Happy Friday, friends!! I hope you’re gearing up for a relaxing and fun weekend ahead.
We have an event coming up on Monday 4/27 that is already shaping up to be a really special evening.

April Dammann is the author of a new biography about Corita Kent that is being put out by one of our favorite local publishers, Angel City Press. Some of you reading this may know exactly who Corita Kent is and some of you may have no idea which is just one of the many reasons why this biography is so important in today’s world.

April Dammann answered 5 questions for us about the importance of this biography and the impact that Corita Kent still has on the art community today. Check out her answers and we hope to see you Monday evening at 7pm!


5 Questions with April Dammann

There really hasn’t been much in the way of books/biographies featuring Corita Kent. Why is a project like this so important?
This is the first biography of Corita Kent, and most importantly, the first independent biography. Corita was an independent soul, so I think she would appreciate that her biography was written by someone who could be totally objective about her life and her art. The biography is very timely because only in the last few weeks has the Vatican backed down in its stance against the women religious they have called “radical nuns” in America. Fifty years ago Corita and her sisters in the Immaculate Heart of Mary order in Los Angeles were castigated for being too radical, too “uppity.”

And on the art front, this biography and the exhibition of her work that is coming to Pasadena in June are important because Sister Mary Corita, as she was first known, was working contemporaneously with men in the modernist and pop art worlds, but it was the men who were getting all the attention. It is finally time that a woman of her impact on the art world gets fully recognized and studied.

I like to remind people that Andy Warhol and Sister Mary Corita were serigraphers working at the same time, looking at the same world, often in much the same way. One became ultra famous, ultra rich, ultra cool, and the other became a symbol of love and peace, not famous, not rich, but artful and soulful. And yet both Warhol and Corita influenced the art world tremendously. I could argue that Corita’s influence has been more long lasting than his, actually. Not her star power, but her influence. Recognition for female artists is still a problem today, so I feel this recognition for Corita is extremely important, and long, long overdue. Our former LA City Councilman Joel Wachs is now the president of the Andy Warhol Foundation agrees. He wrote the Foreword to this biography.

Describe the process of initial idea to actual publishing of the book. How did it go from just a great idea to the actual physical book that it is now?
The first biography I wrote was about Earl Stendahl, a pioneer gallerist in the art world in Los Angeles. I love researching artists’ lives, so for my second book I wanted to write about a woman. I had grown up in Los Angeles at the very time that Corita was making her art, not far from my own home. At the time that I was determining who my next subject should be, Corita was in the news for some minor local shows and a few in other states. I took a trip to Paris and saw examples of Corita’s work at the Biblioteque Nationale and I was hooked. Here was an America female artist–from Los Angeles–whose work was getting more attention in France than here. As an artist and as a woman religious, Corita was undervalued and underexposed for years. She seemed to be my perfect choice. I took my idea to Angel City Press and the rest is between the covers of Corita Kent. Art and Soul. The Biography.

Angel City Press had published your book The Exhibitionist. How and when did you team up with them for this book?
Serendipitously, when I proposed the idea to my editor at Angel City Press, she was ecstatic–she had been eager for a book about Corita. Then we heard about the show at the Tang Museum opening on the East Coast, a show that would be traveling and destined for its final stop here in Pasadena. Shall we call it a no-brainer? There was no biography, there needed to be one, and here were a writer and an editor eager to share the story. I didn’t have to do a big sales pitch. My editor knew my passion, I knew hers, and we sealed the deal.

Did you run into any challenges along the way in terms of getting the book released? If so, how were those challenges worked around?
You ask about challenges to do this biography. There were many. First of all, I was very fortunate that the Corita Art Center at Immaculate Heart High School exists. Because it is an archive that is open to the public, its director gave me access to its holdings. It was the perfect place to start–it is a fabulous archive. But when I asked for further cooperation–interviews with the few living sisters in the Immaculate Heart Community who knew Corita, access to Corita’s artwork to publish in the book, snapshots, etc.–the door closed. In their zeal to protect Corita’s story from being told by anyone outside their community, I was not welcomed.

But this turned out to be its own blessing. I interviewed dozens of people who knew Corita, either sisters of the Immaculate Heart who were eager to share their stories, students who had learned from her, people who photographed her, institutions who published her posters and books. So many people, and each joyously eager to participate. I was able to get a story that I would have never had if I had not been an independent biographer writing a no-holds barred biography.

At the same time, I am so grateful to the Corita Art Center and the Immaculate Heart Community for caring for the legacy of Corita Kent—they have done an amazing job of making sure that her artwork is preserved for future generations to see. Corita bequeathed her own, personal collection of her artwork to the Grunwald Center for Graphic Arts at the Hammer Museum in Westwood—so some of the very rare pieces are there. Archivists at large institutions across the country were very helpful and eager to help me complete the biography.

If Corita was still with us today what impact do you think her art and her activism would have on the community and on the younger generation that may not know who she is?
You ask how Corita would impact us today if she were still with us. Having lived with Corita for the last many years as her biographer, it is hard to feel as if she is NOT with us. Our world today is much like the world Corita lived in and then left. There were wars. There were gross social injustices. There were women fighting for equality. But Corita never woman-ed a picket line (“I left that to braver souls,“she said), instead she spoke with her art. She never let herself be stifled, nor muffled. Her vibrant colors and powerful fonts often shouted her message. She would marvel today at Sister Simone Campbell who spoke at the convention nominating our current President. She would create art in support of the Nuns on the Bus who fight for social justice for all people of all color, gender, and socio-economic class.

Corita inspired generations of women and men alike, and now that her life is being explored, my hope is that she will inspire more generations.

To find out more about April Dammann please visit her website here.


