9 Books Set in Pasadena

by Jessica on February 23, 2018

By Kelly

Pasadena is our home, and we love it! And writers seem to love it too, with the city making appearances in multiple novels! Here are 9 books set in our wonderful town of Pasadena.

Books Set in Pasadena1. The High Window by Raymond Chandler
(Mystery/Thriller)

A wealthy Pasadena widow with a mean streak, a missing daughter-in-law with a past, and a gold coin worth a small fortune—the elements don’t quite add up until Marlowe discovers evidence of murder, rape, blackmail, and the worst kind of human exploitation.

Books Set in Pasadena2. Summer Of The Big Bachi by Naomi Hirahara
(Mystery)

In the foothills of Pasadena, Mas Arai is just another Japanese American gardener, his lawnmower blades clean and sharp, his truck carefully tuned. But while Mas keeps lawns neatly trimmed, his own life has gone to seed. His wife is dead. And his livelihood is falling into the hands of the men he once hired by the day. For Mas, a life of sin is catching up to him. And now bachi—the spirit of retribution—is knocking on his door.

It begins when a stranger comes around, asking questions about a nurseryman who once lived in Hiroshima, a man known as Joji Haneda. By the end of the summer, Joji will be dead and Mas’s own life will be in danger. For while Mas was building a life on the edge of the American dream, he has kept powerful secrets: about three friends long ago, about two lives entwined, and about what really happened when the bomb fell on Hiroshima in August 1945.

Books Set In Pasadena3. Colorado Boulevard (A CRUSH NOVEL) By Phoef Sutton
(Mystery)

When K.C. Zerbe, the honorary brother (and roommate) of LA’s toughest bodyguard/bouncer, Crush, is kidnapped, Crush springs into action. Unraveling the mystery takes him to Zerbe’s estranged billionaire father, who’s obsessed with building California’s long-promised bullet train, as well as to Pasadena’s famed Rose Parade along Colorado Boulevard. Along the way Crush has to revisit a traumatic event from his teenage years that’s come back to haunt him. (This is the third book in the much-praised Crush series full of action, suspense, humor, and mystery).

Books Set in Pasadena4. Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith
(YA)

Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.
When Jude’s best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay. Now everyone is a suspect—family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that’s the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude’s got a few skeletons of her own. In a homage to the great noir stories of Los Angeles, award-winning author Sherri L. Smith’s Pasadena is a tale of love, damage and salvation set against the backdrop of California’s City of Roses.

Books Set In Pasadena5. The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena (Goosebumps, No 38) by R. L. Stine
(Middle Grade)

Becoming sick of the endless hot weather in their Pasadena home, siblings Jordan and Nicole Blake wish for a real winter and are delighted with an Alaskan family vacation, until they come face-to-face with the Abominable Snowman.

Books Set in Pasadena6. Pasadena: A Novel by David Ebershoff
(Historical Fiction)

From the award-winning author of The Danish Girl and The Rose City, Pasadena tells the story of Linda Stamp, a fishergirl born in 1903 on a coastal onion farm, and the three men who change her life: her jealous brother, Edmund; Bruder, the orphan Linda’s father brings home from World War I; and a Pasadena orange rancher named Willis Poore. The novel spans Linda’s adventurous and romantic life, weaving the tales of her Mexican mother and her German-born father with those of the rural Pacific Coast of her youth and of the small, affluent city, Pasadena, that becomes her home. Pasadena is a novel of passion and history, about a woman and a place in perpetual transformation.

Books Set In Pasadena7. Helen of Pasadena by Lian Dolan
(Fiction)

Helen Fairchild is leading a privileged Pasadena existence: married to a pillar of the community; raising a water polo-playing son destined for the most select high school; volunteering her time on the most fashionable committees. It only bothers Helen a tiny bit that she has never quite fit in with the proper Pasadena crowd, never finished that graduate degree in Classics, and never had that second baby. But the rigid rules of society in Pasadena appeal to Helen, the daughter of Oregon fiber artists, even if she’ll never be on the inside.

And then along comes a Rose Parade float, killing her philandering husband and leaving Helen broke, out of her “forever” house, and scrambling to salvage her once-rarefied existence. Enter Patrick O’Neill, excavator of Troy and wearer of nubby sweaters. A job as Dr. O’Neill’s research assistant is the lifeline Helen needs to reinvent herself. Ancient mysteries to solve Charity events to plan School admissions advisors to charm If Helen wasn’t so distracted by her incredibly attractive boss, she might be able to pull off this new life.

