On Saturday, April 29th, Vroman’s and indie bookstores all over the country will be celebrating Independent Bookstore Day! Indie Bookstore Day is like Record Store Day. Indies celebrate who they are to their communities with parties, exclusive items that are only available that day, guest author appearances and more.

To help us celebrate this year we will have a special launch party with author Liza Palmer! She’ll be presenting her newest book, the F Word. Liza Palmer is the internationally bestselling author of Conversations with the Fat Girl and six other novels. An Emmy-nominated writer, she lives in Los Angeles and works for BuzzFeed. In anticpation for her event next week, we asked her a few questions about Pasadena, writing and why indies are so important. Enjoy!

We are so excited to have you as our guest to launch your new book, the F Word and help up celebrate Indie Bookstore Day! Why are indie bookstores important and why is a having a special day like Indie Bookstore Day important?
For me, Indie bookstores are the center of their communities in this orchestra of ways.  It’s where I go to escape, to connect, to be informed, to dream, to feel like I belong and when I need a moment to myself. So, a day that celebrates Indie Bookstores feels like an opportunity for all of us who have received so much to give back to the places that have given us such unconditional sanctuary. 

You are a Pasadena native. What do you love most about this city? Do you have any favorite spots in town (restaurants, museums, parks etc.) that you frequent?
I love Pasadena so much. I love the people. I love the camphor trees that line the streets.  I love my wonderful public school education from Hamilton, Eliot and John Muir High School and playing in Tournament Park behind Cal Tech. I love the beautiful Craftsman houses and meandering around Huntington Gardens, hiking to the waterfall at Eaton Canyon and gazing at Degas’, Little Dancer at the Norton Simon. I loved running my fingers through the fountain in the middle of Ernie Jr’s that used to be in Old Town (#rip), the lemon bars from Happy Trails, JVC Vegetarian Green burritos from Burrito Express, the cornbread at Smitty’s, the cornflake muffins at Fox’s in Altadena, grabbing a pint at Lucky Baldwin’s and grabbing a great Cobb Salad to go from Julienne’s.  

Vroman’s has been a big part of your writing journey. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Back when Linda Urban used to work at Vroman’s, she started these Saturday morning writing workshops that I went to with my aunt.  Linda would bring in all these amazing writers and they would talk about writing and writing with a full time job (with David Ebershoff) and on and on.  After too long away from writing, those workshops brought me back to life.  Got me dreaming again.  Hoping again.  Writing again.  I wrote my debut novel, Conversations with the Fat Girl, that summer. Without Vroman’s, I simply would not have started writing again.

The F Word is your seventh book. How has your writing process changed over the years and what are a few things you’ve learned along the way?
First and foremost, each book – and the writing of it – is annoyingly singular.  By the time I’ve found the rhythm of a book, feel solid in revising it and know my way around its landscape – I finish it.  And then… the blank page once again.  Start back at one.  And those characters, and those themes and that setting… are all new. Which is, of course, wonderful…. and horrifying.  Wonderfying. 

What I do know is that I can do it.  I can finish.  I’ve done it before, so I can do it again.  And sometimes, when I’m drowning in the middle, that knowledge is the life raft I’ll cling to during the darkest of days.  I can finish.  I have finished.  This is temporary.  Like Annie LaMott says, bird by bird. 

Is there anything specific you look towards for inspiration in writing or in life in general?
Books have a way of knowing what they’re about before I do – theme-wise, at least.  I don’t know how, but it’s always about halfway through where I’m like… oh… so, this is about THAT??? 

Of the more nuts and bolts – I’m always observing and listening.  Little snippets of dialogue, settings and making sure my life isn’t as curated as its been in the past.  An uncurated life begets far more inspiration.  

What do you have to have when you sit down to write? 
Cup of tea (David’s Tea loose leaf Earl Grey) and my music score playlist that is my life’s work.  It’s glorious.

Are you a Pantser or a Planner?
I wrote one book – Conversations with the Fat Girl – as a pantser. And then I promptly hit a wall when I tried to do it on my second book, Seeing Me Naked. It was… ugly.  So, ever since then I am now a Planner like no other Planner.  I realized that the more I planned, the fewer drafts there were.  Because it was in the planning that I found all the plot holes and brick walls that I usually would have hit while Pantsing it. Have you seen JK Rowling’s outline?  I use that.  It’s a godsend.

What is on your To Be Read pile right now?
So. Much. Right now, I am in the middle of reading all of Game of Thrones before the final season. I’m on Book 3.  I’m also reading Sapiens.  It’s amazing.  Next up, A Gentleman in Moscow. I can only think that far – there are so many.  It’s invigorating and terrifying.

Who needs Coachella Weekend Two when you can have Bookchella? Er…the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books! For us, we prep for weeks to prepare our staff and outfit our booths with the best of the best. For you, make sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, plenty of water and don a pair  of great walking shoes.
It’s always a fun, family friendly weekend with free admission!

