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When literary worlds collide

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By Stephanie Holland

By Stephanie Holland

var uslide_show_id = “b76f38c0-96e3-4aa0-af14-06955cae981a”;var slideshowwidth = “230”;var linktext = “”;It is often said that reading a good book is like opening a door to a hidden world.

For book enthusiasts, this world opens to the public on the last weekend in April when the literary world descends on the UCLA campus for the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

The festival was started in 1996 when the Times wanted to introduce authors to their fans. Every year since then it has become bigger and more prestigious, attracting the biggest names in the literary world.

This year’s festival did not disappoint, and drew legends like Ray Bradbury and bestsellers Carol and Mary Higgins Clark.

Several stages were set up around campus featuring culinary demonstrations, children’s performers and international dancers.

At the Target Children’s Stage the stars of “Playhouse Disney’s Choo Choo Soul” used hip-hop to teach kids basic counting and their ABCs. The booths in this area were geared towards getting kids into reading.

Without question, the hottest ticket of the weekend was the panel featuring stage and screen actress Julie Andrews.

She recently released a biography recounting the early years of her career, and she was at the festival to discuss it. Andrews’s popularity led to an unavailability of tickets.

Another popular spot was the culinary stage where chefs, cookbook authors and TV stars offered cooking demonstrations.

The most crowded demonstration of the weekend was made by author and host of “Top Chef” Padma Lakshmi. She answered audience questions about the show and along with her mother cooked a recipe from her latest book.

A new addition to this year’s festival was an area called “The Comix Strip” focusing on comic books and graphic novels. The section featured booths by Image Comics and the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

While several major sponsors like Borders were setup to sell books, the great thing about the festival is the proliferation of smaller independent vendors.

Rare and out of print books can be found for a bargain by a savvy shopper.

The chance to visit with stores that, because of location, may only be available online provides customers the opportunity to broaden their horizons.

The only drawback of the weekend was the stifling heat. Fortunately, the UCLA campus provided attendees with plenty of shaded areas to relax and enjoy their recent purchases.

With temperatures in the triple digits, water and ice cream were the most popular purchase of the day.

In a city like Los Angeles, entertainment options are never lacking, however the LA Times Festival of Books provides a family friendly, educational and fun experience that has become a staple of the LA entertainment calendar.

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