Helen’s world widens to include a Hollywood star, a gossip columnist, an old college nemesis, a high-powered Neutron Mom, an unforgiving school headmistress, the best Armenian real estate agent in the biz, and, of course, the intriguing Patrick O’Neill. While uncovering secrets about ancient Troy alongside her archaeologist boss, Helen discovers something much more: a new sense of self and a new love.
With its keen social observations, laugh-out-loud scenes and whip-smart dialogue, Helen of Pasadena delivers humor, insight and wisdom on reinventing yourself.

Books Set in Pasadena8. Conversations with the Fat Girl by Liza Palmer
(Fiction)

Everyone seems to be getting on with their lives except Maggie. At 26, she’s still serving coffee at The Beanery Coffee House, while her friends are getting married, having babies, and having real careers. Even Olivia, Maggie’s best friend from childhood, is getting married to the doctor with whom she lives. Maggie’s roommate? Her dog Solo (his name says it all). The man in Maggie’s life? Well there isn’t one, except the guy she has a crush on, Domenic, who works with her at the coffee shop as a bus boy.Maggie and Olivia have been best friends since they were in grade school. Both fatties, they befriended each other when no one else would. Now grown-up, Maggie is still shopping in the “women’s section” while Olivia went and had gastric-bypass surgery in search of the elusive size 2, the holy grail for girls everywhere. So now Olivia’s thin and blonde and getting married, and Maggie’s the fat bridesmaid. Ain’t life grand? In this wonderful debut novel that is sure to remind readers of Jennifer Weiner’s Good In Bed, Liza Orr is both witty and wise, giving voice to women everywhere who wish for just once that they could forget about their weight. (P.S. Vroman’s even gets a shout out in this one!!)

Books Set in Pasadena9. Literary Pasadena: The Fiction Edition edited by Patricia O’Sullivan
(Anthology)

The historic, handsome city in the shadow of Los Angeles has been a creative hotbed since the Arroyo Arts & Crafts scene of the early twentieth century. This literary journal gathers short fiction by such Pasadena-area writers as Michelle Huneven (Blame), Victoria Patterson (This Vacant Paradise), Jervey Tervalon (Understand This), Naomi Hirahara (Snakeskin Shamisen), Lian Dolan (Helen of Pasadena), Ron Koertge (The Arizona Kid), Dianne Emley (the Nan Vining mysteries), and Jim Krusoe (Parsifal).
Produced as a companion to LitFest Pasadena (May 2013), Literary Pasadena: The Fiction Edition is the first in an annual series that will move on to include editions in poetry, essays, humor, and more.

Celebrate Black History Month

by Jessica on February 16, 2018

By Rebecca

Hello Readers!

February is well underway and that means we are in the midst of Black History Month!

One of the best ways to celebrate and honor a culture is by reading its literature, because as we bookworms know, literature is a platform where people can speak their truth and where diverse voices can be heard. Literature is powerful and it dares to get at the heart of things, critiquing society and commenting on the human condition.

There are so many great works out there by black writers that it would be impossible to list them all. Black writers have given us some of the most powerful literary works, some of which have been honored by the National Book Award over the years. Below are a few such books that we at Vroman’s recommend for any month of the year!

Fiction:

black history monthRalph Ellison “Invisible Man” 1953

black history monthAlice Walker “The Color Purple” 1983

black history monthCharles Johnson “Middle Passage” 1990

black history monthColson Whitehead “The Underground Railroad” 2016

black history monthJesmyn Ward “Sing, Unburied, Sing” 2017

Non-Fiction:

black history monthTa-Nehisi Coates “Between the World and Me” 2015

Poetry:

black history monthRobin Coste-Lewis “Voyage of the Sable Venus” 2015

Young People’s Literature:

black history monthJacqueline Woodson “Brown Girl Dreaming” 2014

5 Bookish Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

by Jessica on February 12, 2018

By Kelly

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity for us to show and celebrate the love we have for those important to us: our books. We’re just kidding of course. But, there is a way to incorporate your penchant for books when you are celebrating this Valentine’s. Whether you are spending it with your significant other, partner, family, children, friends, or yourself, here are 5 bookish ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Literary Valetine's Day

1. Give a “punny” card.

Demonstrate your love with a pun-tastic Valentine’s Card. Bonus points if the pun is literary, but really any pun will do. Below are some of our favorites that we carry in the store. Or if you are creatively inclined you can always make your own!

