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Festival of Books: Huffington disses Trump; Carrie Brownstein charms; everybody wants to Instagram this mural

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It was heaven for book nerds! The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the USC campus drew thousands of fans and more than 500 authors for a weekend of living and breathing books. The lineup included former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, U.S. poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi, YA author Ransom Riggs, religious scholar Reza Aslan, Newbery Award winner Kwame Alexander and many more.

On Saturday night, The Times hosted its annual Book Prizes, during which Herrera received the Robert Kirsch Award and James Patterson was given the Innovator’s Award. See the full list of winners. And on Sunday, Carrie Brownstein and Arianna Huffington joined the festivities as part of the L.A. Times’ Ideas Exchange Series.

Sleep deprivation is not something to be proud of, argues Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington talked about sleep, sex (it’s “Mother Nature’s Ambien,” she said) and Donald Trump during her conversation with Times columnist Robin Abcarian at Sunday’s Festival of Books. Her new book, “The Sleep Revolution,” makes the case for getting more shut-eye -- advice she especially wants our leaders to follow. Here are three highlights from the conversation:

Arianna Huffington talks with Times columnist Robin Abcarian about sex at the Festival of Books at USC.

Arianna Huffington talks with Times columnist Robin Abcarian about leadership at the Festival of Books at USC.

Arianna Huffington talks with Times columnist Robin Abcarian about Donald Trump at the Festival of Books at USC.

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Carrie Brownstein argues that limitations are good for artistry

Carrie Brownstein’s Sunday conversation with The Times’ Lorraine Ali was a charming session about art and creativity. Here are three video highlights:

Carrie Brownstein talks with Times writer Lorraine Ali about what draws her to artists at the Festival of Books at USC.

Carrie Brownstein talks with Times writer Lorraine Ali about her creative expression in Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia at the Festival of Books at USC.

Carrie Brownstein talks with Times writer Lorraine Ali about making it in television at the Festival of Books at USC.

And in case you missed it, here’s a book recommendation from Brownstein:

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What’s the magic of books?

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What book changed your life?

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Watch these adorable cub reporters at the Festival of Books

Deputy Director of Audience Engagement Michelle Maltais sent her cub reporters out to the Festival of Books to ask attendees why they read and write. Prepare to clutch your heart as you watch these adorable dispatches.

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What’s wrong with Donald Trump? Arianna Huffington has a theory

Arianna Huffington discussed her new book, “The Sleep Revolution,” during her conversation with Times columnist Robin Abcarian.

Huffington, who has often said people should “sleep their way to the top” when discussing the importance of sleep (hey look, it’s even written on one of her pillows!) is no stranger to creating tweetable moments. So it’s no surprise she gave the audience this perfect quote for Twitter:

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What was your favorite book in high school?

Our young friends at HS Insider are on the case:

Here’s the list of books they got:

And here’s what a few current high schoolers had to say:

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Buzz Aldrin’s #bookfest advice

P.S. Did you see this tiny Aldrin fan yesterday?

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Sunday scenery

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Michael Connelly hearts #bookfest

Michael Connelly, the popular detective novelist and the man behind Amazon’s “Bosch,” was among this weekend’s special guests. Earlier today, he joined “Bosch” star Titus Welliver at Bovard Auditorium to discuss how the show is made. But Connelly didn’t just stop by for his event. He spent the weekend with us, spreading the #bookfest love.

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Sunday inspiration from Kwame Alexander: ‘I’m a say yes person’

Newbery Award Kwame Alexander was among the most anticipated authors at this weekend’s Festival of Books, and he did not disappoint.

Alexander is both a poet and children’s book author. His latest, “Booked,” combines both disciplines and is about a young soccer player whose life goes into upheaval when his parents separate.

And you don’t have to be a kid to read it:

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Author wisdom from Mona Simpson

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What stimulated your interest in reading? USC’s Tom Sayles tells what book touched him

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Carrie Brownstein: What book are you reading right now?

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What book means the most to you?

