Welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club, an opportunity to see, hear and interact with world-class authors and newsmakers as they discuss their books and tell their stories.
Every month, we share book club selections, publish stories exploring the topic and invite you to read along. Then we host a community event with the authors and invite you to join that, too. Our focus is on stories and storytellers relevant to Southern California and the West, and our mission is to make your newspaper something not just to read but to experience — something that brings us together.
I’m your host and editor Donna Wares, and my goal is to get L.A. reading and talking. So tell us: What stories do you want to share with the city? What authors would you most like to meet? Here’s your chance to help us build something amazing.
Our June book selection is “The Beauty in Breaking” by Michele Harper.
Harper joins book club readers June 29 for conversation with Times reporter Marissa Evans about her bestselling memoir about her life as an ER doctor. Sign up on Eventbrite.
“When I was in high school, I would write poetry,” Harper says in a Times interview. “Then I started the medical path, and it beat the words out of me. I felt I’d lost the capacity to write or speak well, but there were stories that stayed with me — this sense of humanity and spirituality that called to me from my work in the medical practice.”
We featured Harper’s memoir this year in the United We Read series, Heather John Fogarty’s reading journey through every U.S. state during the pandemic.
Our May book club pick is “Interior Chinatown,” Charles Yu’s 2020 National Book Award-winning novel about into pop culture, Hollywood and Asian stereotypes.
Yu joined us May 27 for a conversation with Times film critic Justin Chang. Watch now.
Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of “The Committed,” joined book club readers March 10 for a conversation with Times columnist Carolina A. Miranda. Watch here.
Nguyen’s novel is a sequel to “The Sympathizer,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2016. “The Sympathizer” told the story of a conflicted double agent in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. The sequel follows Nguyen’s protagonist to Paris. “I wasn’t done with his story,” Nguyen says.
Australian writer Charlotte McConaghy, author of the novel “Migrations,” joins us from Sydney for a Feb. 24 conversation with Times reporter Rosanna Xia.
“Migrations” has drawn praise from reviewers for its powerful discussion of climate issues. The novel’s plot twists have attracted Hollywood, too: Claire Foy and Benedict Cumberbach are adapting “Migrations” for film.
“I wanted to energize people and myself and come out of the other side of despair and apathy and into a place of hope, love and action,” McConaghy says in a Times interview.
UPDATE: Book Club Giveaway: When you sign up for this free book club event on Eventbrite, you are automatically entered in a drawing to receive an advance copy of Charlotte McConaghy’s next book, “Once There Were Wolves,” which will be published in August.
NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Sweepstakes runs from 2/23/21 at 10 a.m. PT to 2/24/21 at 8:30 p.m. PT. Open only to legal residents of 50 US & DC who are 18+. Void where prohibited & outside sweepstakes area. To enter, complete free event sign-up at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/virtual-book-club-with-author-charlotte-mcconaghy-tickets-139709493857. If you have already signed up, you’re automatically entered. Limit 1 entry per person. 5 Prizes: Galley copy of “Once There Were Wolves.” ARV of each: $27.99. Odds depend on # of elig. entries. Full rules at sign-up page. Sponsor: Los Angeles Times, 2300 E. Imperial Hwy, El Segundo, CA 90245. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter.
Writings on a hidden America: Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, author of “The Undocumented Americans,” and Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, author of “Children of the Land,” talk about immigration and family with Times editor Steve Padilla. Watch here.
The L.A. Times Book Club explores the legacy and prolific writing of science fiction writer Octavia E. Butler. Step inside her L.A. world with this interactive map.
Giveaway: This event included the book club’s first book giveaway, made possible with a donation from the estate of Octavia E. Butler and literary agent Merrilee Heifetz. The giveaway includes five of Butler’s books: “Kindred;” “Parable of the Sower;”“Parable of the Talents;” “Wild Seed;” and“Fledgling.” The other books are: “Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora,” edited by Sheree R. Thomas; “Binti: The Complete Trilogy” by Nnedi Okorafor;“An Unkindness of Ghosts” by Rivers Solomon; “Pet” by Akwaeke Emezi ; and “How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?” by N.K. Jemisin. Nov. 19, 2020 update: We had an amazing reader response to our meetup and book giveaway. All 700 books have now been claimed!
Reading guide: How to chose your next Octavia E. Butler book
Book excerpt: ‘A Handful of Earth, A Handful of Sky’ reveals Octavia E. Butler’s early life in Pasadena
Book club newsletter: Octavia E. Butler’s Pasadena and giveaway
On Sept. 24 the L.A. Times Book Club hosted Black Poets in a Time of Unrest, featuring National Book Award winner Robin Coste Lewis, the Los Angeles poet laureate, in conversation with reporter Makeda Easter.
Lewis joined a lineup of poet performers sharing their experiences in verse: Natalie J. Graham, Ashaki M. Jackson, Douglas Kearney, jayy dodd, Amaud Jamaul Johnson, Khadijah Queen and Kima Jones, the co-host of the event with the L.A. Times Book Club. Watch it.
