Los Angeles already attracts some of the world’s greatest storytellers, but most Americans only associate it with the screenwriters, directors, and actors who bring their favorite shows and movies to life.
Fortunately, bookworms and authors have a reason to flock here too. For the past two decades, LA has followed award season with an event that celebrates the written word: the biggest book festival in the United States.
On April 18 and 19, the University of Southern California will host the LA Times Festival of Books on its sprawling LA campus. The festival is free to the general public, but some events, including the Indoor Conversation series, require tickets to reserve seats.
Plan your personal itinerary after learning more about the festival’s biggest highlights and must-see moments.
Tricks of the Literary Trade
If you’re a writer who wants to improve your craft, this is a rare opportunity for you to network, brainstorm, and learn new skills from the industry’s biggest success stories — all without paying a penny. Choose from dozens of moderated conversations with veteran writers and scholars, who will explore themes that touch on every imaginable genre and theme.
Topics include narrative journalism, independent publishing trends, historical biographies, pop science, social media movements, illustration techniques, personal memoirs, and crime fiction.
It wouldn’t be an LA festival without some star power. While most of the stages will feature seasoned authors, poets, journalists, and other performers, the LA Times Stage will host an assortment of interviews with actors, singers, and other entertainers who are also published authors.
You’ll probably recognize some of the names on this lineup: rock star Billy Idol; actresses Lorraine Bracco, Maria Bello, Kate Mulgrew, and Candace Bergen; sitcom stars Jason Segel and Jon Cryer; and talk show host Tavis Smiley.
The Ronald Tutor Campus Center and Bovard Auditorium will also host ticketed conversations with some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names. Check the official itinerary for conversations with producer Brian Grazer, comedian Patton Oswald, and actor, author, and Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton.
Inaugural Ideas Exchange
Only one event costs money to attend, but if you watch TED Talks, subscribe to The New Yorker, or recommend The Tipping Point to your socially conscious friends, you may want to spring for a ticket. On Sunday, April 19 at 1 pm, best-selling author and speaker Malcolm Gladwell will help kick off the first-ever LA Times Ideas Exchange in the Bovard Auditorium.
Tickets range in price from $27.50 to $100, and they each include a signed copy of Gladwell’s recent best seller, David and Goliath.
Something for the Kids
The Festival of Books is a family affair, so don’t hire a baby-sitter or leave your teens at home. Several stages will be devoted to age-appropriate events, which range from young adult fiction panels and readings to musical performances and museum presentations.
Budding young writers can learn new storytelling techniques at “Writing the Unknown” and “New Takes on Classic Tales,” while aspiring detectives may enjoy a preview of Matilda the Musical or a reading from Octavia Spencer’s ninja heist series.
Words That Really Matter
Do you want your writing to have a larger social purpose? Some presentations and conversations will explore the specific ways in which writing can affect and reflect society at large. Hear from experts who write about everything from cyberterrorism to environmental protection, and learn how writers use their work to support veterans, empower Middle Eastern youth, fight income inequality, and more.
Visit the festival’s official website to view the full itinerary and reserve tickets.