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Festival of Books to open second chapter at USC

A musician performs.
A musician performs at the 2011 Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. (Photo/Philip Channing)

Bibliophiles throughout the Southland once again will converge on the University Park campus (UPC) for the annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. On April 21-22, the nation’s largest and most cherished public literary festival will kick off for the second consecutive year at USC. And it promises to be even bigger and better than the last.

“USC and the Los Angeles Times were founded in 1880 and 1881, respectively, so we have really grown up together in the heart of Los Angeles,” said USC president C. L. Max Nikias. “This festival reflects the perfect synergy of two of our city’s greatest treasures.”

Created in 1996 to bring together those who create books with the people who love to read them, the Festival of Books has become the most prestigious book festival in the country, attracting more than 140,000 book lovers each year. The festival was held for the first time on the UPC in 2011, marking the end of its 15-year run at UCLA.

In addition to the event’s staples, this year’s festival will showcase several new features, including:

  • the unveiling of the Twentieth-Century Poets, a collection of 10 commemorative stamps honoring U.S. poets Elizabeth Bishop, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, E. E. Cummings, Robert Hayden, Denise Levertov, Sylvia Plath, Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens and Wil­liam Carlos Williams;
  • a “Name the Dino” contest, which provides children enrolled in the USC Family of Schools the opportunity to make their mark on the festival by coming up with an original name for the festival’s mascot, a dinosaur;
  • an expanded outdoor food area on Cromwell Field featuring L.A.’s famous food trucks and booths, coupled with a variety of on-campus dining options;
  • and a new Health Pavilion featuring free health screenings, demonstrations and hands-on activities organized by practitioners from the Keck Medical Center of USC, the USC School of Pharmacy and the USC divisions of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, and Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy.

In conjunction with the festival – and set to continue after the festival’s end – USC Civic Engagement launched Book Drive 2012, an annual event that collects new and gently used books to be distributed to local children through the USC Family of Schools program.

Last year, USC co-hosted the book drive with Target and brought in more than 3,500 books. This year, USC is running the book drive solo and raised the goal to 4,000.

“We are very excited at the possibility of delivering hundreds of books to our K-5 schools,” said Kim Thomas-Barrios, director of the USC Family of Schools. “It is a total win-win for those who are concerned about the reading success of all children and for those children trying to exceed their own personal reading goals.”

Like years past, the weekend also will be filled with a nonstop schedule of readings, book signings and Q&As with notable writers, such as Judy Blume, T. C. Boyle, Robert Crais and John Green; a variety of USC and exhibitor booths; and live entertainment, which will take place on several stages, such as a children’s stage, a cooking stage and a poetry stage.

As a major festival sponsor and host, USC will have two stages: An outdoor venue in Hahn Plaza will focus on arts and entertainment-oriented programming, while more author-based events will take place in Hoffman Hall, Room 101.

The free, public event will start at 10 a.m. on April 21 with a performance by the USC Trojan Marching Band and introductory remarks by President Nikias, Times CEO Eddy Hartenstein and president Kathy Thomson. The festival will wrap up at 5 p.m. on April 22.

Preceding the weekend festivities, on Friday, April 20, the 2012 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes ceremony will be presented, honoring the best books of 2011 in a public ceremony in Bovard Auditorium.

For more information about the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and to see a full list of weekend events, visit or



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