More than 200 authors participating in the L.A. Times Festival of Books responded to a survey with questions including whether they'd read 'Infinite Jest' (or lied about having read it).
Impoverished innocence colliding with ancient assassins was a clue that Pico Iyer's career would be a rich adventure earned the hard way.
E. Lockhart wanted to be taken seriously as an academic — and was. But she couldn't deny her desire to write for young adult readers.
Some believe they need seclusion and silence to be a 'real writer,' but a gas station, bedroom and parking lot all did the trick for this novelist.
A vocation is sometimes like a romance, or at least it is for poet Richard Blanco. He began, as his parents hoped, in a traditional career but yearned for more. Then, a surprise meeting with a poem opened his heart.
A caring ice cream shop manager and co-workers' poignant stories made a lasting impression on Mona Simpson long before she became a writer.
In his new novel 'I Pity the Poor Immigrant,' Zachary Lazar uses gangster Meyer Lansky as a springboard in his look at the relationships between fathers and sons, violence's legacy and Israel.
'Over Easy,' a graphic novel from Mimi Pond — who has written for 'The Simpsons' and 'Pee-wee's Playhouse' — draws heavily on her experiences as a worker in an Oakland cafe. It's 'pure Mimi,' her editor says.
Thomas Goetz's page-turning 'The Remedy' explains how the quest to cure tuberculosis also led to the creation of Sherlock Holmes.
Barbara Ehrenreich, an atheist and dogged reporter, talks about reckoning with a baffling encounter in 'Living With a Wild God.'
A remarkable collection of essays by multifaceted writer Leslie Jamison plumbs the depths of pain and self-examination in 'The Empathy Exams.'
Bestselling young-adult novelist John Green, who's being honored with the Innovator's Award at the 2014 Los Angeles Times Book Prizes, says he is inspired by teenagers and finds encouraging signs in publishing's future.
Q&A: Actor-writer Annabelle Gurwitch talks about her new collection of essays 'I See You Made An Effort' and her coming-of-middle-age.
Matt Taibbi starkly details how far U.S. ideals have fallen in 'The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap.'
Immigration enforcement has gone rogue amid a huge security apparatus that has developed since 9/11, author Todd Miller argues in 'Border Patrol Nation.'
Glenn Bray began his collection of comic art at 17, amassing a staggering stash that he won't part with but will happily share in a 410-page book, 'The Blighted Eye.'
Theodore Roosevelt's journey on Brazil's River of Doubt gets a historical thriller embellishing in Louis Bayard's novel 'Roosevelt's Beast,' seen through the eyes of the former president's son Kermit.
A dramatic change of scenery for this empathic novel's main character fails to erase the kinds of decisions required of her.
Edward W. Soja, a fixture of the L.A. School of urban studies, engagingly writes for a wider audience in 'My Los Angeles: From Urban Restructuring to Regional Urbanization.'
Juliet Macur's 'Cycle of Lies' examines Lance Armstrong's character. Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell's more authoritative 'Wheelmen' looks at the Armstrong industry.
Craig Nelson's 'The Age of Radiance' is a highly readable romp into the history of the atomic era.
'Every Day Is for the Thief' by Teju Cole ('Open City') is a wonderful meditation on modern life in Nigeria.
Laura McHugh's riveting crime-fiction debut, 'The Weight of Blood,' is steeped in a sense of place, with strong prose providing a vivid portrait of regional traditions and superstitions.
Miriam Pawel's 'The Crusades of Cesar Chavez' gives the labor leader credit for his stunning accomplishments but does not shy from his failures, paranoia and dictatorial style.
Bonnie Henderson's 'The Next Tsunami: Living on a Restless Coast' considers our willingness to forget earthquakes and other catastrophic events.
The first volume of this ambitious work by Simon Schama begins in pre-biblical times, stretching to 1492 and the expulsion from Spain.
In Jean Hanff Korelitz's novel, a couples counselor's ironically titled book-within-a-book comes back to haunt her as she must ruefully own up to her own lack of self-awareness.
Kristin Ohlson's examination of how farming and forestry techniques might mitigate, if not resolve, global warming.
Poetry reviews of Jane Mead's "Money Money Money Water Water Water," Maxine Kumin's 'And Short the Season,' Kevin Young's 'Book of Hours' and J.D. McClatchy's 'Plundered Hearts: New & Selected Poems.'
Too Zionist? Anti-Zionist? Ayelet Waldman has heard both about 'Love and Treasure,' her novel of American and Hungarian Jews, art and loss in the 20th century.
A new Philip Marlowe novel by Benjamin Black fills in the noir checklist but misses the soul of the famed detective's city.