The details: 

This Saturday and Sunday – April 22 and 23 at USC Campus.
Saturday, April 22 Hours: 10am – 6pm
Sunday, April 23 Hours: 10am – 5pm

Booth Information:

Our Main Store Booth is #117.
This booth will have TONS of great books and LOTS of fun book related items
(t-shirts, bookmarks, pins, pens etc.)

Our Children’s Booth is # 128.
This booth is self-explanatory but it will be packed to the gills
with books and fun things for your little ones.

We are also a special seller for the Los Angeles Times Stage. We’ll be selling the following books for you to get signed by some truly great authors! This booth is located right outside the L.A. Times Stage. How this works is the author will speak for about 40 minutes on the L.A. Times Stage, then will move over to the signing area which is directly across from our selling booth, which you will pass on the way over. We’ll have all these books plus more for you to peruse! Take a look at this schedule for a quick reference. As always, we will be available to answer questions on the day of!


Saturday, April 22 Los Angeles Times Stage Schedule


Tippi Hedren signing Tippi: A Memoir.
Tippi will be on stage at 11:00am and will start signing at approximately 11:50am.


Kareem Abdul-Jabbar signing Writings on the Wall: Searching for a New Equality Beyond Black and White; Streetball Crew Book One: Sasquatch in the Paint.
Kareem will be on stage at 12:10pm and will start signing at approximately 1:00pm.


Bryan Cranston signing A Life in Parts.
Bryan will be on stage at 1:20pm and will start signing at approximately 2:10pm.


Hannah Hart signing Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded.
Hannah will be on stage at 2:30pm and will start signing at approximately 3:20pm.

Virginia Grohl signing From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars.
Virginia will be on stage at 3:40pm and will start signing at approximately 4:30pm.


Kelly Oxford signing When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments.
Kelly will be on stage at 4:50pm and will start signing at approximately 5:40pm.



Sunday, April 23 Los Angeles Times Stage Schedule


Clinton Kelly signing I Hate Everyone, Except You.
Clinton will be on stage at 11:00am and will start signing at approximately 11:50am.



Matthew Espinosa signing Matthew Espinosa: More Than Me.
Matthew will be on stage at 12:10pm and will start signing at approximately 1:00pm.


Stephen Tobolowsky signing My Adventures with God.
Stephen will be on stage at 1:20pm and will start signing at approximately 2:10pm.


Cheech Marin signing Cheech is Not My Real Name:…But Don’t Call Me Chong. Cheech will be on stage at 2:30pm and will start signing at approximately 3:20pm.


Steve Jones signing Lonely Boy: Tales from a Sex Pistol.
Steve will be on stage at 3:40pm and will start signing at approximately 4:30pm.




Don’t forget to visit our friends at Book Soup. They are in Booth #88.
They ALWAYS deck with a theme in mind and it’s always a spectacle to see.
You are definitely going to want to stop by this year as it may be their best yet!

Visit the official site of the L.A. Times Festival of Books HERE for more information.
We’ll see you this weekend!

Author Jeff Guinn On the Jonestown Massacre

by Jessica on April 17, 2017

Jeff Guinn is a former award-winning investigative journalist and the bestselling author of numerous books, including Go Down Together: The True Untold Story of Bonnie and Clyde, The Last Gunfight: The Real Story of the Shootout at the O.K. Corral and How It Changed the West, and Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson.

We hosted him for Manson and are excited to welcome him back to celebrate his brand new book, The Road to Jonestown about Jim Jones and the People’s Temple. Guinn dives deep into the story behind Jim Jones with an incredibly in depth account of Jim Jones’ life leading up to the Jonestown Massacre.

We were able to ask Jeff a few questions in anticipation for his visit to the store.

You don’t want to miss this event! Join us on Monday, April 24 at 7pm to hear more!

Congrats on another massive hit with this telling of the Jonestown story! What made you want to tackle this story in particular?
After writing about the 1960s in Manson, I wanted to chronicle how America moved forward into the 1970s. After preliminary research, it seemed to me that only two events in the ‘70s still resonated with most modern-day readers: Watergate and Jonestown. I felt I could bring nothing new to the subject of Watergate; it’s been exhaustively chronicled in hundreds of books. But it seemed to me that no one had ever researched and told the full story of Jim Jones and Peoples Temple.

What do you remember hearing about the Jonestown Massacre as it happened? Do you remember what your thoughts were on it?
Like virtually everyone else, I was simultaneously horrified and mystified. The number of deaths was staggering; so was the sense of, “How could so many people do this to themselves?” Soon, of course, I was routinely saying, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid,” as that phrase became a permanent part of the national lexicon.

