Let the Festival of Books begin

Festival kickoff at the USC Stage on Saturday.
(Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

The 18th Festival of Books kicks off Saturday with welcomes, above from left, USC President Max Nikias, Los Angeles Times President and Chief Operating Officer Kathy Thomson and Los Angeles Times Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Eddy Hartenstein. The Trojan Marching Band and USC Song Girls stoked the audience for the event expected to draw 150,000 people of all ages.

More than 500 authors will appear this weekend. Now in its third year at USC, the two-day event features readings, onstage interviews, panel discussions, book signings, cooking demonstrations and musical performances. The free festival is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today at USC campus.

Here’s the program schedule of events.