Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Summer Reading Suggestions from Chevalier’s Books

We’ve got more than a dozen suggestions from Chevalier’s Books for great books to read this summer.

Looking for some good books to read this summer, we stopped by Chevalier’s Books last week for some summer reading suggestions. Thanks to Chevalier’s manager Miles Parnegg, our nightstand is full! Read on for his suggestions.

“Sing Her Down” is the sixth novel by local author Ivy Pochoda, who has launched several of her books at Chevalier’s.

“Ivy describes the book as a feminist Cormac McCarthy,” explained Parnegg. “It’s a road novel that tells the story of two women who break out of prison in Arizona and come to LA.  It’s hair-raising and provocative and it’s very political. It’s a thriller but also a lot of political and topical punch.”

“Hula” by Jasmin ‘Iolani Hakes is the story of three generations of women set in Hilo, Hawaii. Parnegg admitted to not knowing much about the book, other than its setting, which for him, makes it a perfect summer recommendation.

“Stunning…an intricately built novel that spans decades, moving in and out of a collective voice, while also telling Hi’i’s deeply personal and devastating story of trying to find her way.” said the Los Angeles Times.

“The Favor” by local author, Adele Griffin, is about infertility and the challenges of starting a family at this point in history. The book takes a look at another side of having children, not the faddish gender-reveal side. It’s also a book about female friendships that’s unexpectedly funny too, said Parnegg.  (We got a chance to meet Griffin at her book launch held at her Windsor Square backyard home a few week ago.)

“Mozart in Motion, His Work And His World in Pieces” is written by poet Patrick Mackie.

“This is a book that I am really excited about,” said Parnegg. “It’s really about Patrick  Mackie’s relationship to music through different pieces by Mozart. You get a little biography, you get a little bit of a memoir and a little bit of an idiot’s intro to classical music. Which for me was awesome because I like his writing a lot but I didn’t really know much about classical music or Mozart. It’s kind of fun “dad” book and it gives you new angle into a familiar historical figure.”

“This is a mother-daughter story to end all mother-daughter stories” is how Parnegg described “Burst,” a new novel by Mary Otis, another great local writer.

“There’s a lot of complexity and there’s resentment, but they love each other. It’s the story of their relationship through time and through the daughter’s dance career. It kind of reminds me a little bit of the movie “Lady Bird,” but maybe more interesting? It’s a really, really good book that goes down easy. Delicious sentences; we love Mary!” said Parnegg.

“The Wager” is the biggest book in America right now, according to Parnegg.

“It’s a true crime book by journalist David Grann, author of the “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which was recently made into a movie by director Martin Scorsese. It’s a true story; everything is verified and historically accurate, but he writes like a novelist so there’s scenes and dialogue and there’s a ton of action.”

“The Wager” is the long-lost true story of a mutiny and a shipwreck. Grann pieces together the story of what happened to the sailors of the lost British merchant ship, who washed up on the shores of Brazil half-dead and emaciated in the 1800s, said Parnegg.

“It’s huge, dads love it, grandmas love it. If you’re flying to Dallas, they love it. It’s kind of the book of the moment.” said Parnegg.

“Daybreak at Chavez Ravine” was written by Erik Sherman, the first sports writer ever to be inducted in the baseball Hall of Fame. Sherman writes all about Fernando (Valenzuela) mania in the early ’80s and the development of the Dodgers. This is a great book for anyone who is nostalgic about baseball and loves the Dodgers, said Parnegg.

“Sherman also writes about Chavez Ravine and the displacement of the families and how Fernando Valenzuela was a complex figure because he was such an ally to that fan base, but then it was that fan base that got displaced to make the stadium. It’s a really fun baseball story but also has this broader LA history involved,” said Parnegg. (Sherman was at the book store for an event recently, so you can also get an autographed copy.)

“In Limbo” is a brand new graphic novel, explained Parnegg. “We were really lucky to have author and illustrator Deb JJ Lee in the store last month.”

“The book tells the story of a young Korean American immigrant trying to assimilate into American culture. She is in middle school and high school and struggling to be Korean at  home and American at school. It gives a fresh take on the familiar bifurcated identity of an immigrant. It’s also just beautifully illustrated and the illustrations embody the in-between-ness that the narrator feels too,” said Parnegg.

The next book is literally a picture book. “Girl Pictures” by photographer Justine Kurland is a wonderful photo book of 100 beautiful pictures of runaway girls, mostly in the Northwest mostly during summer as well, said Parnegg.

“It has this evocation of youth,” said Parnegg. “If you want a photo book that brings back memories of going to the lake as a kid or the lost freedom of being a teenager. It’s a beautiful book that has been out of print for awhile but has been reissued by Aperture.”

Here’s a lake read instead of a beach read.

“Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club” written by a local author, J. Ryan Stradal, is a drama about a family that owns a diner and the events of a dysfunctional summer at the lake, trying to keep the restaurant going.

“Stradal loves the write about food and family,” said Parnegg. “He’s someone who writes really sophisticated books that are not challenging to read. They are smart books that go down easy! That’s my favorite thing for summer because I don’t want pure trash, I want trash plus!”

“Lady Tan’s Circle of Women,” is the latest installment in New York Times bestseller author Lisa See’s set of historical novels set in China. Parnegg said he’s heard nothing but fantastic reviews. See has been in the book store several times.

“The book is very on brand, Lisa See wrote it, and it’s great,” said Parnegg.

We have to include Chevalier’s Books owner Darryl Holter’s latest book “Driving Force.” it’s  both a  photographic an factual history of car dealerships in Los Angeles in the early 20th century.

“It’s a history of Los Angeles as told through cars,” explained Parnegg. “There’s a ton of really amazing photography uncovered by Steven Gee in his archival research. It’s a car buff book and if you are a history of LA person, this one goes on the shelf.”

The Postcard” by Anne Berest is the book of the year, in terms of ‘high brow’ fiction, said Parnegg. It was originally published in France and has been recently translated to English.

“The Postcard” is the story of a woman putting together the facts of her past fifty years later by looking through postcards and letters from World War II. Though it’s a novel, there’s a strong sense of it being true. It’s a big complicated novel that’s Parnegg’s dark-horse favorite to win the Booker Prize this year.

“Zev’s Los Angeles” is basically a memoir of his time in government, but you also get great stories about his family’s immigration, and Jim Newton of the LA Times called it ‘indispensable history,’ explained Parnegg.

“It’s the story of the city of Los Angeles through the eyes of one consequential man,” said Parnegg, adding, “it’s the biggest politics book we’ve had this year.”

Saving his personal favorite for last, Parnegg recommended “She” by Michelle Latiollais, a local author who also runs the graduate writing program at UC Irvine and is a great friend of the bookstore. Her novel, “She” is the story of a young runaway from the desert who comes to Los Angeles, and the book tells the story of a day in her life and the women she meets, a cowboy, a gallerist, and through this you get a portrait of the city through the women she interacts with, said Parnegg.

“In terms of her sentences, her observation, the humor, there’s no one like Michelle,” said Parnegg. “If you like someone who is writing interesting psychological fiction. It’s a beautiful LA book that too few people have read.”

Though the book is out of print, fortunately, Parnegg managed to find a small supply of  hard cover copies.

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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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