The Union-Tribune Book Festival returns for an in-person event


About 10,000 people gathered Saturday at the University of San Diego for the first in-person Union-Tribune San Diego Book Festival in two years.

Now in its sixth year, the festival – with sponsors like KPBS and Topo Chico – has featured around 100 authors, several independent booksellers and panels of authors. The festival was held online in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.

Organizers said the event is about more than just selling books, with a focus on expanding literacy, celebrating curious minds and improving understanding.

“Reading teaches us to see through the eyes of other people, people who are not like us,” Union-Tribune publisher and editor Jeff Light said as the event kicked off at the The University’s Shiley Theatre.

Attendees and booksellers mingled in college courtyards under sunny skies as the smell of fried food from food truck operators like chef Budda Blasian Soul Food filled the air.

Rebecca Au of Rancho Bernardo came to the event with her 5-year-old son, Elliott, and said she was still trying to expose him to the books. In addition to going to the last in-person Book Festival in 2019 at Liberty Station, Au said she takes Elliott to the library once a week.

She said the books open her son up to a world he doesn’t see on a daily basis. It also has another advantage: “It’s better than TV,” Au said.

The authors in attendance said they were grateful that the festival was once again up and running in person. Book events across the country were canceled when COVID surged, which made it much more difficult to promote their work.

Self-published author Beth Sotelo said she’s been sitting on boxes in her Chula Vista home of her 56-page graphic novel “Grump” since it was printed just before the pandemic. Sotelo had a long career as a colorist for Marvel Comics, DC, and independent publishers before deciding to write, draw, and color “Grump.” This is the story of a child who finds it difficult to make friends.

Sotelo said comic book convention crowds aren’t the best at promoting the book, because many comic book fans have a fixed book — like Marvel’s “Thor” — they’re interested in and aren’t necessarily looking for. new works. Sotelo said the book festival crowd was much better.

“People really want to experience something new,” she said.

In addition to up-and-coming authors, several big names were on hand to speak and sign autographs: Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) with his book “Midnight in Washington”; Nikole Hannah-Jones, author of “The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story”; Silvia Moreno-Garcia with “Doctor Moreau’s daughter” and actor David Duchovny.

Duchovny, known for his role in “The X-Files”, has just completed his fifth book “The Reservoir”. It’s the story of a former financier stuck in his apartment during the COVID-19 shutdowns who slowly goes crazy. Duchovny holds a bachelor’s degree in literature from Princeton University and a master’s degree in English literature from Yale. He told Saturday’s event that he fell in love with literature while in college and later turned to acting.

In front of a crowd at the Shiley Theatre, Duchovny recounted how he eventually regained his interest in literature by caring about the plots of the television shows he was working on. He wrote and directed several episodes of “The X-Files”.

“It was by becoming an actor and getting involved in telling stories through a screen that I got back into storytelling,” he said.

Independent bookstores shone at the event. Libélula Books & Co. of Barrio Logan boasted various titles such as “The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School” by Sonora Reyes and “There are Trans People Here” by H. Melt.

“We hope people will see titles that they might not see elsewhere,” said co-owner Celi Hernandez.


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