On Friday, April 24th at 7pm, we are hosting Ryan Gattis, author of All Involved. Artist Chaz Bojoquez will be with him and they will be in conversation with Lilliam Rivera of Pen Center USA.

Vroman’s President, Allison Hill LOVES this book. She has nothing but good things to say about it and really just can’t keep telling people about it.

Allison says this about All Involved, “If you’ve talked to me in the last few weeks, I’ve probably recommended this book. It absolutely wrecked me. A novel set during the 1992 L.A. riots, this book is timely, gripping, beautifully crafted, intense, and important. It kept me up at night and it shifted my perspective in surprising ways. And having met Ryan and his wife this past weekend at the festival of books, the story behind the story is equally compelling.”

To give you a little preview of what will be expanded upon on Friday evening we were able to ask Ryan 6 questions about the process of writing a book like this and his specific memories of the riots and this time period.

Enjoy! We hope to see you on Friday evening!

6 Questions with Ryan Gattis

How long did you work on All Involved?  

I spent roughly two and a half years on the project—most of that on research. The prose composition clocked in just a bit over four months.

How much research went into this project?

I spoke personally with dozens of Angelenos, watched hours & hours of news footage—in addition to raw footage of the 1992 L.A. Riots, read every book I could find (Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 by Anna Deveare Smith, Official Negligence by Lou Cannon, Fires & Furies by Major General James Delk, to name a few), and dug through reels & reels of microfiche. My research primarily began with speaking to former Latino gang members about the late 80s and early 90s, a time it seemed to me, resembled the Wild West in many ways.

Did you run into any roadblocks in the research along the way and how did you get past those?

I wrote Days 1 & 2 pretty much straight through, but then I ran into a scheduling problem. Instead of writing Day 3 as I’d planned, I had to attend a wedding in Hawaii. It was there that a retired L.A. firefighter confronted me during cocktail hour. He’d heard I was researching the 1992 riots and he got in my face about it. He didn’t want me writing just about gang members, making them heroes. If I was going to write about the riots, I needed to do it right. I had to include people who were trying, desperately, to pick up the pieces, even as the city crumbled around them.

He was absolutely right.

When I returned home to Los Angeles, I met with nurses, retired firefighters, former highway patrolmen, graffiti guys, and more. Time and again, local facts of the era expanded my understanding of the riots, its dangers and its scale, and two of them blew my mind: One, a secret “neo-Nazi white supremacist gang” known as the Lynwood Vikings existed within the L.A. Sheriff’s Department and engaged in “racial hostility” and “terrorist-type tactics” while on duty (U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter, Jr.; Source: L.A. Times); Two, Navy SEAL team medics did their internships with the L.A. Fire Department due to the number of combat-related injuries the LAFD treated on a daily basis. Both facts underscored the idea that Los Angeles in the late 80s and early 90s actually was an asphalt war zone. Each fact was a harrowing thing to learn, but this was precisely how these discussions grounded me in the historical background necessary to describe 1992, helping me to weave a story of the hidden L.A. no one saw on TV during the riots, the marginal L.A. left with little to no emergency assistance, the L.A. without enforceable laws.

Where did the inspiration for this kind of novel come from? What interested you most about the subject matter?

With any long piece of fiction, I need numerous moments of inspiration throughout the process to complete it, but I suppose the initial push was simply wanting to write about a female gang member whose brother had died, and she needed to decided whether or not to avenge him. When I discussed this scenario with numerous former gang members for authenticity, I got told time & again that women weren’t involved, which was to say, not part of the daily gang activities that men are. I tried to accept this, but I just couldn’t. I thought about the character of Payasa day & night, until it finally dawned on me that she would need a major event to grant her the freedom to do what she needed to do—that event was the 1992 L.A. Riots. Once that clicked for me, and even the former gang members I spoke to agreed it was possible, I realized that this story was no longer simply about Payasa, but about an entire city instead. That raised the stakes. After that, I just had to go for it and see if I could do it justice.

Do you have any specific memories of this time period and the riots in particular?

I grew up in Colorado, and I remember, very concretely, standing in the kitchen of my parents’ home in Colorado Springs while watching a nightly news report. Before the clip rolled, we were warned that what was to come was very violent, and that those with weak stomachs should turn away. I must have been thirteen years old at the time, and I didn’t turn. What came next was Damian ‘Football’ Williams smashing something heavy into Reginald Denney’s head. When it hit, I felt it and recoiled. I think my father even shouted when he saw it. My next thought was that Reginald Denney was certainly dead, and that was the first time I’d ever thought I’d seen a dead body, right there in the intersection of Florence and Normandie.

There are 17 different narratives in the novel. What challenges did you face while moving in between voices and what did you find out or learn about that kind of writing?

It’s always a challenge to write outside one’s known experience, but that’s what fiction is all about. My biggest issue was using characters that already had dialogue in the novel, but I had not written their sections yet; when I finally did, I found out more about them, and had to go back & adjust their previous parts accordingly. The key throughout, I think, is to accept the story and characters as a challenge and understand the burden that falls on respectful research, background, & concrete detail in order to attain authenticity and do justice to the people & cultures portrayed. Honestly, if you had told me at the beginning of the process that my novel would contain 17 different first-person narrators when it was finished, I would have quit before I even started. I had the virtue of ignorance, in this case, and I literally took it one day—and even one character—at a time.


This Week’s Tuesday Newbies!

by Jessica on April 21, 2015

Tuesday is such an exciting day. Who doesn’t love Tuesdays when you love books.
Here are the new kids on the block this week. There’s some really good ones to choose from plus some events coming up! 

