This is one you won’t want to miss!
If you’d like to join us click HERE for tickets!


Oprah’s New Book Club Pick!!

by Jessica on August 4, 2016

Oprah announced on the morning of August 2 that her new Book Club pick was Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad. This book has been a staff favorite and talked about all throughout the publishing world. We couldn’t be more excited that Oprah picked this title to get behind! We have copies in stock and you are definitely going to want to come by and snag one.

A little more about the Underground Railroad: 
Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hell for all the slaves, but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned Cora kills a young white boy who tries to capture her. Though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted.
In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven. But the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. And even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom.

Like the protagonist of”Gulliver’s Travels,” Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

About award-winning author Colson Whitehead:
Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels Zone One; Sag Harbor; The Intuitionist, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award; John Henry Days, which won the Young Lions Fiction Award, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Apex Hides the Hurt, winner of the PEN Oakland Award. He has also written a book of essays about his home town, The Colossus of New York, and a non-fiction account of the 2011 World Series of Poker called The Noble Hustle. A recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a MacArthur Fellowship, he lives in New York City.

Praise for The Underground Railroad

The New York Times Review of the Underground Railroad

Publisher’s Weekly Review of the Underground Railroad


Love And Bookstores

by Jessica on July 1, 2016

by Allison Hill (President/CEO of Vroman’s & Book Soup)
This was originally posted on Huffington Post on 6/30/2016

David Bowie’s passing hit me hard this year—the way it does when a celebrity you grew up with passes—and I was suddenly aware not so much of my own mortality but of the logistics to be considered when I die; I’m not dying, but I am by nature a planner. It occurred to me as I listened to it for the 50th time that week that I want “Space Oddity” played at my funeral. “Space Oddity,” the Prelude from Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1,” and “Amazing Grace.” Those three songs feel like the perfect holy trinity.

And I want a reading or two—a poem by Mary Oliver, maybe that quote from The Secret Garden about magic being everywhere, and something by Kurt Vonnegut. Anything by Kurt Vonnegut. A blown-up photo of me raising my arms in victory on the Great Wall of China, a fingerprint guest book, as seen on Pinterest, cheese and olives—I’m a big proponent of snacks at funerals—and no lilies; I’m allergic to lilies. For someone who’s pretty easy going and low maintenance in this life, I have a lot of demands in the next one.

The big decision though, the logistical whopper, is what to do with my body. Since I’m a little claustrophobic I find the idea of being placed in a box, buried underground, and left there forever disconcerting at best so cremation is a good alternative. When my sweet husband dies he wants his ashes scattered at sea off the coast of his beloved Hawaii, reunited eternally with his spiritual home. Marvel Comics writer, penciller, and editor-in-chief Mark Gruenwald had his ashes sprinkled into the ink for one of his comic books. And a bookselling colleague of mine had his ashes poured into the waters of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. There are a lot of options. I can take or leave a visit to Disneyland and I’d prefer to leave behind a different type of literary legacy, but I’d never turn down a trip to Hawaii even after I’m dead so that plan sounds good to me. The truth is no matter where my body is laid to rest, my heart will be elsewhere. As Tanya Donelly sings: “Bury my heart separately. It’s something that don’t belong to me.” My heart belongs to bookstores.

It was love at first sight. The first one, a small, indie bookstore—now long gone—was located in San Francisco. I was four years old and I loved books more than anything in the world but I hadn’t even imagined such a heavenly place as a bookstore. When my parents, after dragging me into the drugstore, the dry cleaner, the hardware store, led me into a shop filled with thousands and thousands of books, I swooned. There were floor to ceiling books; booksellers, my people; and what’s this? story time?! And I can take the books home forever?! Unlike the library with their cruel insistence that I return their books, I could keep these books, write my name in them, dog-ear the pages, read and re-read to my heart’s content.

Scientists might call this an “imprinting,” like in the animal kingdom: an early encounter that provided me with information about who I was and who, or what, I find attractive. I hold a more romantic view. I would call my love of bookstores a Great Love, one recognized by the feeling that you are more yourself than you have ever been.

The store in San Francisco was the first of many. There was the used bookstore near my house in Dallas that I would walk to with my weekly $5 allowance, returning home with a Nancy Drew mystery. The dusty thrift shop my grandma and I frequented in Henrietta, Texas—three Judy Blume paperbacks for a dollar! There were the bookstores I discovered in airports and train stations and the ones I stumbled upon while on vacation—the tiny converted cottage on Cape Cod, the kiosk of romance novels on the beach in Costa Rica, the bookstore teahouse in Beijing. I learned to travel with an extra bag.