2. Go on a blind date with a book.

Blind dates with books can be a fun and adventurous way to broaden your reading horizons. Have someone pick out a book for you to read, without telling you what it is about first. Our booksellers would be happy to help pair you up with the perfect blind date.

Literary Valentine's Day

3. Have a bookish game night.

Gather all your friends for a night of literary themed games. Some fun games to play include Bring Your Own Book, where participants use lines from books to satisfy prompts. We also love Bards Dispense Profanity, which is similar to Cards Against Humanity. But in this version all answers come from Shakespeare’s Plays. And of course, who wouldn’t want to find clues and solve mysteries like Sherlock Holmes?

4. Spend the day in a bookstore.

Treat yourself to a day surrounded by books, and spend Valentine’s Day with us. If you can’t make to us in Pasadena, never fear! With great bookstores like Book Soup, The Last Bookstore, Skylight, Small World Books and all of our other friends, you have access to books no matter where you are!

Literary Valentine's Day

5. Make a dinner inspired by your favorite character or novel.

Nothing says Iove like a home cooked meal. Why not make food straight out of your favorite novel? Whip up some butterbeer or mutton in onion ale broth to share with the ones you love.

 

No matter how you celebrate Valentine’s Day, we hope you spend it surrounded by those you love. Happy Valentine’s Day friends.

Take a Listen: Bookish Podcasts

by Jessica on January 26, 2018

Podcasts are all the rage right now. They’re perfect for commuting, working, exercising or when you just want to take a breather and sit around and listen to the radio. There is quite literally something out there for everyone, too. Including us bibliophiles. We’ve put together some of the top rated literary podcasts out there for you to take a listen to.

 


Bookworm
This is the podcast version of the wonderful KCRW show. It is an absolute must for the serious reader. Bookworm showcases writers of fiction and poetry and covers the gamut from established to new and emerging writers. All hosted by the incredibly soothing voice of Michael Silverblatt. Some of the recent guests have been Anne Fadiman, Jennifer Egan and George Saunders. Subscribe HERE.

Book Riot Podcasts
We are huge fans of Book Riots online content! They have fun lists and information pieces about the literary world everyday. They also have a slew of great podcasts to please your ears. They’re podcasts range from The Book Riot Podcast – a general overview of the literary world with topics like talking about the literary award nominations, to Roxane Gay’s new advice column to audiobook rundowns. They have one called Recommended in which authors recommend books for you! They also have one dedicated to mysteries and one dedicated to Young Adult books. Plus, a few others. Something for everyone. Check ’em out on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or your favorite podcast provider.

Literary Disco
With the tagline, Where Books Come to Dance, you really can’t go wrong! Literary Disco is hosted by Julia Pistell, Tod Goldberg and Rider Strong. Three friends who happen to love books. They read everything, and we mean everything fiction, nonfiction, poetry, plays and more. Then they talk about it! They periodically bring on authors as well. Check out more about them HERE and make sure to subscribe too!

Between the Covers
This one is hosted by David Naimon in Portland, Oregon. He covers fiction, nonfiction and poetry and interviews today’s best writers, both established and up-and-coming. Some of the latest episodes have featured Celeste Ng, Eileen Myles and Peter Rock. Check out his blog HERE.

H.P. Lovecraft Literary
A podcast about the works of H.P. Lovecraft, the writers that inspired him and the literature he inspired. Each episode, the two hosts Chad Fifer and Christopher Lackey discuss a piece of weird fiction. Voice actors bring the texts to life and music helps to create the atmosphere. Super fun listen! More info HERE.

 


Do you listen to any of these on a regular basis?
Are there any you would recommend? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Feel Inspired This January!

by Jessica on January 22, 2018

Breathe In, Breathe Out. It’s a brand new year after a year that had been a little tougher than others. We’re starting anew, the air seems different. But how can we keep that momentum going?
How can we feel inspired this year?
Inspiration can comes in many forms and come at many different times throughout the year.

Today, we’re talking about some great inspirational books to help catapult us into this brand new year.