In the World of Hardcover:

Beauty’s Kingdom by Anne Rice
The erotic Sleeping Beauty trilogy now continues with a fourth novel by master storyteller and bestselling author of Prince Lestat, Anne Rice,
writing as A. N. Roquelaure

Mega-bestselling author Annie Rice returns to where she left off in Beauty’s Release with the disappearance of Queen Eleanor in Bellavalten. Now, twenty years after they were forced to leave the kingdom to return to their homeland, Beauty and her husband Laurent agree to travel back as its king and queen, to uphold the ways of complete sensual surrender, with a twist: they now insist on voluntary servitude in Bellavalten.

Countless eager princes, princesses, lords, ladies, and common folk journey to Beauty’s new kingdom where she and her husband awaken their domain, ushering in a new era of desire, longing, and sexual ecstasy. Provocative and stirring, Rice’s imaginative retelling of the Sleeping Beauty myth will be hailed by her longtime fans and new readers of erotica just discovering the novels. This book is intended for mature audiences.

Bone Tree by Greg Iles
#1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles continues the electrifying story he began in his smashing New York Times bestseller Natchez Burning with this highly anticipated second volume in an epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

Southern prosecutor Penn Cage is caught in the darkest maelstrom of his life. The heartbreaking but seemingly straightforward death of his father’s African-American nurse, Viola Turner, has fractured Penn’s family and turned Dr. Tom Cage into a fugitive from justice. And in the search for his father and his reasons for running, Penn has unwittingly started a war with a violent offshoot of the KKK, the Double Eagles, whose members seem to know much more about Tom’s past than Penn or his mother ever did.

Desperately following his father’s trail, Penn finds himself in a maze of mirrors, beset on all sides by a family of criminals and corrupt police whose power reaches into the highest levels of state government. To even the odds, Penn must rely on allies whose objectives are very different from his own. FBI special agent John Kaiser sees Tom Cage as the key to closing not only countless civil rights murders, but also the ultimate cold case: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Penn’s fiancee, journalist Caitlin Masters, is chasing the biggest story of her career and believes Tom can lead her to evidence of America’s most secret, shameful history. In the end, all roads will lead to the mysterious Bone Tree, a legendary killing site that may conceal far more than the remains of the forgotten.

Penn now knows that the death of Viola Turner is a door to the darkest chapters of America’s past. In the civil rights battleground that was 1960s Mississippi and Louisiana, powerful men had audacious, sweeping agendas, and their violent race murders concealed a conspiracy that ran wide and deep, involving the New Orleans Mafia, a Double Eagle hit squad, and a world- altering murder in Dealey Plaza in 1963. And if the FBI can be believed, somehow Dr. Tom Cage stands at the center of it all.

Dreamland by Sam Quinones
With the same dramatic drive of El Narco and Methland, Sam Quinones weaves together two classic tales of American capitalism: The stories of young men in Mexico, independent of the drug cartels, in search of their own American Dream via the fast and enormous profits of trafficking cheap black-tar heroin to America’s rural and suburban addicts; and that of Purdue Pharma in Stamford, Connecticut, determined to corner the market on pain with its new and expensive miracle drug, Oxycontin; extremely addictive in its own right. Quinones illuminates just how these two stories fit together as cause and effect: hooked on costly Oxycontin, American addicts were lured to much cheaper black tar heroin and its powerful and dangerous long-lasting high. Embroiled alongside the suppliers and buyers are DEA agents, local, small-town sheriffs, and the US attorney from eastern Virginia whose case against Purdue Pharma and Oxycontin made him an enemy of the Bush-era Justice Department, ultimately stalling and destroying his career in public service.
* We are pleased to host Sam on Thursday April 23 at 7pm! 

God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
Spare and unsparing, God Help the Child is a searing tale about the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult. At the center: a woman who calls herself Bride, whose stunning blue-black skin is only one element of her beauty, her boldness and confidence, her success in life; but which caused her light-skinned mother to deny her even the simplest forms of love until she told a lie that ruined the life of an innocent woman, a lie whose reverberations refuse to diminish . . . Booker, the man Bride loves and loses, whose core of anger was born in the wake of the childhood murder of his beloved brother . . . Rain, the mysterious white child, who finds in Bride the only person she can talk to about the abuse she’s suffered at the hands of her prostitute mother . . . and Sweetness, Bride’s mother, who takes a lifetime to understand that “what you do to children matters. And they might never forget.

The Great Divide by Joseph E. Stiglitz
In The Great Divide, Joseph E. Stiglitz expands on the diagnosis he offered in his best-selling book The Price of Inequality and suggests ways to counter America s growing problem. With his signature blend of clarity and passion, Stiglitz argues that inequality is a choice the cumulative result of unjust policies and misguided priorities.

Gathering his writings for popular outlets including Vanity Fair and the New York Times, Stiglitz exposes in full America’s inequality: its dimensions, its causes, and its consequences for the nation and for the world. From Reagan-era policies to the Great Recession and its long aftermath, Stiglitz delves into the irresponsible policies deregulation, tax cuts, and tax breaks for the 1 percent that are leaving many Americans farther and farther beyond and turning the American dream into an ever more unachievable myth. With formidable yet accessible economic insight, he urges us to embrace real solutions: increasing taxes on corporations and the wealthy; offering more help to the children of the poor; investing in education, science, and infrastructure; helping out homeowners instead of banks; and, most importantly, doing more to restore the economy to full employment. Stiglitz also draws lessons from Scandinavia, Singapore, and Japan, and he argues against the tide of unnecessary, destructive austerity that is sweeping across Europe.

Ultimately, Stiglitz believes our choice is not between growth and fairness; with the right policies, we can choose both. His complaint is not so much about capitalism as such, but how twenty-first-century capitalism has been perverted. His is a call to confront America’s economic inequality as the political and moral issue that it is. If we reinvest in people and pursue the other policies that he describes, America can live up to the shared dream of a more prosperous, more equal society.”