Chris Pavone mines his experience in the publishing industry and layers on intrigue in a spy thriller with characters from his novel 'The Expats.'
Lilibet Snellings talks about her book 'Box Girl' and working as a human 'Installation' in the lobby of West Hollywood's Standard Hotel.
Though Kenneth Calhoun's 'Black Moon' doesn't always cohere, it compels with a tale of a world gone mad with insomnia.
'Dragnet Nation' by Julia Angwin examines how a data-driven economy created a constantly surveilled society where security and market research trump privacy and personal information.
As chronicled in 'Blood Will Out,' a faux Rockefeller fooled author Walter Kirn for years until it became clear Christian Gerhartsreiter was a liar and a killer.
Yiyun Li takes us back to the months after Tiananmen Square and to a fatal poisoning. It's personal, not political.
Not Just For Kids: Grit, loyalty and gentleness cast a spell more captivating than the warring witches and sinister sorcery of Sally Green's 'Half Bad.'
For better or worse, Lisa Bloom brings a TV pundit sensibility to the Trayvon Martin case in 'Suspicion Nation.'
Taking astonishing risks, Helen Oyeyemi casts mirrors as the villain of her piece as she pierces racism and cultural ideas.
David Grand talks about 'Mount Terminus,' a novel set in early 20th century L.A. — and one that took 10 years to write and kept him estranged him from the city.
Dr. danah boyd hopes parents use her exhaustive study of how youth use social media as a tool to open communications with their own child.
A clear-eyed overview of the nuclear industry and the Japanese disaster doesn't split hairs over the risk: It can happen here.
Mark Harris' 'Five Came Back' explores the World War II work of U.S. directors John Ford, William Wyler, John Huston, Frank Capra and George Stevens, who elevated propaganda films to a high art.
Domestic life motivates many of the stories in 'Bark,' Lorrie Moore's first fiction collection in 15 years.
Jeff Pearlman's 'Showtime' is a dishy take on the run-and-gun Lakers of the 1980s, with an insider look at Magic, Kareem and more.
Essay collection 'MFA vs. NYC: The Two Cultures of American Fiction' from n+1 ponders whether getting a master of fine arts degree in creative writing is a good idea. Or is living in New York just as helpful?
In 1976, 'Network' skewered the media and modern life and introduced 'mad as hell' to the cultural landscape. David Itzkoff discusses his new book about the prophetic film.
'The Office' writer-actor B.J. Novak, whose father was an author, debuts a collection of humorous short stories, 'One More Thing' — but 'I'll never be George Saunders,' he says.
Author Tom Zoellner takes readers on a historical world tour of landmark lines and the cultural shifts they helped generate.
A new biography suggests Carl Van Vechten pushed the nation's cultural values forward by making a virtue of racial and sexual diversity.
'Cairo: Memoir of a City Transformed' by Ahdaf Soueif is a fine personal look at the seeming revolution in Tahrir Square but doesn't provide historical context.
Kem Nunn's latest novel, 'Chance,' goes far beyond the 'surfer noir' label and into morally ambiguous and very deep waters.
Marcel Theroux's 'Strange Bodies' is a smart, troubling sci-fi thriller that poses deep questions about identity.
'HRC' by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes is an entertaining, illuminating look at Hillary Rodham Clinton's time as secretary of State. The book shows her as dogged, but also salty, bawdy and funny.
Philip Schultz's novel in verse 'The Wherewithal' is about Henryk, who says his life includes the Jedwabne pogrom and the Zodiac killer but whose chronology doesn't line up.
Rabih Alameddine's new novel, 'An Unnecessary Woman,' is a love letter to literature and the female spirit.
The 'not quite a memoir' 'Dancing Fish and Ammonites' finds Penelope Lively waxing elegant and poignant about her life.
Joshua Zeitz's 'Lincoln's Boys: John Hay, John Nicolay, and the War for Lincoln's Image' examines the president's secretaries, who wrote a history of him.
Barry Miles' William Burroughs biography 'Call Me Burroughs' is an extensive, fascinating biography of the 'Naked Lunch' author, including the William Tell shooting death of his wife and his life as countercultural spokesman.
Though Matthew Kneale highlights interesting material, a book that presents itself as an investigation of belief instead delivers a straightforward history of religion.
The horror-fantasy combination in Jeff Vandermeer's 'Annihilation,' the first novel in a trilogy, makes genre triumphantly general.
Authors Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld's deliberately provocative arguments about American prosperity are sloppy, and ignore history and economics.
In Jenny Offill's 'Dept. of Speculation,' motherhood, geeky facts and a sprinkling of great thoughts create a riveting addition to female abandonment literature.
