***L.A. Dreaming - Summer Reading 2024

Updated: July 2, 2024

A selection of books for Summer Reading 2024.

Book cover for 111 Places in Los Angeles That You Must Not Miss
111 Places in Los Angeles That You Must Not Miss
Moglen, Laurel
Call Number: 979.41T L881Mog 2016

Not the usual guidebook to interesting places in Los Angeles—many of them you might not know about.

Book cover for The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers' Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse
The Best Team Money Can Buy: The Los Angeles Dodgers' Wild Struggle to Build a Baseball Powerhouse
Knight, Molly,
Call Number: 796.231 L8788Kn

Knight digs deep into the turbulent 2013-14 seasons of the Los Angeles Dodgers as they emerged from the bankruptcy of the McCourt ownership to the untold wealth of the Mark Walter and company ownership. A fascinating behind the scenes look at a team that was both succeeding on the field and sometimes coming apart internally. 

Book cover for Blue Sky Metropolis: The Aerospace Century in Southern California
Blue Sky Metropolis: The Aerospace Century in Southern California
Call Number: 338.4A17 B6585

The aerospace industry, more than the entertainment industry, created a monumental population growth within a short period of time and changed the Southern California region in unimagined and unthought of ways which still have repercussions today. This unique collection of essays examines various aspects of the growth of that industry and brings attention to another major aspect of the history of Los Angeles.

Book cover for California soul : an American epic of cooking and survival
California Soul: An American Epic of Cooking and Survival
Corbin, Keith
Call Number: 641.092 C791

Angeleno chef Keith Corbin dishes up great recipes and a memoir about his hard-won road to success as a restaurateur.

Book cover for City at the edge of forever : Los Angeles reimagined
City at the edge of forever : Los Angeles reimagined
Lunenfeld, Peter
Call Number: 979.41 L881Lun

A playful history of what makes Los Angeles unique. This looks at the cultural, economic, technological, social anomalies and literature of the City of Angels. From surfer-girls to the Manson murders to JPL.


Book cover for The dream colony : a life in art
The Dream Colony: A Life in Art
Hopps, Walter
Call Number: 709.2 H798

There was a time when art was happening elsewhere in the United States—not in Los Angeles. There was someone who had a different insight about this situation. Walter Hopps played a major role in promoting West Coast artists in the 1950s. This is a posthumous memoir documenting a man who was often erratic in his work habits but always passionate about all types of art and artists. This autobiography fills in major gaps in modern art history and the history of modern art in Los Angeles.

Book cover for Dreamers and schemers : how an improbable bid for the 1932 Olympics transformed Los Angeles from dusty outpost to global metropolis
Dreamers and Schemers: How an Improbable Bid for the 1932 Olympics Transformed Los Angeles From Dusty Outpost to Global Metropolis
Siegel, Barry
Call Number: 796.321 O53 1932 Si

A vivid account of what it took to bring the 1932 Olympic Games to Los Angeles, focusing largely on the booster activities of real estate mogul, William May Garland. Siegel weaves a strong, fascinating story that illustrates how the games propelled the city into the role of a power player on the world stage.

Book cover of Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles
Ed Ruscha's Los Angeles
Schwartz, Alexandra
Call Number: 759.14 R951Sc

Talk a walk on the bold side of Los Angeles as seen in the paintings of Ed Ruscha, and critiqued as an example of "West coast cool."

Book cover for Feels Like Home: Reflections on Central Library
Feels Like Home: Reflections on Central Library
Call Number: 027.47949 L881Fe

Painful memories of the devastating 1986 fire, which destroyed one-fifth of Central Library’s holdings, are starkly juxtaposed with euphoric feelings about the library's reopening in 1993. Moving photographs reflect how the institution came back—with sizable public support—to a bigger and better facility after being closed seven years for renovation and expansion. An architectural landmark built in 1926 was greatly expanded and modernized.

Bruckman Rare Books Friends Award, 2019

Book cover for From cows to concrete : the rise and fall of farming in Los Angeles
From Cows to Concrete: The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles
Surls, Rachel
Call Number: 630.9794 S961

Great photos and maps grace this interesting book about L.A.’s early days as an agricultural town, as well as the “Victory Garden” years of WWII. Population boom, urban spread post-WWII due to GI Bill housing loans, and an end to wartime rationing of food squeezed out the farms, orchards, and dairies, leaving behind the sprawling metropolis we have today.

Book cover for The Great Black Way : L.A. in the 1940s and the lost African-American Renaissance
The Great Black Way: L.A. in the 1940s and the Lost African-American Renaissance
Smith, R. J., 1959-
Call Number: 301.45096 S657

Smith shows how Los Angeles's Central Avenue was a hub for artistic, political, and civic life for African Americans in the 1940s.