Memory Man by David Baldacci
With over 110 million copies of his novels in print, David Baldacci is one of the most widely read storytellers in the world. Now he introduces a startling, original new character: a man with perfect memory who must solve his own family’s murder.

Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice. The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.  The second time was at home nearly two decades later. Now a police detective, Decker returned from a stakeout one evening and entered a nightmare–his wife, young daughter, and brother-in-law had been murdered.His family destroyed, their killer’s identity as mysterious as the motive behind the crime, and unable to forget a single detail from that horrible night, Decker finds his world collapsing around him. He leaves the police force, loses his home, and winds up on the street, taking piecemeal jobs as a private investigator when he can. But over a year later, a man turns himself in to the police and confesses to the murders. At the same time a horrific event nearly brings Burlington to its knees, and Decker is called back in to help with this investigation. Decker also seizes his chance to learn what really happened to his family that night. To uncover the stunning truth, he must use his remarkable gifts and confront the burdens that go along with them. He must endure the memories he would much rather forget. And he may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Missoula by Jon Krakauer
From bestselling author Jon Krakauer, a stark, powerful, meticulously reported narrative about a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana — stories that illuminate the human drama behind the national plague of campus rape
Missoula, Montana, is a typical college town, with a highly regarded state university, bucolic surroundings, a lively social scene, and an excellent football team — the Grizzlies — with a rabid fan base.
In “Missoula,” Krakauer chronicles the searing experiences of several women in Missoula — the nights when they were raped; their fear and self-doubt in the aftermath; the way they were treated by the police, prosecutors, defense attorneys; the public vilification and private anguish; their bravery in pushing forward and what it cost them. Some of them went to the police. Some declined to go to the police, or to press charges, but sought redress from the university, which has its own, noncriminal judicial process when a student is accused of rape. In two cases the police agreed to press charges and the district attorney agreed to prosecute. One case led to a conviction; one to an acquittal. Those women courageous enough to press charges or to speak publicly about their experiences were attacked in the media, on Grizzly football fan sites, and/or to their faces. The university expelled three of the accused rapists, but one was reinstated by state officials in a secret proceeding. One district attorney testified for an alleged rapist at his university hearing. She later left the prosecutor’s office and successfully defended the Grizzlies’ star quarterback in his rape trial. The horror of being raped, in each woman’s case, was magnified by the mechanics of the justice system and the reaction of the community. Krakauer’s dispassionate, carefully documented account of what these women endured cuts through the abstract ideological debate about campus rape. College-age women are not raped because they are promiscuous, or drunk, or send mixed signals, or feel guilty about casual sex, or seek attention. They are the victims of a terrible crime and deserving of compassion from society and fairness from a justice system that is clearly broken.

Pleasantville by Attica Locke
Jay Porter, the hero of the critically acclaimed bestseller Black Water Rising, becomes embroiled in a toxic case involving politics, corruption, and murder in this electrifying and atmospheric tale from Attica Locke, a writer “akin to George Pelecanos or Dennis Lehane” (New York Times).

Fifteen years after his career-defining case against Cole Oil, Jay Porter is broke and tired. That victory might have won the environmental lawyer fame, but thanks to a string of appeals, he hasn’t seen a dime. His latest case–representing Pleasantville in the wake of a chemical fire–is dragging on, shaking his confidence and raising doubts about him within this upwardly mobile black community on Houston’s north side. Though Jay still believes in doing what’s right, he is done fighting other people’s battles. Once he has his piece of the settlement, the single father is going to devote himself to what matters most–his children.

His plans are abruptly derailed when a female campaign volunteer vanishes on the night of Houston’s mayoral election, throwing an already contentious campaign into chaos. The accused is none other than the nephew and campaign manager of one of the leading candidates–a scion of a prominent Houston family headed by the formidable Sam Hathorne. Despite all the signs suggesting that his client is guilty–and his own misgivings–Jay can’t refuse when a man as wealthy and connected as Sam asks him to head up the defense. Not if he wants that new life with his kids. But he has to win.

Plunging into a shadowy world of ambitious enemies and treacherous allies armed with money, lies, and secrets, Jay reluctantly takes on his first murder trial–a case that will put him and his client, and an entire political process, on trial.
* We are lucky enough to host Attica Locke on May 20 at 7pm! 

In the World of Paperback: 

John Wayne: The Life & Legend by Scott Eyman
Scott Eyman interviewed Wayne, as well as many family members, and he has drawn on previously unpublished reminiscences from friends and associates of the Duke in this biography, as well as documents from his production company that shed light on Wayne’s business affairs. He traces Wayne from his childhood to his stardom in “Stagecoach” and dozens of films after that. Eyman perceptively analyzes Wayne’s relationship with John Ford, the director with whom he’s most associated and who made some of Wayne’s greatest films, among them “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon,” “The Quiet Man,” and “The Searchers.” His evaluation of Wayne himself is shrewd: a skilled actor who was reluctant to step outside his comfort zone. Wayne was self-aware; he once said, “I’ve played the kind of man I’d like to have been.” It’s that man and the real John Wayne who are brilliantly profiled in Scott Eyman’s insightful biography of a true American legend.

Living With A Wild God by Barbara Ehrenreich
From the New York Times bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed comes a brave, frank, and exquisitely written memoir that will change the way you see the world.

Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the most important thinkers of our time. Educated as a scientist, she is an author, journalist, activist, and advocate for social justice. In LIVING WITH A WILD GOD, she recounts her quest-beginning in childhood-to find “the Truth” about the universe and everything else: What’s really going on? Why are we here? In middle age, she rediscovered the journal she had kept during her tumultuous adolescence, which records an event so strange, so cataclysmic, that she had never, in all the intervening years, written or spoken about it to anyone. It was the kind of event that people call a “mystical experience”-and, to a steadfast atheist and rationalist, nothing less than shattering.

