What to Check Out at the LA Times’ Festival of Books this Weekend

We’re getting geared up for the LA Times’ Festival of Books, the largest literary and cultural festival in America. Saturday, April 22nd and Sunday, April 23rd the literati will invade the University of Southern California. There are so many panels, conversations, and demos scheduled it can be difficult to navigate the 2-day event. But no need to fret. We are here to help you out with our recommendations. Some conversations require a ticket. They are free with a $1 handling charge. Reserve spots here.

SATURDAY 10:00am – 10:20am Luis J. Rodriguez, Reading from ‘Borrowed Bones’ Poetry Stage, Signing Area 5 

Luis J. Rodriguez is a former Los Angeles Poet Laureate, known for his “Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A” and the poem, “Concrete River,” the most beautiful and illuminating sentiment you will ever read about huffing paint. He will be reading from his latest book of poems, “Borrowed Bones.”

SATURDAY 11:00am – 11:40am Tippi Hedren, Author of ‘Tippi: A Memoir,’ in Conversation with Mark Olsen  Los Angeles Times Main Stage, Signing Area 8 

Tippi Hedren will be discussing her memoir. From being terrorized by Hitchcock in “The Birds” to founding Shambala, a wild animal preserve, her life has been anything but boring. We are enthralled by her stories and expect you will be too.

SATURDAY 12 noon – 1:00pm And the Beat Goes On: Music & Musicians Through the Years, Conversation 1052 Salvatori Computer Science Center 101, Signing Area 2. Ticket Required.

Four well-regarded authors — Simon Reynolds, Tony Fletcher, Jessica Gelt and Ben Greenman — will converse on the open-ended topic of music and musicians. Reynolds, here to pimp his 2016 book Shock and Awe: Glam Rock and Its Legacy, from the Seventies to the Twenty-First Century, is always an interesting voice,  and should be a top panel guest.

SATURDAY 12:10pm – 12:50pm Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Author of ‘Writings on the Wall,’ in Conversation with Davan Maharaj Los Angeles Times Main Stage, Signing Area 8

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is not only the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, he is a prolific writer and knowledgeable social commentator. His books range from autobiographical to fiction to children’s books. But he seems to be most in his game when offering his perspective on effecting change in society. He discusses his latest, Writings on the Wall, a straightforward look at social issues including racism and gender discrimination.. Los Angeles Times Main Stage, Signing Area 8

SATURDAY 1:20pm – 2pm Bryan Cranston, Author of ‘A Life in Parts,’ in Conversation with Lorraine Ali. Los Angeles Times Main Stage Signing Area 8 

In “A Life in Parts,” Bryan Cranston follows the events of his life as well as the path of his acting career. Besides being an autobiography, this book is a rich exploration of “the craft.”

SATURDAY 2pm – 3pm Emerging from the Underground: Surviving Punk Rock, Conversation 1123 Taper Hall 101, Signing Area 5. Ticket Required.

This panel is going to reek of punk rock cred. Keith Morris is one of the pioneers of LA hardcore and sang with Black Flag before Henry Rollins even came to LA. Morris’ next band, the Circle Jerks, created one punk’s seminal anthems, “Wild in the Streets.” Today he is still blowing kids’ minds with his bands OFF! and FLAG. Morris’ memoir, “My Damage: The Story of a Punk Rock Survivor” was co-written by fellow panelist and punker, novelist Jim Ruland has documented DC’s hardcore punk years both in film nd in his new book, “Spoke: Images and Stories from the 1980s Washington, DC Punk Scene.” Representing the San Francisco scene of the 90s is Michelle Cruz Gonzales, drummer for the band Spitboy and author of “The Spitboy Rule: Tales of a Xicana in a Female Punk Band.” Rounding out the musical panel is John Joseph, the former on and off singer for New York City’s Cro-Mags and longtime proponent of veganism. His 2007 book, entitled “The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon” pulls no punches when describing his rough childhood, struggle with substance abuse and involvement with the Hare Krishna movement. Let’s hope he brings some to sign, because it’s hard to find a copy these days.

SATURDAY 3:30pm – 4:30pm Bill Esparza, Author of “L.A. Mexicano,” Cooking Demonstration with Wes Avila of Guerilla Tacos Cooking Stage, Signing Area 4

What? All this and tacos too? James Beard award-winning “Tacorizo” Bill Esparza, author of “L.A. Mexicano,” as well as magazine writer and television personality teams up with Wes Avila, who turns out some of the best tacos in LA from his popular truck, to present this can’t miss cooking demo.

