LA's 5 Best Annual Book Festivals

Jennifer R. Lorene

There are many literary events in Los Angeles, the most notable being the annual Los Angles Times Festival of Books. In addition to that festival, there are four other major book fairs throughout the year that represent the communities, cultures and perspectives of what makes L.A. one of the most unique literary cities in the USA. Read on to find out more.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Fiction Panel / Jennifer Rae Smith

1. The Literary Women’s Festival of Authors

The Literary Women’s Festival of Authors is held annually for one day in March at the Long Beach Convention Center. The festival began in 1982 by a committee of roughly 25 local women. Their intention was to bring balance to the attention male-versus-female authors received on high school reading lists. Guest authors range from literary fiction writers like Aimee Bender to local Long Beach writers such as Lisa Glatt. The cost is $95, in addition to a $10 parking fee. A light breakfast is available before the first panel, and lunch is served. Some of the proceeds go to the Long Beach City Library to purchase books by the authors showcased during the festival. There are a total of five presentations throughout the day, and there’s also the chance to purchase books and have them signed by the authors. Sign up for the mailing list in order to receive information on attending the next conference.
Long Beach Convention Center, 300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach, CA

2. The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

For two days every April, book-lovers travel to the University of Southern California campus to attend The LA Times Festival of Books. It is the largest book festival in the country, bringing in up to 150,000 attendees and featuring nine outdoor performance stages, hundreds of bookseller booths and over 100 author panel discussions. Admission to the festival is free, as are all outdoor stage events. Indoor author and panel conversations are free, but to reserve a seat (and to avoid the stand-by line), you can purchase a conversation ticket in advance for a dollar each.
Expect free family friendly outdoor music and reading performances, booths by local booksellers like Skylight Books and even literary journals like the Santa Monica Review. Discussions topics include everything from author conversations with festival regulars like T.C. Boyle to the ‘Art of the Short Story’, with a panel of notable fiction writers. Catch a celebrity memoir-ist or two, such as Billy Idol or Patti Smith. The 2015 inaugural Los Angeles Times Ideas Exchange was with non-fiction author Malcolm Gladwell.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books / Jennifer Rae Smith

1. The Leimert Park Book Fair

Shopping Mall

This festival will be held on August 1st, 2015, from 10:00am – 6:00pm, at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. The fair was started in 1999 by Cynthia E. Exum, who wanted to hold an African-American literary festival. The local community joined in, and the Leimert Park Book Fair now brings in over 5,000 attendees and over 200 authors. Admission is free and open to the public. It boasts five outdoor stages: fiction, children’s literature, poetry, cooking and health. There are also indoor panel discussions by memoir-ist Cynthia Young and comic book author Hannibal Tabu. Past writers include Eric Jerome Dickey and poet Nikki Giovanni. This year, the fair is holding a special tribute to Maya Angelou.

2. Latino Literacy Now

Park

Latino Authors
Jennifer Rae Smith
Latino Literacy Now started in 1997 in Los Angeles to promote literacy in the Latino community. Since then, the festival has been held in other locations like the Inland Empire, Sacramento and Chicago. There have been over 64 total festivals and over 800,000 attendees since its existence. In addition to author panels and book vendors, there is always outdoor live musical and Folklorico dance performances at every festival. Latino Literacy Now houses the International Latino Book Awards and has honored writers like Isabel Allende and Gabriel García Márquez. The festival also holds the Latino Books into Movies Awards hosted by actor Edward James Olmos. This year’s festival will be held Saturday, October 10th from 10:00am to 5:00pm. The location will be at the East Los Angeles College. Admission and Parking is free for the event.

3. WeHo Reads

Library

westhollywoodlibrary
Courtesy David Davis © West Hollywood Library
Even though the West Hollywood Book Fair that ran from 2000 until 2014 is currently on hiatus, West Hollywood, also known at ‘The Creative City,’ still remains an active literary community with the author series WeHo Reads. WeHo Reads is a year-round series of free author events and panel discussions on literary topics. Their next event is August 6th at 7pm at the West Hollywood Library Community Meeting Room,and will feature local authors Michael Jaime-Becerra, Luis Rodriguez and more. A one-day festival on banned books will be held at the West Hollywood Library on Saturday, September 26th from 12:00pm to 6:00pm. Join the WeHo Reads mailing list to stay up to date on current events.

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