All Hail Indie Bookstores

by Jessica on April 27, 2018

By Rebecca

Thanksgiving’s great. The Fourth of July is fun. New Year’s is, well, a roller coaster of emotions. But Independent Bookstore Day is the *actual* best. Tomorrow is our national holiday, the day that is all about independent bookstores.

What’s great about this day is that independent bookstores all across the country participate, but since every store is independently owned and operated, they each celebrate in their own unique way! It’s one big party where every participate is marching to their own drum and, really, that’s what makes indie bookstores so great!

But aside from being a whole lot of fun, Independent Bookstore Day is important because it shines a spotlight on independent bookstores and the role they play in their local communities and in the wider literary community.

They’re where readers, authors, and booksellers can all come together to share ideas and even a book recommendation or two. They have the ability to introduce readers to a wide variety of books and authors, especially those diamond-in-the-rough books that aren’t necessarily mainstream. They promote authors who are a part of the local community, fostering those mutually beneficial relationships between artists and their audience. They have a small town feel even when they’re in the middle of a big city and it’s because they’re able to engage with their communities in a personal way.

These are things you won’t find on the internet. They’re things that not even publishers can replicate. Independent bookstores aren’t just a place where you go to make a purchase, it’s a place of learning and engagement and it’s an experience you just can’t find anywhere else.

Independent Bookstore Day brings attention to this important role that they play. So join the party Saturday, April 28th!

Here’s what you can expect at Vroman’s on Independent Bookstore Day:

  • All day long you can contribute to our giant board where you can tell the world why you love bookstores.
  • We’ll also have a bookish photo booth set up (don’t forget to tag us!).
  • From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. children’s book illustrator, and longtime friend of the store, Chris Robertson, will be in our kids department, signing books, chatting with customers, and drawing characters from his books for you to take home!
  • At noon we’ll have literary trivia in our event space, so stop by and test your knowledge about all things book related! Bring a team (of 4) or join one once you arrive!
  • And finally at 3 p.m. join the arts organization Clockshop and celebrate the release of Radio Imagination: Artists and Writers in the Archive of Octavia E. Butler!

Of course, there’s always my favorite bookstore activity: Browse the aisles. Find something that speaks to you. Talk to other readers and booksellers. Choose the perfect book to take home with you.

We can’t wait to see you!

’Twas the Night Before the Festival of Books

by Jessica on April 20, 2018

By Rebecca

Bookworms of the Greater Los Angeles area, the time has finally arrived! It is the eve of the L.A. Times Festival of Books!

If you’re like me and have been ready for this year’s Festival since last year’s Festival ended (363 days, but who’s counting?) you’re probably ready to go with you favorite literary tote bag already packed and a schedule of all the panels and signings you want to hit up carefully planned out.

If you’ve been to the Festival before, I don’t need to convince you of how great it is. If you’ve never been, well, you’ll definitely want to change that! It’s the best weekend of the year for book lovers. I mean, it’s got Festival and Books right in the title!

So here are some of my favorite things about the Festival of Books:

The Festival is a great opportunity for readers to engage with writers and other readers. I’ve made friends waiting in a signing line. I’ve gotten to discover authors I had never read before because they were on a panel I attended or signing at a booth I happened to stop by. The whole thing is an experience. Every moment there’s something new to see.

And there’s a panel for just about every topic! Whether you love YA or mysteries or nonfiction, there’s plenty to keep you occupied throughout the Festival’s two days. With so many options you also have the chance to branch out and learn about a genre that’s less familiar to you. It’s like having a sample platter of every literary genre you can imagine, all in one weekend!

A whole bunch of independent stores are represented as well as independent publishers and authors. It’s an incredible opportunity for readers to learn about and support these businesses and artists that are all a part of the literary community we all love.

And just in case you needed any more convincing: the food trucks, oh the food trucks!

