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Newsletter: Father Gregory Boyle brings ‘Barking to the Choir’ on Dec. 16

Father Gregory Boyle, founder and director of Homeboy Industries, in his office.
Father Gregory Boyle, founder and director of Homeboy Industries, in his office.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Los Angeles Times Book Club newsletter.

Every year 15,000 Angelenos flock to a hive of hustle, reinvention and second chances on the edge of Chinatown, where Father Gregory Boyle runs Homeboy Industries.

From Monday through Friday, former gang members come here to train for new jobs, take shifts in the 24-7 bakery and sign up for GED classes, counseling and tattoo removal. Boyle presides over it all, his office overlooking the headquarters’ glass front doors, his day filled with walk-in appointments.

In his second book, “Barking to the Choir,” Boyle shares the stories of the people he meets daily. “It’s been more than 30 years since I first met Dolores Mission Church as pastor,” he writes near the start of the book, “and ultimately came to watch Homeboy Industries, born in that poor, prophetic community in 1988, evolve into the largest gang intervention, rehab and reentry program on the planet.”

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“Barking to the Choir” is the latest L.A. Times Book Club selection. On Dec. 16, Boyle will join the book club for a 9 a.m. breakfast conversation with author Héctor Tobar at the California Endowment center downtown. Get tickets.

 Julie Andrews shares stories at a forum co-hosted by the Times Ideas Exchange in partnership with the L.A. Times Book Club.
Julie Andrews shares stories at a forum co-hosted by the Times Ideas Exchange in partnership with the L.A. Times Book Club.
(Ana Venegas/For The Times)

Her Hollywood stories

Julie Andrews joined Times readers on Nov. 18 to talk about her new memoir, “Home Work,” and early Hollywood career.

“Hello, book club people!” Andrews said, as the crowd of nearly 2,000 greeted her with a standing ovation at the Orpheum Theatre.

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Andrews said her book’s title reflects the catching up and learning she had to do as a young stage actress when movie opportunities first came her way, one after the other. Her break came when Walt Disney offered her the starring role in “Mary Poppins.”

She says she was stunned to take home the lead actress Oscar in 1965 and that she struggled with the sudden rush of fame. “It was very troubling and did knock me sideways,” Andrews told columnist Mary McNamara during their onstage conversation. “I decided there was a lot to work out, so I took myself to therapy, and it was the best thing I ever did.”

Want to know more about the book? Here’s the The Times’ interview with Andrews and review of the new book, plus film critic Justin Chang’s commentary.

Artist Retta Scott working on “Bambi,” featured in “The Queens of Animation.”
Artist Retta Scott working on “Bambi,” featured in “The Queens of Animation.”
(Ben Worchester)

News for book lovers

Check out these recent headlines and holiday week reads.

National Book Awards: Novelist Susan Choi and debut memoirist Sarah M. Broom took home the top honors at the 2019 awards this week.

Five of the best new music books: Memoirs by Elton John, Allison Moorer and Flea, a biography of Janis Joplin and a book Prince never got to finish stand out in a crowded field.

“Becoming” goes to the Grammys. If Michelle Obama wins, she’ll be in good White House company.

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Tommy Orange talks about why he runs six miles a day. Yes, there’s a “There There” sequel in the works.

Behind the scenes: A new book tells how the “Queens of Animation” transformed Disney.

This week’s L.A. book talks include skateboarding, poetry and the Pasta Grannies.

Join the L.A. Times Book Club Facebook Group to share your thoughts and join the conversation. And tell us: What books would you suggest for 2020?

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