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Carrie Brownstein’s disarming charm and her thing for George Michael

The audience for The L.A. Times Ideas Exchange session featuring musician and actress Carrie Brownstein in conversation with staff writer Lorraine Ali seemed almost equally divided between fans of her riot grrrl band, Sleater-Kinney, and her sketch comedy series, “Portlandia.”

Brownstein displayed a disarming charm as she discussed her various projects, including her recent memoir, “Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl.”

She gave revealing insights into her creativity, talking about her band:

It saved me countless times.

And her series:

It allowed me to show more colors.

She also referred to the devotional following of Sleater-Kinney, and how she was influenced at an early age by the star power of George Michael:

A lot of my friends wanted to be with him. I wanted to BE him.

Greg Braxton

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The Fonz delights the crowd with Hank Zipzer

Instead of a leather jacket, the Fonz wore a magenta sweater and green pants. His hair still tumbled down his neck in a luxuriant mane — but it was gray.

The Fonz is no longer a lovable ruffian but a children’s book author.

Henry Winkler, the actor who portrayed Fonzie on the popular television series Happy Days, read excerpts from his books at the Los Angeles Times Book Festival on Sunday morning.

The main character is a boy named Hank Zipzer, “the world’s greatest underachiever,” who, like Winkler, has dyslexia. The books are written in a special font that is easier for dyslexics to read, said Winkler’s co-author, Lin Oliver.

With titles like “Barfing in the Backseat” and “The Curtain Went Up, My Pants Fell Down,” the books appeal to kids’ silly side.

Some in the audience were too young to remember the Fonz, but they laughed at Winkler’s schtick.

For a moment, Winkler grew serious about the unlikelihood of becoming a published author after struggling to read as a child.

“I can’t believe there’s a name on it, and it’s mine,” he said of his books, urging the children to recognize the greatness in themselves.

Then, Winkler pleased the grownups by trotting out his Fonzie voice.

“You can’t wear a fart T-shirt to school. It’s uncool,” the Fonz said.

Louise Byrne of El Segundo said Winkler’s humor is right up her two children’s alley. William, 8, has has problems with reading, so she plans to introduce him to the Hank Zipzer books.

Byrne’s husband, Brian, said it was inspiring to see Winkler reinvent himself as a children’s book author.

“It was a treat to see the Fonz,” he said. “The way he’s making books, it’s fun to see.”

Cindy Chang

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What’s the best thriller ever written? Author Gregg Hurwitz weighs in

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Author wisdom from Susan Mallery

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What book changed your life?

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Cute swag for book nerds

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What book most inspires you?

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ICYMI: O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark steals the spotlight during ‘crime fiction’ panel

“More truth can be written in fiction than can ever be written in nonfiction,” Marcia Clark said while participating in a “crime fiction” panel. The prosecutor made famous during the O.J. Simpson murder trial is also an author now and she has a lot of thoughts about storytelling — notably, lawyers shaping narratives to suit client needs.

Writing about the event, The Times’ Garrett Therolf noted that Clark worried questions about the recent FX television series “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” would “hijack” the talk away from her fellow crime writers on the panel. But panelist Lee Goldberg said, “Oh, we’re curious too.”

“I think its an amazing miniseries,” Clark replied. “Did they get everything right? No.”

There you have it.

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Why do you love the Festival of Books?

I come here because you can have an interesting conversation with every person you meet, and that’s because people who read books are different.

— Don Cannon, a 69-year-old mechanical engineer

It’s just nice to see this huge group of people that is different from any other you might see in Los Angeles.

— Monique Owens, 29-year-old retail sales clerk and visual artist

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L.A. Times editor-in-chief Davan Maharaj welcomes guests to the Book Prizes, the ‘annual rite of spring’

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The Book Prizes are about to begin!

Stay tuned: We’ll be live blogging this year’s L.A. Times Book Prize winners. Here’s the full list of nominees>

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Dallas Clayton’s ‘big rainy day mural’ brings sunshine to art lovers at the Festival of Books

Dallas Clayton’s mural was a social media hit at Saturday’s #bookfest, with revelers stopping by to chronicle and pose with the live “street art” installation.