For us at Vroman’s, as a store, it’s incredibly fun to see our regular customers and to meet people from further away who love the store but can’t make the journey to Pasadena as often as they’d like. It’s a yearly reminder of the reach that the literary community has and it’s humbling to see that we’re a part of it.

If you plan to attend the Festival (and why wouldn’t you?) make sure to stop by the Vroman’s Bookstore tent (#117 & #128). We can’t wait to see you there and share the Festival experience with a whole bunch of awesome readers!

The L.A. Times Festival of Books is held at USC April 21-22, 2018.

The History of Vroman’s in Iambic Pentameter

by Jessica on April 13, 2018

By Rebecca

 

In honor of National Poetry Month

 

Born on the Ides of April in La Salle,

There was a man named Adam Vroman who

Would one day build the greatest store of books.

He trained as a photographer at first,

A passion that would stay with him for years.

He married at the age of thirty-six

To Esther Griest who suffered from TB.

“We’ll move out west,” good Mr. Vroman said.

“To Pasadena where you will improve.”

But sadly Mrs. Vroman didn’t live

And Mr. Vroman grieved his loving wife.

He sold his vast collection of fine books

To raise the money needed for his dream

Of opening a bookstore that would be

The largest seller of the written word

In all of California and the west.

Along with Mr. Glasscock he began

To put his plan in motion and quite soon

They opened their doors to the neighborhood.

Their shop sold books and stationery too

As well as Kodaks and photo supplies.

When Mr. Glasscock sold to his partner

The store continued to expand forthwith.

But Mr. Vroman still loved photographs

And went on expeditions in the west

To photograph all that he could find there.

His generosity knew not a bound.

He helped a rival open his own shop

That sold the same books as Vroman himself.

When sadly Mr. Vroman died he left

His store to his most loyal employees.

In 1920 Vroman’s moved locales

Just three blocks down on Colorado East.

It moved again in 1929

To 695 East Colorado where

It still continues to this very day.

The store kept growing as the years went by,

But during the Depression building ceased.

In ’39 an author series launched

To bring together writers and readers.

There were no programs held during the war,

But 1944 made fifty years

Of Vroman’s Bookstore serving its neighbors

And one year later made it official

That Vroman’s was the largest in the west.

The store reached further than it had before

When Vroman’s on wheels visited places

In California, Arizona, and

Utah that were remote and didn’t have

The access to a bookstore so instead

A Silver Streaks trailer from Vroman’s would

Come calling with a vast supply on board.

The store was named an institution by

McCall’s who praised the store and all the town.

“A city of readers” is what they said

Of Pasadena in the mid ’60s.

The 1980s saw a wealth of guests

From Dr. Seuss to President Carter

The stairwell featured art in ’91

And still today it decorates the walls

To showcases artists from the area

Continuing the legacy that was

Begun by Mr. Vroman to give back.

One hundred years had passed by ’94

And what had started with the wise sale of

A personal collection of fine books

Was now an institution in its right.

The ground was broken for expansions that

Resulted in the current layout that

We see today upon arrival when

We enter Vroman’s Bookstore to peruse

The shelves of countless books and gifts and more.

The store was honored in 2008

With an award from Publishers Weekly

That named Vroman’s the seller of the year

Of books throughout the whole entire country.

The Gives Back Program carries on the work

Of Mr. Vroman’s kind philanthropy.

For twenty years, the store has given back

To charities in the community.

And so the bookstore started years ago

Still thrives and is an institution for

A vast community of readers and

The authors who stop by to read and sign.

That is the tale of Vroman’s Bookstore, but

It is a tale that is far from finished.

Reading YA as a (Somewhat) Grown Adult

by Jessica on April 6, 2018

By Rebecca

Confession: when I was little I had this deep fear that when I grew up I would only be allowed to read boring books and I felt like I had to read as many good books as I could before I grew up and it was too late. You see, to a kid, books with blocks of text and covers without pictures looked boring and that was all I ever saw adults reading. I was sure that if they had the option to read kids’ books, they certainly would. Who wouldn’t?

