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Book Club: Talk memoir and food in Alice Waters’ kitchen at our next virtual event April 21

"Always Home"
(Brigitte Lacombe; Knopf, left; Megan Alldis)

Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. Times Book Club newsletter.

We’re reading “Always Home,” Fanny Singer’s recipe-filled memoir about growing up in the orbit of her celebrity-chef mom, Alice Waters. And it feels like the perfect book while everyone’s locked in and cooking at home.

For the record:

6:30 PM, Apr. 17, 2020An earlier version of this newsletter misstated the title of Fanny Singer’s memoir as “Almost Home.” It is “Always Home.”

Our next virtual book club night is April 21, when Singer and Waters will join Times arts and entertainment editor Laurie Ochoa and me for a virtual meetup streamed from the kitchen of Waters’ Berkeley home. The 7 p.m. book talk is free, and you can connect live through the Los Angeles Times’ Facebook page or on YouTube.

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Published on March 31, “Always Home” is a portrait of both daughter and mother that takes readers along to family meals, to Waters’ restaurant Chez Panisse and on their travels around the world. Waters wrote the book’s foreword. Skylight Books is handling book sales for our event and has a limited number of copies available with signed bookplates.

Writer Martin Wolk interviewed Singer this week for an upcoming story, and that inspired him to try her favorite roast chicken for his family’s virtual seder. Here’s his recap and the recipe. (Bottom line: Dinner was delicious, even though he didn’t follow all the directions.)

For more comfort food, try the author’s recipe for Coming Home Pasta, a dish Singer and Waters like to whip up after returning from a trip. The recipe, Singer writes, “is very open to interpretation and should be adapted to whatever you have on hand.”

Fanny Singer and her mother, Alice Waters.
(Brigitte Lacombe)

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Noir night

Thank you to everyone who joined our first virtual book club event with crime writers Steph Cha and Joe Ide, who talked about their fictional heroes and noir stories as we streamed the conversation live from The Times’ Facebook page and YouTube. If you missed the March 30 event, check it out on YouTube.

Cha brought basset hounds Milo and Duke. Everyone brought their own cocktails. And Times readers followed up and asked about the books Cha and Ide shared with interviewer Maria La Ganga. So here’s a rundown: Ten crime writers to read while under house arrest.

Left to right, Maria La Ganga, Milo the basset hound and Steph Cha.
(Los Angeles Times staff)

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Everybody counts

Here are a few ways to connect and help while bookstores, schools and libraries are shut down.

Shop indie booksellers online. Stores may be closed but many booksellers in Los Angeles and elsewhere still are taking orders through their websites and offering curbside pickup. “As of now, online orders and phone orders are just barely keeping us afloat,” says Theresa Le Phung, assistant manager at Chevalier’s Books. “The real problem, however, is unpredictability.”

Bosch T-shirts are back. Author Michael Connelly resumed selling limited-edition shirts emblazoned with fictional detective Harry Bosch’s credo, “Everybody counts or nobody counts.” All proceeds will benefit the Book Industry Charitable Foundation’s new SaveIndieBookstores campaign, which is helping shops struggling during the coronavirus crisis. The campaign’s backers include author James Patterson, actress Reese Witherspoon’s book club, the Book Industry Charitable Foundation and the American Booksellers Association.

Books for kids. Readers who have attended our live L.A. Times Book Club events know all about Access Books, the Los Angeles nonprofit that refurbishes and stocks school libraries in low-income neighborhoods. Since the pandemic hit, director Rebecca Constantine and her team have been collecting books and donations to buy books for foster kids and other children who don’t have anything to read while schools are closed. Find more information at accessbooks.net.

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Reach out. The Los Angeles Public Library is closed, so librarians are working from home to staff the InfoNow desk and provide help finding ebooks, audiobooks, movies and more. “All of a sudden the world has changed so dramatically,” says senior librarian Tina Princenthal. “A lot of the questions we were getting were, ‘How do I return this book?’ But more so they were about, ‘How do I maintain a sense of normalcy when the world feels so out of control?’”

Senior librarian Tina Princenthal, who staffs the Los Angeles Public Library's InfoNow desk, works from home.
(From Tina Princenthal)

Book prizes go virtual


This year’s Los Angeles Times Book Prizes ceremony will be free, open to all and hosted virtually.

The awards presentation, which usually kicks off the now-rescheduled Festival of Books, will begin at 8 a.m. on April 17. The 14 winners will be announced on the L.A. Times Books Twitter page.

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“While we’re really going to miss the community that gathers in person,” says Ann Binney, The Times’ special projects coordinator, “we’ve reinvented the celebration for the moment that we’re in right now.”

Help us get L.A. reading and talking.

The Los Angeles Times Book Club is your chance to help us build something amazing. It’s about much more than the remarkable books we read. It’s about coming together to share an experience.

Stay tuned for more events and conversations, and stay in touch. Tell us: What stories do you want to share? What authors would you most like to meet?


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