High-Profile Authors Share Words at L.A. Times ‘Festival of Books’

Published on April 17, 2019

We immerse ourselves in their worlds. We engage with their ideas. We read their every word.

But the opportunity to actually hear our favorite authors speak is rare, save for at America’s largest celebration of the written word.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books was held for the 24th time this past weekend, attracting approximately 150,000 people eager to meet authors, go to speaking events, engage with community writers, and, of course, buy books.

The event is a true testament to the sentiment that good books brings people together. Indeed, attendees had opportunities to see, meet, and mingle with award winning authors like Sandra Cisneros, Dave Barry, and T.C. Boyle, among many others.

There was also a bit of celebrity in the mix. “Queer Eye” star Karamo Brown was a highlight speaker, touching on the life affirming themes from his recent memoir. Hundreds waited in line for hours for a book signing with Matthew Gray Gubler, who is probably better known as an actor and director on “Criminal Minds.”

Other celebrities included former NFL star Marcellus Wiley and YouTube sensation Gigi Gorgeous.

Chelsea Clinton also attended for a conversation with L.A. Times journalist and TV personality, Mary McNamara, about her most recent children’s book, “Don’t Let Them Disappear.”

The page-turning guestlist made for a weekend that attendees just could not put down.

Dave Barry

Many know Barry for his humorous novels that frequently land on The New York Times Best Seller List, though he’s actually a career journalist. Just ask his 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Commentary, while he won while working for the Miami Herald and his 2005 Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism.

He’s also the alleged organizer of the Festival of Books.

“I planned it. I paid for it. It’s mine. So thank me,” he said. If you believe that, he’ll tell you another one.

Barry discussed his latest novel, “Lessons From Lucy: The Simple Joys of an Old, Happy Dog,” which is a lighthearted insight into life through his experience of living with his rescue dog.

Sandra Cisneros

It’s been over 30 years since Cisneros’ “The House on Mango Street” was first published, but the novel, the author, and her stories are just as relevant as ever.

That was clear on Saturday in Cisneros’ conversation with journalist Esmeralda Bermudez, who also writes Latinx narratives.

While discussing her 2018 publication “Pur Amos,” Cisnero made sure to uplift other female authors as well as share her inspiration and admiration of famous Mexican portrait artist Frida Kahlo.

T.C. Boyle

Boyle discussed his most recent novel “Outside Looking In,” which is somewhat of a follow-up to his 2003 novel “Drop City.” The new novel touches on themes of psychology through a family’s journey using mind-altering psychedelics.

The author most known for “The Tortilla Curtain” shared thoughts on his writing process.

“Every book and every story is completely unexpected,” Boyle said. “I hear a voice and I follow it. That’s the magic of writing fiction.”

Chelsea Clinton

Clinton’s emergence from under the wings of her parents as a respected author and philanthropist was on full-display Saturday.

With her latest publication, “Don’t Let Them Disappear,” Clinton has aimed to connect with children on how endangered species around the world are being affected by human treatment of the environment.

Her conversation, in which she discussed the work, was a popular event and highlight for many attendees.

Noah Staum is the West Coast Managing Editor at Grit Daily. He grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, and has lived in four different countries. Across that span he’s learned Mandarin, adopted an adorable Shiba Inu, and worked for several major dating apps. Noah is based in Los Angeles, California, focusing his coverage on entertainment and entrepreneurship.

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