As the Beach Boys once said, “the west coast has the sunshine.” And that sun shines out the brighter (oops, switched to J.R.R. Tolkien for a second there) when wandering around the USC campus looking at rows and rows of books. 

Created in 1996, the LA Times Festival of Books is the largest book festival in the United States. The festival is organized by sections, including children’s, YA, and poetry, with conversations occurring both indoors (those cost $2) and at outdoor stages.

The schedule includes a myriad of conversations from authors, researchers, cooks, and musical groups — all adding to the festival feel. If you enjoy the book sections of the SDCC Exhibit Hall or have always wanted to attend a book con, and you live in California, this might be for you. 

The best aspect was definitely the indoor conversations. They provided an opportunity to listen to favorite authors while also enjoying the cool, cool air-conditioned air. I sat through Patton Oswalt’s conversation, where he was promoting the book – I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer – of his late wife, Michelle McNamara. His conversation, as one would expect, was insightful and delightful. With wit, he remarked that “we like horror because there is closure.” I laughed, my eyes relaxed in the darkness, and I discovered my own new obsession. Well worth the $2. 

As for the book vendors, there were publishers, bookstores, individual creatives, poets, and more. There were nearly 500 booths, spread across the (hot) USC campus, sprawling between the campus buildings, including some well-placed coffee shops. And lucky for attendees on Sunday, public transportation in LA was free for Earth Day. So what better way to spend those few dollars than on a book or a conversation?

Overall, the LA Times Festival of Books is worth a visit if you happen to be in the area. Books, music, crafts, conversations, sun – what could be better than that? 

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