SATURDAY 3:30pm – 4:20pm Virginia Grohl, Author of ‘From Cradle to Stage,’ in Conversation with Dave Grohl Well we have heard from the rock star’s groupies, and their wives, and even their kids. But what about mom? Virginia Grohl has collected their stories in “From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars.”and will be talking about it with her son, the ubiquitous Dave Grohl. Don’t tell his mom what 4:20 means.

SUNDAY 2pm Jessica Koslow, author of ‘Everything I Want to Eat’, Cooking Demonstration Cooking Stage, Signing Area 4

Almost everyone crushes on Jessica Koslow. But under that adorable veneer lies one formidable chef. She has a deft hand at taking the very best natural ingredients and transforming them into something heavenly. Using homemade jams, a variety of grains, and fresh greens in unexpected ways, she stands at the forefront of a new food movement. I will be buying “Everything I Want to Eat: Sqirl and the New California Cooking” just to see if it has the recipe for Organic brown rice porridge with blood orange marmalade and a rosemary pine nut brittle. I will never forget that dish.

SUNDAY 2:30pm – 3:30pm The Most Beautiful: A Conversation with Mayte Garcia The Hoy Stage, Signing Area 6.

Actress/dancer/singer Mayte Garcia ( “Army Wives,” “Psych,” “The Closer,” “Nip/Tuck”) was music legend Prince’s first wife. A year after his untimely death, she discusses her marriage in her new book “The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince.”

SUNDAY 2:30pm – 3:30pm The Handmaiden’s Tale from Stage to Big Screen: Margaret Atwood & Bruce Miller in Conversation with Mary McNamara, Conversation 2063. Bovard Auditorium, Signing Area 3. Ticket Required.

Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed dystopian novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” will premiere as a Hulu series on April 2th. Atwood discusses the adaptation of her work into a TV show.

SUNDAY 3pm – 4pm From Page to Screen to Page: Writing in Hollywood, Conversation 2054 Salvatori Computer Science Center 101, Signing Area 2. Ticket Required. 

Novelists and screenwriters will discuss the process of translating the written word for film. Panelists include Pamela Ribon, writer for “Moana” and “Television without pity,” and for you Dark Shadows fans, writer and actress Lara Parker, who played the witch, Angelique on the supernatural soap.

SUNDAY 3:30 – 4:30 Nguyen Tran, of Starry Kitchen, gives a Cooking Demo & Food Bowl Preview Cooking Stage, Signing Area 4

We are so psyched for this demo!!! Starry Kitchen is the combination of formidable home chef Thi Tran and Nguyen Tran, perhaps the greatest promoter since PT Barnum. Starry Kitchen started out as an underground experiment in Thi and Nguyen’s apartment in 2009, where they rose to the top of the Yelp ranks. Jonathan Gold and every single foodie blogger in the city fell in love with their tofu balls (I know! Tofu! But they are amaaazing!), Claypot Striped Bass, Buttermilk Beer Beignets, Singaporean Chili Crab, and Double-Fried Chicken Wings. You can find some of these specialties at Button Mash on Sunset, but in case these culinary nomads pull up stakes again, their soon-to-be-released cookbook, “Adventures in Starry Kitchen: 88 Asian-Inspired Recipes from America’s Most Famous Underground Restaurant” is essential. I already have mine on pre-order. Not only is the food great, but Nguyen is a raconteur of the highest order, charming, brazen, and hilarious. You will definitely have a fantastic time.

SUNDAY 3:40pm – 4:20pm Steve Jones, Author of ‘Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol,’ in Conversation with Mikael Wood, presented by KLOS 

Once again, punk rock saves an abused, neglected kid from the streets, but hands him a hit of heroin. Steve Jones, guitarist for the groundbreaking Sex Pistols and DJ of the popular radio show, “Jonesy’s Jukebox,” talks about his difficult childhood, punk rock, years of exile and addiction, and the road back.

Simone Snaith, Bob Lee, and K.P. contributed to this post

Elise Thompson

About Elise Thompson

Born and raised in the great city of Los Angeles, this food, culture and music-loving punk rock angeleno wants to turn you on to all that is funky, delicious and weird in the city. While Elise holds down the fort, her adventurous alter ego Kiki Maraschino is known to roam the country in search of catfish.
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