The best panels at the L.A. Times Festival of Books, according to an L.A. bookseller

L:A. Times Festival of Books graphic
(Patrick Hruby)

Jessica Ferri, owner of Womb House Books, shares the panels she’s most excited about at the 2024 Festival of Books


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

For the next few editions of the newsletter, you’ll be hearing directly from folks in the book world. Next up …


I’m Jessica Ferri, a writer for The Times and the owner of Womb House Books, a secondhand online shop specializing in 20th century literature by women. We will have a booth (No. 122) at the festival, so come on down and visit us! In addition to books, we’ll be selling our author hats, so choose your L.A. it-girl fighter while supplies last: Eve Babitz or Joan Didion.

In book news, I think this season is an explosion of blessings of writing by women. Sheila Heti’s new book, “Alphabetical Diaries,” is a veritable art bible. Then there’s Maggie Nelson’s new collection of essays and conversations, “Like Love,” and Miranda July’s latest novel, “All Fours,” coming in May. In June we have Rachel Cusk’s new novel, “Parade,” and in July, Sarah Manguso’s second novel, “Liars.”

(Please note: The Times may earn a commission through links to, whose fees support independent bookstores.)

The L.A. Times Festival of Books is finally here!

I’m moderating what I think will be the best event at the festival, “Love and Friendship: Miranda July and Maggie Nelson in Conversation,” on Saturday at 1:30. We’re going to be discussing the concept of “feeling real” in our relationships — love in marriage and the perils of having a human body. Maggie and Miranda are two of the most audacious thinkers and artists, and it will be such a thrill to have them onstage together.

Also, on Sunday at 12:30, Belletrist’s Karah Preiss will be moderating a conversation between Melissa Broder, Henry Hoke, Isle McElroy, and Jennine Capó Crucet called “Make It Weirder: Body Swapping, Giant Cacti, and Celebrity Impersonators in Contemporary Fiction.” Broder’s most recent novel, “Death Valley” (which I reviewed for The Times), is a book about grief that somehow manages to be hilarious. Tickets are required for both events.


The Week(s) in Books

Books comp
(Various publishers)

If you’re into literary takedowns, Ann Manov’s Bookforum review of Lauren Oyler’s most recent book of essays, “No Judgment,” may go down in history, thanks to lines like this: “Oyler clearly wishes to be a person who says brilliant things — the Renata Adler of looking at your phone a lot — but she lacks the curiosity that would permit her to do so.”

Sophie Kinsella, the author of “Shopaholic” and other books, announced on social media that she is under treatment for brain cancer. “To everyone who is suffering from cancer in any form I send love and best wishes, as well as to those who love and support them” she wrote. “It can feel very lonely and scary to have a tough diagnosis.”

Scribner editor Emily Polson created a stir when she posted a photo of a box of galleys of “Didion and Babitz” by Lili Anolik, calling them “Literary It Girls.” Most were excited by the book, but some took issue with Babitz and Didion being paired together, leading Polson to issue an apology.

“The PEN Awards and World Voices Festival is on the brink of collapse” according to Literary Hub, due to what many feel is a total lack of response to the war in Gaza. Nearly 30 writers and translators have pulled out of the awards. In an open letter, they write: “We cannot, in good faith, align with an organization that has shown such blatant disregard of our collective values.”

Bookstore faves

Some of the 6,000 books cataloged at "A Good Used Book."
Some of the 6,000 books cataloged at “A Good Used Book.”
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

For this week’s bookseller conversation, I spoke to past festivalgoers Jenny Yang and Chris Capizzi, owners of Filipinotown’s new A Good Used Book shop. Here’s what they had to say about curating their new space.

What would you say your specialization is in? What makes “a good used book?”

We definitely love vintage paperbacks, which we set out in wine crates like records so people can flip through them, cover to cover. We want a whole new generation to discover them. We focus mostly on modern and classic literature including poetry and plays, genre fiction like science fiction and crime, nonfiction in the humanities, sciences and social sciences as well as occult and spirituality, modern and contemporary art and culture of all kinds. I think we’re looking for all the different ways the human experience is interpreted and expressed, and we look to provide a wide variety of ways people communicate those experiences in print.

Tell us about the new shop, the location and neighborhood.

We’re located in Historic Filipinotown near Echo Park, Silver Lake and downtown Los Angeles. We have great neighbors like Clark Street Bread, Grá Pizza, Laveta Coffee and Butchr Bar, so there’s a lot to do. And we have Echo Park Lake just a few blocks away, with Vista Hermosa Park, the local favorite, even closer.

What do you think of L.A. book culture? What are your customers looking for?


There are great bookstores that have been around and are still going strong on this side of L.A.: Alias East in Atwater Village, Counterpoint Records and Books in Hollywood, Sideshow Books in Miracle Mile, Stories in Echo Park and the Last Bookstore downtown. Also can’t forget about the Secret Headquarters comic shop that’s been going on 18 years and just got a new location in Atwater Village. And we’re excited to be part of a new class, along with Untitled Books, Heavy Manners Library and Des Pair Books, working toward nurturing our communities around books.

What’s the most popular title and/or who is the most popular author you sell?

Currently our most popular title is “Everything Now” by Rosecrans Baldwin. We call it the “gateway drug” to Los Angeles literature. It’s a great book for transplants and native Angelenos to better understand Los Angeles through its history, its artists and its authors. And it’s just fun to read.

What are your and Jenny’s favorite books of all time, and what are you reading now in terms of new books?

One of Jenny’s favorite books is “Breast and Eggs” by Meiko Kawakami, a novel translated from Japanese that sheds light on femininity through female relationships and a woman’s relationship to her own body. She just finished reading Han Kang’s novel “Greek Lessons ,” her follow-up to “The Vegetarian,” a thought-provoking thriller about how one woman’s choice to stop eating meat changes the course of her life and the lives around her.

My favorite book of all-time is probably “Black Boy” by Richard Wright, and I’m currently finishing up Kazuo Ishiguro’s latest, “Klara and the Sun,” a speculative fiction novel told from the point of view of an android companion.