2014 Project: Reading L.A.


I have to say that the idea of reading books about Los Angeles with other Angelenos was not my own. The idea came to me during a free talk I attended at the Getty Center where the L.A. Times architecture critic, Christopher Hawthorne, spoke of L.A. Urbanism & Architecture often citing books from the Reading Los Angeles book club spearheaded through the newspaper. (I see that they have started the reading L.A. Series again this year, not too late to jump in, hint hint) Although that L.A. Times list influenced my choices it was people I picked up along the way who wanted to read L.A. too, that helped form the final list.

I learned a lot about L.A. during my year in reading books. It rained a lot more in Los Angeles in the 1930s and 40s, that jobs and self-less love can make a difference, and no one really knows what the Museum of Jurassic Technology is. I watched my city grow from a newly formed city in Ask the Dust to the post apocalyptic future of Ape and Essence.

Here are the books that I set out to read on January 1, 2014:

[1] White Album – Joan Didion

[2] Ask  the Dust – John Fante

[3] Ape and Essence – Aldous Huxtley

[4] The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler

[5] We Got the Neutron Bomb – Brendan Mullen*

[6] G-Dog and The Homeboys – Celeste Fremon

[7] Architecture of the Four Ecologies – Reyner Banham

[8] If He Hollers Let him Go – Chester Himes

 [9] Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder – Lawrence Weschler

 [10] Ham on Rye – Charles Bukowski

What I ended up reading was this 1, 2, 3 (did not finish) 4, added a 4b by making it a Chandler double-header with Farewell My Lovely after a great presentation of poetry noir by the Los Angeles Visionaries Association, 5, 6, 7 (still reading,) 9, and started City of Nets by Otto Friedrich.

If you think I seriously overlooked any books please let me know. If there were any that you loved or hated let me know that as well. I would love to say what I thought about all of these books, but blog posts can only be so long before you zone out. I will be switching to my facebook page and instagram for this forum. Facebook.com/thisuglybeautifulcity and @thisuglybeautifulcity

* if you love or want to learn more about the L.A. Music scene I really recommend reading Laurel Canyon then We’ve Got the Neutron Bomb for a great overview. Neutron picks up where Canyon leaves off.

3 responses to “2014 Project: Reading L.A.

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