Vegas Valley Book Festival tweaks the plot in its 15th year

Readers line up for a book signing at Vegas Valley Book Festival.

We Las Vegans employ a great many adjectives to describe our city, but “literary” is rarely among them. Between our hectic service jobs and—let’s face facts, here—our criminally underfunded K-12 schools, it’s easy to imagine that most of us simply don’t read books unless there’s a boy wizard somehow involved. Thankfully, the Vegas Valley Book Festival proves otherwise. Now in its 15th year, the VVBF returns on October 14 and 15—and this time, festival co-chair Danielle Milam says, you’ll only need to find one parking spot.

“We’ve consolidated in Downtown this year,” she says, meaning that the events that formerly took place in the UNLV area have all been moved to Downtown’s Historic Fifth Street School. What’s more, a “really cool after-dark event,” produced in conjunction with Writer’s Block Book Shop, will take over Inspire on Saturday night—one that features more adult themes and, hallelujah, adult beverages. If this year’s VVBF looks like it’s evolved, that’s because it has. “We [now] know what works and what doesn’t,” Milam says. “And we’re building on what works.”

What hasn’t changed is that a number of prominent authors are coming to Las Vegas to read and answer questions. This year’s lineup includes celebrated novelist and essayist Geoff Dyer; bestselling children’s literature author Megan McDonald; MacArthur Genius Award recipient Katherine Boo; Pulitzer Prize-winners Stacy Schiff, Adam Johnson and Alexandra Berzon; young adult authors Don Calame, Eliot Schrefer and Adam Silvera; and Beat Generation poet Joanne Kyger.

The author events are supplemented by the VVBF’s excellent family programming. Vegas PBS will host a meet-and-greet with its popular children’s characters. Storyteller Doug Mishler will wander the festival grounds in character as Theodore Roosevelt, in celebration of the 100th birthday of the National Parks Service. And Mister G, a Latin Grammy award-winner for Best Children’s Album, will perform.

It’s all in keeping with the VVBF’s ongoing, volunteer-led effort to serve our community of constant readers. As it turns out, Vegas has lots. “We have discovered all kinds of new audiences in the course of our 15 years,” Milam says.

Vegas Valley Book Festival October 14, 7 p.m., the Writer’s Block; October 15, 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Historic Fifth Street School; free.

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