Books: Christopher Isherwood’s love letters, Hollywood memoirs and more

Hello! I’m Carolyn Kellogg, books editor of the L.A. Times, and I’ve got some good reading — and listening! — for you over this long weekend.


Writer Christopher Isherwood and his partner Don Bachardy wrote each other love letters that have been turned into the podcast “The Animals,” featuring Alan Cumming as Bachardy and Simon Cowell as Isherwood, with commentary and context by Isherwood scholar Katherine Bucknell. “Alone in a cabin in the woods, listening to these voices flirting, and yearning, and quarreling, I felt as though I was privy to something private, something intimate, but something grand,” writes Tyler Malone in our review, which includes audio clips so you too can listen.

Christopher Isherwood, left, with Don Bachardy in 1974
(Jack Mitchell / Getty Images)



In which I reveal that my guilty pleasure this summer is reading Hollywood memoirs. I’ve just finished two — Bette Davis’ “The Lonely Life” and “Silent Star” by Colleen Moore. From the essay: “The Hollywood memoir is not going to portray the past in a clear light. But like Sriracha on the table, it’s going to bring the heat and make the meal better. So much better.”

Fasten your seatbelts... that's Bette Davis, center, in "All About Eve."
(Hulton Archive / Getty Images)


Now its sixth week on our fiction bestseller list — at No. 6 — is Haruki Murakami’s short story collection “Men without Women.” As Jeffery Renard Allen wrote in our review: “The stories in this collection find their power within the confines of common but momentous disturbances that linger on in memory.”


Gabe Habash’s June novel, “Stephen Florida,” is getting raves; Julie Buntin’s novel, “Marlena,” did the same when it came out this spring. We talk to the two debut authors, who are married to each other, about their work, competition and trolling with t-shirts.

Oprah Winfrey announced her new book club selection: “Behold the Dreamers” by Imbolo Mbue. The 2016 novel is about immigrants from Cameroon whose lives in New York are disrupted by the 2008 economic collapse.

We review “The City Always Wins,” a novel set in Cairo during the Arab Spring, the debut from Omar Robert Hamilton.

We feature some photos from the book “Legendary Authors and the Clothes They Wore,” which features Joan Didion in 1970s California on its cover.

Since my story about reading Hollywood memoirs went online this week, I’ve gotten some great recommendations from readers. Keep them coming! Do you have a favorite Hollywood memoir — or Hollywood history? I’ll add them to my list; email me at

Thanks for reading!