As fires continue to burn across Southern California, I hope you and yours are safe. I’m Carolyn Kellogg, books editor at the LA Times, with this week’s newsletter.
THE BIG STORY
What can you get a book lover who has everything? A rare book might be the answer. Agatha French talks to antiquarian bookseller Dan Whitmore about what he’s got in his showroom in the heart of Pasadena and susses out what makes rare books special.
Award-winning critic Michelle Dean reviews “No Time To Spare,” the new collection of essays by Ursula K. Le Guin, which are taken from the 88-year old science fiction writer’s blog. “Is it an insult to Ursula K. Le Guin’s voluminous and varied body of work, or does it malign her stature as a public intellectual, if I admit that among my favorite things she has written are her stories about cats?” Dean asks.
And Tirhakah Love reviews “Parental Discretion Is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap” by Gerrick D. Kennedy. The book “caps off a 25th anniversary of the moment hip-hop's political utility became fully realized in the wake of the L.A. riots,” Love writes. “The story of Ruthless Records is the story of Compton in a blazing rage; it's the story of black independent business undone, internally, by the very forces it sought to fight off: betrayal, backbiting and a trickle-down business practice that saw adroit hip-hop lifers like D.O.C. and Ice Cube receiving the short end of the stick — at least early on.”
The No. 1 L.A. Times bestseller in fiction this week is the science fiction novel “Artemis” by Andy Weir. Last week we talked to Weir about his anxieties following up his surprise bestseller “The Martian.”
The No. 1 L.A. Times bestseller in nonfiction is “Leonardo da Vinci” by Walter Isaacson. Isaacson’s specialty is genius — he’s also written biographies of Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.
More in books
Attica Locke talks to us about how the contradictions of growing up black in Texas informed her book “Bluebird, Bluebird,” about black Texas ranger who investigates the deaths of two people in a small town — one white, one black.
Postmodern novelist and noted critic William Gass died this week. He was 93.
Gail Brandeis talked to Agatha French about her memoir “The Art of Misdiagnosis,” about illness, grief and her mother’s suicide. Brandeis reads in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Bill Gates shared his favorite reads of 2017, which include the novel “The Sympathizer” by Times critic at large Viet Thanh Nguyen.