Every spring brings two book festivals to Southern California: The LA Times Festival of Books and Yallwest. Over the years attending these two festivals, I’ve been able to meet some of my all-time favorite authors and listen to them discuss their process, the hardships of writing, and the joys of meeting readers. This was my first time where my health and my body really limited my time and experience but I tried to make it work. There was no way I was going to miss these events, as they are some of my favorite of the year. Without further ado, here is my wrap-up of the two festivals!
The LA Times Festival of Books, April 21-22nd
This year, I was only able to attend one day of the festival because it was the baby shower of one of my oldest friends on Saturday. But Sunday was filled with so many lovely talks and authors.
This book festival is really heavy on the panels, something that is different from Yallwest. Booths aren’t doing arc drops and most places won’t have book swag unless the author brings some themselves. I sat in on two panels—one discussing loss and grief and the other more centered on romance.
These were all the books I brought with me to get signed, with the exceptions: The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan, and Sam and Ilsa’s Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan. I was hesitant about The Astonishing worried there would be too much magical realism, but after listening to Emily on a panel and discovering her book, it got me really interested. I was really excited to meet Gayle Forman because I’ve been reading her books for quite awhile. I think her last two YA books were especially phenomenal so it was really great speak with her. When I was talking to her, we realized that we live just down the street from each other!
Yallwest, May 5th
The first time I went to Yallwest, it was a two-day event, and a part of me kinda wishes it still was. The day is just so crazy packed with not only different events and signings, but SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I usually don’t bother with arc drops because the amount of people that crowd the booths are too overwhelming, but there were a few at the very start of the day that I pushed for: Girl Made of Stars by Ashley Herring Blake and a signed copy of Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert.
The rest of these arcs were a total surprise. Give Me Some Truth by Eric Gansworth was on my list, I just wasn’t expected to get an arc of it and a free copy of a Kasie West book is always welcomed. The Brightsiders by Jenn Wilde was actually an arc I got through a Goodreads giveaway but I decided to add it to my stack.
These were all the books I got signed while at the festival. I had four other books with me put I missed the authors due to waiting in line for Becky Albertalli. In my eyes, waiting in an extra long line for her was more important than an author with just a debut book that I hadn’t even read yet. She was so sweet. Most authors who had specially wristbanded signings would be there for around two hours but she decided to sign for four, just to make sure that she got to meet all her readers.
This baby is the only reason I made it through the two festivals. Walking for too long, my back totally craps out on me. This made it so I could have something to lean on and also somewhere to sit during the long lines. I first felt really embarrassed that I had to even use a walker, but then I just accepted the fact that I needed help. If I wanted to attend these events and actually have a good time without being in tremendous pain, this was how I was going to be able to do it.
I’m hoping to head to Yallfest in November and any other book event in Southern California. Let me know if you know of any!