The research in The Road to Jonestown is incredible (as it is in the rest of your books). What did your research process look like and how long did it take?
It took just about three years to research The Road to Jonestown, which included going everywhere Jim Jones had (with the exception of Belo Horizonte, Brazil) and meeting with as many people who’d been involved with him as possible. I read just over 66,000 pages of information obtained from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act. And I went to Guyana and cut my way through the jungle to the site of Jonestown.

True crime has always been around but recently there has been a huge surge in its appeal. There are podcasts galore and an abundance of shows and movies popping up on streaming. Why do you think people are so fascinated by these stories?
We all enjoy a vicarious sense of sharing drama and excitement. Hopefully most of us also want to learn from true crime sagas – what danger signals are there if we’ll only notice them? How do we protect ourselves from similar dangers?

What is your biggest fear?
As a writer, that I’ll get the story wrong or completely miss some critical component.

Besides the stories you’ve already covered, do you have any other favorites you’d want to cover in the future?
I’m trying to write a book about the various eras in American history from the settling of the Western frontier to the modern day, whatever the modern day turns out to be when I begin my last nonfiction book. The next project jumps back from the 1970s to 1914-1924, when the Era of Inventions propelled America forward from the horse-and-wagon/candlelight times.


What is on your to be read pile right now?
Since I write serious nonfiction and have to read a lot of other nonfiction as part of my research, I like to react with top-level mystery novels. Right now I’m re-reading some of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch mysteries. He’s a fine storyteller and I’m enjoying the books immensely.

What was your favorite book as a child?
The Once and Future King by T.H. White. It’s still my favorite book.

What current (or recently current) TV show or movie would you recommend and why?
I think The Wire is the best TV miniseries I’ve ever seen. I know it was initially broadcast years ago, but I never have time to watch much TV; I have to catch up on series my wife recommends when I’m taking a mental health break from researching and writing. I don’t think I’ve gone out to the movies in at least 10 years.

On Saturday, April 8 we hosted Luis Fuerte talking about his brand new book, Louie, Take a Look at This!, which focuses on his time filming California’s Gold with Huell Howser! He was joined by Patt Morrison of the L.A. Times and writer David Duron. The house was packed and we had a blast. We were lucky enough to snag a few minutes with Luis before the event began to get a few questions answered.


Which memory of Huell is the most vivid or potent to you? Do you have a favorite?
I think just the first time I heard Huell Howser, when I heard that real Southern accent, it really caught me by surprise because I had never been in the South. I had never known anyone from the South, so I had seen maybe a little television but to hear Huell’s accent and expression that really told me what a folksy guy he was. He had this way of making people feel at ease.

Was he a little different on camera in your presence? As opposed to off camera.
He was pretty much the same because if there were people around he was always on, like he was this folksy kind of guy that loved to be around people. I was totally the opposite – I was quiet, shy, behind the scenes doing my technical thing trying to create stories. But Huell…there were times when he was quiet, he was tired I suppose.

What was your first meeting like?
KCET- I worked there at the station. All of a sudden I heard this real twangy Southern accent, really heavy, so it caught my attention. I saw him talking to people, and I saw how easy going he was with them, and he made people feel at ease. They would just love to talk to him. 

You traveled together for quite some time, and that can cause some friction. Any major disagreements?
Well, when I first started with him, he came to me with the idea of doing California’s Gold, he had talked to other cameramen, but he liked the way I would shoot so he asked me about being a cameraman on it. And so I did, and once we got together to start the show, they called me from his office and his secretary says “ I don’t know how to tell you this, Huell wants you to come and pick up the car and have it serviced”, and I said “ Let me have Huell’s phone number.” So I called Huell, and said “ Huell, what’s this? You want me to take your car to have it serviced? And he says “ We, it’s our car we drive it all over California”, and I said “ Well, I hate to tell you this but that car is not parked in my driveway so you’re either gonna have to get another cameraman or make other arrangements”.

He was very quiet for a moment and then he said “ Ok, I’ll take it in.” and basically that was it. He never crossed that line again, and we got along very well.

Really? In twelve years? That was it?
Yeah…well, I was always a vegetarian type guy and he, on the way back from our shoots up North, he loved to go to In N Out and I hate hamburgers. He would buy this huge triple decker and I would carry my little snacks for health purposes.
You truly get to know someone when you drink with them, and when you travel with them. What was it like with you two in each scenario?
We had our quiet moments, little conversations that would last a minute. I would take a nap, or he would be on the phone. Other than that, it was our quiet time. We got along very well.

As far as drinking, we didn’t socialize together. Once we were done working, I would go into my room and he would go into his. I would get ready for the next day, and he would go out and eat or drink and I would have a couple of beers and get ready for the next day – in bed by 9:00 pm. Once in a while we would be someplace – like there was a shoot in El Centro and he looks at me and says “Well, what do you think?” and I said “ Well, let’s go to a bar, have a beer, and talk to the bartenders…they always have stories.” So we did, once in a while we would socialize and have a beer or two, and that would be about it.