Sarah Pinborough deftly trawls through the muck of Victorian London in 'Mayhem,' a graphic tale about a series of murders contemporaneous to Jack the Ripper's crimes.
UCLA's legendary basketball coach, John Wooden, is given a definitive biography with 'Wooden.' Seth Davis delivers a clear-eyed view of a man whose passion for the game became his Pyramid of Success.
Sue Monk Kidd uses fact and fiction to tell the story of the Grimke sisters and a young slave in their household in 'The Invention of Wings.'
Jesse Ball's novel 'Silence Once Begun' is a fascinating work presented in a documentary format.
In 'Flappers,' Judith Mackrell details the lives of Josephine Baker, Tallulah Bankhead, Zelda Fitzgerald, Lady Diana Cooper, Nancy Cunard and Tamara de Lempicka in lively roaring '20s fashion.
In a memoir built of short, episodic sections, David Stuart MacLean records a spell of amnesia, realizing 'The Answer to the Riddle Is Me.'
Armistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City' concludes with the moving 'The Days of Anna Madrigal,' a closer look at the serial's central figure.
Chris Abani's 'The Secret History of Las Vegas' is not your standard crime novel but it does have conjoined twins and buried secrets.
Author Jennifer Percy became immersed in the same 'Demon Camp' where veterans sought to exorcise their torment.
Masha Gessen's new book about Pussy Riot explores the story behind the Russian guerrilla girls' protest movement.
A retired composer wrongly becomes public enemy No. 1 in lightning speed in Richard Powers' moving 'Orfeo.'
The novel 'Foreign Gods Inc.' by Okey Ndibe follows New York cab driver Ike as he returns to Nigeria to steal a statue of the war god Ngene.
Erika Hayasaki talks about how a courseon dying inspired her to write 'Death Class: A True Story About Life.'
'The Empire of Necessity' takes a meandering tour of slavery in 19th century South America, when the age of liberty coincided with 'the Age of Slavery.'
Michael J. Seidlinger's strange book has a boxer called Sugar engagingly narrating in first-person stream-of-consciousness.
In 'America's Great Game,' history professor Hugh Wilford deftly explores the CIA's passionate Arabists and the agency's role in the shaping of the modern Middle East, coups included.
Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's 'Our America: A Hispanic History of the United States' is a fascinating but problem-plagued polemic.
Magdalena Zyzak marks a wickedly good debut with the Eastern Europe-set 'The Ballad of Barnabas Pierkiel.'
New biographies of such historical figures as Josephine Baker, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Malcolm X sometimes omit life details, sometimes capture the person's contradictions.
E.L. Doctorow explores the tension between reality and memory in his new novel, 'Andrew's Brain.'
Ransom Riggs ('Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children') and Tahereh Mafi ('Shatter Me') are successful YA authors and an enchanting couple with new books on the way.
Russian-born American writer Gary Shteyngart delivers the memoir 'Little Failure,' in which a would-be maudlin childhood becomes an ecstatic depiction of survival, guilt and perseverance.
Q&A: In 'The Longest Date: Life as a Wife,' Cindy Chupack -- whose résumé includes writing for TV's 'Sex and the City' -- writes of what she has found surprising and funny (and tragic) about marriage.
Scientist Ray Jayawardhana finds explaining particle physics to the public in 'Secrets of the Universe' a 'rewarding and fun' exercise.
Colorful anecdotes and plot twists abound in a reissue of Rafael Bernal's Mexico City-set 'The Mongolian Conspiracy.'
Novelist Chang-rae Lee's dark ride into a dystopia presents a heroine seeking to discover community and family in a world that has moved long past them.
Cher, Joan Jett, Brooke Shields and more — Brad Elterman shot them all during the glamorous, decadent era. His images are the focus of a new book, 'Dog Dance.'
The enlightening collection includes poets from Muti' ibn Iyas in the 8th century to Sinan Antoon and more in the present.
Wil S. Hylton explores in vivid detail the 60-year mission of the search for American MIAs from WWII.
A collection from Elizabeth Spencer, a PEN/Malamud Award winner, features domestic dramas in which the most compelling dynamics unfold between parents and children, husbands and wives.
While pundits bemoan the death of print, Pitchfork and the L.A. Review of Books are among the online magazines embracing ink on paper
Sherill Tippins tells the remarkable story of the legendary New York building and its free-spirited residents over the decades.
'Dangerous Women,' an anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, features an impressive assembly of work, and a new novella by Martin.
Literature. Love. They get skewered — though generously — by Los Angeles author Mark Haskell Smith in his new novel, 'Raw: A Love Story.'