Festival of Books

Earlier this month was the LA Times Festival of Books. It’s an LA event now held at USC (previously at UCLA) every year since 1996. It’s basically paradise for a bibliophile. Rows and rows of booths with all sorts of books, from the latest releases to more vintage, signed volumes. Authors come for panel discussions, readings, and book signings. Some of my favorites over the years have included John Green, Cornelia Funke, Tomie dePaola, and Molly Ringwald. The event is hosted by the Los Angeles Times as a celebration of the written word. It’s one of the many cultural festivals or events that goes on in Los Angeles. Since it’s such a diverse, complex city, it’s no wonder it’s home to such celebratory events.

Going to the Festival got me wondering just how many L.A. books I’ve read that weren’t for a class. And it’s a pretty short list. With the number dropping to nonexistent in regards to books that take place in L.A. that I could in good conscious recommend to people. Of course my preference for fantasy is largely to blame in terms of reading material. At least I do have a list of favorite L.A. authors (Truman Capote, Ray Bradbury, David Greenwalt (who’s actually a screenwriter, whoops…)). Really it’s so much easier to think of L.A. actors (Leonardo DiCaprio, Jodie Foster) or movies (Die Hard, Karate Kid). That’s L.A. for you I suppose. It’s very rooted in the pictures. While there are a few notable exceptions, most writings about the city seem to be written by visitors spending only a brief time in the city, a Hollywood mostly bent on projecting its own vision, or natives writing for a far away audience. There’s a plethora of film festivals to be found in the city as well. I just find it bizarre that for a city that is a powerhouse of every type of culture, in comparison its literature falls short. People rave about L.A. film, art, and music, but with literature, the words flow a little less readily. At least the city provides a venue for the celebration of the written word, even if it can’t claim many of those books as its own.

One Comment

  1. Brianna Maloney

    I went to the Festival of Books last year and was completely amazed at the sheer volume of work displayed. I know I could easily spend days just wandering the aisles of vendors. I think it’s especially cool that authors will come for signings or readings and actually take time to interact with their fans.

    But I completely agree with you on the fact that LA is a very image driven city, which can be both a good and bad thing. One of the reasons I like literature so much, is the fact that you can create your own picture of whats going on in any given scene. Especially with the film industry and the near obsession of some people to actors/ actresses, it puts an extreme amount of pressure not only on the movie producers and their final product, but also the actors/ actresses in their performance and body image.
    I digress, but I do believe that literature can bring a much more powerful description to any place, including LA. I think Los Angeles is just a hard place to put into words. There are just so many things going on, you can’t find anything to focus on without missing something else.

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