And the love that was already great but that perhaps I had begun to take for granted was reignited my first day as a bookseller. I had left my job in publishing—we loved each other; we just weren’t right for each other—and was hired as a part-time bookseller. Now surrounded by thousands and thousands of books every daythe great thrill came when I realized that I could play matchmaker. It was my second shift when a customer asked me to recommend a page-turner to occupy the long hours ahead on her international flight home. My body tingled and my brain flooded with the names of my favorite books. As I placed a copy of The Secret History in her hand I had an epiphany: bookstores didn’t exist just for me and my book needs; they were a place where I could help readers find books, find meaning, find themselves, thus taking my relationship with bookstores to the next level.

The decades I’ve spent working, playing, reading, communing within the four walls of bookstores have shaped me and defined me. And lest you think this relationship merely platonic, let me tell you, bookstores are sexy. Readers who shop in bookstores rather than online, read print rather than digital, talk about how much they love “the tactile experience” as they stroke book covers and caress pages, amble the aisles and inhale the scent of ink and paper. They lose themselves in bookstores, hold books closely, seek pleasure, connection, and escape in their pages.

My own bookstore love has gone through so many stages over the years. What may have seemed like puppy love and infatuation in the beginning grew into the kind of groupie love that Bowie fans will recognize—collecting bookstore bookmarks, surfing bookstore websites late at night, planning trips around bookstores as destinations—then deepened and matured over time.

A love like this can last a lifetime. “Mrs. K” is 93 years old. She has shopped in my store since she was five, sometimes daily for years at a time. I’m sure Mrs. K has had many loves in her life but her 88-year relationship with my bookstore has most likely been the longest and I would presume one of the most meaningful.

You may wonder what the secret is to a long-term relationship such as mine. Like all relationships, it’s actually simple: respect the relationship and actively invest in it. Which in this case means that I faithfully support brick and mortar bookstores with my time and my money. As everyone who loves bookstores should, lest we all wake up one day to find them gone, ourselves alone.

There are fewer and fewer bookstores and I fear that a decline in their numbers will mean a little less love in the world. (Even if you think you love, let’s be honest, you’re just settling for a cheap version of the real thing. Don’t you deserve better?)

As I reflected on Bowie’s death, and my own someday, I recalled a memorable story of author Mary Shelley (Frankenstein) and poet Percy Shelley. They were married for eight years until Percy’s death. His “funeral wish list” rivals my own and the story goes that he requested not only that he be cremated, but that his heart be removed from his body and bequeathed to Mary so that she could “hold” it in death as she had in life. And so it was that his heart stayed with his great love, which for a Romantic poet is probably where it belongs.

As for where I belong, I’ll echo Bowie’s sentiment about his wife, Iman: “I stumbled onto bliss. And I have no intention of finding my way back out.” And so it is that my husband and I will “retire” together to Hawaii when the time comes, many years from now; I can’t imagine my life or my death without him. And my heart, metaphorically anyway, will remain with my other great love: My heart belongs to bookstores.

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by JZ Bingham, VP Acquisitions, Balcony 7

As an acquisitions editor, I can’t help but read between the lines of an author’s work to find out what he or she is truly made of—what inspires them, what motivates them, their respect for readers and the art of storytelling. It takes but a few pages, maybe a chapter, before this is revealed to me. The clues lie in form, substance, word choice, and restraint (or the lack thereof). There’s certainly an art to it, and the best storytellers have a God-given gift.

Two of my favorite storytellers that have this gift are authors whom I have the pleasure of knowing, in person. I’ve read their works (and edit Mahon’s for Balcony 7), and decided to introduce the two, knowing their love of storytelling and their backgrounds could become the foundation for a wonderful literary discussion at Vroman’s. They both loved the idea—and our event is in a few weeks, so allow me to introduce you:

Patricia Mahon, an Irish/American dual citizen with an educational pedigree that spans Oxford and Trinity College (also an avid student of Yeats and a teaching fellow), has a treasure trove of work for which she’s already received accolades (poetry, several musicals, and over 20 original songs) and from which she’s now making her literary fiction debut. Mahon’s Age of Distraction series of contemporary novellas are being released bi-annually, beginning with The Island (Balcony 7, April 2016), The Vineyard (B7, Sept. 2016), and The Abbey (B7, Spring 2017, based on the three-act play The Abbey Yard, which ran for six weeks at The Odyssey Theatre in Los Angeles in 2000).

