Reading by Design: Books for Adults | Los Angeles Public Library
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Reading by Design: Books for Adults

Updated: June 5, 2017

Staff picks for the 2017 Summer Reading Challenge. Enjoy great reads and fun activities. Log your progress and earn badges and prizes along the way!

Auster, Paul, 1947-

Nearly two weeks early, on March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths. Four identical Fergusons made of the same DNA, four boys who are the same boy, go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Athletic skills and sex lives and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. As inventive and dexterously constructed as anything Paul Auster has ever written, yet with a passion for realism and a great tenderness and fierce attachment to history and to life itself that readers have never seen from Auster before.

Clegg, Brian.
Call Number: 510 C624

Brian Clegg takes us on a beautiful tour of the relationship between mathematics and the physical world in his book Are Numbers Real?  The book begins with theories about the origin of counting numbers and moves forward in time from there to conclude with a look at quantum physics and questions about the nature of the universe.  The writing is straightforward and fascinating and his examples can be followed even by those without a math background.

Backman, Fredrik, 1981-

Britt-Marie ends up in the small town of Borg after leaving her unfaithful husband. With the personality of a latter-day Mary Poppins, she is resourceful, exacting and determined to take care of herself. Unwarranted romantic attentions come from a local policeman, and somehow Britt-Marie is enlisted to lead the rag-tag children's soccer team. As quirky, funny and heartwarming as Backman's other novel, My grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry.

Willis, Connie,
Call Number: SF

Here’s an important dating tip: If your boyfriend wants you to have an operation allowing the two of you to share thoughts, say no. Otherwise you might find yourself accidentally telepathic, beset by family drama, and suddenly spending way too much time hiding in the basement with a cute scientist who isn’t your boyfriend. Connie Willis continues to give readers the very best in fast paced, sci-fi, romantic comedies.

Backman, Fredrik, 1981-

Fredrik Backman brings us a very short, very moving portrait of Alzheimer’s in And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer.  Backman’s books always seem to feature characters that are very young and very old and either way are deliciously eccentric. His latest, just a bit more than 75 pages, tells the tale of Grandpa and Noah. Grandpa is suffering from Alzheimer’s and the book lyrically unfolds a gradual diminishment of his map of the world as he and Noah interact.

Schweblin, Samanta, 1978-

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She's not his mother. He's not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family. Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel.

Ballinger, Barbara,
Call Number: 712 B192

Learn about design principles for a functional and aesthetic outdoor environment, including landscape and vegetable gardens. This book focuses on 20 case studies of the most popular garden trends from around the country, with plenty of photos to provide inspiration for designing your own beautiful garden.

Yoskowitz, Jeffrey,
Call Number: 641.567 Y65

Liz and Jeffrey, cofounders of the world-famous Gefilteria, are on a mission to revitalize Ashkenazi cuisine with recipes that draw inspiration from Jewish bakeries, neighborhood delis, old-fashioned pickle shops, and their own childhood kitchens. In The Gefilte Manifesto, they reclaim time-honored techniques and ingredients to produce radically delicious recipes that will make you rethink everything you thought you knew about Jewish food. From the mind-blowingly easy Classic Sour Dills to Crispy Chicken with Tsimmes, from Spiced Blueberry Soup to Classic Challah with a Marble Rye Twist, these are recipes you'll turn to again and again.

Buckley, Carla (Carla S.).
Call Number: CD

A gripping, alternating-perspective story of two teen cousins--gravely injured in a dorm room fire--who lie unconscious in a hospital burn unit. As the police investigate the cause of the fire, tensions between the girls’ parents rage high and disturbing truths come to light. 

Foer, Jonathan Safran, 1977-

Over four weeks in Washington, D.C., Jacob and Julia Bloch and their three sons are forced to confront the distances between the lives they think they want and the lives they are living. A catastrophic earthquake sets in motion a quickly escalating conflict in the Middle East, and at stake is the meaning of home--and the fundamental question of how much aliveness one can bear.

Vance, J. D.,
Call Number: 323.30973 V222

This fascinating memoir examines the hidden culture of Appalachia’s “Mountain People,” and how learned behaviors conspire to prevent these hillbillies, identified as working (and non-working) blue-collar whites, dispersed throughout Rust Belt America, from advancing up the economic ladder. A graduate of Yale Law School, Vance describes how he narrowly overcame a difficult family life, in a depressed Ohio steel town. He turns his critical, but sympathetic eye to the barriers his hillbilly brethren have erected, hindering their own success.  

Call Number: SF

If you’re a fan of science fiction and are interested in exploring the genre from a different perspective try Invisible Planets. Invisible Planets is an anthology of contemporary Chinese short Science Fiction translated by Ken Liu. It includes a wide range of writers and styles and concludes with some academic pieces examining the state of Science Fiction in China.

Hoffman, Alice.

This book is much more than a forbidden love story of Rachel Pomme Petit and a cousin by marriage only, Frederic Pissarro. Set in the tropical island of St. Thomas and in Paris, France,  the creative, artistic world of Camille Pissarro, and how he sees both light, color and people, is portrayed...We see how he grows into his own genius, the ties and conflicts with his family, and also how his mentors help him on his way to become the father of French Impressionism.

McGuire, Richard, artist.
Call Number: 740.9999 M148-1

Sequential Drawings gathers together more than a decade of McGuire's witty and endlessly inventive spots--a veritable short story collection--each drawing given its own spread, which, in turn, assures for the reader the experience of surprise and delight that the drawings unfailingly deliver.

De Leon, Aya,

In this sexy, heart-stopping tale, one smart, sizzling mami robs the rich and protects the exploited—until one heist too many puts everything at stake. 

Don’t let the design of this book lead you to mistake it for mere urban fiction. Spoken word artist and activist Aya De Leon carves out a space for women of color in the heist-fiction genre with this feminist novel, the first in a series featuring a diverse cast of social justice hustlers.