In LIVING WITH A WILD GOD, Ehrenreich reconstructs her childhood mission, bringing an older woman’s wry and erudite perspective to a young girl’s impassioned obsession with the questions that, at one point or another, torment us all. The result is both deeply personal and cosmically sweeping-a searing memoir and a profound reflection on science, religion, and the human condition. With her signature combination of intellectual rigor and uninhibited imagination, Ehrenreich offers a true literary achievement-a work that has the power not only to entertain but amaze.


The Psychopath Whisperer by Kent A. Kiehl
In The Psychopath Whisperer, Kiehl describes in fascinating detail his years working with psy­chopaths and studying their thought processes— from the remorseless serial killers he meets with behind bars to children whose behavior and per­sonality traits exhibit the early warning signs of psychopathy.

Less than 1 percent of the general population meets the criteria for psychopathy. But psycho­paths account for a vastly outsized proportion of violent crimes. And as Kiehl shows, many who aren’t psychopaths exhibit some of the behaviors and traits associated with the condition. What do you do if you discover your roommate, or boss, or the person you are dating has traits that define a psy­chopath? And what does having a diminished limbic region of the brain mean for how the legal system approaches crimes committed by psychopaths?

A compelling narrative of cutting-edge science, The Psychopath Whisperer will open your eyes on a fascinating but little understood world, with startling implications for society, the law, and our personal lives.


Read on friends, read on. 

— Jess 


Monday Mentions!

by Jessica on April 20, 2015

Whoa! What a whirlwind of a weekend we had at the Festival of Books!
Thanks to everyone for stopping by our booths, saying hi, being friendly and really just for being book lovers in general! Another great Festival under our belts. 

We know you probably spent a good chunk of the weekend perusing books, hearing about books, talking about book and smelling books BUT it is Monday and that means it’s Monday Mentions. So just in case you haven’t had your fill (and I kind of have a feeling you didn’t) then peruse these recommends from members of the Vroman’s staff! 

Have a great week, folks! 

Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man’s Fundamentals for Delicious Living 
By Nick Offerman

Nick Offerman’s literary debut is as humorous as he is American. Every page is filled with humor and insight into the life of the author as he details his life and provides an outline on how to be a real American. I recommend you buy three or four.

Recommended by Mycah



The Philosophy Book 
By DK Publishing

A great novice learning book on the history of philosophy. Innovative and accessible compilation that covers major to niche topics, complex texts and overall a fascinating overview. I picked this up after re3ading Plato, it furthered my interest and introduced me to philosophers I had not heard of. Amazing reference guide, as well.

Recommended by Guy

Nirvana: The Complete Illustrated History
By Charles Cross, Gillian Gaar, Bob Gendron

Get to know the music that inspired Kurt and a lot of other facts about the band. Wonderful coffee table book for the ultimate Nirvana fan.

Recommended by Chelsea

Dog Man: An Uncommon Life on a Faraway Mountain
By Martha Sherrill

I had no idea that the beautiful Akita was such an old breed. I did know it came from Japan but it’s thanks to an unusual man that the breed even exists at all. During WWII Morie Sawataishi took in and raised an Akita puppy when most people in Japan were killing them for their pelt and their meat. By the end of the war there were perhaps no more than sixteen left in the country. Morie takes his dogs and his city-born young wife into the snow country of Japan and over the years his passion creates an enduring breed that people all over the world can be proud to own. He rarely shows for money because the dog is more important. He often gives away puppies that someone else would sell for a lot of money because the person he gives it to helped him at some time or has the same passion he has. He is a man of old Japan and is rarely demonstrative with his wife and children but always greets his dogs with shows of affection. He is at his liveliest when drinking sake and talking to others about dogs. Eventually most people realize he’s a good man who has led an extraordinary life because it was the right thing to do. This is a piece of canine history that might have been left in obscurity if not for Martha Sherrill’s wonderful ability to bring Japan, Morie and his dogs to life.

Recommended by Lee

That’s all she wrote…



Visit Us at the LA Times Festival of Books!

by Jessica on April 16, 2015

All stores under the Vroman’s Umbrella will be represented at this weekend’s Festivities!! Check out some of the Merch we’ll have below. Then stop by, say hi, give us a high-five – we’d love to see you and chat with you!
To find out more about the Festival, which authors will be there and when and other pertinent information visit the official site here



This Week’s Tuesday Newbies!!

by Jessica on April 14, 2015

We just love Tuesdays around these parts! This week is no exception. There’s some really great stuff on the horizon. Some of these authors will even be here for events this month! So shall we get started?


In the World of Hardcover:

Raised by unconventional Irish Catholics who knew “how to drink, how to dance, how to talk, and how to stir up the devil,” Kate Mulgrew grew up with poetry and drama in her bones. But in her mother, a would-be artist burdened by the endless arrival of new babies, young Kate saw the consequences of a dream deferred. Determined to pursue her own no matter the cost, at 18 she left her small Midwestern town for New York, where, studying with the legendary Stella Adler, she learned the lesson that would define her as an actress: “Use it,” Adler told her. Whatever disappointment, pain, or anger life throws in your path, channel it into the work.

It was a lesson she would need. At twenty-two, just as her career was taking off, she became pregnant and gave birth to a daughter. Having already signed the adoption papers, she was allowed only a fleeting glimpse of her child. As her star continued to rise, her life became increasingly demanding and fulfilling, a whirlwind of passionate love affairs, life-saving friendships, and bone-crunching work. Through it all, Mulgrew remained haunted by the loss of her daughter, until, two decades later, she found the courage to face the past and step into the most challenging role of her life, both on and off screen.

