Going through the program schedule for this weekend’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books can be overwhelming—if not outright panic-inducing. So many panels! So many names! How can I see Julie Andrews? Does that mean I’ll miss Gail Simmons? Why are they screening Watchmen? Who liked Watchman?
Don’t worry, this suggested schedule, curated by us, for your weekend at USC is here to help. Yes, it will require a bit of hustling—both in advance (get those tickets now) and on the day of (bring running shoes)—and making everything won’t be easy to pull off. That’s OK: With eight outdoor stages, fourteen panel rooms, and some 400 authors to choose from, you could probably get lost on campus and still find your way into an amazing talk. Well, maybe not if you stumble into Watchmen. That movie’s terrible. But everything else is a safe bet.
10 A.M. – Festival Kickoff
Eddy Hartenstein, Kathy Thomson, C.L. Max Nikias, Trojan Marching Band
It’s generally advisable to skip opening ceremonies, but you can’t come to USC and not hear its famed Trojan Marching Band. During the speeches, orient yourself to the campus and map out your route for the day.
10:30 a.m. – John Green in conversation with Lev Grossman (Panel 1091)
John Green, Lev Grossman (interviewer)
This should wake you up: a sure-to-be lively intellectual discussion between two guys who love books and technology. Green writes Y.A. fiction and co-founded the popular vlogbrothers channel on YouTube; Grossman writes about books and technology for Time magazine (and his adult fantasy Magician King was one of our Critic’s Picks last year).
12 p.m. – Biography: That’s Entertainment (Panel 1032)
Andrus Gerontology Center
James Curtis, Emily Leider, M.G. Lord, Cari Beauchamp (moderator)
Grab an early lunch at the new Cromwell Field food court and head over to this panel on star biographies. What should elevate this discussion is the gender dynamic. Curtis’s most recent (epic-length) bio was on man’s man Spencer Tracy, Leider wrote Myrna Loy: The Only Good Girl in Hollywood, and Lord just released a short feminist study on the films of Elizabeth Taylor.
12:55 p.m. – Julie Andrews
Target Children’s Stage
You can’t go the festival and not see the practically perfect Julie Andrews. She’ll be reading from her newest children’s book, The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes the Flower Girl.
2 p.m. – Crime Fiction: Tangled Webs (Panel 1023)
Seeley G. Mudd (SGM 124)
Dan Barden, Miles Corwin, T. Jefferson Parker, Denise Mina, Dick Lochte (moderator)
There are several panels on crime fiction; this group might be the snazziest. Barden’s, Corwin’s, and Parker’s latest releases were all reviewed—positively!—in this magazine.
3 p.m. – Mystery and Magic in Mind and Matter (Panel 1144)
Hoffman Hall, Presented by USC
K.C. Cole, Deborah Harkness, Tim Page
“Presented by USC” means it’s a panel composed of USC faculty—and these are some of the best and brightest. Cole is a top science journalist; Harkness wrote this year’s best-selling A Discovery of Witches, and Page is a Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic.
4:30 p.m. – T.C. Boyle with an Introduction by Ralph Lewin (Panel 1124)
Ronald Tutor Campus Center
T.C. Boyle, Ralph Lewin (introducer)
He’s the pride and joy of USC’s English faculty and a staple of the festival. Another must-see for L.A.’s literary set.
5 p.m. – Denise Hamilton presents “Surf Noir and Uncommon Scents”
Los Angeles Times Booth (No Tickets Required)
Denise Hamilton, Nancie Clare
That just sounds like a cool title, and Hamilton’s one of our favorite L.A. novelists. Plus, the L.A. Times Booth events are less formal—a nice way to finish your day.
10:30 a.m. – Memoir: You Make Me Crazy (Panel 2051)
Sarah Colonna Jeanne Darst, Dan Fante, Erika Schickel (moderator)
Start your Sunday with a laugh. Writers are messed-up people—which this panel of tragicomic memoirists should confirm.
12 p.m. – The Sound of Music Family Scrapbook: Memories from the Film from the “von Trapp Kids”
Nicholas Hammond, Heather Menzies, Duane Chase, Kym Karath, Rebecca Keegan (moderator)
Who said the whole day had to be literary? This is your chance to meet four of the original von Trapp kids: Louisa, Friedrich, Kurt, and Gretl. We’re hoping Julie Andrews makes a surprise appearance.
1 p.m. – Anne Rice in Conversation with Scott Timberg (Panel 2092)
Anne Rice, Scott Timberg (interviewer)
It’s one of the festival’s hottest tickets—so snag yours now. Vampire queen Anne Rice, who’s just started her foray into werewolf lore with The Wolf Gift (our review), chats with Scott Timberg, a former L.A. Times arts and culture writer.
2 p.m. – Fiction: The Literature of Obsession (Panel 2033)
Andrus Gerontology Center
Matt Bondurant, Judith Freeman, Ellen Ullman, Brighde Mullins (moderator)
Have we not been to a fiction panel yet? This should be a fascinating one. Brighde Mullins, a playwright and the director of USC’s Master of Professional Writing Program, moderates a discussion of “The Literature of Obsession” with three experts on the subject.
3:30 p.m. – Young Adult Fiction: Future Tense
Cecil Castelluci, Marie Lu, Lissa Price, Aaron Hartzler (moderator)
Given the spectacular success of The Hunger Games, “dystopia Y.A.” might be the most popular genre in America at the moment. These three writers—we really like Marie Lu—would each love to become the next big thing. See if they’ve got what it takes.
And that’s a wrap! The festival officially ends at 5 p.m., so use your final minutes to do some shopping, explore any remaining exhibitors, or collapse under a tree and start one of your brand-new books. Happy reading.
Tickets are available online now, with a $1 service fee applied to each panel ticket reserved
Photograph courtesy events.latimes.com