What We’re Reading


Human Cargo

Human Cargo

A smart, sexy detective; a case involving a mysterious, wealthy American and the Russian Mafia; danger, romance and pathos: it’s local, and our hero is a heroine. In a fast-paced detective novel, Human Cargo (2011) by Des Zamorano, gives us flashes of Dashiell Hammett with a style all her own. Instead of Sam Spade we have [...]

Started Early, Took My Dog

Started Early, Took My Dog

Started Early, Took My Dog Kate Atkinson continues to mine England’s disaffected middle (the middle of the country and the middle class) for mysteries that are, at their heart, character-driven novels. Tracy Waterhouse, middle-aged, retired from the police force and working as a security guard at a local, depressing mall, makes an improbable decision. Both [...]

“Parsifal” & “On Canaan’s Side”

“Parsifal” & “On Canaan’s Side”

Parsifal by Jim Krusoe If you have a taste for the surreal, a wry, dark sense of humor that might not be getting enough exercise, and a high tolerance for ambiguity, check out South Pasadena’s own Jim Krusoe. His latest novel, Parsifal, is as cagey and laugh-out-loud funny as his previous books. Cagey: What exactly [...]

Kim Fay’s “The Map of Lost Memories”

Kim Fay’s “The Map of Lost Memories”

Fiction often gives us characters who lie, cheat, and commit murder to achieve their goals. Usually these nefarious types are presented as the villain. But in Kim Fay’s The Map of Lost Memories, our young, determined heroine, Irene Blum, will stop at nothing to claim the mysterious lost scrolls of the Khmer. It’s the mid-1920s [...]

Franz Kafka Fits Right In

Franz Kafka Fits Right In

My son had to read this for his freshman year at college. I picked it up after he left and found it just as funny, sad, and absurd as the first time I read it (perhaps when I was in college myself). But, I found it a far more sinister metaphor these days, both as [...]

Any Human Heart

Any Human Heart

In Any Human Heart, William Boyd sets out to chronicle the 20th century from a rather ordinary person’s point of view. Logan Mountstuart is a bit of an outsider, a bit of an insider, a moderately successful, moderately interesting person who manages to utterly charm and intrigue the reader through seven decades of fictional diaries. [...]

Margaret Finnegan’s “The Goddess Lounge”

Margaret Finnegan’s “The Goddess Lounge”

Margaret Finnegan’s novel The Goddess Lounge turns Homer’s The Odyssey inside out. I know this not because I’ve read The Odyssey, but because I read its Wikipedia page. You don’t have to be familiar with Homer to laugh your way through Finnegan’s tale, but if you’re an Odyssey scholar (as is Finnegan), you’ll find her [...]

Going Astray with Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail

Going Astray with Cheryl Strayed on the Pacific Crest Trail

Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild (Alfred A. Knopf), is an overnight success who has actually been a hard-working writer praised in literary circles for years. She first won anonymous fame as the writer of the “Dear Sugar” column on The Rumpus; “Sugar” revealed her identity shortly before Wild‘s release. It was a masterful plan—her book [...]

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Science writer Rebecca Skloot uncovered much more than the history of a cell line when she set out to write a book about HeLa, a strain of human cells that figured in the development of significant advances in medicine. Her ten years of research brought her into intimate contact with the descendants of Henrietta Lacks, [...]

Discovering the Sarajevo Haggadah

Discovering the Sarajevo Haggadah

An ancient volume. An illuminated manuscript. A 500 hundred year journey evading destruction. In Geraldine Brooks‘s People of the Book, Hanna Heath, a rare-book expert, follows the trail of seemingly random clues that begin to unlock the history of the Sarajevo Haggadah. The reader is taken into the worlds of Inquisition-era Venice, early 20th Century [...]

Maude Woods - Opening October 22nd in Pasadena

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