Clayton’s mural is one of several art installations at the Festival of Books taking shape in real time. After the festival, the works will go to Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Koreatown. Here’s a look at two more:

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The tiniest Buzz Aldrin fan

Space futurist” Buzz Aldrin drew a tremendous crowd to the main stage, where he was interviewed by Books editor Carolyn Kellogg, about his new book “No Dream Is Too High: Life Lessons From a Man Who Walked on the Moon.” Among the attendees, this tiny fan dressed to impress:

He arrived with his daughter. (Also, check out his awesome t-shirt.)

And he got a pretty great intro:

Among the topics of conversation: “Urine Collection Device,” which he played for laughs:

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The sweetest little dogs at the Festival of Books

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ICYMI: Slow-motion drive-by at the #Bookfest

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‘Space futurist’ Buzz Aldrin on the two books that had the biggest impact on him

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L.A., the city of poetry

I’m amazed at Los Angeles, how many poets there are. ... This city is so vibrant with poetry. It hasn’t been seen that way. There’s very little media on it, but I’m trying to bring it out, because it’s there.

— Luis J. Rodriguez, author of ‘Borrowed Bones’ and the poet laureate of Los Angeles

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The power of journalism and storytelling

I saw first-hand the power of journalism, the power of telling stories and educating and hopefully, effecting change. It just hit me that I was spending my life telling other people’s stories and not my own family’s, and … I felt this incredible responsibility.

— Dawn Anahid MacKeen, author of “The Hundred-Year Walk”

Read MoreMacKeen will appear on the “Past to Present: The Echoes of War” panel today at 4:30 p.m.

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Horror author Paul Tremblay on how Stephen King made him emotional

I was sweaty, cranky, and my phone started going crazy. I looked, and I just sat down, opened my laptop, took two or three beers out of the fridge, and just sat in front of the computer. I’m not ashamed to admit, I got emotional. I started to become a reader because of Stephen King, never mind a writer.

— Paul Tremblay, author of “A Head Full of Ghosts”

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Roy Blount Jr. on how to get to the heart of an author

People don’t appreciate books enough. They want to meet the authors, and the authors are sort of slapdash imitations of the books. They think they can get to the heart of it if they just skip the book and talk to the author, but it’s the other way around.

— Roy Blount Jr.

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The Times’ Jevon Phillips on the first book that excited him

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Attica Locke explains why ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ left such an impression on her as a young person

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Stan Lee shows up at the Festival of Books... and even the Property Brothers are starstruck

As he has done so often in comic books, Stan Lee had the crowd cheering at his every word. Hundreds turned out, huddled at an outdoor venue in the middle of a wet USC campus for his Festival of Books appearance. Speaking about his graphic novel-style memoir — “Amazing Fantastic Incredible Stan Lee” — Lee recounted the response he got when he came up with Spider-Man (“No! People are scared of spiders!”), how he was enlisted to draw images while in the military (“I showed people how to use an M-16.”) and what started him reading comics:

There were no comic books, just comic strips like Prince Valiant.

— Stan Lee

There were also stories about the X-Men and advice given to writers and artists. With his recognizable voice booming through the microphone, the crowd swelled and laughed and took what could’ve been thousands of photos and videos.

As he made his way to the small autograph booth, that crowd followed and dozens of hands shot out to shake the hand of the man who brought the Fantastic Four to life. His fast-moving autograph line snaked around and through the building that houses the School of International Relations.

With fan selfies galore, including a photo request from The Property Brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott and even staunch security personnel giddily reaching out to shake hands, Lee was whisked in and out of the Festival of Books in what seemed to be a short amount of time. But, as he tends to do, he left an impression.

Jevon Phillips

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Rainn Wilson on the first book that blew his mind

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Reading in the rain

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Fans ‘battle the sky gods’ to see YA author Cassandra Clare, learn of werewolf problems

During her interview, Clare divulged some of her biggest writing dilemmas:

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Seeing the Property Brothers at the Festival of Books: More exciting than the Oscars, says fan

Here we are behind the scenes with the Property Brothers, Drew and Jonathan Scott, talking about pop-up books (ouch!) and the rain.

But the rain didn’t keep super fans from the event, hosted by The Times’ Yvonne Villarreal.

