By Amanda Ballard, University Communications
March 10, 2014
The festival, happening this weekend, is one of the largest of its kind.
The festival features more than 450 authors giving presentations and signing books. Attendees can also enjoy entertainment, food and vendor exhibits. (Photo: Patrick McArdle/UANews)
Since its inception in 2009, the free public festival has donated approximately $900,000 to local literacy initiatives. (Photo: Patrick McArdle/UANews)
Travel to a foreign land, get lost in a thrilling romance and be the star of your own action-adventure, all over the course of two days. It's possible this weekend during the sixth annual Tucson Festival of Books.
Whether you're a sci-fi junkie or can't read enough of the classics, the Tucson Festival of Books, also called TFOB, has something to suit all ages and interests. The festival brings more than 120,000 book lovers to campus from across the country, making it one of the largest festivals of its kind.
The UA and the Arizona Daily Star are two major sponsors for the event, which features more than 450 authors giving presentations and signing books. Attendees can also enjoy entertainment, food and vendor exhibits. This year, a new mobile app, available under the 'Apps' section on the left side of TFOB's website, will help make it easier to navigate the festival and access a complete guide to events, times and locations.
Debby Shively, director of UA BookStores, said planning for the festival is a substantial undertaking. UA BookStores is responsible for ordering all of the books sold at the event, as well as coordinating their delivery and author events at its Student Union Memorial Center location.
"We work on it all year long," Shively said. "It's hard to name all the departments that are actually involved."
Since its inception in 2009, the free public festival has donated approximately $900,000 to local literacy initiatives and also pumps around $4 million annually into Tucson's economy, according to a study performed by UA Eller College of Management graduate students.
"The Tucson Festival of Books has really opened campus to a much broader audience," Shively said. "People are traveling from all over the country to come to this event. It's great for the University. It's all about literacy."
One of TFOB's highlights is the UA College of Science and BIO5 Institute's Science City. Science City is Arizona's largest STEM-themed event in Arizona and offers tours, exhibits, hands-on learning activities and talks by world-class UA researchers. It's bigger and better this year thanks to new neighborhood themes like the Science of Everyday Life, the Science of Tomorrow, the Science of You, and the Science of the Natural World.
Other highlights this year include:
March 15: Sandra Day O'Connor and Milton Chen will discuss "The History of the Supreme Court, Civic Engagement and Our National Parks" at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom.
March 15: Arizona Poet Laureate Alberto Álvaro Rios and poet Rebecca Seiferle will be doing poetry readings at 10 a.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center Kiva Room.
March 15: Journalist Alan Weisman will present "Countdown: Our Last Best Hope for Future on Earth?" at 10 a.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center Gallagher Theater.
March 15: The executive producer of "Downton Abbey" will be present for "Downton Abbey: A Conversation with the Executive Producer" at 1 p.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom.
March 15: "A Conversation with Pulitzer Prize Winner Jared Diamond" will take place at 1 p.m. in the Integrated Learning Center, Room 120.
March 15: R.L. Stine, youth horror author of the "Goosebumps" and "Fear Street" series, will be present for "Nightmares to Go: A Conversation with R.L. Stine" at 2:30 p.m. in the Kiva inside the Education building.
March 15: Authors Craig Johnson, Anne Perry and Richard Russo will discuss Charles Dickens and his impact on their writing with a talk titled "A Little Dickens" at 4 p.m. in the Modern Languages Building, Room 350.
March 16: Merl Reagle presents "The Crossword Puzzle Turns 100" at 10 a.m. in the Arizona Daily Star tent.
March 16: Dr. Andrew Weil will discuss an approach to health care that encompasses body, mind and spirit in the Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom at 1 p.m.
March 16: Richard Russo will present "Richard Russo on Memoirs" at 11:30 a.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center South Ballroom.
March 16: A panel that includes University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy Chris Impey will discuss "Are We Living in the Future?" at 1 p.m. in Henry Koffler Building, Room 204.
March 16: "Richard Russo and Luis Alberto Urrea in Conversation" at 2:30 p.m. in the Integrated Learning Center, Room 120.
March 16: Nancy Jo Sales, author of "The Bling Ring," will present "The Bling Ring: Most Audacious Burglary Gang in Recent Hollywood History" at 4 p.m. in the UA Mall tent.
One of Shively's personal favorites at TFOB each year is the children's area.
"It's amazing to watch children's authors reading to the kids and see what children find interesting," she said. "It's a great venue for families."
Another popular attraction is TFOB's culinary stage. Presentations such as "Street Food of Mexico" and "Good Stock: Life on a Low Simmer" will be presented over the course of the weekend. In addition, food vendors ranging from Tucson Tamale Company to BrushFire BBQ Co. will be feeding hungry crowds all weekend long.
"The food is all local, and it's amazing," Shively said.
As TFOB attendance and popularity grow each year, Shively said it continues to remain a one-of-a-kind event that ties the community together through a love of literacy.