What We’re Reading


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 [...]

Hoyt Street

Hoyt Street

Mary Helen Ponce grew up in a Pacoima barrio in the middle of World War II. Hoyt Street is her memoir of the times, the places, the people and the food as she experienced it as a sheltered, bratty, impish, bright, sassy, questioning young girl. She’s bilingual, raised in a household so overflowing with kids [...]

The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger’s Wife

The Tiger’s Wife is an enigmatic, involving tale of life in the Balkans (the actual country is coyly, and rightly, never named). Interweaving the contemporary experience of Natalia, a young doctor, with that of her grandfather and, by extension, an unbroken line of folk memory stretching into the distant past, this first novel by Téa [...]

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

This wonderful novel captures a remote time and place (northern Mexico in the late 1800s) teeming with fascinating characters who live large while debating politics, spirituality, community and faith. There is an aristocratic Don and his engineer companion; his mistress, his wife and illegitimate children; faithful retainers; rebellious natives; a dastardly priest; and soldiers who [...]

The Barbarian Nurseries

The Barbarian Nurseries

Pulitzer Prize–winning L.A. Times columnist Héctor Tobar captures the angst and ecstasy of living in Southern California in this tale of dislocation, dysfunction and miscommunication. Enigmatic Araceli Ramirez, who has put her dreams of an art career in Mexico City aside for economic reasons, is the live-in housekeeper for a well-to-do Orange County family falling [...]

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Maude Woods - Opening October 22nd in Pasadena

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Camelot and Vine

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