How to watch: The L.A. Times Festival of Books kicks off this weekend

Book lovers gather at a previous year's Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
Book lovers gather at a previous year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. The 2020 virtual version of the book festival kicks off this weekend.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for: The 25th Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, Stories & Ideas kicks off this week.

This year’s celebration of the written word will begin Oct. 18 at 10 a.m. with the help of L.A. Times columnist Patt Morrison, introducing the fest with USC’s President Dr. Carol L. Folt and Times President and Chief Operating Officer Chris Argentieri, featuring the USC Trojan Marching Band.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s free series of events will be virtual and feature 25 panels and readings over 25 days with writers, poets, artists, storytellers and bookstore exhibitors. Here’s everything you need to know about how to tune in:

The schedule unveiled Thursday also features Ayad Akhtar, Marlon James and actor Henry Winkler. The online festival — 25 events marking 25 years — begins Oct. 18.

Sept. 24, 2020


First week’s lineup

Sunday, Oct. 18, at 10:30 a.m.: Times staff writer Michael Ordoña hosts writer and film producer Lin Oliver and award-winning actor, comedian, director and children’s book author Henry Winkler as they discuss and read from their second book in the Alien Superstar series, “Lights, Camera, Danger!”

Sunday, Oct.18, at noon: YA authors Brandy Colbert, Shaun David Hutchinson and Jennifer De Leon join moderator and YA novelist Zan Romanoff for a timely discussion of their work, largely centered on social justice and issues of race and identity.

Monday, Oct. 19, at 6 p.m.: Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and novelist Ayad Akhtar will discuss his latest novel, “Homeland Elegies,” with acclaimed writer and religion scholar Reza Aslan. Akhtar’s deeply personal novel tells an epic story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made. Part family drama, part social essay, at its heart this is the story of a father, a son and the country they call home.

Tuesday, Oct. 20, at 5:30 p.m.: Bob Shrum, former political strategist and director of the USC Center for the Political Future, will moderate a conversation on America’s political system and the role and representation of its citizens with panelists Paul Adler, Jane Junn and John Matsusaka.

Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m.: Jerry Brown, the two-time former California governor, presidential candidate and mayor of Oakland, will join Jim Newton, a former Times editor-at-large and author of “Man of Tomorrow: The Relentless Life of Jerry Brown,” to discuss his storied life in politics. Times California columnist Gustavo Arellano will guide their conversation.

Thursday, Oct. 22, at 4:30 p.m.: In his memoir “Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs, and Revolution in the Americas,” Roberto Lovato offers an urgent, no-holds-barred tale of intergenerational trauma and interconnected violence between the U.S. and El Salvador. He’ll discuss his life and work with Times staff writer Esmeralda Bermudez, who was born in El Salvador and raised in Los Angeles.

Friday, Oct. 23, at 6 p.m.: Crime-fiction writers Rachel Howzell Hall, Attica Locke and Ivy Pochoda discuss their latest releases and the real-world issues that drive them: social pressures, injustice, racial tension and female empowerment, all against the backdrop of riveting storytelling. James Queally, a Times crime and policing reporter and crime-fiction author himself, moderates their conversation.

How to watch

Register ahead of time for each event with your name and email address at You’ll be emailed a reminder 48 hours beforehand with a link to watch the event.

For more details and information, go to and follow the festival on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Questions can be submitted on registration.

Perhaps no other medium has better helped us process 2020. Our fall books special brings you the books and authors who’ve helped make sense of it.

Oct. 9, 2020