Kick off the new year with these L.A. book talks

YA author Cecil Castellucci
YA author Cecil Castellucci will discuss “The Plain Janes” at Vroman’s on Thursday.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)
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This week’s literary lineup features a National Book Award winner, bestselling authors and some great options for kids.

Here’s the full slate of book events:

Hard to Read returns

Author Fiona Alison Duncan’s independent literary series Hard to Read, which in recent years earned a reputation for hosting provocative, interdisciplinary programming around the city, returns this weekend with two events: one for adults and one for kids. On Saturday, Duncan will present her novel “Exquisite Mariposaat retailer Eckhaus Latta alongside readers Kayla Ephros, Dena Yago and N.J. Slade. The following day, Hard to Read Kids will bring crafts, snacks and children’s literature to Hollywood’s El Centro Apartments and Bungalows with artists Alake Shilling and Flannery Silva.

5 p.m. Saturday at Eckhaus Latta, 980B N Broadway, Los Angeles. Free.
3 p.m. Sunday at El Centro Apartments and Bungalows, 6200 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. Free with RSVP to


Frankenstein’s children

The Philosophical Research Society launches a new lecture series, “Human Being/Being Human in the Digital Age,” on Tuesday with a discussion of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Founded in 1934 by Manly P. Hall “as a repository of the world’s wisdom,” the society’s campus includes a library, bookstore, auditorium and art gallery, and lately its bookish programming has been taking off. Greg Sayler, society president, will examine Frankenstein as a metaphor for humanity’s relationship to technology throughout history.

7 p.m. Tuesday at the Philosophical Research Society, 3910 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles. Free.

How to battle racism

Ibram X. Kendi will discuss his 2019 memoir, “How to Be an Antiracist,” at the Hammer on Wednesday. Kendi is founding director of the Antiracist Research and Policy Center at American University, and his book weaves ethics, history, law, science and personal narrative into a work that illuminates how racism works and how to oppose it. Kendi also is the author of “Stamped From the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America,” which won the National Book Award for nonfiction, and “The Black Campus Movement,” which won the W.E.B. Du Bois Book Prize.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. Free.

How to survive high school

L.A. author Cecil Castellucci brings her latest YA novel, “The Plain Janes,” to Vroman’s on Thursday. When teenage misfit Jane Beckles moves to the suburbs, she meets a group of girls with the same name (Brain Jayne, Theater Jane and sporty Polly Jane) who quickly form a secret club bent on making art and surviving high school. Caldecott Medal-winning illustrator Dan Santat will join Castellucci in conversation. A book signing will follow their talk.

7 p.m. Thursday at Vroman’s Bookstore, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena. Free.


Consider Chuck Palahniuk

Author Chuck Palahniuk of “Fight Club” fame will sign his new title, “Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different,” at Book Soup on Friday. One part memoir and one part craft book, “Consider This” offer’s Palahniuk’s practical advice on what makes good writing. (Note: This event is a book signing only.)

12 p.m. Friday at Book Soup, 8818 Sunset Blvd.; West Hollywood. Free.