 

The Judgment Detox
by Gabrielle Bernstein
The Judgment Detox
is an interactive six-step process that calls on spiritual principles from the text A Course in Miracles, Kundalini yoga, the Emotional Freedom Technique (aka Tapping), meditation, prayer and metaphysical teachings. I’ve demystified these principles to make them easy to commit to and apply in your daily life. Each lesson builds upon the next to support true healing. When you commit to following the process and become willing to let go, judgment, pain and suffering will begin to dissolve. And the miracles will keep coming. Once you begin to feel better you start to release your resistance to love. The more you practice these steps, the more love enters into your consciousness and into your energetic vibration. When you’re in harmony with love, you receive more of what you want. Your energy attracts its likeness. So when you shift your energy from defensive judgment to free-flowing love your life gets awesome. You’ll attract exactly what you need, your relationships will heal, your health will improve and you’ll feel safer and more secure. One loving thought at a time creates a miracle. Follow these steps to clear all blocks, spread more love and live a miraculous life.

Were my goals my own, or simply what I thought I should want?
How much of life had I missed from underplanning or overplanning?
How could I be kinder to myself?
How could I better say “no” to the trivial many to better say “yes” to the critical few?
How could I best reassess my priorities and my purpose in this world?

To find answers, I reached out to the most impressive world-class performers in the world, ranging from wunderkinds in their 20s to icons in their 70s and 80s. No stone was left unturned. This book contains their answers–practical and tactical advice from mentors who have found solutions. Whether you want to 10x your results, get unstuck, or reinvent yourself, someone else has traveled a similar path and taken notes. This book, Tribe of Mentors, includes many of the people I grew up viewing as idols or demi-gods. Less than 10% have been on my podcast (The Tim Ferriss Show), making this a brand-new playbook of playbooks. No matter your challenge or opportunity, something in these pages can help.

With advice on everything from mastering social media to navigating office politics and the seemingly impossible work/life balance, Work It arms every woman with the courage and skills to achieve success and happiness on her terms.

 In his wildly popular Internet blog, Manson doesn’t sugarcoat or equivocate. He tells it like it is–a dose of raw, refreshing, honest truth that is sorely lacking today. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is his antidote to the coddling, let’s-all-feel-good mindset that has infected modern society and spoiled a generation, rewarding them with gold medals just for showing up.

Manson makes the argument, backed both by academic research and well-timed poop jokes, that improving our lives hinges not on our ability to turn lemons into lemonade, but on learning to stomach lemons better. Human beings are flawed and limited–“not everybody can be extraordinary, there are winners and losers in society, and some of it is not fair or your fault.” Manson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them. Once we embrace our fears, faults, and uncertainties, once we stop running and avoiding and start confronting painful truths, we can begin to find the courage, perseverance, honesty, responsibility, curiosity, and forgiveness we seek.


 

Whatever it is you are looking to do, to improve on, to start –
feel inspired and get to it!
Make it happen in 2018!

 

 

Most Anticipated Books in 2018!

by Jessica on January 19, 2018

A new year, a new crop of incredible reads!
Here is a little list of what is coming up this year in books.
There’s a little something for everyone in this list. We’re only covering the next few months.
There is plenty more where this came from for the rest of the year!
What are you most looking forward to?

The Largesse of the Sea Maiden,
by Denis Johnson
(Jan. 16)
The Largesse of the Sea Maiden is the long-awaited new story collection from Denis Johnson. Written in the luminous prose that made him one of the most beloved and important writers of his generation, this collection finds Johnson in new territory, contemplating the ghosts of the past and the elusive and unexpected ways the mysteries of the universe assert themselves.Finished shortly before Johnson’s death, this collection is the last word from a writer whose work will live on for many years to come.

The Hazel Wood
by Melissa Albert
(Jan. 30)
One of the most anticipated debuts of the year! Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: Her mother is stolen away–by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

Alice has long steered clear of her grandmother’s cultish fans. But now she has no choice but to ally with classmate Ellery Finch, a Hinterland superfan who may have his own reasons for wanting to help her. To retrieve her mother, Alice must venture first to the Hazel Wood, then into the world where her grandmother’s tales began–and where she might find out how her own story went so wrong.

The Monk of Mokha
by Dave Eggers
(Jan. 30)
Mokhtar Alkhanshali grew up in San Francisco, one of seven siblings brought up by Yemeni immigrants in a tiny apartment. At age twenty-four, unable to pay for college, he works as a doorman, until a chance encounter awakens his interest in coffee and its rich history in Yemen. Reinventing himself, he sets out to learn about coffee cultivation, roasting and importing. He travels to Yemen and visits farms in every corner of the country, collecting samples, eager to improve cultivation methods and help Yemeni farmers bring their coffee back to its former glory. And he is on the verge of success when civil war engulfs Yemen in 2015. The U.S. embassy closes, Saudi bombs begin to rain down on the country and Mokhtar is trapped in Yemen.