What were your favorite places to visit, and how did it differ from Huell’s?
There’s so many in California. I love the Eastern Sierras and those long pine and little towns to me were just fabulous, Oroville… just a great little town in California.

Huell liked the big cities – San Francisco he loved. We did a lot of shooting and traveling to San Francisco. I liked the quiet areas where we could fish and hike (which I still do). I’m not crazy about traffic or crowds. He had this love for California – he called it his adopted state. He was talking to a Gentleman one time, and he says
“ I’m a Californian!” and the Gentleman said “ You don’t have a Californian accent” and Huell asks “ Well, what is a Californian accent?” The diversity here doesn’t allow one.

Any quirks you never noticed you had?
I was always prepared, I prepared the night before. I made sure that everything was charged and ready to go, and clean.  I don’t know if that came from me being a boy scout, sea scout, explorer – but my thing was always to be prepared, and always early. I was always the first one there, and of course – the producer always comes in, five minutes before we leave.

Was it just you two traveling? Or did you have a back up crew?
It was just Huell and myself- I’m the crew. He would say that at times. He would say Huell and the crew and the crew and me!

We knew how to read each other so well, and if he saw me… once in a while if you look at the shows, he’ll look out of the corner of his eye and he’s looking at me to see what I’m doing. And if I’m moving around it’s because I’m making an adjustment of the background, or lighting, something like that.

How did your perception of traveling, or your style, change after your show?
I traveled so much, not only with Huell but I would also travel with the LA Philharmonic, I speak Spanish so I would travel with some Spanish companies, and other producers. I would be hired to travel all over the place. It got to the point- especially after 9/11 – it was very difficult with equipment and things like that because I carried one big case for my equipment. Then they open it and rip through everything, and then try to put it back… it was just becoming a nightmare. So, finally I said I’m done. Now I travel on vacation with my wife and we travel to Cancun or the Eastern Sierras and spend time up there. Mammoth, I used to Ski.

How was every shoot different?
The stories were different, the terrain was different. Huell never wanted to know too much about the story itself. The producers would set up the interviews, location, and all that and so he didn’t want to know too much. He always wanted to be spontaneously surprised and that’s where he comes up with “oh my god!” or “that’s amazing!” and all these little things. It could be a flower!

How did his death affect you?
It really caught me by surprise. He was four years younger than I am, and it totally shocked me.

How did you find out?
I was at an engineers party at KCET and I decided to go up and visit the producers from Huell’s office and one of the boys told me he was getting sick and they were starting to close shop. A few months later I get a call from the producer that Huell had passed away. So I was really shocked. I thought he would live forever. He was always on the go, a happy-go-lucky guy. I think we was around 68 when he passed, so that’s still pretty young.

What is the most important thing you took from that experience?
I think it taught me to – because I was very quiet and shy- it taught me to learn and speak up when I needed to. Correct things in order to make them work. Because Huell is creating a story and I’m trying to keep it together technically with light, with camera, with all this stuff. So it taught me to learn to speak up and to make things work for the editor because once the story gets into editing and you don’t have the material, then it comes back to me. The crew, haha.

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Spring Event Round Up!

by Jessica on April 7, 2017

Spring can get a little hectic around these parts. Amongst the craziness there are always some really great events. Check out what we’ve got going on over the next few months!


Tuesday, April 25, 2017 – 7:00pm
Vroman’s Main Store, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91101
Vroman’s Presents An Evening with Cory Doctorow & John Scalzi!
(Ticketed Event, Purchase Tickets HERE)

Cory Doctorow and John Scalzi present and sign their latest titles Walkaway and The Collapsing Empire

They will be joined by Amber Benson, one of the voices of the audio version of Walkaway.

From New York Times bestselling author Cory Doctorow, comes Walkaway, an epic tale of revolution, love, post-scarcity, and the end of death.
Walkaway is now the best contemporary example I know of, its utopia glimpsed after fascinatingly-extrapolated revolutionary struggle.–William Gibson

The Collapsing Empire is the first novel of a new space-opera sequence set in an all-new universe by the Hugo Award-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Redshirts and Old Man’s War.

John Scalzi is the most entertaining, accessible writer working in SF today.–Joe Hill, author of The Fireman

We are expecting a large crowd for this event so we are offering tickets for a copy of either Cory Doctorow’s new book Walkaway or John Scalzi’s new book The Collapsing Empire and a guaranteed seat at the event. Tickets are now available via Eventbrite.

Ticket Options Include:

$29.35  (tax included) includes one copy of Walkaway and a guaranteed seat at the event.

$28.26 (tax included) includes one copy of The Collapsing Empire and a guaranteed seat at the event.