To be fair, as I’ve gotten older I have developed a deep love for “adult” books. And yes, “adult” is in quotes because, really, what does that mean in terms of literature? I read many different genres from mystery to fantasy to straight literary fiction and even nonfiction. But I’ve never grown out of the love I have for kids’ and YA books.

So what is the age to stop reading YA? Well, in the words of Cady Heron, the limit does not exist.

For me, reading YA is the experience that reading should be. There’s adventure and tenuous relationships and imagination. It’s so easy to get caught up in the story, especially since they tend to hit the ground running. When I read a YA novel, I don’t have to slog through the opening chapters waiting for the action to start. That’s the kind of pace that makes reading fun!

And while I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, YA books really do get the best covers. I think we can all admit to that.

But there’s more than that.

These days, YA novels have become one of the most honest forms of literature. They tackle issues faced by real teens and real families. Occasionally, they just happen to be set in outer space. It’s a form of escapism that also helps readers relate and work through their own struggles. To be honest, some of the most relatable characters I have found in literature happen to be the heroes and heroines of YA novels.

Sure, there are people who give me looks of surprise when I, as a grown adult, say I still read YA. Just like there are people who think reading in general is a waste of time. We all know not to trust those people, right? But it made me think I needed to hide the fact that I still enjoy reading YA. I wouldn’t always admit when people asked me what I was reading, but would choose an “adult” book that I’d already read. But the truth is that I enjoy reading YA and even if some people don’t think it’s valuable, it’s valuable to me, and that’s the whole point of any book.

I’ve come to the conclusion that I shouldn’t let anyone’s opinion get in the way of my reading experience.

Just because you don’t happen to be a teenager anymore doesn’t mean you’ve outgrown YA. The books I read as I was growing up were the ones that made me into a reader. Nearly every adult bookworm starts as a kid bookworm. It’s usually not a trait that develops later in life. So why would I want to stop reading those books? Why should I feel like I have to, especially if I’m still learning from them?

At the end of the day, a good story is a good story and it doesn’t matter who the target audience is. Reading for pleasure means you have the freedom to read what you want, not what everyone tells you to.

YA Recommendations

The Case for Reading in Public

by Jessica on March 30, 2018

By Rebecca

I like quiet. No, I love quiet. As a proud bookworm, I crave silence and solitude with a good book to keep me company.

But where’s the thing about reading: while it’s a solitary task it creates a universal experience. It’s why you can talk for hours with someone as soon as you know what books they read, even if you don’t know anything else about them.

I tried something recently. I always carry a book with me (because duh!), but it’s usually tucked away in my bag. But the other day, as I went about my errands, I carried my book in my hands, with the cover proudly visible. And you know what? People asked me about it! They asked how I was enjoying it. They shared their own reading preferences. And I got to talk about books throughout my day! The truly remarkable thing is that real conversations occurred, brief as they were between myself and a handful of strangers. Think about how many people you see every day. The cashier at the grocery store. The person waiting for the bus. Maybe you nod hello or maybe you don’t. Books have a way of forming immediate connections, of giving us something to talk about beyond the surface How are you today? I’m fine, how ’bout yourself?

So why not take it a step further than just carrying a book? Why not sit down and read that book in public?

Now I know what you’re thinking. It’s distracting to try to read with a bunch of background noise. When people see you reading they always interrupt you to, ironically, ask what you’re reading. People might judge you for what you choose to read. It might come across as anti-social. All those concerns are valid.

But who cares?

A) Distractions can be overcome. Simple. The world tends to fall away when you’re reading anyway. Let the sounds of the world around you become part of your experience.

B) I know, I know, it’s annoying when someone interrupts your reading to ask what you’re reading. Trust me, I’ve been there. But when you step back and think of it as an opportunity, you’ll see that it’s a chance to engage. It’s a chance to talk about your favorite books. Maybe you’ll even make the perfect recommendation.