This super fan was beyond psyched:

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The book that sparked Padma Lakshmi’s love of reading

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Oh, hey, we’re also on Snapchat!

PSA for #Bookfest super fans: In addition to live blogging the Festival of Books, we’re tweeting at @latimesbooks and Snapchatting at LosAngelesTimes. See you there!

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T.C. Boyle likens writing to OCD and addiction

I’ve described what I do as an obsessive-compulsive disorder. I just can’t stop. It’s a kind of addiction. When [writing a book] ends properly, beautifully, the exhilaration is staggering. Like any junkie, you have to do it again.

— T.C. Boyle

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The cryptogram that got Mark Leyner writing books again

Author Mark Leyner, whose latest novel is “Gone with the Mind,” explains to PBS host Rich Fahle what got him writing books again after a long hiatus:

“I was hit by a car in Culver City. ... I took [it] to be a sign. I read the world as a kind of cryptogram. Everything is a sign for me to decipher. So I took that to mean that I should go back to New York and write books again.”

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Little ones at #Bookfest

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What book changed your life?

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USC’s cheerleaders and marching band bring it on

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What’s the most memorable book you’ve read?

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Times Books editor defends L.A.'s literary cred

In an interview with Jeffrey Brown of “PBS NewsHour,” Times Books Editor Carolyn Kellogg defended Los Angeles’ literary credibility:

“Think about some of the writers who have cut their teeth here: Raymond Chandler, Thomas Pynchon. OK, sure, Los Angeles killed Fitzgerald, but Faulkner lived here for a while. Dorothy Parker.”

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Book Prizes: Juan Felipe Herrera receives the Robert Kirsch Award

The U.S. poet laureate has written more than 30 books, including the poetry collections “Notes of the Assemblage” and “187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border.” Herrera was awarded the L.A. Times Book Prizes’ 2015 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement.

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Book Prizes: James Patterson receives the Innovator’s Award

Bestselling author and philanthropist Patterson has written or co-written 152 books, including the popular Alex Cross thrillers. In 2015 he launched a series of YA books and a website that aims to get children excited about reading.

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#Bookfest in the rain: Style edition

Also, how awesome is this librarian:

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Book Prize winner: Marilyn Nelson for Young Adult Literature

Nelson’s collection of poems, “My Seneca Village,” takes place in an imagined version of the titular New York City neighborhood — a multiethnic community significant for its African American population — that was bulldozed in 1857 to make way for Central Park.

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Book Prize winner: Andrea Wulf for Science and Technology

Wulf’s “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World” is a look at the life and legacy of the 18th century German naturalist who helped change the way we look at the world around us and helped inspire the rise of environmentalism.

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Book Prize winner: Chigozie Obioma receives the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction

The Nigerian-born writer’s debut novel, “The Fishermen,” centers on four brothers whose bonds are tested when they come across an ominous prophecy.

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Book Prize winner: Jorie Graham for Poetry

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Graham helped redefine American poetry in the postwar era and into the new millennium. Her style’s evolution is reflected in “From the New World: Poems 1976-2014,” a collection which covers nearly 40 years of work.

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Book Prize winner: Don Winslow for Mystery/Thriller

Don Winslow.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

With “The Cartel,” the follow-up to “The Power of the Dog,” Winslow continues his unflinching look at the ongoing war on drugs, in what James Ellroy called “the ‘War and Peace’ of dopewar books.”

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Book Prize winner: Dan Ephron for History

Ephron’s deeply researched tome, “Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel,” recounts the events of Rabin’s assassination and how it affected Middle Eastern geopolitics.

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Book Prize winner: Riad Sattouf for Graphic Novel/Comics

The first volume of a planned trilogy, “Arab of the Future: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984: A Graphic Memoir” reflects on the author’s childhood in troubled times, growing up under the rule of Libya’s Moammar Kadafi, Syria’s President Bashar Assad and, most significantly, his own father.

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Columnist Chris Erskine on the magic of books on a soggy day

I marvel at good books in the same way the ancients once rejoiced over rainbows. Which makes this week’s L.A. Times Festival of Books one of my favorite events of the year. Don’t mind the threat of rain. On a soggy day, there is nothing better than browsing for a good read.

