literacy and creativity were celebrated. There were countless tents filled with books, several stages where excellent panels were held, and dozens upon dozens of conversations with authors where the audiences filled giant auditoriums. It was a good weekend for reading. 

As we all went, we decided we should each write about our experiences at the book fest and share them with you.

For me the most impressive part of the festival was the turn out. There were so many people there it was a little overwhelming at first. But once we got the lay of the land and figured out what we wanted to do and see, we were able to maneuver in the crowd just fine and were really able to look around and see all that the festival had to offer. 

I absolutely loved sitting for the Young Adult Fantasy panel that was stacked with the powerhouse female authors Leigh Bardugo, Cecil Castellucci, Sarah J. Maas, and Marissa Meyer. I always find listening to creative people very inspiring.

But again, the most impressive and perhaps the most inspiring part was the turnout. There were so many people there, so many READERS. I felt like I was among my super-fan, book tote-carrying, speed-reading people. I will definitely be going next year. 


The LA Book Fest is a great place to wander around with your friends looking for that perfect tote bag. Oh and if you're also a fan of books, there is lots to see. Whether old ladies are gushing about Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy while simultaneously hating on Charlotte Bronte, or a modern-day animatronic dinosaur is roaring on the children's stage (gaining a similar reaction to fans at a Michael Jackson concert), book fests are a place for people who like to tap into their imaginations, share ideas, and inspire fellow writers to never stop dreaming. Also, they had food trucks. And you really can't beat that.


My visit on Saturday was filled with a series of young adult events, including the afternoon YA Fantasy panel. The panel featured authors Soman Chainani, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Margaret Stohl, and Laini Taylor, and was moderated by John Corey Whaley. I'm convinced that YA writers have to be some of the most fun, interesting people. The hour was high energy and zany, with a healthy dose of writing inspiration. Cynthia Leitich Smith discussed her intense method of writing a first draft, deleting it, and then writing the book over again! Knowing no one will see that first draft frees her up, she said. The subject of plotting versus "pantsing" (as in "flying by the seat of your pants") came up, though Laini Taylor prefers the term "flying into the mist" to pansting. What she writes "doesn't have to make it into the book," she said, "it could just be the thing that gets me to the book." After the panel I felt energized and eager to read some books by these brilliant writers.


I was extremely impressed with the LA Book Fest, as this was my first time attending. The reader in me was delighted at the turn out, from both authors and readers. There was a wide range of panels covering almost any subject you could imagine in the literature world. I was especially pleased with the YA representation, and the amount of young readers that participated in the panels and discussions. 

Unfortunately I was only able to attend one panel, but it was very insightful and entertaining. The four authors who spoke were all women who write young adult science fiction. I, myself, do not read a lot of science fiction but I was particularly fascinated by the motivations and interests of women who write it. The questions from the children in the audience were inspiring and gave me hope that contrary to popular belief, there are still children who enjoy reading and aspire to write. 

We were able to explore a majority of the festival, but I felt like I could have spent days there. I also think it is a wonderful choice to hold the festival at a University, for space and for atmosphere. I missed the feel of a college campus, and it was really nice to be able to revisit one. All in all I had a wonderful time, and cannot wait to go back next year!

As you can see, we all had an amazing time! The Fest had something for everyone, whether you just wanted to wander like Alex or had specific writer panels you wanted to learn from like Julia. You can have it all at the Festival of Books. Oh and did we mention Deigo Luna was there doing a reading, in Spanish? ... *Swoon*

If you are in or around the Los Angeles area we highly suggest you attend this festival next year. What do you have to lose?! It's free! If you don't live around here, we encourage you to search your area for similar events. As a book lover, it will be everything you ever dreamed.

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