Lead Story West Edition

BAND OF BOOKWORMS: Leimert Park Village Book Fair celebrates literacy, power of knowledge

By Dennis J. Freeman

Contributing Writer

BALDWIN HILLS — Author J.B. Vample had never been to the Leimert Park Village Book Fair before.

But here she was Aug. 25 on the first floor of the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza trying to sell her book, “The College Life Series,” which speaks on the topic of college life through the eyes of five black women.

She said it was a great way to engage with potential readers from a different area code.

Vample flew to Los Angeles from Philadelphia to take part in the fair.

“This is my first time here at this event, and I think it’s good,” Vample said. “I’m having a good time.”

Vample conceptualized her book series idea as a teenager still in high school.

“I was 17 years old when I started this series,” she said. “I was getting ready to graduate from high school and go to college, so creative imagination created these characters and storylines around a college atmosphere, and I kind of ran with it.”

When it comes to literacy, particularly in the black community, Vample said it is critical to continue to push the importance of reading and writing to young people. The Leimert Park Village Book Fair and others like it are a great way to underscore the value of literacy.

“We need to read more, use our imagination more,” Vample said. “It’s like reading takes you to a whole different world. It expands your mind. I think it’s very important.

“I think nowadays, especially our youth, they’re more into video games and TV and all that other stuff, when I think it’s important to pick up a book sometimes and read. I’ve learned that a lot of young people have lost the love of reading because they feel like all their reading in school is for school. I think it’s important, especially as a fiction author, to get our books out there and market towards our young African-American readers. You can love reading.”

Best-selling author Eric Jerome Dickey was the headliner at the Leimert Park Village Book Fair, speaking to attendees about his writing career and signing copies of his books for fans. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman)

Best-selling author Eric Jerome Dickey was the headliner at the all-day affair. With 25 books under his belt, Dickey was the featured speaker.

He hit the main stage in the early afternoon, around the midway point of the book for a question and answer session before retreating to where a trove of his books waited for him to be signed as admirers of his work gathered in front of his booth, patiently holding back their enthusiasm as he greeted one fan after another.

Though Dickey was the day’s headliner, there were plenty of other authors on hand hoping to attract new readers.

Nadiyah Herron, author of “The Smart Woman’s Guide to Dating & Relationships” was on the same path as Vample, but on a different mission in attending the fair. Herron considers herself a relationship guru.

“I’m here to promote my book,” she said. “I am a relationship expert and my book ‘The Smart Woman’s Guide to Dating & Relationships’ have been selling like hotcakes.

“People need help in their relationships — men and women alike. Surprisingly, I’ve gotten a lot of responses from men who were skeptical in reading it. But they’ve read it and said it helped them, too. It’s really about having a relationship rooted in Christ above anything else,” she added.

“We’re anemic to relationships nowadays because of social media. It’s really about having a solid relationship with Christ. But it also addresses not just amorous relationships, but relationships with our mom, our friends and avoiding toxic relationships as well, red flags to look for and having the proper vision for your love life. It covers a lot.”

Author Nadiyah Herron, right, talks with a potential customer about her book, ‘The Smart Woman’s Guide to Dating & Relationships’ at the 12th annual Leimert Park Village Book Fair Aug, 25 in the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. (Photo by Dennis J. Freeman)

As far as what sparked Herron to speak on relationships in book form? Those closest to her were struggling in that department of their lives.

“A lot of my girlfriends were dating married men as well as getting divorced,” Herron said. “A lot of people were getting divorced; falling like dominoes. I’m a relationship expert. … I was coaching but I wanted something where I could have a blanket help for all couples, and so that’s why I wrote it.”