Anne Perry, who hails from England, wrote her first novel in 1979, The Cater Street Hangman (St. Martins Press), a mid-19th century Victorian crime drama introducing Thomas Pitt, who would become the central character in 30 additional novels in the Pitt series. The other famous character in a Perry series, set in the late 19th century, is William Monk, who made his debut in 1990’s The Face of a Stranger (Fawcett), and continues into book 21, published last year. When we include Perry’s World War I series (five novels) and her Christmas novellas (the 14th to be published later this year), over 70 books and almost 27 million sold have made Anne Perry a household name in literary fiction and a New York Times Bestselling Author.

Now, imagine a languid sunny day in West Hollywood, ensconced within a fashionable bistro, the soft rays warming crisp white tablecloths while Trish and Anne engage with introductory chit chat, order coffee, crepes and ice cream, and I finally melt into the background to watch a literary back-and-forth between the two writers that was formidable to observe, and flowed as naturally as the blood in their veins. I realized I’d made a perfect match, and the Anglo/Irish Lit Chat will make readers feel the same way I did in that bistro—confident in knowing literary fiction is in good hands.

Trish grew up with oral storytelling, as is the Irish way, and many of her stories bring back decades of lore mixed with contemporary angles that capture the perils of technology sapping our creative energy with its distractive elements of connectivity, and its truncated shorthand that seemingly drives a stake right into the heart of poetry and prose. In fact, Trish has so many familial stories and character studies that her novellas (averaging about 200 pages each), have been called “stories within stories,” and rightfully so. Her love of classics laces every work with literary excerpts that inspire her—and propel her protagonists as they navigate the ebb and flow of each plot, led throughout the world by their global writing app.

At a café just off Sunset, Trish felt herself in the presence of fiction royalty as Anne sipped basil-infused water and she gulped American coffee. Ironically, Anne has become a fan of Trish’s work and their common love of Anglo/Irish classics begins as a literary tag-team: As Anne recounts some of Trish’s excerpts from The Island, she then launches into the development of her first fantasy novel, Tathea (Deseret, 1999), really a religious allegory about a grieving Empress given the chance to seek truth and wisdom. It’s always fascinating to hear an author speak to her inspiration, and with Anne’s long string of success, a first-hand account of how a writer known for crime dramas becomes inspired to write a hefty (504 pages) fantasy is, in itself, novel. And I’ll never forget listening to Anne segue from Wordsworth’s excerpt in Trish’s novel into her own favorite work of Yeats, what she called the best description of love she’d ever read, reciting the whole of it in her soft English lilt, and eliciting goose bumps on my arms.

The origins of both Trish and Anne’s inspiration are firmly rooted in Anglo/Irish literature and poetry. On the evening of our lit chat, scheduled at Vroman’s July 13th, lovers of literary fiction will hear what famous and not-so-famous names from centuries past and not-so-past continue to drive the pen to paper of a new generation of torch-bearers; how the literary form may be stretched and massaged, but never disrespected and overlooked; and importantly, how the success of a novel should never be inspired by commercialism (mirroring fads and contrivances), for commercial success will follow masterful storytelling—an organic process that begins in the gut, speaks from the heart, and bares its soul to the reader like an offering of timeless truths, with a healthy dose of respect for humanity.

Please mark your calendars to join us on July 13 for this great Lit Chat!! 


by Allison K. Hill (Vroman’s President & CEO) 
This article was originally posted on Los Angeles Daily News

Summertime, and the readin’ is easy. My summer 2016 reading list is comprised of some of my favorite books from the past year, now out in paperback just in time for your beach or backyard pleasure, and some new hardcover fiction that’s worth the overweight baggage fees. Think of them as mini-vacations. You deserve it.


By J. Ryan Stradal

This series of charming chapters surrounding fictional food prodigy Eva Thorvald make up one of my favorite debuts. It’s perfect for foodies and those who love well-crafted stories. (June 7, paperback)



By Hilary Liftin

Celebrity ghostwriter and L.A. author Liftin’s fictionalized account of imaginary celebrities who closely resemble Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise is better than tabloid gossip and deliciously decadent. (June 7, paperback)


By Don Winslow

Winslow’s drug war version of “The Godfather” may not be the easy, breezy summer read I promised, but Winslow is a SoCal treasure, and his newest book will captivate you. It’s a page-turner and a magnum opus. (out now, paperback)


By William Finnegan

In his beautiful, Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiography, Finnegan is your tour guide to beautiful beaches, the ’60s and his love affair with surfing. (out now, paperback)



By David McCullough

My dad hasn’t stopped talking about this book. Recommended for history buffs who probably already know the talented McCullough’s gift for history and storytelling but who most likely don’t know the incredibly, fascinating details he reveals in this exciting read. (out now, paperback)