Feel Free
by Zadie Smith
(Feb. 6)
Arranged into five sections–In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free–this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network–and Facebook itself–really about? “It’s a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore.” Why do we love libraries? “Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay.” What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? “So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we’d just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes–and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat.”

Heart Berries
by Terese Marie Mailhot
(Feb. 6)
Heart Berries is a powerful, poetic memoir of a woman’s coming of age on the Seabird Island Indian Reservation in the Pacific Northwest. Having survived a profoundly dysfunctional upbringing only to find herself hospitalized and facing a dual diagnosis of post traumatic stress disorder and bipolar II disorder; Terese Marie Mailhot is given a notebook and begins to write her way out of trauma. The triumphant result is Heart Berries, a memorial for Mailhot’s mother, a social worker and activist who had a thing for prisoners; a story of reconciliation with her father–an abusive drunk and a brilliant artist–who was murdered under mysterious circumstances; and an elegy on how difficult it is to love someone while dragging the long shadows of shame.

The House of Impossible Beauties
by Joseph Cassara
(Feb. 6)
It’s 1980 in New York City, and nowhere is the city’s glamour and energy better reflected than in the burgeoning Harlem ball scene, where seventeen-year-old Angel first comes into her own. Burned by her traumatic past, Angel is new to the drag world, new to ball culture, and has a yearning inside of her to help create family for those without. When she falls in love with Hector, a beautiful young man who dreams of becoming a professional dancer, the two decide to form the House of Xtravaganza, the first-ever all-Latino house in the Harlem ball circuit. But when Hector dies of AIDS-related complications, Angel must bear the responsibility of tending to their house alone.

As mother of the house, Angel recruits Venus, a whip-fast trans girl who dreams of finding a rich man to take care of her; Juanito, a quiet boy who loves fabrics and design; and Daniel, a butch queen who accidentally saves Venus’s life. The Xtravaganzas must learn to navigate sex work, addiction, and persistent abuse, leaning on each other as bulwarks against a world that resists them. All are ambitious, resilient, and determined to control their own fates, even as they hurtle toward devastating consequences.

I Am I Am I Am
by Maggie O’Farrell
(Feb. 6)
I Am, I Am, I Am is Maggie O’Farrell’s astonishing memoir of the near-death experiences that have punctuated and defined her life. The childhood illness that left her bedridden for a year, which she was not expected to survive. A teenage yearning to escape that nearly ended in disaster. An encounter with a disturbed man on a remote path. And, most terrifying of all, an ongoing, daily struggle to protect her daughter–for whom this book was written–from a condition that leaves her unimaginably vulnerable to life’s myriad dangers.

Educated
by Tara Westover
(Feb. 20)
Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes from severing ties with those closest to you. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it.

“Educated shines a light on a part of our country that we too often overlook.”
–J. D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark
by Michelle McNamara
(Feb. 27)
I’ll Be Gone in the Dark–the masterpiece McNamara was writing at the time of her sudden death–offers an atmospheric snapshot of a moment in American history and a chilling account of a criminal mastermind and the wreckage he left behind. It is also a portrait of a woman’s obsession and her unflagging pursuit of the truth. Framed by an introduction by Gillian Flynn and an afterword by her husband, Patton Oswalt, the book was completed by Michelle’s lead researcher and a close colleague. Utterly original and compelling, it is destined to become a true crime classic–and may at last unmask the Golden State Killer.

Children of Blood and Bone
by Tomi Adeyemi
(March 6)
Twenty-four-year-old Tomi Adeyemi’s YA debut is looking like a phenomenon. Kicking off a Black Lives Matter-inspired fantasy trilogy, Children of Blood and Bone has already reportedly sold film rights around the seven figures and is generating buzz for its sharp racial commentary. The author calls the book an “allegory for the modern black experience,” and finds fantasy the perfect mode for conveying complex ideas without getting preachy.

