Boy O’Boy do I love the Festival of Books! A sunny weekend filled with hundreds of exhibitors raising their tents in honor of stories, poems, authors, illustrators and all things related to the beloved book. This yearly event attracts hundreds of visitors who trek up the majestic hills of UCLA to explore exhibitions of many popular new, used and rare titles by America’s most beloved writers and illustrators.

I have had so many memories and exciting moments at the Festival of Books: In 2008, I was able to watch a wheelchair bound Ray Bradbury talk about how he wrote Fahrenheit 451 on a rented typewriter down in the UCLA Library basement. In 2009, I received pretty good career advice from Los Angeles Times columnist and Hero Complex blogger Geoff Boucher. Either way, 2010 shows a promising roster of insightful panelists and special guests, along with some return exhibitions to keep a look out for. Be sure to check out the event map (online or on the day of the event) for specific times and locations. There is so much the festival has to offer, but below are the top five festival happenings to look forward to.

The $5 or Less Bookstore: If anything, this needs to be your first stop. Not only is it a great deal but you can find previous bestsellers and books that you’ve always wanted to buy (but didn’t want to spend money for) all in one place. This tent gets pretty crowded with long lines and confined spaces, but it pays off in all of the books you’ll be able to take home.

The Target Children’s Stage:
Target has been a frequent sponsor of this event for many years, and it shows in their massive tent located to the very north of UCLA’s campus (near Dodd Hall). It’s a lively and colorful place where the illustrious tales of classic and contemporary children’s stories come to life. Authors appearing at this venue include R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps series. Also, with the trend of famous entertainers writing children’s books, you may find it interesting to discover Shawn and Marlon Wayans, Henry Winkler, Holly Robinson Peete and Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary.

Los Angeles Times Pavilion:
Usually located right in front of the fountain on top of Janss Steps, this is festival headquarters where you get free festival swag, enter contests and participate in meet and greets with Los Angeles Times writers and photographers. Like last year, they have a giant graffiti wall where festival viewers can write down their favorite books. Something new to expect is a mobile scavenger hunt where the winner receives a 16GB iPad. Featured festival author David Shannon is on board throughout the weekend for book signings here.

Speakers and Performances:
As one of the first men on the moon, Buzz Aldrin is interviewed on Sunday for his book, Magnificent Desolation: the Long Journey Home from the Moon. The Los Angeles Times stage features interviews from the likes of Pam Grier, Sarah Silverman and Todd Bridges about their new books. An often overlooked and more intimate stage experience involves a visit to the Poetry and Cooking stages. With a smaller crowd, you can experience moving and dynamic performances sure to ignite your senses. Plus, watch out for Alicia Silverstone who is to be interviewed for her book, The Kind Diet.

Also, the Etc. Stage features performances by the LA Opera, Reduced Shakespeare Company, Folklórico dancers, mariachi musicians and an a cappella group.

Tents to Watch: For the travel enthusiast, Traveler’s Bookcase, Lonely Planet, Distant Lands – A Traveler’s Bookstore, Travelers’ Tales, Inc., Time Out. For your soul: Chicken Soup for the Soul Books, Inner Traditions – Bear & Company. For writer support: California Writers Club, Independent Writers of Southern California, Writers Guild Foundation. For the anime guru: Manga University, Kinokuniya Bookstore. For the hipster: Vroman’s Bookstore, Mysterious Galaxy.