— Chris Erskine, L.A. Times columnist

At 2:30 p.m., Erskine will be talking with Roy Blount Jr. about his latest book. He promises it’ll “feature the mirth and magic of Blount, one of the most successful humor writers in America.”

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Book Prize winner: Valeria Luiselli for Fiction

“The Story of My Teeth,” Luiselli’s “novel-essay” translated by Christina MacSweeney, follows a retired Mexican auctioneer on a quest for new teeth.

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Book Prize winner: Hayden Herrera for Biography

Herrera’s “Listening to Stone: The Art and Life of Isamu Noguchi” presents a portrait of the well-traveled and highly influential Japanese American artist and designer who specialized in what he dubbed the “sculpturing of space.”

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Book Prize winner: Sarah Chayes for Current Interest

In “Thieves of State: Why Corruption Threatens Global Security,” Chayes, a former reporter and Joint Chiefs of Staff adviser, zeroes in on the roots and effect of widespread corruption in global governments.

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Reza Aslan on religion and the power of pop culture

(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

I truly believe the best way to shift perceptions in this country is through pop culture. It’s always the most efficient way of doing so. We’re trying to develop television shows, feature-length films, projects that work to create a different perception of the people, the cultures, the stories, of the Greater Middle East. Part of that involves simply having Muslims and Middle Easterners being normal on TV. [With] ‘Rough Draft,’ I wanted people to see a Middle Easterner being a host and talking about writing and not talking about politics or religion. ‘Believer’ is my attempt to take the work I’ve done for the last two decades and present it in a very accessible, fun, participatory way that still allows you to see someone else’s religious faith in the hopes that you realize that it’s all just different metaphors for the same emotion.

— Religious scholar Reza Aslan

Read MoreAslan will appear on Sunday’s 3 p.m. panel “Thinking About Religion in Today’s World” alongside Tom Bissell, author of “Apostle.”

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Wisdom from author Viet Thanh Nguyen

If my novel found an audience, it was only because I wrote for no one but myself. 

— Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of “The Sympathizer” and a panelist at the Festival of Books on Saturday

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Marcia Clark’s morally ambiguous new character

Marcia Clark is best known as the prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, but did you know she also writes crime novels? Her latest, “Blood Defense,” comes out May 1 and focuses on a “morally ambiguous” defense attorney.

Here’s what she recently told The Times:

The prosecution has to go with the evidence and the facts and tell the story as it happened. ... The defense has more creative freedom. All you have to do is look for a defense that works. But it doesn’t have to be the truth. Sometimes you get lucky and it is, but sometimes you don’t, and either way it doesn’t matter. You’re there to defend the client, and that’s your job.

— Marcia Clark

Clark will appear on the “Crime Fiction” panel Saturday at 1 p.m.

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Melissa de La Cruz’s religious inspiration

In the Philippines our religion wasn’t as restrictive; what I remember was learning the stories of all the saints and the gospels as superhero stories. And I learned that these beliefs and stories have so much power. Loving mythology definitely came from the Catholic education, and believing in the power of stories became part of my DNA. I think there are a lot of Mormon fantasy writers for the same reason—you’re steeped in this religious education that is asking you to believe in something you can’t see, which readily translates into fantasy and myths.”

— Melissa de La Cruz

The YA author will appear at the Festival of Books today at 11 a.m.

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Joyce Carol Oates on what novelists share in common with scientists

Joyce Carol Oates, the author of more than 100 books including her latest novel, “The Man Without a Shadow,” will appear at the Festival of Books Saturday at 10:30 a.m. at Bovard Auditorium.

In a recent article for The Times, Tyler Malone wrote that “sometimes amid the rigmarole about the profusion of novels, stories and tweets, we forget the most important thing about Oates: She’s an enormously talented writer who, through the breadth of her bibliography, has engaged with so much of what makes this American century simultaneously exhilarating and horrifying.”