By Michael Connelly

If you’ve read Connelly before, then I’m preaching to the choir. If you haven’t, here’s a summer project for you — Connelly has over two dozen novels to his credit. Your prize for reading them all will be this book: the coming together, from two different series, of Connelly’s best characters: Detective Harry Bosch and “Lincoln Lawyer” Mickey Haller. (out now, paperback)


By Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

A rich, wonderful debut novel about four siblings in a dysfunctional New York family and their shared inheritance. Enjoyed for its heart as much as for its hilarity, it’s at once dark and poignant, light and entertaining. (out now, hardcover)


By Forrest Leo

This wild thing of a debut has been compared to P.G. Wodehouse and Monty Python, but Leo’s voice is very much his own in this story of a poet whose writer’s block drives him to inadvertently sell his wife to the devil, then frantically attempt to get her back. (Aug. 16, hardcover)


By Elizabeth McKenzie

Quirky, charming, clever and set in Palo Alto, this is the humorous story of Veblen, her fiancé Paul, and … a charismatic squirrel. But Stanford M.A. and creative writing teacher McKenzie has produced a one-of-a-kind morality tale that takes on profound subjects both timely and timeless. (out now, hardcover)


By Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

And lastly, the book that I’m reading right now by Academy-Award winning actor and L.A. native Jeff Bridges and his teacher, the renowned American Zen Buddhist roshi, Bernie Glassman. This book’s been out a few years, but it’s a special one worth mentioning. A great introduction to Buddhism and mindfulness. A treat for fans of “The Big Lebowski.” An utterly entertaining conversation between two very interesting and insightful men. And ultimately a book about friendship and the goodness of life, which is what summer should be about. That, and catching up on your reading.


Vroman’s Little Free Library is here!

A few years ago I ran across an article about Little Free Libraries and was absolutely charmed.  How fun, to keep a tiny wooden building, not much bigger than a mailbox, in front of your house or business or in a nearby park, stocked with books that passersby are free to borrow and enjoy!  I immediately started plotting where I would put mine and which books I would fill it with.

Flash forward.  I still don’t have my own library, but last week, Vroman’s installed its own Little Free Library outside our front door near Jones Coffee’s Next Chapter!  I had the honor of placing our first selection of books inside – a few kids’ titles, some thrillers, and a variety of nonfiction books.  We’ll be checking daily to make sure it’s clean and well-stocked.  And we had our first patron when Liam, the son of our CFO, found something inside that he’d like to read.

We hope you’ll stop by and visit.  “Take a book, return a book,” as the Little Free Library organization likes to say.  If you’d like to learn more about how Little Free Libraries work, or if you’re interested in creating your own, visit for more information.

This blog was written by Vroman’s Merchandising Manager, Anne.
She can be seen making pretty signs for both Vroman’s locations or loading books into
the Little Free Library.


Penguin Kids Sneak Peek for Fall 2016!

by Jessica on June 6, 2016

Check out this super cute and fun Sneak Peek video put out by our friends at Penguin.
These are the Six you can’t miss for this fall!

YouTube Preview Image


Student, Hannah nominated Mrs. Kylie Ko of Mark Keppel School in Glendale

My teacher, Mrs. Kylie Ko is my favorite teacher. This is because she makes our learning fun, and she goes beyond her duty to explain everything to us. She makes our learning fun by making musical and music videos about what we learn. Also, if we need help she will explain it to us.

I am in the dual language program and Mrs. Ko is my korean teacher.
We have made musicals about ecosystems and the pioneers and the Gold Rush. We all get our own part in a group. We have also made music video’s about California’s geography and are making one about earth’s formations. First, My class help make the musical and when we finish with writing it we film our different parts. After we are done with the filming, she edits and makes it look really interesting and realistic. Then, she posts the trailer on our homework website so we can look at it. Then at something special like a party or event she will show us the whole thing and how it came out. We have to make our own costumes that she checks and says if we can use it or not.

She will also make stuff we learn into songs. Every week we learn a new song that she teaches us. Mrs. Ko has taught us many things, most of them fun activities. We learn about wise sayings from Korea and familiar idioms. We also do regular everyday stuff like math, science, and social studies. I look forward to starting a new day everyday in her classroom.

Mrs. Ko is also a good teacher because she helps us with our work and does not make us do everything ourselves. She has us take notes so we can study at the end of the week for a test unlike some teachers that make you just stick it in your brain and try to remember it. We use the definitions and make them into like a chant when we are speaking. She also makes movements to go with the definition. Like, if we are learning perimeter she will make a movement like going around a square because a perimeter is the outside measurements of shapes.