Please note: You must buy one ticket/book through Eventbrite for a guaranteed seat.
One ticket/book = one guaranteed seat. A book purchased only through the store does not equal a ticket or seat to the event.  If you are in need of only the one seat but are interested in purchasing both books, we will have additional copies of both Walkaway and The Collapsing Empire available for sale on the night of the event.  

John Scalzi & Cory Doctorow will be signing copies of their books only.
Amber Benson will NOT be signing books this evening. 

 For each purchased copy of the newest title, customers may bring up to three copies from home to be signed. This policy applies to all Vroman’s Bookstore events unless otherwise noted. 

Friday, May 5, 2017 – 7:00pm
Vroman’s Main Store, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91101

Stephen Tobolowsky discusses & signs My Adventures with God
(FREE Event)
My Adventures with God is a series of short stories exploring the idea that most people’s lives seem to fit into the template of the Old Testament. We all have powerful creation myths: tales of our childhood and family, our first battles won and lost. It is our Genesis. Then, like in the Book of Exoduswe go into slavery. Rather than building pyramids, we lose ourselves in fear and ambition–in first loves, first jobs, too many dreams mixed with too much beer. We eventually become free, only to wander in the wilderness. At some point we stop and proclaim to the universe who we are. This is our Leviticus moment. We reconcile what we thought we would be with what we have become. We often attempt a mid-course correction. Then, as in the Book of Numbers, we are shaped by mortality as we bear the loss of family and friends. Finally, we retell our stories to our children hoping to make sense of the journey, as Moses did in Deuteronomy. Tobolowsky’s stories tell of a boy growing up in the wilds of Texas, finding and losing love, losing and finding himself–all told through the prism of the Torah and Talmud, mixed with insights from science, and refined through a child’s sense of wonder. My Adventures with God not only shines a light into the life of one of America’s most beloved actors, but also provides a structure to evaluate our own lives and relationship with God. (Simon & Schuster)

Sunday, May 7, 2017 – 12:30pm to 2:30pm
Vroman’s Main Store, 695 E. Colorado Blvd, Pasadena 91101

Celebrate A Taste of Vroman’s! 

Join us at Vroman’s for samples of recipes from some of the latest cookbooks, and taste some of the most popular products we have in the store.

Sample cookbook recipes from:

Casa Marcela: Recipes and Food Stories of My Life in the Californias by Marcela Valladolid

My Greek Family Table: Fresh Regional Recipes by Maria Benardis

In My Kitchen by Deborah Madison

On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox

And enjoy samples from: Iveta Scones, Compartes Chocolate, McCrea’s caramels, John Kelly Chocolates and more!

This is a great opportunity to check out our new books and products. With Mother’s Day coming up, you might find the perfect gift for Mom!

This event is free and open to the public and will be held on the lower level of the main store by our Home Emporium section. No rsvp necessary. Samples will be available for tasting, while supplies last.


Friday, May 12, 2017 – 7:00pm
Vroman’s Main Store, 695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, 91101
Vroman’s Presents an Evening with Jen Sincero!
(Ticketed Event, purchase tickets HERE)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of You Are a Badass, a life-changing guide to making the kind of money you’ve only ever dreamed of. You Are a Badass at Making Money will launch you past the fears and stumbling blocks that have kept financial success beyond your reach. Drawing on her own transformation–over just a few years–from a woman living in a converted garage with tumbleweeds blowing through her bank account to a woman who travels the world in style, Jen Sincero channels the inimitable sass and practicality that made You Are a Badass an indomitable bestseller. She combines hilarious personal essays with bite-size, aha concepts that unlock earning potential and get real results.

Learn to:
– Uncover what’s holding you back from making money
– Give your doubts, fears, and excuses the heave-ho
– Relate to money in a new (and lucrative) way
– Shake up the cocktail of creation
– Tap into your natural ability to grow rich
– Shape your reality–stop playing victim to circumstance
– Get as wealthy as you wanna be

We are expecting a large crowd for this event so we are offering tickets for a copy of the book and a guaranteed seat at the event.  Tickets: $27.19 (tax included) includes one copy of You Are a Badass at Making Money and a guaranteed seat at the event.

Please note: You must buy one ticket/book through Eventbrite for a guaranteed seat.
One ticket/book = one guaranteed seat. A book purchased only through the store does not equal a ticket or seat to the event. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 – 7:00pm
All Saints Church, 132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena 91101
Vroman’s Presents An Evening with Jo Nesbo! 
(Ticket Event, Purchase Tickets HERE)

Harry Hole returns in the eleventh installment of the best-selling, electrifying crime fiction series that includes The Bat, The Snowman, and, most recently, Police.

