April 27, 2003 -- Los Angeles Times Festival of Books

It was with a mix of anticipation and hesitation that we traveled to the 8th Annual Festival of Books on the UCLA campus.

Anticipation: We attended for the first time in 1998, and had a really fun time.

That visit was really fun. We leisurely walked through the festival grounds along with a nice-sized, but manageable crowd. We stumbled upon LA Times political cartoonist Paul Conrad selling and signing copies of his new book. We bought a copy, chatted with him for a few minutes and were on our way.

Minutes later, we saw former news anchor Kelly Lange autographing copies of her new novel - which we bought for my Mom for Mother's Day.

We saw Angelina Ballerina, Bear in the Big Blue House, plus had the opportunity to make newspaper hats, and just enjoy the day. It was unscripted, unexpected, and fun.

Hesitation: We attended in 2001, and felt packed in, shoved around, exhausted and irritated.

Unfortunately, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books has, for all intents and purposes, outgrown itself. It has moved from being a relaxing, easygoing weekend, to a big, corporate, overcrowded, mess.

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