Beer, Barack, Biden and books: Not all heroes wear capes at this week’s L.A. literary events

Author J. Ryan Stradal appears at two upcoming book events
Author J. Ryan Stradal will discuss “The Lager Queen of Minnesota” at two upcoming events.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

It’s officially been summer for well over a month now, but after the recent heat wave and the arrival of August we’re really in deep. What better way to chill out than with a few stellar book events in some glorious bookstore AC?

From political fan-fiction that imagines Barack Obama and Joe Biden as a crime-fighting duo to a workshop on creating your own comic book character, the roundup this week is a good reminder that not all heroes wear capes. In fact, we’d argue that some heroes wear dust jackets. So here are five book events to save your life this week.

The bromance continues. If you’re pining for the previous administration and craving an escapist summer read, Andrew Shaffer has the cure for what ails you. In “Hope Rides Again,” the sequel to his popular novel “Hope Never Dies,” Shaffer reprises Obama and Biden in their roles as crime-fighters, uncovering a vast conspiracy on the streets of Chicago. Even if you aren’t a fan of Biden’s presidential bid, it’s amusing to imagine him as Watson to Obama’s Holmes, solving mysteries together. “Hope Rides Again” is a fan-fiction, buddy-comedy and mystery mash-up, and you can catch the author at Chevalier’s Books on Sunday.

5:30 p.m. Sunday at Chevalier’s Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles. Free


Why are there words? Find out at the award-winning literary series “Why There Are Words,” which presents a range of emerging, mid-career and established writers, and returns on Sunday with a lineup addressing “A Radical Interpretation of Survival in Literature.” Hosted by Patrick O’Neil and Ashley Perez, the series is in its third year and already an essential fixture in the local literary ecosystem. August’s readers include Rachel Howzell Hall, Arminé Iknadossian, Aatif Rashid, Carla Sameth, Sehba Sarwar and former Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin.

6:30 p.m. Sunday, 1614 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Free

Cheers for this sophomore novel. Times reporter Jessica Gelt aptly described J. Ryan Stradal’s charming debut, “Kitchens of the Great Midwest,” as “part foodie fantasy, part family drama and all heart.” In his second book, “The Lager Queen of Minnesota,” Stradal returns to the kind of family saga and complex female characters that he writes so well. The story of two estranged sisters and the inheritance that pulls their family apart, “The Lager Queen” also is about rival beer ventures, which is why Los Angeles Ale Works in Hawthorne will be serving suds at Stradal’s Monday night signing, hosted by Pages Bookstore. Beer tasting and books are a perfect pair, but in case you miss it, you’ll have another chance to catch Stradal and “The Lager Queen” at Chevalier’s on Wednesday.

7 p.m. Monday at Los Angeles Ale Works, 2918 Cerise Ave., Hawthorne. $40; 7 p.m. Wednesday at Chevalier’s Books. Free

Two women talk “In the Country of Women.” Author Susan Straight heads to Skylight Books on Tuesday to discuss her new memoir, “In the Country of Women,” which braids the story of Straight’s hometown of Riverside with the stories of the women ancestors who made their way west. “Her vibrant pages are filled with people of churned-together blood culled from scattered immigrants and native peoples, indomitable women and their babies,” writes Janet Kinosian in a Times review. The book is a reminder that “we are all the result of indomitable women who survive, thrive and soldier onward.” Straight, a recipient of the L.A. Times Book Prize’s Robert Kirsch Award for Lifetime Achievement, will be joined in conversation by columnist and author Patt Morrison.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Skylight Books, 1818 N Vermont Ave., Los Angeles. Free

Paging the next comic book hero. Comic-book lovers and aspiring authors will get the inside scoop on how to create their own comic character at this intimate workshop at Book Show bookstore in Highland Park on Thursday. Cartoonist, illustrator, editor and publisher Tara Madison Avery will provide an overview of comics trends and genres, including mainstream superhero, indie comics and manga, and guide participants through the process of creating a character suited to their story. The workshop will include some drawing instruction, but note that materials are not included and only 10 spots are available. This event requires tickets.


7 p.m. Thursday at Book Show, 5503 N. Figueroa St., Los Angeles. $20