In Police–the last novel featuring Jo Nesbo’s hard-bitten, maverick Oslo detective–a killer wreaking revenge on the police had Harry Hole fighting for the safety of the people closest to him. Now, in The Thirst, the story continues as Harry is inextricably drawn back into the Oslo police force. A serial murderer has begun targeting Tinder daters–a murderer whose MO reignites Harry’s hunt for a nemesis of his past. (Knopf Publishing Group)
This is a ticketed event and will take place at All Saints Church at 132 N Euclid Ave, Pasadena. If there are any questions please call Vroman’s at (626) 449-5320 or visit us at www.vromansbookstore.com.

Tickets now available at Eventbrite: $31.50 (includes tax), includes one ticket plus one copy of The Thirst: A Harry Hole Novel

Hope to see a lot of you out at these awesome events!


An Interview with Author, Lilliam Rivera!

by Jessica on April 3, 2017

On April 5 at 6:30pm, we are hosting Lilliam Rivera in conversation with Cecil Castellucci, in celebration of her new book, The Education of Margot Sanchez! We were able to ask Lilliam a few questions in anticipation for her event. But first, a little background on Lilliam.

Lilliam is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion alumni with a Leonard Pung Memorial Scholarship. She has been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation. Her short story “Death Defiant Bomba” received honorable mention in Bellevue Literary Review’s 2014 Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, selected by author Nathan Englander. Lilliam was also a finalist for AWP’s 2014 WC&C Scholarship Competition.

Lilliam’s work has appeared in Tin House, Tahoma Literary Review, Los Angeles Times, Latina, USA Today, Cosmo for Latinas, Sundog Lit, Midnight Breakfast, Bellevue Literary Review, The Rumpus.net, and Los Angeles Review of Books.

And now onto the interview…

The Education of Margot Sanchez is your first novel (Congratulations!) and has been described as “Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx.” It tackles themes like race, class, privilege, culture and identity. Where did the inspiration for this novel come from?
Although the novel is not autobiographical, I was inspired by my first summer job where I worked with my father. My father was a nurses’ aid at a private hospital in New York. Up to that point, my father could do no wrong. He was the man of the house and made all the decisions, but here he was at this job being told what to do. It was a really humbling and eye-opening moment for me. I wanted to capture that moment when you really see her parents as people with desires and flaws for the first time.

Your novel is YA (Young Adult) and is geared towards teens. What attracted you to that audience as opposed to adults?
Like so many teenagers, I grew up reading The Outsiders and all of the Judy Blume books. Those novels shaped my childhood but I’ve always wished that there were books about the Latinx experience. I knew that if I ever had the courage to write a novel that it would be geared towards young people.

There is a growing call to action regarding including more representation of diverse voices, identities and cultures, in literature, television, and movies, so that people around the world see themselves reflected in mainstream culture. Was this something that was important to you while writing Margot’s story, and how have your readers responded?
This recently happened to me at a school visit in East Los Angeles. I asked the high school students if they could name a Latinx actor. They couldn’t. One student said Sofia Vergara. Another student said Gina Rodriguez. But they were stumped at figuring out a Latino actor. There’s still so much work to be done. I want bookshelves to be filled with many diverse books just like I want all types of media to reflect the world we live in. There is no set Latinx voice. We are so different and I can’t wait for young people to have that option.

You’ve mentioned before on your blog that author Matt de la Pena’s novel Mexican Whiteboy was a big influence on you when you were writing your novel. Can you talk a little bit about why?
When I first read Matt de la Peña’s novel I knew I found a voice I could relate to although he was writing a contemporary story set in California. His writing tackles issues of class and race with such nuance and heart. I aspire to do the same.

Are there any other authors/books/writings that have influenced your work?
There are so many authors that have inspired me, from the legends (Sandra Cisneros, Toni Morrison, Mary Shelley) to current authors (Victor LaValle, Junot Diaz, Meg Medina). I’m always excited to add a new author to my list of writers I love.

You host a monthly literary radio show called “Literary Soundtrack” on RadioSombra.org. Can you tell us about that experience and how that got started?
Radio Sombra is a community-run radio station out of East Los Angeles. When the collective asked me if I was interested in hosting a radio show, I knew I wanted to interview authors about their craft. There are so few outlets that cover literature and I wanted to do so with the focus being on featuring only authors of color. It’s been so great doing it! I get to speak to writers I admire like Mat Johnson, Laila Lalami, and Ana Castillo, to name a few.

What’s next for you? Are you working on anything currently?
I’m currently finishing up another young adult novel that will be out from Simon & Schuster, hopefully, sometime next year. The young adult book is tentatively titled Dealing With Dreams and it is set in a near-future Bronx where girl gangs rule the streets. It explores the notion of violence, finding a home, and the power of sisters.

When you write, do you use a computer or pen and paper?
I use my lovely laptop.

Are you a Pantser or Planner?
I plan out my novels with a rough outline that I eventually ignore.