C) Don’t be ashamed of what you choose to read. Reading is valuable, no matter what genre you favor and, personally, I’ve had enough of other people telling me what is and isn’t worth reading. I say read everything, read anything. If you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.

D) Look around. How many people in your vicinity are staring at their phones right now? Enough said.

So read in public.

Think about it! Everything you see makes up your perception of the world. Personally, I want to live in a world where I can look around and see people reading all different kinds of books: on park benches, at coffee shops, even in groups reading together. Imagine going outside and seeing people reading as part of the scenery of your every day life. Imagine being able to pull out a book and read just because it’s a nice day outside.

Read in public! Talk books! Who knows? Maybe someone will see you and decide to read that book they’ve been meaning to get to.

Trilogy Spotlight

by Jessica on March 9, 2018

By Rebecca

Hello Literary Enthusiasts!

Let’s talk about a word that makes all book lovers giddy: trilogy. It’s that word we all hope to hear after we’ve finished a particularly good book and are praying for a sequel. It’s the neat package that great stories, especially fantasy stories, come in. So what is about trilogies that makes them so appealing? Could it be the promise of a fascinating story continuing on? Or maybe it has to do with knowing exactly what sort of ending we’re heading towards. Maybe it’s just the tidiness of the number three. Whatever it is, here is a list of some of the best trilogies out there.

The Lord of the Rings

I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t read these books as a child. I read The Hobbit years before I read the trilogy which, in a way, is fitting considering the 17 year gap between the publication of The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring. Just about every reader of fantasy knows that this series is the benchmark that set the standard for the future of the genre. The Lord of the Rings is what made trilogies cool, so to speak. In terms of world-building and just a wealth of detail, Tolkien is unsurpassed. Of course, part of what makes this series so brilliant is that it appeals to the reading-for-pleasure crowd as well as the scholarly crowd. After all, Tolkien was an expert in Medieval Studies and used medieval culture as the inspiration for Middle Earth. There is plenty for academics to focus on, but Tolkien isn’t trying to show off how smart he is. You don’t need to be a history major to get wrapped up in the story.

The Magicians

Often referred to as “Harry Potter for grown-ups,” The Magicians trilogy uses tropes familiar to the fantasy genre, but turns them on their head. We have a group of young adults attending a magic college. We have a beloved children’s book series featuring a magical land that turns out to be real. Sounds familiar, right? It might seem so at first, but author Lev Grossman specifically writes within these well-known parameters of the genre in wonder to satirize them. It’s not all wonder and magic-fixes-everything in Grossman’s world, but not for a moment is this series dull. Though the set-up is familiar, the story doesn’t follow a predictable pattern. If you love those types of stories but are looking for something original and inventive, The Magicians trilogy is well worth the read.

The Passage

This is the sort of post-apocalyptic story that doesn’t feel the need to sugar coat the end of the world. Think McCarthy or Atwood. A military experiment decimates the population. North America is a wasteland. Infected people stalk the landscape. This series provides no guarantees as our heroes fight for their survival in an unrecognizable world. Author Justin Cronin keeps the story engaging with an interesting, detailed backstory to the apocalypse and the fighting spirit of the main characters. The series is dark without being depressing and keeps the reader invested. Plus, Stephen King said it was “one of the greatest achievements in American fantasy fiction.” I mean, if that doesn’t convince you what will?

All Souls

Witches, vampires, daemons, and ancient magical manuscripts? Yes please! I’ll admit it, I’m a sucker for a story involving a hidden world of magic existing unseen within our own world. I mean, it’s completely possible, right? Author Deborah Harkness’s background in academia gives the story it’s grounding in the real world. Even if you’re not an expert in ancient texts, you can tell she knows what she’s talking about which gives the story even more depth. It always sounds like a cliché when people say they couldn’t put a book down, but I was so wrapped up in this story that there was something disappointing about closing it and re-entering the ordinary world. If you love the fantasy genre, this is one of those series that should not be missed.

