These L.A. book events rival Labor Day barbecues and the beach

Author Brandy Colbert brings "The Revolution of Birdie Randolph" to Skylight Books.
(Jessie Weinberg / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Labor Day weekend is upon us, which means barbecues, beach days and, for many of us, a few blissful days off in which to sink into a juicy book.

It’s also a great chance to enjoy some of the stellar literary events that L.A. has to offer. This week’s slate has something for every kind of reader, a well-rounded array of ways to celebrate the holiday.

Looking for a DIY project? At Echo Park’s local library, beverage makers and botanists will provide a tutorial for crafting homemade drinks. Need a new page-turner to keep you company? Mystery-hounds can spend an afternoon with novelist Louise Penny.


Labor Day purists are welcome to Page Against the Machine’s “working class poetry” bash while L.A. historians and music-buffs can dive into the rise and demise of the L.A. punk scene with some of the movement’s founding members. And, for families, there’s a YA event for bonding over books too.

If you’re looking for a literary long weekend (or week), this lineup is worth celebrating.

Botany at the Bar. Learn to make your own bitters, tinctures and herbal infusions at this festive book-talk at the Edendale Branch Library on Saturday afternoon. “Botany at the Bar” author Rachel Meyer will facilitate a “hands-on botanical exploration” and provide tasty homemade soda samples. Recipe contributors Jim Merson, owner of Hot Dog Sodas, and Christian Schaal, bar manager of the hip Frogtown venue Zebulon, will join her. Beat the heat with a lesson on photochemisty, biodiverity and beverages.

Noon Saturday at the Edendale Branch Library 2011 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles. Free.

Talk crime with Louise Penny. At a recent book-swap I attended, there was much praise among mystery-buffs of Louise Penny’s best-selling and award-winning Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, which follows the titular character as he investigates secrets and crimes in the idyllic, and fictional, village of Three Pines, Quebec. In the latest installment, “A Better Man,” Gamache is back as head of homicide — and helping a father search for his daughter’s killer. Presented by Vroman’s Bookstore, Penny brings the book to the Theatre at Ace Hotel on Sunday; the ticket price includes a pre-signed copy.

3 p.m. Sunday at the Theatre at Ace Hotel, 929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles. $45.

Labor Day Bash in Long Beach. Page Against the Machine, a Long Beach bookstore slinging “fightin’ words for mass defiance, empowerment and self-reliance,” hosts an on-theme Labor Day Bash on Monday. To celebrate the spirit of the holiday, the bookstore will offer “Working Class Poetry” readings by Fred Voss, Bill Mohr, Jane Sprague and more. It also will be “bucking the system” with an all-day “buck-a-book sidewalk sale” and light refreshments.

11 a.m. Monday at Page Against the Machine, 2714 E. 4th St., Long Beach. Free.

L.A. punk at the Last Bookstore. John Doe and Tom DeSavia’s first book, “Under the Big Black Sun,” traced the rise of the West Coast Punk scene in the late 1970s. Now, the authors are back with a second volume, “More Fun in the New World,” covering the movement’s evolution and legacy. Doe, a founding member of the seminal punk bank X, and DeSavia, a music executive, will join musicians Angelo Moore of Fishbone and Keith Morris of Black Flag and Circle Jerks in a panel discussion. It’s a rare chance to revisit one of L.A.’s most storied music scenes alongside some of its original artists.

7 p.m. Wednesday at The Last Bookstore, 453, S. Spring St., Los Angeles. $28.


Brandy Colbert reads at Skylight Books. If you’re looking for a book — or an event — for teen readers, head over to Skylight Books on Wednesday. Stonewall Children’s Award Winner and YA novelist Brandy Colbert will read from “The Revolution of Birdie Randolph,” a coming-of-age story about forbidden first love, grief, addiction, race and family. Fellow novelist and Angeleno Jade Chang will be on hand to interview Colbert.

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