Book Club: Join our ‘Compton Cowboys’ June meetup


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

Our June read, “The Compton Cowboys,” a true story of race, identity and belonging by journalist Walter Thompson-Hernández, tells the story of men and women who found their way to a small urban ranch as an alternative to gangs.

Thompson-Hernández writes that he first encountered the cowboys on shopping trips with his mother to the Compton Swap Meet, not far from their home in Huntington Park. At age 6, he was mesmerized by the sight of young men on horseback.

“As I watched them ride at dusk,” he writes, “I recognized something inherent in the cowboys who existed in every western film and every hip-hop song: These black men were nonconformist, independent, and strong.”

Thompson-Hernández joins Times readers on at 7 p.m. on June 24 to discuss “The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America’s Urban Heartland.” The book club’s virtual meet-up will be livestreamed on The Times’ Facebook page, on YouTube and on Twitter. Chevalier’s Books has signed copies available for the event.


Join the conversation in the book club’s Facebook group.

Journalist Walter Thompson-Hernández and his book "Compton Cowboys."

Reading the apocalypse

On Tuesday, author Emily St. John Mandel told book club readers about her inspiration for the pandemic classic “Station Eleven,” the genesis of the Traveling Symphony’s motto “Because survival is insufficient” and how she ended up writing bestselling novels without ever having graduated from high school or college.

If you missed our live event, you can still watch Mandel in conversation with Times reporter Carolina A. Miranda on Facebook or YouTube. And don’t miss Mark Potts’ intro video, which includes author and former Times books editor David L. Ulin talking about why we’re all drawn to apocalyptic fiction, even in the middle of a global pandemic.

The Times recently published this end-of-the-world reading list with suggestions from Mandel and other authors. Meanwhile, readers continue to share their favorite reads too.

“Missing from the apocalyptic list — and a great Los Angeles writer — Carolyn See’s ‘Golden Days,’” says newsletter reader Lori Hultin.

And from Patricia Evans: “My absolute favorite is ‘Doomsday Book’ by Connie Willis — a time travel book back to 1348 during the height of the plague in England. I’ve read it at least five times, particularly when I feel down. The characters, both in the past and in the ‘present’ are so valiant, it always uplifts me.”

She adds: “And you can never go wrong with ‘On the Beach’ by Nevil Shute.”

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Keep reading

Around the world in eight novels. While you’re stuck at home for Memorial Day weekend, check out our roundup of globe-trotting fiction to Asia, Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean.

What’s it like to cook for a dictator? A new collection of essays reviewed by the Washington Post takes readers inside the kitchens of Saddam Hussein, Pol Pot and more.

On the importance of daily news. Michael Connelly spoke with Paula Woods about “Fair Warning,” his new thriller that sees the return of newspaper reporter Jack McEvoy. “I wanted to write about a reporter who’s undaunted and fierce in trying to find the hidden truth,” he said.

And finally, the new rules for local bookshops. A partial reopening brings hope and anxiety. Here’s Dorany Pineda’s report.

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?