MaddAddam

Consider this my nod to a trilogy of the future in terms of my reading career. I haven’t yet started this series, but it is the next one on my list. Knowing Margaret Atwood’s work, I can’t imagine it’s anything short of brilliant!

 

What other trilogies have you loved/wept over/raged at/gotten overly invested in?

By Kelly

Happy Women’s History Month! Here are a few events around town to help you celebrate!

Friday, March 2

7:00 PM – 10:00pm – Tucasa: An Art + Music Night – Women’s History Month
Location: Sabor y Cultura 5625 Hollywood Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90028
Price: FREE

Celebrate Women’s History Month with an art and music night featuring women. VixKytten Galore Handmade, will also be bringing some of her amazing handcrafted products for purchase!
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tucasa-an-art-music-night-womens-history-month-tickets-42780508653

7:00pm – Brittney Cooper, in conversation with Morgan Parker, discusses and signs Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower
Location: Vroman’s Bookstore 695 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA
Price: FREE

Attend a discussion between author Brittney Cooper and writer Morgan Parker about Brittney’s new book Eloquent Rage. The book argues that ultimately feminism, friendship, and faith in one’s own superpowers are all we really need to turn things right side up again. Brittney will be available to sign books after the talk. Get more info or buy the book here.
http://www.vromansbookstore.com/event/brittney-cooper-conversation-morgan-parker-discusses-and-signs-eloquent-rage-black-feminist

Saturday, March 3

12pm-International Women’s Day March and Rally
Location: Metropolitan Detention Center 535 Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Price: FREE

This year’s march will start at the Metropolitan Detention Center at Alameda and Aliso Streets and will end at Los Angeles City Hall. Join us starting at 11am for pre-march activities, including live screen-printing and art-making. Organized by Af3irm.
http://www.af3irm.org/af3irm/events/iwdla2018/

2:00 PM – 3:30pm – Women’s History Month: Cultural Icon
Location: Norwood Library 4550 N. Peck Rd. El Monte, CA 91732
Price: FREE

Canvas picture, RosieIn celebration of Women’s History Month, come by and create an art piece inspired by the iconic Rose the Riveter.  Also, learning a little history on this cultural icon. All programs are for teens ages 12-17 years old. More information available here. http://www.colapublib.org/calendar/index.php?eID=123245

Wednesday, March 7

7:00 pm – Who Am I? How Media Stereotypes Shape Gender Roles and What We Can Do About It
Location: Caltech – Beckman Institute Auditorium
Price: Tickets are $10

This talk will highlight the media’s impact on the way women see themselves, media literacy strategies to critically analyze media images and messages and tools to empower women and their children in the digital culture.

Please RSVP @ https://cwc.nationbuilder.com/whoami

Thursday, March 8th

7:00 pm – Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars by author Nathalia Holt. (One City, One Story: 2018)
Location: All Saints Church 132 N Euclid Ave, Pasadena, CA
Price: FREE

Holt will discuss her experiences writing Rise of the Rocket Girls. A question and answer session led by Pasadena Public Library Director Michelle Perera will immediately follow. Holt’s books will be available for sale and signing following the program. Find out more information here. https://ww5.cityofpasadena.net/library/event/2018-one-city-one-story-rise-of-the-rocket-girls/

Saturday, March 10

9:00am to 12:00pm – SUPERCODERS CAMP – Girls Coding and Game Making Workshop
Location: Supplyframe 30 E. Del Mar Ave. Pasadena, CA 91105
Price: Tickets are $10

Girls grades 1-4 are welcomed to attend this 1-day workshop in celebration of Women’s History Month. Girl coders will learn the basics of coding and participate in a game making session where they will design and code their own superhero games.

