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Newsletter: Book Club: Join Julie Andrews in L.A.

Julie Andrews
(Andrew Eccles / PBS)

Good morning, and welcome to the Book Club newsletter.

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Get the latest news and notes from our Book Club.

Julie Andrews made her film debut with “Mary Poppins,” which earned her an Oscar in 1965, an auspicious year in which she also starred in “The Sound of Music.” In her new memoir, “Home Work,” Andrews talks about the challenges of making the transition from Broadway to Hollywood star.

After reading the “Mary Poppins” script, she knew her debut would require her to fly. But she didn’t know it would be so hard. “What I hadn’t bargained on was how many different tricks it would take to pull it off on-screen,” she writes.

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Those tricks included having duplicate costumes in larger sizes to hide a harness, steel panels and the wires used to suspend her in flying scenes. “It’s amazing to me that, even now, one doesn’t see the technical difficulties in ‘Mary Poppins’ that were ever-present while shooting,” she writes. “In those days there were no computers to assist with special effects.”

Her memoir offers an insider account of “Mary Poppins,” as well as the films that followed.

“Andrews’ reminiscences of ‘Mary Poppins’ are mainly focused on the enormously hard work she put into it, the intensity with which she threw herself into her singing, dancing and especially acting,” says Times film critic Justin Chang. “If there is a lesson here, it isn’t just that practice makes perfect; it’s that humility begets authority.”

On Nov. 18, Julie Andrews will discuss “Home Work” in a conversation with Times columnist Mary McNamara at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, and we’d love for you to join us for it. A limited number of seats still are available for the event, co-hosted by the L.A. Times Book Club and the Ideas Exchange. Get tickets here.

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The book club audience listens to author Ronan Farrow discuss “Catch and Kill.”
The book club audience listens to author Ronan Farrow discuss “Catch and Kill.”
(Francine Orr/Los Angeles Times)

Our fall doubleheader

Our growing community book club hosted conversations with two very different bestselling authors this past month, crime novelist Michael Connelly and investigative journalist Ronan Farrow.

On Oct. 21, Connelly launched “The Night Fire” with book club readers at the Montalbán Theatre, and he shared some news: He’ll give detective Harry Bosch a break and instead publish two books next year that focus on a reporter and the defense lawyer at the heart of “The Lincoln Lawyer.” Actor Titus Welliver, who plays Bosch on TV, made a surprise appearance at the event, too. Here’s a peek at it.

On Oct. 22, Farrow talked about surveillance, counter-surveillance and the stories behind “Catch and Kill.” He said the book, which details sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein and other powerful men, is ultimately a tale of hope. “It’s the story of really brave people,” Farrow told a packed house at the Orpheum Theatre, “people who refused to shut up.” Watch a Spectrum News 1 segment from the event here.

Stay tuned — we’ll be announcing our December book club selection soon.

Ann Patchett at Nashville’s Parnassus Books, where Sparky is one of the canine helpers.
Ann Patchett at Nashville’s Parnassus Books, where Sparky is one of the canine helpers.
(Heidi Ross)

Talking books

Here are a few snippets from recent author interviews in The Times:

When asked how her independent bookstore will fare when an Amazon store moves in across the street, novelist Ann Patchett replies: “They don’t have a deaf border collie who jumps through hoops.”

When asked why he jumped to Amazon publishing for his new thriller series, Dean Koontz says: “I’m not fond of change; it just seems that sometimes change becomes necessary to keep things fresh and inspire creativity.”

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When asked about a new collection of Joan Didion’s work, editor David L. Ulin observes: “Her inner weather is not the cliché of the ‘sunny California.’ She’s got a dread point of view.”

And when asked about the inspiration for “Movies (and Other Things),” author Shea Serrano says: “Everybody who cares about movies in a certain way, you eventually end up back at the same five or six feelings that a movie gave you. And I have to write about the movies that I like in a way that allows me to get back to those feelings.”

Access Books is working to renovate school libraries across L.A.
Access Books is working to renovate school libraries across L.A.
(Liz O. Baylen / Los Angeles Times)

Books for L.A. schools

If you’ve attended a book club event, you may have met Rebecca Constantino and the Access Books team in the lobby. This school year, the L.A. nonprofit is renovating and restocking 18 school libraries. Here are a few ways you can help the next generation of L.A. readers:

1. Make a donation. The Times is matching contributions up to $100,000.

2. Donate books. Access Books welcomes books for elementary school readers.

3. Volunteer. Spend a Saturday refurbishing a school library.

4. Start a book drive. Sponsor an underserved school as a community service project.

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Get more info at www.accessbooks.net.

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