Whiskey & Ribbons
by Leesa Cross-Smith
(March 6)
Whiskey & Ribbons is told in three intertwining, melodic voices: Evi in present day, as she’s snowed in with Dalton during a freak blizzard; Eamon before his murder, as he prepares for impending fatherhood and grapples with the danger of his profession; and Dalton, as he struggles to make sense of his life next to Eamon’s, and as he decides to track down the biological father he’s never known.

We are so excited to be hosting Deepark Chopra!
He will be discussing his brand new book, The Healing Self.
Tickets are still available and they can be found on Eventbrite.
Pick up yours HERE.

Try Your Hand at These Novellas!

by Jessica on January 12, 2018

So you’re wanting to read more this year. But you’re still as busy or more busy than you were last year. How can we marry the two? One suggestion is novellas! Little bites of stories generally between 50 and 200 pages. Not quite novel length but a little longer than a short story. Bite-sized to fit into your life!
Try some of these on for size for starters.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned–a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.

Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson
Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything–until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant–a part of a future that belonged to them.

Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
Nineteenth-century New England villager Ethan Frome is tormented by his love for his ailing wife’s cousin. Trapped, he may ultimately be destroyed by that which offers his greatest chance at happiness.

 

Home by Toni Morrison
Frank is a modern Odysseus returning to a 1950s America mined with lethal pitfalls for an unwary black man. As he journeys to his native Georgia in search of Cee, it becomes clear that their troubles began well before their wartime separation. Together, they return to their rural hometown of Lotus, where buried secrets are unearthed and where Frank learns at last what it means to be a man, what it takes to heal, and–above all–what it means to come home.

McGlue by Ottessa Mosfegh
Salem, Massachusetts, 1851: McGlue is in the hold, still too drunk to be sure of name or situation or orientation–he may have killed a man. That man may have been his best friend. Intolerable memory accompanies sobriety. A-sail on the high seas of literary tradition, Ottessa Moshfegh gives us a nasty heartless blackguard on a knife-sharp voyage through the fogs of recollection.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
They are an unlikely pair: George is “small and quick and dark of face”; Lennie, a man of tremendous size, has the mind of a young child. Yet they have formed a “family,” clinging together in the face of loneliness and alienation.Laborers in California’s dusty vegetable fields, they hustle work when they can, living a hand-to-mouth existence. For George and Lennie have a plan: to own an acre of land and a shack they can call their own. When they land jobs on a ranch in the Salinas Valley, the fulfillment of their dream seems to be within their grasp. But even George cannot guard Lennie from the provocations of a flirtatious woman, nor predict the consequences of Lennie’s unswerving obedience to the things George taught him.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away, her son even farther, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in empty houses, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with. But maybe that could change? As Addie and Louis come to know each other better–their pleasures and their difficulties–a beautiful story of second chances unfolds, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

Shopgirl by Steve Martin
With more than 340,000 copies in print, Steve Martin’s Shopgirl has landed on bestseller lists nationwide, including: New York Times, Publishers Weekly, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. Filled with the kind of witty, discerning observations that have brought Steve Martin incredible critical success, this story of modern day love and romance is a work of disarming tenderness.

So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano
In the stillness of his Paris apartment, Jean Daragane has built a life of total solitude. Then a surprising phone call shatters the silence of an unusually hot September, and the threatening voice on the other end of the line leaves Daragane wary but irresistibly curious. Almost at once, he finds himself entangled with a shady gambler and a beautiful, fragile young woman, who draw Daragane into the mystery of a decades-old murder. The investigation will force him to confront the memory of a trauma he had all but buried. This masterly novel penetrates the deepest enigmas of identity and compels us to ask whether we ever know who we truly are.

The Awakening by Kate Chopin
When first published in 1899, The Awakening shocked readers with its honest treatment of female marital infidelity. Audiences accustomed to the pieties of late Victorian romantic fiction were taken aback by Chopin’s daring portrayal of a woman trapped in a stifling marriage, who seeks and finds passionate physical love outside the straitened confines of her domestic situation. Aside from its unusually frank treatment of a then-controversial subject, the novel is widely admired today for its literary qualities. Edmund Wilson characterized it as a work “quite uninhibited and beautifully written, which anticipates D. H. Lawrence in its treatment of infidelity.” Although the theme of marital infidelity no longer shocks, few novels have plumbed the psychology of a woman involved in an illicit relationship with the perception, artistry, and honesty that Kate Chopin brought to The Awakening.

