LA Times Festival of Books 2019 Recap

Who needs Coachella when you can go to a BOOK festival? Easy choice (plus I'm too old to be traipsing around the desert, if we're gonna be honest... OR AM I?). My two friends from work and I headed to USC bright and early Saturday morning, making glorious traffic-free time, only to sit for forty-five minutes waiting to funnel into the parking structure, making us completely miss the first panel we had tickets for, Susan Orlean. This was incredibly disappointing, since I was just finishing up The Library Book and loving it. But, that's life.

Luckily the other three panels, the company, and the overall mood of  being surrounded by fellow book-lovers totally made up for the early snafu. Our first panel was Tayari Jones, author of American Marriage, which I read last year and loved. She was hilarious and insightful and expertly handled the moderator, who was definitely trying to take over the hour. One thing that definitely stood out to me was her connection between her novel and The Odyssey- I totally missed that when I read it the first time. She also talked about her six-year process writing the book, and some of the challenges she faced hammering out the narrative threads. 

Our second panel was Tommy Orange, who wrote the amazing There There. He was clearly a little uncomfortable, but he handled it well and really came alive during the audience Q&A portion when two people asked him questions that were obviously sensitive in terms of his Native American heritage. My friends and I were literally groaning, as were many others. Orange and I share many of the same reasons for running, which I had to love.

After walking around some of the vendors, we say on a panel featuring Janet Fitch, who I most appreciate for White Oleander, and Rebecca Makkai, who wrote The Great Believers. Honestly, Makkai stole the show, and I'm not just saying that because I'm in love with her novel. She spoke a great deal about her research process, creating the two different settings for her story, and how it felt to write about a period and space that she was so not apart of.

Despite the parking issues and the traffic on the way home (all to be expected when you live in Southern California), it was a great day. It's always great hanging out with book-loving friends, the weather was perfect, and the relaxed vibe of the festival was so nice. 

Can't wait until next year!

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