What is something you absolutely must have while writing?
I must have my steaming cup of mint tea.


There’s A New Burger in Town!

by Jessica on March 31, 2017


Burgers. What’s not to love about them? They’re pretty perfect for any lunch or dinner meal. Easy but oh so good. Well, as of March 1 we’ve got a new(ish) burger joint in town. The Stand isn’t necessarily new in Los Angeles, as this is their sixth location opening since 2003, but it’s new to Pasadena.

Some staff around Vroman’s were a little sad to see TLT close its doors but are still excited about its replacement. The Stand serves made-to-order original burgers, grilled chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, sausages and entree salads. You can choose from over twenty-five Stand-made toppings for the sausages or hotdogs, too!

A few of us headed over to the Stand to test it out. We went at prime lunchtime – 1:00pm and though the place was relatively busy we didn’t wait very long at all for our burgers. I can only speak for the burgers but man were they good!

We all tried different burgers and ended up with a Standburger with feta cheese (the house burger but you can pick from a few different cheeses to add, an ABC burger (Avocado, Bacon, Cheddar, Ranch Dressing, Lettuce and Tomato) and The French Onion Soup burger. All three burgers were fantastic. Though we all said it was too much food it didn’t stop us from finishing each burger. We split a side of fries and that was a very wise decision. Nothing like a good burger and fries to break up your day!

The Standburger with feta cheese.

The menu has such a good variety you’ll definitely have to go back multiple times to try something new. Or as Anne, our Visual Merchandising Manager, had done three times already just stick with what’s good and for her that’s the French Onion Soup Burger.

The Stand is open at 36 South El Molino Avenue. It’s a perfect place to grab a bite after doing some heavy book browsing through our stacks!

Visit www.thestandlink.com for more information and to see the full menu

Reading Without Walls Challenge!

by Jessica on March 29, 2017

We are so excited to be participating in the Reading Without Walls Program here at Vroman’s!

What is Reading Without Walls? 
National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Gene Luen Yang calls us all to READ WITHOUT WALLS, exploring books about characters who look or live differently than you, topics you haven’t discovered, or formats that you haven’t tried.

READING WITHOUT WALLS will promote diversity and open readers’ eyes to new ideas and experiences. In this divided time in our nation’s history, READING WITHOUT WALLS is an inclusive way to spread appreciation and understanding for others — and to learn new and exciting things.

Over here at Vroman’s, we are celebrating with an event on Tuesday, April 4th at 6pm with author LeUyen Pham. She will speak about the Reading Without Walls initiative as well as present and sign her book, The Bear Who Wasn’t There which takes readers on a hilarious search for the missing title character.

Ashlee, the manager in our Children’s Department, put together a spectacular display with some great titles to explore. She also had these things to say about the initiative itself.

The Reading Without Walls Program is a great way for kids to branch out of their reading comfort zone while being a part of the bigger picture. I love this challenge so much for a couple of reasons; first it not only promotes empathy and awareness but it’s genuinely a great way for kids to learn about other people, cultures, places, and to experience the different ways stories can be delivered. Second it’s a great conversation starter among classrooms, families, book groups, and friends. Lastly, it’s a challenge that is completely customizable, every comfort zone looks different and branching out can be small steps or can be diving right
into the unknown.”

A couple of my favorite books we have on display are The Journey by Francesca Sanna which is a picture book for ages 5-8 about what a refugee family might experience while trying to escape a war and flee to safer places.

Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres which is a novel for ages 8-12 about realizing the importance of family, friends, and how not to take for granted experiences in our lives that others may not relate to, like the family’s taco truck business.

Hidden by Loic Dauvillier, a graphic novel for ages 6-13, which describes the Holocaust as experienced by a young Jewish girl in Paris who was hidden by neighbors and friends throughout the war.

These three stories open you up to the very real lives people have lived, currently live, and in some cases will continue to live. They open our eyes, our minds, and our hearts and any books that do that should be treasured and celebrated.”

So…Up for the Challenge?

Anyone can participate in reading without walls — teachers, librarians, book-sellers, and readers. Just find something new and different to read — and let books open up the world around you.

Let us know what you’ve chosen to read outside of your walls!
Happy Reading!

Art Around Pasadena in the Coming Months!

by Jessica on March 27, 2017

You’re likely to find interesting art anywhere you look in Pasadena. From wall murals to the electrical boxes on the street corners. However, there are a few festivals and exhibits coming up over the next few months that are worth jotting down on your calendars!


The Art of Getting There: Railroad Inspired Artistry
March 29 through August 13, 2017

Ever since the debut of railroads, whether for passenger or freight service, so many people have been “romanced by the rails.” Curators Michael Patris and Steve Crise of the Mount Lowe Preservation Society will celebrate the history and beauty of railroads and trains through this exhibit of railroad art.