The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing
Harriet and David Lovatt, parents of four children, have created an idyll of domestic bliss in defiance of the social trends of late 1960s England. While around them crime and unrest surge, the Lovatts are certain that their old-fashioned contentment can protect them from the world outside–until the birth of their fifth baby. Gruesomely goblin-like in appearance, insatiably hungry, abnormally strong and violent, Ben has nothing innocent or infant-like about him. As he grows older and more terrifying, Harriet finds she cannot love him, David cannot bring himself to touch him, and their four older children are afraid of him. Understanding that he will never be accepted anywhere, Harriet and David are torn between their instincts as parents and their shocked reaction to this fierce and unlovable child whose existence shatters their belief in a benign world.

The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
A canny young woman is struggling to survive by perpetrating various levels of mostly harmless fraud. On a rainy April morning, she is reading auras at Spiritual Palms when Susan Burke walks in. A keen observer of human behavior, our unnamed narrator immediately diagnoses beautiful, rich Susan as an unhappy woman eager to give her lovely life a drama injection. However, when the “psychic” visits the eerie Victorian home that has been the source of Susan’s terror and grief, she realizes she may not have to pretend to believe in ghosts anymore. Miles, Susan’s teenage stepson, doesn’t help matters with his disturbing manner and grisly imagination. The three are soon locked in a chilling battle to discover where the evil truly lurks and what, if anything, can be done to escape it.

The Lifted Veil by George Eliot

 

 

 

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
In her new translation of Kafka’s masterpiece, Susan Bernofsky strives to capture both the humor and the humanity in this macabre tale, underscoring the ways in which Gregor Samsa’s grotesque metamorphosis is just the physical manifestation of his longstanding spiritual impoverishment.

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother. He hasn’t thought of Lettie in decades, and yet as he sits by the pond (a pond that she’d claimed was an ocean) behind the ramshackle old farmhouse where she once lived, the unremembered past comes flooding back. And it is a past too strange, too frightening, too dangerous to have happened to anyone, let alone a small boy.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate. 

 

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys
This mesmerizing work introduces us to Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Mr. Rochester. Rhys portrays Cosway amidst a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.

Vroman’s Annual Reading Challenge!

by Jessica on January 10, 2018

Vroman’s 2018 Reading Challenge
This isn’t a test.  No one is keeping score and there are no points to post.
The challenge is to push yourself, to take advantage of this challenge as a way to explore topics or formats or genres that you otherwise wouldn’t try.
You may count one book for multiple tasks or read one book per task.

o A book published posthumously
o A true crime book
o A classic of genre fiction (i.e., mystery/thriller, science fiction, fantasy, romance, etc.)
o A travel memoir
o A book told from the point of view of an immigrant
o A book about nature
o A western
o A comic written or illustrated by a person of color
o A children’s classic published before 1980
o A celebrity memoir
o A book you can read in one sitting
o The first book in a new-to-you series
o A science fiction novel with a female protagonist written by a female author
o A book you’ve read before
o A book in translation
o A book with a cover you hate
o A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ author
o An essay anthology
o A book with a female protagonist over the age of 60
o An assigned book you hated or never finished in school
o A book of poetry by a single author
o A book about time travel
o A book about death or grief
o A brand new, published in 2018 book

On Saturday, January 13th, author Diana Raab will be teaching a
Writer’s Workshop for our Vroman’s Ed Series.
Writing For Bliss with Diana Raab will be held from 12pm-3pm.

We wanted to give you a little look into Diana’s life and how she became a writer,her style and the benefits that writing brings to her.

If you’d like to find out more information about the workshop
please click HERE.

To sign up for this class please give us a call at 626-449-5320.


When and how did you begin writing?

My passion for writing began at the age of ten when my mother gave me a Kahlil Gibran journal after my grandmother/caretaker committed suicide in my childhood home. My mother was an English major in college and suggested that I pour my feelings and sadness onto the pages of my journal. Journaling was instrumental in helping me heal from my loss. Since then, my journal has been my confidant and best friend. I’ve used it to navigate difficult times, and it’s also a place to store memories and creative ideas that later result in poems, essays, and books. My journals have also been an invaluable and integral part of my healing and transformation during transitional times in my life, such as adolescence, three pregnancies laden with bedrest, menopause, and two bouts with cancer.

I am grateful to my mother for her seemingly innocent gesture of giving me a journal that set the platform for my life as an author.

What inspired you to write Writing for Bliss?

