Surf, schools, critters, comics and the Didion hive: 5 great book events this week


This week’s five essential book events showcase comic creators, wave riders and L.A. luminaries paying tribute to Joan Didion.

Animal house

Win big points with your kids at this confluence of two childhood obsessions: comic books and animals. The name might be a bit of a groaner even for toddlers — DC Presents: Reading With Zoo-per Heroes at the L.A. Zoo — but the daylong event offers talks by fascinating comic creators, including Ridley Pearson (“Super Sons”) and Kirk Scroggs (“The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid”), and cameos by some real-life critters too. For the artistically inclined, comic illustrators Agnes Garbowska and Victoria Ying will present drawing demonstrations. And if you see a grown man dressed as a flying rodent, don’t call security; it’s just Batman, who will be on hand to fulfill the Instagram quotas of any adolescents (or their parents).

10:30 a.m. Saturday, L.A. Zoo, 5333 Zoo Drive, Griffith Park. Free with admission.


Surf’s up

There are secrets to the sea that only surfers know. With each rip curl and rising tide, they can read the ocean to find the right moment to catch a killer wave. Photographers too have a keen sense of timing, capturing fleeting moments that bystanders may miss. Then there are surf photographers like Russell Hoover, who do both expertly. A longtime senior staff photographer for Surfer Magazine, Hoover spent years documenting wave riders around the world, including 20 consecutive winters snapping the action on Oahu’s North Shore. He makes the journey from his studio in Seal Beach to sign copies of his new photography book “Surf, A Photographer’s Journey.”

4 p.m. Saturday, Arcana: Books on the Arts, 8675 Washington Blvd., Culver City. Free.

Life on the margins

Lidia Yuknavitch’s first collection of short fiction, “Verge,” continues the writer’s exploration of the blurred line between beauty and pain, belonging and exclusion. The new collection follows the Oregon-based writer’s 2017 work “The Book of Joan” and “The Small Backs of Children,” the 2015 novel that Times reviewer Steph Cha called “uncomfortable and dazzling, with a vital intensity that grabs at the gutstrings. … This is a book of intriguing ideas; it is also a book of bodily fluids.”

5 p.m. Sunday, Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. Free.

School fights

Former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch is sticking up for public schools. Her latest book, “Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools,” takes on the ongoing debate over charter schools. Ravitch argues that the push for charter schools has negatively impacted the public education system. From Los Angeles to the White House, school privatization is a hot-button issue that Ravitch will dive into at this ALOUD event.

3:30 p.m. Central Library, 630 W. 5th St., downtown L.A. Free.


Traces of Joan

Everywhere you look in Los Angeles, there are reminders of Joan Didion, from the hulking mansions of Los Feliz to our swaying palm trees arcing into the sky like fire crackers. A new collection of essays, “Slouching Towards Los Angeles,” traverses Didion’s L.A., unveiling a multi-angled view of the author through personal memoirs, literary critiques and tributes by various writers. Editor Steffie Nelson brings together a litany of top writers featured in the book, including Ann Friedman, Joe Donnelly, Monica Corcoran Harel and others.

7 p.m. Wednesday, Chevalier’s Books, 126 N. Larchmont Blvd., Los Angeles. Free.