The Art of Getting There: Railroad Inspired Artistry features paintings, photography, carvings and sculptures that celebrate the technical innovation and artistry of railroads. In addition, there will be several unique artworks from private collections from the nineteenth century to contemporary art.

This exhibit is going to be featured at the Pasadena Museum of History. The hours for this exhibit are Wednesdays through Sundays from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. The Museum is closed on all major holidays and the schedule could be affected by Rose Bowl events. Make sure to check their calendar!

This exhibit requires tickets. Tickets are: $7 General; $6 Students & Seniors; Members receive free admission for 2 & Children under 12 are free. For more Museum information visit the official website HERE.

Vroman’s Art on the Stairwell
featuring Shelley Couvillion
Currently on Exhibit:
Girls Can Be Heroes Too – Feminist Fairtytales

These pieces are a force to be reckoned with! Next time you’re in the area make sure to stop in to check out our newest Artist on the Stairwell.

Growing up in Southern California, Shelley Couvillion’s interest in the relationship between words and pictures started young. Shelley loved to listen to her mother read books aloud about all manner of things, from the Seals of Antarctica to The Little House on the Prairie. Shelley has always struggled with two seemingly opposing pulls in her life. Wanting to be the character with the sword, and wanting to be someone’s mom. Now that she is a mom, she’s decided there’s nothing wrong with being both and wants her daughter to grow up in a culture where being kick-butt and a girl aren’t mutually exclusive.

While still in high school, Shelley drew her way into the Santa Ana Community College Art Department. While there she received the Art Department Award for Sculpture, Excellence Award for Sculpture, Art Promotion League Award for Life Drawing,and the Fred and Barbara Meiers Memorial Award for Painting.  Shelley has since joined The Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles and begun showing her work in the local galleries, at comic conventions and pursuing work as a children’s illustrator for books and magazines. She also drew 83 pages of a web comic titled House On Writer’s Block. You can find some of her recent work on the cover of local author Robin Puelma’s books The Missing Crimoire and The Naming of Colton Black.

Her work is inquisitive, layered and often described as enchanting. Her characters create a sense of joy while her environments inspire a sense of wonder. The use of watercolor in her work tends to depict a soft and inviting quality. Making her work easy to fall into and exciting to explore. Though she feels it’s less of a struggle to relinquish control in her daily life, she is compelled to construct every line, petal and cheek with utmost care. Recently she’s started to work in gouache which plays to her strength of control. But she also sees the benefit of a more relaxed brush and hopes to continue incorporating those movements into her work. Shelley plans to continue to strengthen her visual storytelling abilities and looks forward to illustrating for children’s magazines such as Cricket, Muse and Illustroia, while also pursuing opportunities to illustrate children’s books.

You can find her online at ShelleyCouvillion.com or on Instagram @Shelley_Illustration

Pasadena Chalk Festival
June 17 & 18th (Father’s Day Weekend!) 

Art in the Street: 25 Years of the Pasadena Chalk FestivalYou HAVE to see these artists in person to really get a feel of the work they do. The Pasadena Chalk Festival has become one of the area’s most sought out arts attractions. The Festival had a humble beginning in front of City Hall in 1993. Over the last 24 years, it has blossomed into an amazing two-day festival with about 600 artists outside the Civic Center.

This specific type of art also crosses into the realm of performance art as you can catch the artists working on their pieces as you’re strolling around the grounds.

Not only will you get to see great art pieces and witness the magic being creating but there are a bunch of different areas to spend the day checking out. There will be live music and entertainment all day on the Main Stage. A Kids Chalkland area where kids can create Father’s Day Cards and get FREE face paintings done from 12pm-5pm. If you’re starting to get hungry there are plenty of shops and restaurants all around the Paseo Colorado to help you make a day of it!

For more information or to find out more about what the festival has to offer visit the official website HERE.

Let us know if there are anymore exciting art exhibits you are looking forward to over
the next few months!



Announcing Our 2017 Bookmark Contest Winners!

by Jessica on March 17, 2017

For the past 25 years, we have held a Bookmark Contest for the students in our community. We have two categories of competition. A K-3rd group and a 4th-6th grade group. We encourage students to design a bookmark that represents the themes of books and reading. We choose one bookmark from each category and the winning artists each receive a $50 Vroman’s gift card as well as 50 bookmarks to hand out to friends and family and enough bookmarks for their teacher and classmates! We also display and hand out these bookmarks in our Children’s Department through the remainder of the year until the next contest winners are announced.

We are happy to announce this years two winning artists today!

K-3rd grade group:

Bookmark Designed by Pushkal
7 years old, 2nd grade

4th-6th grade group:

Bookmark Designed by Katie
9 years old, 4th grade

This is such a wonderful Vroman’s tradition
that we look forward to every year.
Keep your eyes peeled for the 2018 Bookmark Contest!