Book cover for A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler
A Handful of Earth, a Handful of Sky: The World of Octavia Butler
George, Lynell
Call Number: 813 B986Ge

A book that is as unusual in format and style as is its subject, Octavia Butler. This work is based on the research done by Lynell George, who had access to Butler's archive of more than 300 boxes, housed at The Huntington Library. Butler saved so much, and there are clues to the history of her life, how she created, and what it was like to be a woman of color during her time. The timing of this book's publishing is a match for the incredible work being done at the Los Angeles Public Library's Octavia Lab.

Book cover for Inherent Vice
Inherent Vice
Pynchon, Thomas

Pynchon has created a fast-paced tale with Doc Sportello, private investigator, off on one wild investigation leading into another. Set in the drug-hazed world of southern California in the early seventies, this work is one rollicking story and a vehicle for satirizing the foibles of modern life.

Book cover for L.A. son : my life, my city, my food
L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food
Choi, Roy
Call Number: 641.595 C545

Angeleno and rising star in the L.A. culinary landscape, Roy Choi chronicles--with charisma and sincerity--the story of his life and the Los Angeles food scene. From Korean taco inventor with his Kogi truck, to Chego to community-based inititiatives in the inner city, Choi is much more than a celebrity chef. Includes 85 recipes.

Book cover for L.A. Weather
L.A. Weather
Escandón, María Amparo

Witness a year in the tumultuous lives of the Alvarado family as they grapple with the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other.

Book cover for LACMA so far : portrait of a museum in the making
LACMA so far : portrait of a museum in the making
Muchnic, Suzanne,
Call Number: 708.1 L8817Mu

A meticulously researched book which covers the history of LACMA up to the date of the book's publication. It is very well-written, readable, and therefore will appeal to a wide variety of readers: the general public, scholars and others.  In its coverage of how the museum came into existence, Muchnic provides a good deal of Los Angeles history from that time period and the present. The book has a table of contents, index, and reference notes; there are color, black and white photographs throughout the book.

Bruckman Rare Book Friends Award, 2017.

Book cover for Land of smoke and mirrors : a cultural history of Los Angeles
Land of smoke and mirrors : a cultural history of Los Angeles
Brook, Vincent, 1946-
Call Number: 979.41 L881Bro
This book takes a look at local Los Angeles history through the lens of the movies. It provides a plethora of interesting details about LA in days gone by.

Book cover for Life on a String: The Yale Puppeteers and the Turnabout Puppet Theatre
Life on a String: The Yale Puppeteers and the Turnabout Puppet Theatre
Rice, Christina
Call Number: 793.18 R495

The Turnabout Theatre was a unique theatrical experience, and its creators, ensemble of actors, writers and other artists were equally unique and talented. There is a wealth of history in this book about a Los Angeles theatrical gem. The Turnabout Theatre archive is kept at the Los Angeles Public Library's Central Library, and is the resource for the book and an exhibit that was planned for April 2020. For now, you can see the exhibit virtually, and it is absolutely fabulous! For aficionados of Los Angeles, for theatre lovers, and everyone else, the book is a great holiday gift and can be purchased at the Library Foundation's Library Store.

Book cover for Los Angeles Central Library: A History of Its Art and Architecture
Los Angeles Central Library: A History of Its Art and Architecture
Gee, Stephen
Call Number: 027.47949 L881Ge

Writer Stephen Gee and photographer Arnold Schwartzman are perfect partners in creating this carefully researched and exquisitely photographed history of Los Angeles Public Library's Central Library. They cover the history of why it took more than 80 years, from conception to acutalization, for a building to finally appear. The result is a compelling and engaging history of the political and social leaders, artists and architects who created a building that is home to the largest public library collection west of the Mississippi.

Book cover for Los Angeles City Hall: An American Icon
Los Angeles City Hall: An American Icon
Stephen Gee

When Los Angeles City Hall was completed in 1928 it was the tallest building in the Los Angeles basin. Stephen Gee presents a history of a building which some may take for granted, or not even consider as a significant work of architecture since it has been eclipsed by glitzier, larger and taller buildings in DTLA. There were various ideas about the proposed building, which provide insights into LA’s early history. In addition to the overall history of City Hall, Gee emphasizes the artistic features and functions of the building. Sandra Stojanovic’s contemporary photographs are sensational. The book also includes historical photographs in color, black and white, drawings and blueprints.

