A Look Back at Two of the Largest Book Festivals

In the last two months, I had the pleasure of attending two of the largest book festivals in the country. The first one was in March at The Tucson Festival of Books. I was fortunate enough to be a featured author through my publisher at this festival. It was my second year in a row being at the festival and it was a fantastic experience! There was a lot of networking being done and excitement in the air.


The second festival I attended was as a guest at The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at the University of Southern California. Like Tucson, it was a great experience with a lot of learning and networking being done. I was fortunate enough to be present for five different seminars. Ranging from fiction, nonfiction, memoir and even acting, it was a great deal of knowledge.

One of the most special experiences was meeting Gabrielle Union and hearing her story, as she reveals in her new book, “We’re Going to Need More Wine.” She was sweet, charismatic and extremely positive. We got the opportunity to sign and exchange books with one another!


But I really want to share with you not what I got to do at the festivals, but more so what I learned. Each festival and each experience presented a unique learning opportunity and different takeaways. Below are five learnings that really stood out to me:


  • People still love to read. In a world dominated and surrounded by technology, it is easy to assume that “reading has died” or that “nobody reads anymore.” As an author, sometimes that crosses my mind, but I don’t find that to be true in the grand scheme of things. With over 150,000 people attending each festival respectively, the demand for reading is not hurting. In fact, recent studies show reading habits are growing. People fly in from all over the world to attend. Whether your favorite author was on display, you wanted to learn more about your preferred genre, or you are just the general lover of books, these both festivals had everything to offer. And they sure were not hurting for attendance. Reading is alive, and readers continue to read all over the world…even those people we call millennials.
  • Perceptions are not always accurate. Before meeting Gabrielle Union, I viewed her as the confident, beautiful and talented actress that everyone views her to be. These were absolutely on display, and are true and accurate. But what I found to be surprising was learning about her struggle with self-worth. She reiterated how she has struggled her whole life with self-worth, as shown in her new book. Gabrielle is certainly not alone, as I think everyone feels alone and lost at least some point in their life. But with her charm and confidence, it caught me by surprise. I gained so much respect for her when she was real with her audience about how the perceptions are not always the full encompassment of what is going on.
  • People want to feel a certain way without changing anything.I was sitting in a seminar about memoirs. Jenny Zhang, author of bestseller “Sour Hearts,” made a unique point. She said that people want to feel a certain way about something, but don’t want to change anything about their current situation. For example, the panelists explained that some wealthy people want to feelwhat it is like to be poor, without minimizing their financial situation. I found it interesting and understandable when thinking about it. People are willing to change how they feel, but when it means they must sacrifice assets or personal desires, they often retreat when it’s all said and done.
  • Trying new things is a no-brainer. Sometimes we overthink basic things. This was one of those situations for me. Internally, I know the benefits of trying new things. They are often new, fun and exciting. But one author put it in a much more powerful, but rather simple context: “Trying new things is fantastic because if you succeed, it is amazing and you have a new hobby. But if you don’t, then you have a real reason why you weren’t good at it…because you have never done it before!”
  • Wise, honest words from a father to his family and friends.The last seminar I attended was featured with Martellus Bennett, tight end for the New England Patriots. He said something that really stuck with me, “If I died at 80, and my daughter said I had a mean stiff arm, the I failed as a human.” Think about that. Bennett is a professional football player, and someone makes a comment about a skill related to football. That seems great. It seems ideal and realistic. But if that is the main thing that came to mind to people when thinking about him, then what good does that do? I appreciated his honesty, and his mindset about how important it is to intimately impact peoples’ lives and make a difference in this world while you have a chance. This goes for outside of the career bubble we all fall victim to.


Let me know your thoughts…have a great week guys!