Tablets will be provided for all participants who will also receive free access to codeSpark Academy for 6 months (valued at $48) and will receive giveaways including T-shirts, stickers and booklets. Food and refreshments will be served. You can sign up for the workshop here.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/supercoders-camp-girls-coding-and-game-making-workshop-tickets-42968815885

3:00 PM – 5:00pm Women who Shaped Pasadena hosted by Pasadena Walking Tours

Location: Tour will depart from Pasadena Public Library 285 East Walnut Street Pasadena, CA
Price: Tickets are $10

On this tour you’ll walk in the footsteps of some of the women who inspired and were inspired by the City of Roses, and hear stories about their experiences and contributions to the life and growth of Pasadena, California.

Come learn about these fascinating people, make some new friends, and enjoy a pre-dinner stroll through Pasadena. All ages are welcome on this tour.

There will also be a tour Monday, March 12, 2018, from 4 pm – 6 pm if you cannot make it Saturday. Get more info or purchase tickets here.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/women-who-shaped-pasadena-tickets-43660615075?aff=erelexpmlt

Monday, March 19

7pm – Karen Karbo discusses and signs In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons from 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules
Location: Vroman’s Bookstore 695 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA
Price: FREE

Karen Karbo presents her new book In Praise of Difficult Women which explores the extraordinary legacies of 29 iconic women who forged their own unique paths in the world. Karen will be available to sing books after the talk. Get more info or buy the book here.
http://www.vromansbookstore.com/event/karen-karbo-discusses-and-signs-praise-difficult-women-life-lessons-29-heroines-who-dared

Wednesday, March 21

6pm – Chelsea Clinton signs She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women Who Changed History
Location: Vroman’s Bookstore 695 E. Colorado Blvd. Pasadena, CA
Price: Tickets are $23.04 and include one copy of She Persisted Around the World.

This event is a book signing only. Chelsea Clinton will be signing her new children’s book which introduces readers to a group of thirteen incredible women who have shaped history all across the globe. Women featured include Marie Curie, Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, Viola Desmond, Sissi Lima do Amor, Leymah Gbowee, Caroline Herschel, Wangari Maathai, Aisha Rateb, J.K. Rowling, Kate Sheppard, Yuan Yuan Tan, Mary Verghese and Malala Yousafzai. Get more information or purchase tickets here.
http://www.vromansbookstore.com/event/vroman%E2%80%99s-bookstore-presents-chelsea-clinton-signing-she-persisted-around-world-13-women-who

Thursday, Mar 29

6:30 PM – Telling My Stories: The Pioneering Fiction of Octavia E. Butler
Location: Pasadena Museum of History 470 W Walnut St, Pasadena CA
Price: Tickets are $10 for Members and $15 for General Admission

Join Natalie Russell, Assistant Curator of Literary Collections at the Huntington Library and curator of the recent Huntington exhibition, Telling My Stories: The Pioneering Fiction of Octavia E. Butler, for this lecture in celebration of Womens History Month and in conjunction with the new exhibition Dreaming the Universe.

Tickets include light refreshments and entrance to the exhibition Dreaming the Universe: The Intersection of Science, Fiction, & Southern California starting at 5:30 pm. You can purchase tickets here. https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3186062

 

10 Songs Inspired By Your Favorite Books

by Jessica on February 26, 2018

By Kelly

Did you know that some of your favorite books inspired songs by some of your favorite artists? Keep reading for 10 songs based on literary works!

1. “1984” By David Bowie – Inspired By 1984 By George Orwell

Books Inspired By Songs

This song by David Bowie highlights the novel’s totalitarian government and even mentions the telescreens featured in the book.

“Someday they won’t let you, but now you must agree/
The times they are a-telling, and the changing isn’t free/
You’ve read it in the tea leaves, the tracks are on TV/
Beware the savage jaw of 1984/
They’ll split your pretty cranium, and fill it full of air/
And tell that you’re 80, but brother, you won’t care.”

2. “White Rabbit” By Jefferson Airplane – Inspired By Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Songs Inspired By Books

Listen closely and you’ll catch references to everyone’s favorite rabbit and the “who are you” caterpillar. Jefferson Airplane even make reference to Alice herself, and her size changing adventure.