We know Kate Mulgrew for the strong women she’s played–Captain Janeway on Star Trek; the tough-as-nails “Red” on Orange is the New Black. Now, we meet the most inspiring and memorable character of all: herself. By turns irreverent and soulful, laugh-out-loud funny and heart-piercingly sad, BORN WITH TEETH is the breathtaking memoir of a woman who dares to live life to the fullest, on her own terms.
*I was lucky enough to read an advanced copy of this and just absolutely fell in love with it! Kate Mulgrew is such an incredible woman both onscreen and off and reading about her journey just solidifies that fact. This is definitely one not to miss out on. 

Animals, and our ever-changing relationship with them, have left an indelible mark on human history. From the dawn of our existence, animals and humans have been constantly redefining their relationship with one another, and entire civilizations have risen and fallen upon this curious bond we share with our fellow fauna. Brian Fagan unfolds this fascinating story from the first wolf who wandered into our prehistoric ancestors’ camp and found companionship, to empires built on the backs of horses, donkeys, and camels, to the industrial age when some animals became commodities, often brutally exploited, and others became pets, nurtured and pampered, sometimes to absurd extremes.

Through an in-depth analysis of six truly transformative human-animal relationships, Fagan shows how our habits and our very way of life were considerably and irreversibly altered by our intimate bond with animals. Among other stories, Fagan explores how herding changed human behavior; how the humble donkey helped launch the process of globalization; and how the horse carried a hearty band of nomads across the world and toppled the emperor of China.

With characteristic care and penetrating insight, Fagan reveals the profound influence that animals have exercised on human history and how, in fact, they often drove it.
* We have Brian coming in for an event on 4/21! 

OUT OF SIGHT – William Hackman
Histories of modern art are typically centered in Paris and New York. Los Angeles is relegated to its role as the center of popular culture— a city of movie stars, tan lines, and surfers—but lacking the highbrow credentials of the chosen places. Until 1965, there was no art museum, few notable collectors, and—especially in terms of modern and contemporary work—even fewer galleries. Yet in the 1950s and 1960s, L.A. witnessed a burst of artistic energy and invention rivaling New York’s burgeoning art scene a half-century earlier. As New York Times art critic Roberta Smith has noted, it was “a euphoric moment,” at a “time when East and West coasts seemed evenly matched.”
Out of Sight chronicles the rapid-fire rise, fall, and rebirth of the L.A. art scene—from the emergence of a small bohemian community in the 1950s to the founding of the Museum of Contemporary Art in 1980— and explains how artists such as Ed Ruscha, Robert Irwin, and Ken Price reshaped contemporary art. William Hackman also explores the ways in which the L.A. art scene reflected the hopes and fears of postwar America—both the self-confidence of an increasingly affluent middle class, and the anxiety produced by violent upheavals at home and abroad. Perhaps most of all, he pays tribute to the city that gave birth to a fascinating and until now overlooked moment in modern art.
* Don’t miss out on our event with William that is happening TONIGHT at 7pm! 

J.K. Rowling, one of the world’s most inspiring writers, shares her wisdom and advice.

In 2008, J.K. Rowling delivered a deeply affecting commencement speech at Harvard University. Now published for the first time in book form, VERY GOOD LIVES presents J.K. Rowling’s words of wisdom for anyone at a turning point in life. How can we embrace failure? And how can we use our imagination to better both ourselves and others?

Drawing from stories of her own post-graduate years, the world famous author addresses some of life’s most important questions with acuity and emotional force.

Sales of VERY GOOD LIVES will benefit both Lumos, a charity organization founded by J.K. Rowling, which works to transform the lives of disadvantaged children, and university-wide financial aid at Harvard University.

NATURAL BORN HEROES – Christopher Mcdougall
The best-selling author of Born to Run now travels to the Mediterranean, where he discovers that the secrets of ancient Greek heroes are still alive and well on the island of Crete, and ready to be unleashed in the muscles and minds of casual athletes and aspiring heroes everywhere.

After running an ultramarathon through the Copper Canyons of Mexico, Christopher McDougall finds his next great adventure on the razor-sharp mountains of Crete, where a band of Resistance fighters in World War II plotted the daring abduction of a German general from the heart of the Nazi occupation. How did a penniless artist, a young shepherd, and a playboy poet believe they could carry out such a remarkable feat of strength and endurance, smuggling the general past thousands of Nazi pursuers, with little more than their own wits and courage to guide them?

McDougall makes his way to the island to find the answer and retrace their steps, experiencing firsthand the extreme physical challenges the Resistance fighters and their local allies faced. On Crete, the birthplace of the classical Greek heroism that spawned the likes of Herakles and Odysseus, McDougall discovers the tools of the hero—natural movement, extraordinary endurance, and efficient nutrition. All of these skills, McDougall learns, are still practiced in far-flung pockets throughout the world today.

More than a mystery of remarkable people and cunning schemes, Natural Born Heroes is a fascinating investigation into the lost art of the hero, taking us from the streets of London at midnight to the beaches of Brazil at dawn, from the mountains of Colorado to McDougall’s own backyard in Pennsylvania, all places where modern-day athletes are honing ancient skills so they’re ready for anything.