Here’s what Oates had to say about the similarities between art and science:

A scientist is someone who is really looking at the causality of things. If you were a political scientist, let’s say, you would look at the current political situation with Donald Trump and the others in a very analytical way, seeing it maybe as part of a cycle of American politics. A scientist is always looking at the context, whereas most people just read the newspaper and throw it out. “Does this thing have consequences?” “What does it mean?” “Is there a precedent in history?” These are questions that a scientist would ask, and a novelist asks these questions as well.

— Joyce Carol Oates

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Art in real time

In addition to author conversations, panels and book signings, The Times has invited artists to complete six street art installations this weekend. After the festival, the works will go to Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Koreatown.

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Setting up!

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Books editor Carolyn Kellogg on what she’s most excited about this weekend

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How to survive a rainy Festival of Books

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Literary Death Match tonight with ‘Silicon Valley’ star Thomas Middleditch

The first day of Festival of Books may be over, but the night is young. There are several events tonight, including the 10-year anniversary of Literary Death Match taking place at Largo at the Coronet.

Four writers will read their work in seven minutes or less for a panel of judges that includes “Silicon Valley” star Thomas Middleditch. Two will be eliminated and then the ‘death match’ will begin. Doors are at 7 and the show starts at 8:30.

Want to pregame? Check out our amusing interview with Middleditch last year.

See the Festival After Dark schedule>

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Coming up this hour: Festival of Books comes to a close with Japanese drum performance

USC’s Kazan Taiko will do a Japanese drum performance at the USC stage at 4:20 p.m. Also on the agenda:

  • 4 p.m. The poetry stage will feature James Ragan, Donna Prinzmetal, Douglas Kearney and Ruth Madievsky.
  • 4 p.m. Recording artist Jose Luis Orozco will be at the Hoy Stage.
  • 4:30 p.m. “The Nick & Jen Show” will perform at the Reading by 9 Children’s Stage.

See the full schedule>

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Arianna Huffington, Reza Aslan and more coming up this hour

Times columnist Robin Abcarian will interview Arianna Huffington as part of our Ideas Exchange conversation series. In addition to helming the Huffington Post, Huffington is the author of 15 books including “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time.” The event starts at 3 p.m. at the Bovard Auditorium. Also on the agenda:

  • 3 p.m. “Thinking about Religion in Today’s World” with Reza Aslan, Tom Bissell, Susan Jacoby and moderator Scott Martelle at Ronald Tutor Campus Center.
  • 3 p.m. “Publishing Industry: The New & the Now” at the Hancock Foundation.
  • 3 p.m. “Young Adult Fiction: Teenage Wasteland” at the YA Stage.
  • 3:40 p.m. Kimberly Williams-Paisley, author of “Where The Lights Gets In,” at the main stage.

See the full schedule>

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Kwame Alexander, Pico Iyer and more coming up this hour

If you missed Kwame Alexander in conversation with Joel Arquillos at 11:30 a.m., here’s another chance to see him. He’ll be at the Poetry Stage at 2:30 p.m. “I’m really excited to come full circle and share with L.A., where I started my writerly journey,” he tells The Times. Also on the agenda:

  • 2 p.m. “Memoir: Struggle & Strength” moderated by Joy Press at Taper Hall 101.
  • 2:15 p.m. “The Art of Travel Writing: Pico Iyer in conversation with Thomas Curwen,” at the Travel Smart stage.
  • 2:30 p.m. Tavis Smiley, author of “50 for Your Future: Lessons from Down the Road,” at the main stage.

See the full schedule>

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Michael Connelly, Titus Welliver, Jonathan Gold, Sylvia Day and more coming up this hour

Author Michael Connelly and actor Titus Welliver of Amazon’s “Bosch” will be in conversation at 1 p.m. at Bovard Auditorium. Also on the agenda:

  • 1 p.m. “Covering Diversity in Hollywood: Roundtable with LA Times Film & TV Reporters” at L.A. Times Central.
  • 1:20 p.m. Charlotte Rae and Larry Strauss, authors of “The Facts of My Life,” in conversation at the main stage.
  • 1:30 p.m. “Food Futures” with Jonathan Gold, Sarah Smith, Alice Waters and David Mas Masumoto at Town & Gown.
  • 1:30 p.m. Sylvia Day in conversation with Beth Yarnall at Norris Theater.

See the full schedule>