Writing for Bliss is a culmination of my life’s work. Ever since my mother gave me that first journal, I have used writing for healing—also the subject of my doctoral work—which focused on the transformative powers of writing a memoir. After getting my PhD, I continued my path of teaching writing-for-transformation workshops.

Some of the results of my research is shared in Writing for Bliss, which includes quotes and excerpts of interviews from famous writers I interviewed. I’ve always had a knack for simplifying complicated information for my readers, which is what I did in Writing for Bliss, where I made my findings accessible for both the general public and academics.

How has your life story shaped your writing of nonfiction and poetry?

I’ve encountered many losses in my life, and since it has been said that survivors are very often seekers, my experiences compelled me to record my feelings and impressions. Also, the creative impulse is connected to a sense of longing. Some people reach out to religious or spiritual paths to help them understand their experiences. For me, writing is my spiritual practice. It’s my “go to” place during both good and bad times. My journal is my friend and confidant, helping me release whatever is bottled up inside of me. It is liberating for me, because by releasing my secrets and sentiments, I become free and have more control over my life. Writing also helps me find out what I don’t know; and increases my awareness of myself, others, and the world-at-large.

What are some unexpected benefits of writing about one’s life?

In addition to being a container for one’s thoughts and a way to release tension, writing about feelings and experiences is an excellent way to find out what you don’t know. In my research of writers who have written memoirs, many confessed that they began writing their memoirs for one reason, and during the writing process realized they were writing for a completely different reason. For example, one author wrote in order to figure out why his brother committed suicide, but by the time he’d made it to the end of his book, he realized that writing about his brother was a way to keep him alive.

What is the mind, body and spirit connection when it comes to writing for healing?

 To maximize the quality of the writing you do, it’s important to have a balanced body, mind, and spirit, which are forces of energy that work together and react to one another in either a positive or a negative way. Connecting the body, mind, and spirit is a way to keep the energy flowing in your body. When your energy flow is in balance, your state of being is altered, which affects your overall physical and psychological health. With your body, mind, and spirit in balance, you also feel joy more easily. You are respectful of yourself and others, and you have a sense of life purpose. This balance or sense of harmony can also lead to feelings of euphoria or bliss.

  Most good writing begins with the body, because the way we experience and describe our experiences or feelings is with our senses—seeing, touching, tasting, smelling, and hearing. Writing from the heart is important, because our hearts are usually truth holders. When we talk about the mind, we usually refer to the self or the person we consciously perceive ourselves to be. When opening ourselves to spirit, we’re opening and connecting ourselves to the world beyond the mind.

Spirituality means different things to different people. I view it as an understanding and recognition of a certain sense of interconnectedness among people. It’s a reminder that we are not alone and that everything we do has the potential to affect others. Spirituality is also about relaxing into our own sense of being and about finding our bliss, which is often a lifelong journey during which we search for meaning and purpose.

What is it about writing that is healing and transformative?

Writing is healing and transformative because it’s a way to nurture yourself. Free-writing, in particular, which is writing without lifting your pen off the page, can be liberating and healing because you go wherever your mind takes you. Virginia Woolf called this “stream-of- consciousness writing,” and it simply involves going with the flow of your words.

That’s the beauty of this type of writing. You sometimes don’t know what’s bottled up deep inside of you until you begin putting pen to paper. For example, you might begin by writing about your day at work, and then before you know it, you’re writing about the issues you had with your mother. Free-writing is also one way, in addition to dreams, to tap into your subconscious mind.

Transformation may be defined as a dramatic change in your physical and psychological well-being. Writing poetry transforms, because if you write about a particular event in your life, you might have revelations about it that can lead to transformation. The deeper you go into writing about a certain subject, the greater the chance of transformation. If you share your writing, others can be transformed by your words, especially if your story resonates with them or they have navigated similar journeys. Ultimately, healing, transformation, and empowerment are all parts of the same path—leading to self-awareness, self-discovery, growth and, eventually, bliss.

Do you have any rituals prior to writing?

I meditate twice a day, which usually coincides with the time before I write. Prior to actually sitting down to write, I usually make sure I have a glass of water and a cup of tea or coffee beside me. I clear my desk of any distractions, shut off my cell phone, light my white candle, and take some deep breaths in and out. Sometimes I enjoy listening to classical or spiritual music, but it depends on my mood or what I’m writing about. In Writing for Bliss, I share additional tips for getting into the writing “zone.”