WHISPERING SHADOWS – Jan-Philippe Sendker
The first in a suspenseful new trilogy by the internationally bestselling author of “The Art of Hearing Heartbeats,” this gripping story follows a retired expat journalist in contemporary China who tries to crack a murder case as he battles his own personal demons.
American expat Paul Leibovitz was once an ambitious advisor, dedicated father, and loving husband. But after living for nearly thirty years in Hong Kong, personal tragedy strikes and Paul’s marriage unravels in the fallout.
Now Paul is living as a recluse on an outlying island of Hong Kong. When he makes a fleeting connection with Elizabeth, a distressed American woman on the verge of collapse, his life is thrown into turmoil. Less than twenty-four hours later, Elizabeth’s son is found dead in Shenzhen, and Paul, invigorated by a newfound purpose, sets out to investigate the murder on his own.
As Paul, Elizabeth, and a detective friend descend deeper into the Shenzhen underworld–against the wishes of a woman with whom Paul has had a flirtation–they discover dark secrets hidden beneath China’s booming new wealth. In a country where rich businessmen with expensive degrees can corrupt the judicial system, the potential for evil abounds.
Part love story, part crime thriller, “Whispering Shadows “is the captivating tale of one man’s desperate search for redemption within the vice of a world superpower, a place where secrets from the past threaten to upend the country’s unchecked drive towards modernization.

THE DREAM LOVER – Elizabeth Berg
New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg has written a lush historical novel based on the sensuous Parisian life of the nineteenth-century writer George Sand—which is perfect for readers of Nancy Horan and Elizabeth Gilbert.

At the beginning of this powerful novel, we meet Aurore Dupin as she is leaving her estranged husband, a loveless marriage, and her family’s estate in the French countryside to start a new life in Paris. There, she gives herself a new name—George Sand—and pursues her dream of becoming a writer, embracing an unconventional and even scandalous lifestyle.

Paris in the nineteenth century comes vividly alive, illuminated by the story of the loves, passions, and fierce struggles of a woman who defied the confines of society. Sand’s many lovers and friends include Frédéric Chopin, Gustave Flaubert, Franz Liszt, Eugène Delacroix, Victor Hugo, Marie Dorval, and Alfred de Musset. As Sand welcomes fame and friendship, she fights to overcome heartbreak and prejudice, failure and loss. Though considered the most gifted genius of her time, she works to reconcile the pain of her childhood, of disturbing relationships with her mother and daughter, and of her intimacies with women and men. Will the life she longs for always be just out of reach—a dream?

Brilliantly written in luminous prose, and with remarkable insights into the heart and mind of a literary force, The Dream Lover tells the unforgettable story of a courageous, irresistible woman.


And in the World of Paperback:

Winner of the Man Booker Prize

“Nothing since Cormac McCarthy’s The Road has shaken me like this.” —The Washington Post

From the author of the acclaimed Gould’s Book of Fish, a magisterial novel of love and war that traces the life of one man from World War II to the present.
August, 1943: Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his affair with his uncle’s young wife two years earlier. His life, in a brutal Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma Death Railway, is a daily struggle to save the men under his command. Until he receives a letter that will change him forever.

A savagely beautiful novel about the many forms of good and evil, of truth and transcendence, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.


The instant “New York Times” bestseller and publishing phenomenon: Marina Keegan’s posthumous collection of award-winning essays and stories “sparkles with talent, humanity, and youth” (“O, The Oprah Magazine”).
Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at “The” “New Yorker.” Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.
Marina left behind a rich, deeply expansive trove of writing that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. Her short story “Cold Pastoral” was published on NewYorker.com. Her essay “Even Artichokes Have Doubts” was excerpted in the “Financial Times, ” and her book was the focus of a Nicholas Kristof column in “The New York Times.” Millions of her contemporaries have responded to her work on social media.
As Marina wrote: “We can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over…We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.” “The Opposite of Loneliness” is an unforgettable collection of Marina’s essays and stories that articulates the universal struggle all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to impact the world. “How do you mourn the loss of a fiery talent that was barely a tendril before it was snuffed out? Answer: Read this book. A clear-eyed observer of human nature, Keegan could take a clever idea…and make it something beautiful” (“People”).
*We will be celebrating the life and work of Marina at an event in early May*


Monday Mentions – Poetry Picks

by Jessica on April 13, 2015

Happy Monday! In honor of National Poetry Month I thought we should have some poetry recommends up this week! Over on our Tumblr we’re doing a Poet of the Day and highlighting some great poets this month so be sure to head over there and check that out too! But for now…onto our poetry suggestions!

Love is a Dog From Hell
By Charles Bukowski

One of my favorite books of Bukowski’s poetry! Wonderfully bleak, crude, and honest. Bukowski is simple, poignant, and by far one of my favorite dead poets.

Recommended by Rebecca

Good Poems
By Garrison Keillor

Everything about this poetry anthology is good: the foreword, the poems, the shade of blue used for the cover, the typeface… perhaps I’m getting a bit silly. (Yeah, silly about how good this collection is.) Good Poems is a fantastic treat to give yourself, or anyone, who likes poetry, and stirring wordsmithery.

Recommended by Sarah

The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998
By Nikki Giovanni

Arguably one of the best poets to come out of the Black Arts Movement, Giovanni is a breath of fresh air. A collection that definitely belongs on your shelf at home!

Recommended by Sarah Anne


Introducing our new NYRB Display!

by Jessica on April 8, 2015

We’ve got a great new display up in our Paperback Fiction section – the NYRB Display! Isn’t it so pretty?? We’ll leave these here for you to bask in…but please do come check it out in person to see all the pretty covers up close!




Tuesday Newbies!

by Jessica on April 7, 2015

It’s Tuesday and on this blog we’re going to start highlighting of the weeks new releases that we’re really excited about! So jump in and see if there’s anything that tickles your fancy. Anything you’re looking forward to? Let us know what you think!


From the internationally acclaimed author of the Harry Hole novels—a fast, tight, darkly lyrical stand-alone novel that has at its center the perfectly sympathetic antihero: an Oslo contract killer who draws us into an unexpected meditation on death and love.

