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The Famous 1st Annual WLA Late Summer Reading List

July 29th, 2008 by Celeste Fremon

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Okay, here’s the deal:

The LA Times is being disemboweled. California doesn’t have a budget. Wildfires have attacked Big Sir and Yosemite (and fire season hasn’t even started yet). The economy’s in the toilet. Los Angeles is still the gang capital of the world. And LAUSD is….still LAUSD.

With all of the above in mind, there was clearly only one sensible thing to do: It was time to compile the First Annual WitnessLA Late Summer Reading List.
So I asked a bunch of interesting and varied LA people to recommend a single book that they’d read, were reading, or had read a zillion years ago but still loved, and then to (very briefly) tell why the book was worth the trouble.

The first six very excellent recommendations are below—with a dozen or so great recs to come Wed and Thursday—all offered in solidarity with the LA Times Book Review.

Please add your own suggestions to the list. (I count on you.) (I’ll give you mine later in the week.)


1. CONNIE RICE
(Civil Rights Lawyer, Co-Founder and Co-Director, The Advancement Project)

One of my favorite books is Shogun by James Clavell. I was 17, opened it up, and became so utterly transported to warlord Japan that when I finally looked up, eight hours had passed without me moving from the chair or its magical pages.


2. DENNIS ZINE
(Los Angeles City Council Member)

I am currently reading (and would recommend) Hollywood Station by Joseph Wambaugh.

Wambaugh, who is a former detective sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department, depicts the real world workings of the LAPD, and I am enjoying it because it takes me back to my young police days working the Hollywood Division. Wambaugh sheds light on what it’s really like to be on the force while keeping the audience entertained with a quirky cast of characters and suspenseful police pursuits.


3. FATHER GREG BOYLE
(Founder & Executive Director, Homeboy Industries)
Bodies in Motion and at Rest by Thomas Lynch.

I’m really loving this book. It’s my spiritual reading, soulful and wise and has this oddly calming effect. He has a great and unique voice that calls you to attention.


4. STEVE BARR
(Founder, Chairman, and CEO, Green Dot Public Schools)

I’m currently rereading A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I read it six years ago on my honeymoon. It inspired me because of how resilient we are when faced with our toughest times. We all go through our time of sickness and death of our parents. Dave’s memoir deals with the death of both parents within a month and then how he is left to raise his younger brother. What is magical is the rebound and the hard-to-explain euphoria after dealing with the stress and sadness. Despite the subject matter, much of the book is laugh-out-loud funny and optimistic.

One side note…I have become friends with Dave since falling in love with his work. He shares a beautiful passion for urban public education.


5. MARC COOPER
(Author, columnist, blogger, faculty at the USC Annenberg School for communication and Associate Director of its Institute for Justice and Journalism.)

The Dark Side by Jane Mayer.

Forget about impeachment. Neatly tucked in here between two covers is the bill of indictment. All the names, last names, and the hard, cold evidence documenting the Bush administration’s quest to institutionalize torture and abuse of detainees. Don’t read in temperatures above 100 degrees as your blood will already be boiling.


6. DAVID ULIN
(Editor, LA Times Book Review, journalist, author)

I’ve just started reading Otto Friedrich’s Decline and Fall: The Struggle for Power at a Great American Magazine, the story of the death of the Saturday Evening Post. It resonates for obvious reasons— as a cautionary tale, or perhaps a talisman—but what’s most fascinating so far is Friedrich’s insider’s point-of-view. He was managing editor of the Post from 1965 until the magazine’s dissolution in 1969, and his portrayal of a publication— and an industry— in crisis is specific and compelling, offering stark parallels to the state of contemporary journalism.

***************************************************************************************************************

TO BE CONTINUED TOMORROW….

Posted in literature, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles writers, media, writers and writing | 14 Comments »

14 Responses

  1. Los Resident Says:

    “The LA Times is being disemboweled. California doesn’t have a budget. Wildfires have attacked Big Sir and Yosemite (and fire season hasn’t even started yet). The economy’s in the toilet. Los Angeles is still the gang capital of the world. And LAUSD is….still LAUSD.

    With all of the above in mind, there was clearly only one sensible thing to do:” ………………………………………….
    I’m sure the solution will be to continue to allow millions more poor illegal immigrants into the state and raise more taxes and spend our way right out of the problems and into nirvana.

  2. Woody Says:

    I think most of you need to read The Bible.

  3. Evan Says:

    I prefer nonfiction.

  4. richard locicero Says:

    Celeste and I discussed books over the weekend and here’s one that I forgot to mention that, in my humble opinion, is one of the best books on war (and Vietnam) to come out. Its “The Lionheads” by Josiah Bunting III. A good look at the war from the command end as well as a grunt’s eye view.
    Sorry Evan, its a novel but based on Bunting’s experience as a staff officer with the 9th INF in the Delta.

  5. Adam C. Says:

    I would highly recommend Rick Perstein’s Nixonland.

  6. Evan Says:

    Richard: my comment was more directed at Woody’s righteous suggestion.

  7. richard locicero Says:

    Got to admit Adam that Pearlstein’s book is on my “to read” list. And since I grew up in Nixonland (Pat was a graduate of my HS) I’ve always found anything about the Yorba Linda Trickster to be interesting. Want Prophacy? Read Gary Wills’ “Nixon Agonistes” from 1971. If you did Watergate didn’t come as a surprise!

  8. Woody Says:

    Evan, as you may have noticed in the next post, an earthquake hit L.A. four minutes after you made your anti-God comment.

  9. Randy Paul Says:

    And the drought continues in the Atlanta area aftyer you said God was a Republican on Marc Cooper’s site.

  10. Evan Says:

    “Evan, as you may have noticed in the next post, an earthquake hit L.A. four minutes after you made your anti-God comment.”

    Man, God’s really off his game lately. 4 minutes? And I’m still walking around, un-smote.

  11. Randy Paul Says:

    Correction: you said Jesus was a republican.

  12. Woody Says:

    Evan…so far. The game’s not over.

  13. Zuma Dogg Says:

    They all need to read, “Out of the Crisis” by Dr. W. Edwards Deming.

  14. Celeste Fremon Says:

    Hey, Zuma Dogg. Glad you came by. Thanks for the suggestion!

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