The best books about Los Angeles 📚

Browse the best books on Los Angeles as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of The Way of Zen

The Way of Zen

By Alan Watts

Why this book?

This was one of the first books on Buddhism I ever read: I have a battered and much-scribbled-on copy beside me that dates back to 1970. Like Stephen Batchelor he has been seen as an ‘outsider’ to the Buddhist establishment – he described himself ironically as a ‘genuine fake’ – but his psychological understanding, contemporary language and his vivid turn of phrase spoke to me then, and still do now, in a way that much of the more ‘religious’ and scholastic writings never have. For example, he points out that in a sea wave, the actual water isn’t going anywhere;…

From the list:

The best books on Buddhism that get to the heart of the matter

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Book cover of On Film-Making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director

On Film-Making: An Introduction to the Craft of the Director

By Alexander Mackendrick

Why this book?

Another book focusing on the medium of film, but again the lessons to be learned about good storytelling are universal. Alexander ‘Sandy’ Mackendrick directed such classic Ealing comedies as The Man in the White Suit and The Ladykillers, also the Hollywood masterpiece, Sweet Smell of Success. After retiring from filmmaking in 1969, he spent nearly 25 years as a professor at CalArts in Los Angeles where he helped students to write better stories and communicate them effectively through the craft of filmmaking.

This book is compiled from Mackendrick's legacy of masterly handouts and lectures. One section I found…

From the list:

The best books on storytelling and what makes great stories great

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Book cover of The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)

By Amy Spalding

Why this book?

Spalding’s book is such a fun read! It focuses on white blog writer and fashionista, Abby, who also happens to be plus-sized and wins the opportunity of a lifetime at her favorite local boutique. It’s there that she meets fellow intern and photographer Jordi Perez, a Latinx teen who makes that Los Angeles summer so much more romantic, creative, and sweeter. Add in Abby’s surprising bro-bestie Jax for some hamburger adventures and be prepared to swoon (and get hungry!) all around. It’s a great story of love and art, art and love, and how two creative spirits learn to intertwine…

From the list:

The best YA fiction on art, creativity, and chasing your dreams

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Book cover of How to Be a Movie Star

How to Be a Movie Star

By TJ Klune

Why this book?

Finally, a story that’s M/M and has an asexual character. It isn’t easy to write ace M/M protagonists. For obvious reasons, some of the tropes are excluded. However, TJ Klune gets around this, perhaps because the man who wants to be a movie star, Josiah (Josy) Erickson, is probably demisexual and demiromantic. That is, sex and romance aren’t impossible for Josy, but he needs a lengthy emotional connection with another man before he desires either. The story is funny, charming, touching, and validates people who don’t see enough of themselves in print. 

From the list:

The best M/M books for asexuals

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Book cover of The Idea of You

The Idea of You

By Robinne Lee

Why this book?

I will never write an age-gap, rock star romance because the perfect one has already been written. The Idea of You is lush, elegant, and decadent; like a ten-course meal you don’t want to stop eating. But it’s the ending that pushes this book out of the norm, fearlessly and honestly. You close the last page having to pay the bill for that lavish meal but fully satisfied, because good things can’t last forever. I believe what serves the story should always come first and admire an author who bucks convention and keeps to her convictions. This novel is a…

From the list:

The best romance books whose authors go outside the box

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Book cover of Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World

Art Matters: Because Your Imagination Can Change the World

By Chris Riddell, Neil Gaiman

Why this book?

Gaiman is always wonderfully positive on the subjects of experimentation, failure, and persistence, and with advice such as “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” This inspiring book is made even better by the accompanying four-color artwork from his longtime illustrator, Chris Riddell.

From the list:

The best books to inspire beginning writers

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