“And if you go chasing rabbits, and you know you’re going to fall/
Tell ’em a hookah-smoking caterpillar has given you the call/
And call Alice, when she was just small.”

3. “Who Wrote Holden Caulfield?” By Green Day – Inspired By The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Songs Inspired By Books

Green Day does a great job of capturing the feeling of being an outcast in this ode to Holden Caulfield.

“There’s a boy who fogs his world and now he’s getting lazy/
There’s no motivation and frustration makes him crazy/
He makes a plan to take a stand but always ends up sitting./
Someone help him up or he’s gonna end up quitting.”

4. “Banana Co.” By  Radiohead – Inspired By One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez.

Songs Inspired By Books

The title and subject of this song is a direct reference to the corrupt company in One Hundred Years of Solitude.

“Oh, Banana Co./
We really love you, and we need you/
And oh, Banana Co./
We’d really love to believe you/
But everything’s underground/
We gotta dig it up somehow/
Yeah, yeah.”

5. “Ramble On” By Led Zeppelin – Inspired By The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Songs Inspired By Books

Lord of the Rings fans will recognize the name of Mordor, a region in Middle Earth, as well as the references to magic, the character Gollum and the ring itself.

“Mine’s a tale that can’t be told/
My freedom I hold dear/
How years ago in days of old/
When magic filled the air/
This was in the darkest depths of Mordor/
I met a girl so fair/
But Gollum, and the evil one crept up/
And slipped away with her.”

6. “The Ghost of Tom Joad” By Bruce Springsteen – Inspired By The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck.

Songs Inspired By Books

This homage to Tom Joad from Grapes of Wrath takes lines directly from his famous speech in the novel about working together as a community and justice.

“Now Tom said, “Mom, wherever there’s a cop beating a guy/
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries/
Where there’s a fight against the blood and hatred in the air/
Look for me, Mom, I’ll be there/
Wherever somebody’s fighting for a place to stand/
Or a decent job or a helping hand/
Wherever somebody’s struggling to be free/
Look in their eyes, Ma, and you’ll see me.”

7. “Pet Sematary” By Ramones – Inspired By Pet Sematary By  Stephen King

Songs Inspired By Books

The Ramones originally wrote this song for the 1989 movie adaption of Stephen King’s novel. It captures the ambiance of the terrifying cemetery perfectly.

“The smell of death is all around,/
And the night when the cold wind blows,/
No one cares, nobody knows./
I don’t want to be buried in a Pet Sematary,/
I don’t want to live my life again.”

8. “Moon over Bourbon Street” By Sting – Inspired By Interview with the Vampire By Anne Rice

songs Inspired By Books

Sting takes on the perspective of one of Anne Rice’s blood sucking characters from the book and describes walking around the city in the moonlight.

“It was many years ago that I became what I am/
I was trapped in this life like an innocent lamb/
Now I can only show my face at noon/
And you’ll only see me walking by the light of the moon.”

9. “Yertle The Turtle” By Red Hot Chili Peppers – Inspired By Yertle The Turtle By Dr. Seuss

Songs Inspired By Books

The Red Hot Chili Peppers channeled Dr. Seuss to write this song about his character Yertle the Turle. It even rhymes!

“I’m Yertle The Turtle/
The things I now rule/
I’m king of a cow/
I’m king of a mule.”

10. “Wuthering Heights” By Kate Bush – Inspired By Wuthering Heights By Emily Brontë

Songs Inspired By Books
After catching part of the 1967 BBC series of Wuthering Heights, Kate Bush was inspired to write this song  from the point of view of Cathy Earnshaw.

“Bad dreams in the night/
They told me I was going to lose the fight/
Leave behind my wuthering, wuthering/
Wuthering Heights/
Heathcliff, it’s me, I’m Cathy/
I’ve come home, I’m so cold/
Let me in through your window.”

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