Book cover of Mambo hips and make believe
Mambo Hips and Make Believe
Coleman, Wanda

The plot of this novel revolves around the close friendship between two women, one black and one white, both living in Los Angeles. Written by Wanda Coleman, Angeleno, who was a writer, social critic, political activist, but primarily a poet. Her other work can be found here.


Book cover for A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community
A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community
Molina, Natalia
Call Number: 647.9509794 M722

While researching the restaurant that her grandmother Doña Natalia opened, Natalia Molina discovered even more about the eatery, her grandmother, and the community that worked and ate there. The real-life experiences reflect a complex history of Los Angeles with more twists and turns than a suspense novel.

Book cover for Quiet Los Angeles
Quiet Los Angeles
Razo, Rebecca
Call Number: 979.41T L881Raz

In this great big metropolis there are many places that offer an escape from all of the noise and activity.

Book cover for Read Me, Los Angeles
Read Me, Los Angeles
Orphan, Katie
Call Number: 810.9 O74

"The book’s central focus is exploring the work of both contemporary and long-departed writers who made Los Angeles a central character within their stories."

Book cover for Río L.A. : tales from the Los Angeles River
Río L.A. : tales from the Los Angeles River
Morrison, Patt, 1957-
Call Number: 979.41 L88Mor 2022

Morrison has updated her 2001 history of the L.A. River to reflect recent discussions about reestablishing it as a key feature of the city.

Book cover for Secret gardens of Hollywood and private oases in Los Angeles
Secret Gardens of Hollywood and Private Oases in Los Angeles
Lennard, Erica
Call Number: 711.9794 L567

Take an armchair tour through private gardens that range from the serious to the fanciful.

Book cover for Self help graphics & art : art in the heart of East Los Angeles
Self Help Graphics & Art: Art in the Heart of East Los Angeles
Call Number: 741.409794 S4655 2014

Self Help Graphics & Art is a community-based art making and exhibiting institution located in East L.A. It has been a leader in printmaking and has brought attention to Chicano and Latino art. Throughout the year they have scheduled exhibits.

Book cover of Small craft warnings : stories
Small Craft Warnings
Braverman, Kate

Kate Braverman was a Los Angeles-based writer whose stories, novels and poetry evoke the sheen and the underbelly of our fair city. This collection of short stories should whet your reading curiosity for her other books which can be found here.


Book cover for Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between
Stealing Home: Los Angeles, the Dodgers, and the Lives Caught in Between
Nusbaum, Eric
Call Number: 796.231 L8788Nu

An absorbing account chronicling the dismantling of the Mexican American community of Chavez Ravine that paved the way for Dodger Stadium. Nusbaum revives the shady dealings and power players that have become part of L.A. lore, but his decision to focus on a single Chavez Ravine family instills a sense of humanity in this vivid and engrossing narrative.

Book cover of Tanya Holland's California soul : recipes from a culinary journey West
Tanya Holland's California Soul: Recipes From a Culinary Journey West
Holland, Tanya
Call Number: 641.59794 H737-1

In her cookbook/memoir/history, Tanya Holland organizes luscious recipes and stories within chapters named for the four seasons: Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall.

Book cover for This is Where We Live
This is Where We Live
Brown, Janelle

A giddy satire about a young married couple, a musician and a filmmaker, who decide to celebrate the impending success of their careers by buying a Mount Washington bungalow with an adjustable mortgage rate.

Book cover for Thomas Mann's Los Angeles : stories from exile 1940-1952
Thomas Mann's Los Angeles: Stories From Exile 1940-1952
Blaumer, Nikolai
Call Number: 833 M282Bl

Nobel-winning German novelist Thomas Mann spent a decade in Los Angeles during and after World War II.  This is a look at Mann and the circle of fellow exiles he socialized with, including writers, artists, and musicians including Igor Stravinsky, Arnold Schoenberg, Lion Feuchtwanger, and Franz Werfel.

Book cover for Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond
Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond
Call Number: 811.08 W639

A marvelous selection of 112 poets, predominantly from Los Angeles. The editor selected poets from adjacent areas. After all, Los Angeles is a city does not seem to have boundaries, with its residents from all over the world.


Book cover for Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature in and Around Los Angeles
Wild LA: Explore the Amazing Nature in and Around Los Angeles
Higgins, Lila M.
Call Number: 570.9794 H636

After a review in LAPL Reads, there was and continues to be a phenomenal interest in this book. Librarian Andrea Borchert, who wrote the review, says it best, "Sometimes L.A. seems like an endless stretch of strip malls and freeways. But L.A. is more than that! L.A. is part of the California Floristic Province, a biodiversity hotspot. In its wide range of habitats, from deserts to beaches, there are many wonderful, fascinating plants, animals, and fungi figuring out how to live side by side with us."