Book Clubs at The Last Bookstore
  Book Reviews    February 18, 2018     Eric Larkin

A book club can easily degenerate into a gossipy “dog’s breakfast” of a hangout.

Even worse, you might show up, and you’re the only one who bothered to read the book – which maybe you didn’t even want to read in the first place, but you forced yourself, because YOU take the club seriously and apparently no one else does.

A book club can really suck. And book clubs in LA, well, let’s be honest: we’re known for  our rhetorical RSVPs.

We aim to skirt all those pitfalls and provide you, dear reader, with the best book clubs in LA.

These are ticketed events. For the price of your ticket, you get:

  1. the book
  2. a cool moderator  (an author, professor, expert, etc.) who will encourage discussion and keep the thing on-track.
  3. a one-of-a-kind location… here, right in our dedicated book club nook, in the heart of the labyrinth — not your pal Steve’s skanky studio.
  4. snacks and bevs – (Good ones from TJ’s – not stale Nilla Wafers and half a liter of flat Kirkland Diet Kola Beverage from the back of Steve’s busted fridge.)
  5. zero commitment:  say, this month you love the book choice, but next month you don’t – well, just skip next month. NBD, other than that we’ll miss all your brilliant insights.

 

We have an ever-revolving set of clubs, a genre (or two) for everyone – always new ones in the works, always re-working the classics. In December, we have 8 book clubs:

 

December 3rd, we launch our brand new QUEER BOOK CLUB!!

Led by Lambda finalist CB Lee, we read & discuss Queer authors, books, and topics across genres (mostly fiction). If you’re tired of book clubs that don’t actually talk about the book, then you just found what you’re looking for. Come for community with serious readers; stay for serious snacks & bevs.

For our December debut, we are reading Claudie Arseneault’s Baker Thief. During the course of this urban fantasy adventure, a variety of relationships, from family to aromantic, are explored, including that most unlikely of pairings: police officer and jewel thief.  TIX and more details HERE.

 

 

Everyone loves a good apocalypse, and especially the desperate scramble for survival that follows and/or soul-crushing despotic regime that helpfully stands between you and everything good about being a human: yay dystopia! We prepare for The End with our We’re All Gonna Die! Dystopian Book Club with NYT Best-selling author Peter Clines.

In December, we read The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi. In the American Southwest, violent mini-despots control what little water is left, and life for all but the extremely powerful is a desparate affair. Can an assassin, a journalist, and a migrant find a fabled water supply and overturn the power structure? TIX and more details HERE.

 

 

 

Only a fool dismisses horror as a genre. What better focus for literature than humans facing the terrifying unknown? Kathryn E. McGee leads our horror book club The Thing in the Labyrinth.  This club meets after hours, in the middle of the labyrinth, by (electric) candle (chandelier) light. BYOVampireFightingGear.

On a shorter schedule for the holidays, we’re reading a novella in December: Stephen Graham Jones’ universally lauded Mapping the Interior. This story follows a Native American boy’s discovery of his family’s mysterious history through visions of his father’s spectre in his labyrinthine house. (If you haven’t been reading Stephen Graham Jones on the reg, you’re not as much of a horror fan as you thought you were.)  TIX and more details HERE.

 

 

 

Este club de lectura lee ficción en español. Aquí está tu oportunidad de leer grandes escritores contemporáneos en su lengua materna. Ya sea que lea en español todo el tiempo o esté buscando mejorar su español, este club es para usted. El precio de este grupo de discusión incluye una nueva copia del libro, un moderador dedicado, piscolabis y bebidas, y se reúne aquí en The Last Bookstore el segundo lunes de cada mes. La discusión será tanto en inglés como en español.

In Ficción en Español, we read the best contemporary authors in their native language, from all over the Spanish-speaking world. Discussion is in both English & Spanish — led by local author Dan Lopez. TIX and more details HERE.

 

For December: Paris-Austerlitz was Rafael Chirbes last novel. It is the story of a relationship between a working class Frenchman and a young Spanish painter and the shifting strains of passion, class, and ambition. It’s a slim volume, but it took him 20 years to write it.

 

 

 

 

 

Are there any other AfroFuturism book clubs in LA? Anywhere? Maybe not. We got one.

AfroFuturism is vast. In this club, we focus on new fiction, led by Tyree Boyd-Pates, professor and curator at the California African American Museum.

For December, we are reading Lambda Literary Award finalist An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon, a novel rich with marginalized characters. 300 years into its journey, a racially stratified “generation ship” careens through space towards a forgotten destination. A couple of renegades from the lower decks may have found the secret to altering the slave ship’s fate… or escaping it. TIX and more details HERE.

 

 

True Crime fans are the true underground readers: you talk about your guilty pleasure in hushed tones, but you know what? Everyone else in the room as the same book tucked in their bag or on their nightstand. It’s okay: you can come out of the shadows. Especially in True Crime Tuesdays, led by journalist and author James T. Bartlett.

 

There’s nothing like wheeling a dead body around in a baby carriage – as one does, having just murdered a person. The Hampstead murders don’t get the attention they deserve, for their connections to the more famous ones over in Whitechapel. Join us for Sarah Beth Hopton’s Woman at the Devil’s Door.  TIX and more details HERE.

 

 

 

 

 

Gothic is a genre that floats in and out of many genres, and it can be both old and new. Like a ghost, it might even disappear if you stare at it…. safest to avert your gaze a bit. The Gothic Book Club is led by Horror Writers Association VP and author John Palisano and meets after hours, just like our horror book club.

Last month, at the end of the meeting, we fell into a quandry: is Charles Dickens gothic? Well, there might not be one definitive answer, so we will do what book clubs do: read and discuss. In The Haunted House, Charles Dickens assembles his crew – amongst them no less than Elizabeth Gaskell and Wilkie Collins – for a jaunt into the supernatural. He poses the question on Christmas Eve: “Is this house haunted?” and off they go with 8 stories unraveling a question many of us have asked ourselves at one time or another.

TIX and more details HERE.

 

 

Feminist Book Club, led by Rare Bird Books’ Julia Callahan, reads intersectionally across genres.  It’s a good place to re-charge, especially during the holidays.

 

 

Michelle Obama’s Becoming is our December book. From her childhood in Chicago to Princeton, from her law career to her time developing young leaders for public service – this memoir covers all of that – not to mention her relationship with the man to whom she would one day say, “Yes, ok, you can run for President”. She is one-of-a-kind, so this is the rarest of looks into the heart of a profound moment in the American story.  TIX and more details HERE.

 

 

 

 

And to look forward to?  Spiritual Classics is coming this Spring. A graphic novel book club is in the works. And faster than Phineas Fogg circumnavigating the globe, the return of mighty Victorian Literary Parlour! In January! Or maybe February! …dunno yet, gotta talk to our moderator…

These aren’t last minute events. Do that totally un-L.A. thing, and get yer tix early, so you have time to read the book, eh? 

 

 

 

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