This is the story of Olav: an extremely talented “fixer” for one of Oslo’s most powerful crime bosses. But Olav is also an unusually complicated fixer. He has a capacity for love that is as far-reaching as is his gift for murder. He is our straightforward, calm-in-the-face-of-crisis narrator with a storyteller’s hypnotic knack for fantasy. He has an “innate talent for subordination” but running through his veins is a “virus” born of the power over life and death. And while his latest job puts him at the pinnacle of his trade, it may be mutating into his greatest mistake. . .

EMMA: A MODERN RETELLING – Alexander McCall Smith
The best-selling author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series deftly escorts Jane Austen’s beloved, meddlesome heroine into the twenty-first century in this delightfully inventive retelling.
The summer after university, Emma Woodhouse returns home to the village of Highbury to prepare for the launch of her interior design business. As she cultivates grand plans for the future, she re-enters the household of her hypochondriac father, who has been living alone on a steady diet of vegetables and vitamin supplements. Soon Emma befriends Harriet Smith, the naïve but charming young teacher’s assistant at an English-language school run by the hippie-ish Mrs. Goddard. Harriet is Emma’s inspiration to do the two things she does best: offer guidance to those less wise in the ways of the world and put her matchmaking skills to good use.
Happily, this summer presents abundant opportunities for her to do just that, as many friends, both old and new, are drawn into the sphere of Emma’s occasionally injudicious counsel: Frank Churchill, the attractive stepson of Emma’s former governess; George Knightley, Emma’s brother-in-law and dear friend; the charming yet self-important Philip Elton; and, of course, the perfect (and perfectly vexing) Jane Fairfax.
Alexander McCall Smith’s gentle satire and cozy, old-fashioned sensibility prove to be the perfect match for Jane Austen’s wit and characters. Though carriages have been replaced by Mini Coopers and cups of tea with cappuccinos, Emma’s story is wonderfully timeless.

A FINE ROMANCE– Candice Bergen
In the follow-up to “Knock Wood”–her bestselling “engaging, intelligent, and wittily self-deprecating autobiography” (“The New York Times”)–Candice Bergen shares the big events: her marriage to a famous French director, the birth of her daughter, “Murphy Brown,” widowhood, falling in love again, and watching her daughter blossom.
“A Fine Romance” begins with Bergen’s charming first husband, French director Louis Malle, whose huge appetite for life broadened her horizons and whose occasional darkness never diminished their love for each other. But her real romance begins when she discovers overpowering love for her daughter after years of ambivalence about motherhood. As Chloe grows up, Bergen finds her comic genius in the biggest TV role of the 80s, “Murphy Brown,” and makes unwanted headlines when Dan Quayle pulls her into the 1992 presidential campaign.
Fifteen years into their marriage, Malle is diagnosed with cancer, and Candice is unflinching in describing her and Chloe’s despair over his death. But after years of widowhood, she feels the sweet shock of finding a different kind of soulmate. Candice takes us through the first years of her new marriage and shares the bittersweetness of watching Chloe leave home and flourish–and the comedy of a losing battle against those damn wrinkles and extra pounds.
A natural writer, Candice is hilarious, brutally honest, down-to-earth, and wise. She may be a beautiful Hollywood actress with a charmed life, but Candice is someone who can talk frankly about extraordinary events. Readers who pull up a chair will feel like they’ve just made a best friend.


From the New York Times bestselling author of Still Alice Lisa Genova comes a powerful and transcendent new novel about a family struggling with the impact of Huntington’s disease.

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

And in the Paperback World…

Remember that little book, Goldfinch? Well it finally came out in Paperback!!

Goldfinch – Donna Tartt
Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.


Monday Mentions – Picks by Sarah Anne!

by Jessica on April 6, 2015

Not only is Sarah Anne a wonderful spirit she also happens to work downstairs in our Book Department as a Supervisor. She’s always willing to help no matter what the task and does so with a smile on her face. This week we’re highlighting some of her recommends from all around the store. If you’d like to see all her pick click here.

One Hundred Years in the Huntington’s Japanese Garden:
Harmony with Nature 

By T. June Li

The Japanese Garden is one of my favorite places to visit at the Huntington. I usually sit at the Zen garden for awhile; it seems to calm me, which is awesome. This is a beautiful book that is worth adding to your collection.

The Collected Poetry of Nikki Giovanni: 1968-1998
By Nikki Giovanni

Arguably one of the best poets to come out of the Black Arts Movement, Giovanni is a breath of fresh air. A collection that definitely belongs on your shelf at home!

Remembered for a While
By Nick Drake, Gabrielle Drake

You can see the sun is shining if you really want to
Not that much is known about the late Nick Drake. It can be said thought that he was a tortured soul, who suffered from severe depression. He only released three albums; none of which had much commercial success while he was alive. It wasn’t until the late 90s that the late singer found an audience with the hipster elite in the UK. Drake was, in my humble opinion, ahead of his time; his arraignments and depth of soul are beyond cosmic. Like John Denver he used the elements of the natural world, which in turn elevated his music. Listening to any of his songs, one would almost think it was just released. He is just that TIMELESS.

I was born to use my eyes. Dream with the sun and the skies. To float away in a lifelong song. In midst where melody flies.

My Prairie Cookbook: Memories and Frontier Food from
My Little House to Yours

By Melissa Gilbert, Dane Holweger

Do yourself a favor & turn to page 175. There you will find the recipe for the Best Banana Pudding & afterward you will thank me personally. I’m in love with this cookbook. There are so many heartwarming recipes to choose from, you will be cooking up a storm. I highly recommend this classic treasure and guarantee you will LOVE IT.

Merriam-Webster’s Rhyming Dictionary

It is not quite showtime so in the meantime I’ll listen to my windchimes! If you want to rhyme like me set your heart free and have a look at this book!

Come back next week for some more recs!