Mrs. Ko is leaving this Thursday Mar. 10 because she is having a baby and won’t be back till May. My class will miss her very much. She was a great teacher and will remain with us in our hearts and minds.


Tina Renzullo nominated Regina Major of Altadena Elementary school. 

Regina Major has been working at Altadena Elementary as a Kindergarten teacher for nine years and has been with Pasadena Unified School District for 18 years. She began at Cleveland Elementary as a Pre-K teacher and moved up to a Kindergarten teacher in the fall of 2000. Her background is in Child Development and she has been working with young children for 34 years; her previous experience was with Pre-Schools.

Regina works with a population of students who have economic realities which put them at risk for low school achievement. The reason I am nominating Regina for your award is that she refuses to allow children’s challenges to determine their futures. She differentiates lessons to give all students access to the curriculum and scaffolds their growth with specific skills development. Regina does this through engaging themes and enriching experiences but the key is her expert knowledge of how her students learn best. Families rely on her to provide a strong start for their children and, together with families, Regina does exactly that. Year after year, child by child. Her students leave their year with her seeing themselves as scientists, mathematicians, inventors, artists, writers, explorers… contributing members of our community. Ask anyone in the Altadena School community about Regina and they’ll share with you multiple anecdotes about how she has positively affected their lives.

Regina has been a member of the Altadena/Pasadena community all of her life;
She received her education at Edison-Kindergarten and 1st grade, Pasadena Christian-2nd grade to 8th grade, Marshall Fundamental-High School, (Her first teaching experience was through the PUSD ROP Program at All Saints Children’s Center.) PCC-AA in General Studies, Cal State Northridge-BA in Child Development, Point Loma University-Teaching Credential/MA in Teaching Learning and Technology, and UCLA Extension-technology course in 2005. She was a part of TAH (Teach American History-Cohort 3). She was one of the teachers from Altadena Elementary involved in CRW (Curriculum Revision Workshop). Currently she serves on the Altadena Inclusion planning team.
Outside of her professional obligations, she is involved with enhancing our community. Regina is a 7 year member of the Tournament of Roses, a youth community tutor with various organizations, and an active member of her church, where she works with the youth choir and Lead Young Adults.
Regina exemplifies what strong commitment to community looks like and we all benefit from her dedication. It would be really lovely to honor her with your award.


Student/Friend, Lisa Jonsson nominated Rosalyn M. Wortham
of Los Angeles Adventist Academy

Teachers have the opportunity to make such an impact on a student’s life. How many people can say that they have a friendship with their high school literature teacher?  Even more surprising; how many people can say they have this friendship over 30 years later?   It is my honor and privilege to nominate

Mrs. Rosalyn M. Wortham, whom over 30 years ago, was my high school literature teacher and continues her 40 year teaching span. As a student in high school, I had to work hard to obtain good grades.  Mrs. Wortham (or Roslie as I now lovingly refer to her), never stopped believing in me or my abilities.  She often recounted the story of the  “Tortoise and the Hair”.  Roslie always said it wasn’t about who finished first more than it was about who finished the race. Her assignments were rigorous yet inspiring: a treasure hunt at the library, an indentured servant journal replete with daily entries and an antiquated look, interpreting Shakespeare, writing poetry, and reading my all time favorite, Agatha Christie. After high school, I went on to complete my graduate degree and mentioned Roslie in the dedication of my published thesis.  Roslie’s support played a large part in my achievements.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist today, I have a good understanding about what helps people to thrive in this world – a mentor and a cheerleader. Roslie definitely was that for me. Roslie has always availed herself to her students and continues teaching at LA Adventist Academy where she works with many underprivileged children.  There, she continues to provide assignments that remain interesting, precipitate creativity, and continue a quest for the love of learning.  Some of her students see her as a “tough, no-nonsense” teacher to be highly revered.  While she is all of those things, she is also an incredibly caring, dedicated, cheerleader for all of her students. Today, after over 40 years of teaching, she continues to make an impact on her student’s lives.

I continue my friendship with a woman who never gave up on her students and pushed the limits to make them better people. Together, we attend concerts, memorable celebrations, literary events, and even have time for a cup of tea to discuss “who did it” before the end of our mystery novels. I can’t think of anyone more deserving and appropriate than my high school literature teacher Rosalyn M. Wortham for Vroman’s Teacher of the Year. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing her honored for all of the selfless work that she does.

I sign off with a poem, which I believe describes it perfectly:

From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:

They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;

They are the books, the arts, the academes,

That show, contain, and nourish all the world.

William Shakespeare