Books acquired: “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story,” Sean Howe; “Dreams and Schemes,” Steve Lopez; “The Ecstasy of Influence,” Jonathan Lethem; “The Wonderful World of Robert Sheckley,” Robert Sheckley; “The Day After Tomorrow,” Robert A. Heinlein; “Los Angeles, the Architecture of Four Ecologies,” Rayner Banham; “The Winner of the Slow Bicycle Race,” Paul Krassner.
Books read: “My L.A.,” Matt Weinstock; “Orange County,” Gustavo Arellano; “Farewell to Manzanar,” Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James Houston; “Translating L.A.,” Peter Theroux; “This is Claremont,” Harold Davis, editor; “Ancient L.A.,” Michael Rochlin.
For yours truly, November was a month of California books. In the order presented above, my choices were a 1947 book of lore and facts about L.A. by a famous newspaper columnist of the day; a history of Orange County combined with a family history by the OC Weekly editor and “Ask a Mexican!” columnist; a famous memoir of the Japanese-American internment camp experience; an exploration of L.A. as it stood in the 1980s and early 1990s; a 1947 history of Claremont, then a mere 60 years from its founding; and a collection of three essays about aspects of L.A.’s past that influence its present.
I liked all the above, but my favorite was Theroux’s. He wrote “Translating L.A.” in 1994 as a transplant to LA who had lived through the riots and two major earthquakes and felt his adopted city was misunderstood and caricatured. He ranged throughout L.A., including Watts, East LA and the Inland Empire, to report on what he saw and ponder what it meant. Open-minded, slyly funny, perceptive. He even rode Metrolink from Union Station to Riverside for the final chapter, further endearing his book to me.
How did the books fall into my hands? “My L.A.” came from Magic Door Books in Pomona (I think I bought it on my first visit), “Orange County” from the remainder bin at Montclair’s Borders, “Translating LA” from (I think) Brand Books in Glendale, “Farewell to Manzanar” from the Rancho Cucamonga Library’s Big Read earlier this year, “This is Claremont” from the Antique Gallery in Pomona and “Ancient L.A.” from Half Off Books in Whittier. All were obtained in the past five years or so.
For a change of pace, for the photo I laid out the books in my laundry room. I have a small bookcase there too.
These six bring my total to 77 books read for the year. (As I bought seven this month, I didn’t make any headway on my backlog, but at least my backlog is slowly being refreshed.) My plan is to read a leisurely three in December, to top off at 80 for 2012. Although I might knock off an extra one or two.
What’s everyone else been reading, in between shopping, cooking turkey and bouts of the flu?