L.A. Literary events to enliven your spring

Books Editor

I’m biased: My favorite book event in the spring is the L.A. Times Festival of Books. I helped invite the authors and plan the panels and think it’s an amazing way to spend a weekend. So — it’s off the table. Instead, for our spring preview, here’s a list of other terrific literary events to add to your calendar (alongside the book festival, taking place April 21-22 at USC).

March 31: Reading by Moonrise

Poets Sesshu Foster, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal and Hari Alluri read their own work and others’ outdoors at the Bowtie Project as the moon rises over the L.A. River. Picnic items and blankets are encouraged; there will be a campfire. Gates open at 6:30 p.m. $5. Info at

Sesshu Foster
(Juliane Backmann / For the Times )

April 2: Sean Penn, novelist

Sean Penn brings his first novel, the darkly comic “Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff,” to the Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre at the New Roads School in Santa Monica. The Oscar-winning actor and activist will read and be interviewed by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jane Smiley. 8 p.m. Tickets $45-$55. Info at

April 9: Unbreakable Spirit

The surviving members of the Angola Three, Robert King (author of the autobiography “From the Bottom of the Heap”) and Albert Woodfox (memoir forthcoming), talk about their decades in solitary confinement in Louisiana and their activism since their release with Bryonn Bain, director of the UCLA prison education program at ALOUD at the Central Library in downtown L.A. 7:30 p.m. Free. Info at


April 14: James Ellroy and the film “L.A. Confidential”

The 20th annual Los Angeles Festival of Film Noir kicks off at American Cinematheque not with a black-and-white classic but 1997’s “L.A. Confidential,” based on the book by James Ellroy, which reinvigorated the genre. He’ll appear in person for a discussion after the screening. 7:30 p.m. Tickets $15. Info at

April 15: Independent Bookstore Day

This nationwide celebration of independent brick-and-mortar bookstores features limited edition swag and, of course, lots of books. The daylong event is customized by each individual bookstore. In the past, Skylight Books in Los Feliz has had wine and cheese, authors have served as booksellers at Vroman’s in Pasadena, and Pages in Manhattan Beach, Chevalier’s Books in Larchmont and Diesel Bookstore in Brentwood have also participated. Free. Info at

April 17: Eric Jerome Dickey book launch

Dickey’s new novel, “Bad Men and Wicked Women,” is a sexy thriller set in Los Angeles. He launches it at Eso Won Books in Liemert Park with a reading and conversation. 6 p.m. Free. Info at (323) 290-1048.

Viet Thanh Nguyen
(Guillaume Souvant/AFP/Getty Images )

April 26: Viet Thanh Nguyen and “The Displaced”

Pulitzer Prize-winner and MacArthur Fellow Nguyen served as editor for the essay collection “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives.” He’ll be in conversation with contributor Meron Hadero and executive editor Jamison Stoltz at Skylight Books. Proceeds from the book will go to the International Rescue Committee. Free. Info at

May 1: Francesca Lia Block book release

The writer, beloved for her Weetzie Bat series for young adults, explores the writing life in her new memoir, “The Thorn Necklace: Healing Through Writing and the Creative Process.” In conversation with Sara Benincasa. 6:30 p.m. Free. Info at

Francesca Lia Block
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times )