The August book selection is” The Vanishing Half,” Brit Bennett’s bestselling novel about twin sisters, identity and family secrets. “You can escape a town but you can not escape blood.”
Bennett joined book club readers Aug. 25 for a conversation with Times writer Carla Hall. Watch here.
“Why We Swim” by Bonnie Tsui is the book club’s July selection.
Tsui, a Bay Area journalist, surfer and former competitive swimmer, joined Times reporter and masters swimmer James Rainey July 28 for a virtual meetup. Long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox shared her favorite passage during the event.
“Why We Swim” is a mix of memoir, history and swim adventure that journeys from the California Coast to Iceland’s swim culture to the “Hawaii” of the South China Sea.
“The Compton Cowboys,” a true story about identity and belonging by Walter Thompson-Hernández, is the June selection.
The book traces the history and fragile legacy of black cowboys in a Los Angeles bedroom community. The cowboys’ credo: “Streets raised us. Horses saved us.”
Thompson-Hernández joined us June 24 for a conversation with Times reporter Angel Jennings. Here are 5 Things to know about The Compton Cowboys.
Emily St. John Mandel, author of the bestselling pandemic novel “Station Eleven,” joined the Los Angeles Times Book Club on May 19. Her new book, “The Glass Hotel,” revolves around another issue of great current concern — a financial crisis.
Watch Mandel in conversation with Times reporter Carolina A. Miranda.
Mandel and other authors, including Susan Orlean, T.C. Boyle, Marlon James, Charlie Jane Anders and Jess Walter, helped us put together this end-of-the-world reading list.
Writer Fanny Singer and her mother, renowned chef Alice Waters, will join Los Angeles Times Book Club readers on April 21 for a virtual meet-up from Waters’ home kitchen in Berkeley.
During April we read “Always Home: A Daughter’s Recipes & Stories,” Fanny Singer’s memoir about growing up at an epicenter of California cuisine. Singer is the daughter of Alice Waters, the chef behind Chez Panisse Café in Berkeley and the founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project.
Singer’s memoir with recipes strikes just the right note for this strange time of sheltering in place. “It feels like a moment to redefine how we relate to the things that we consume,” Singer says in an interview. Her favorite roast chicken recipe is here.
On March 30, the L.A. Times Book Club rebooted with its first virtual event: novelists Steph Cha and Joe Ide joined Times reporter Maria L. La Ganga to discuss the new world of L.A. noir.
Cha is the author of the bestselling 2019 thriller “Your House Will Pay.” Ide’s new mystery is “Hi Five,” the fourth book in his “IQ” detective series set in East Long Beach. The book club conversation streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.
On Saturday, Feb. 15, former Los Angeles poet laureate Luis J. Rodriguez discussed “From Our Land to Our Land,” a new collection about race, culture and identity, with Times reporter Daniel Hernandez at the Colony Theatre in Burbank.
On Jan. 27, author Ocean Vuong shared his debut novel, “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous,” with Times arts and culture reporter Carolina A. Miranda at the Montalban Theatre.
On Dec. 16, the book club welcomed Homeboy Industries founder Gregory Boyle for a breakfast conversation with author Héctor Tobar about “Barking to the Choir.” Read our interview with Boyle and five things to know about his book and his work. For school groups and book clubs, here’s a discussion guide to “Barking to the Choir.”
On Nov. 18, Julie Andrews shared stories from “Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years” in a conversation with Pulitzer Prize-winning Times columnist Mary McNamara at the Orpheum Theatre.
On Oct. 22, Ronan Farrow discussed surveillance, counter-surveillance and the stories behind “Catch and Kill,” his new book detailing sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men. Read The Times’ interview with Farrow.
On Oct. 21, best-selling crime writer Michael Connelly joined book club readers for the launch of “The Night Fire.” He also previewed two upcoming books and talked about living with the same character for 27 years.
Keep reading: Here’s a look at 15 iconic Harry Bosch haunts across L.A., plus 20 essential L.A. crime books, and this special report on why L.A. is the perpetual dark heart of crime writing.
On Sept. 10, actor and author George Takei discussed “They Called Us Enemy,” a graphic memoir about his childhood years in Japanese American internment camps during World War II. Watch a segment from the event on LA Times Today.
For book clubs and school groups, here is a discussion guide.
In June we read “The Library Book” by bestselling author Susan Orlean and hosted a community forum where Orlean and readers shared library stories. We also took a deep dive to explore what L.A. is reading right now and showed book lovers how to read for free with library apps.
The L.A. Times Book Club builds on the success of America’s largest literary event, the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, which attracts 150,000 people every April. Our community book club keeps the storytelling and conversation going year-round.
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The L.A. Times Book Club Facebook group is a chance to share your thoughts and compare notes with fellow book lovers. Please join the discussion there too.