The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
Ray Chandler’s novel takes the reader into the underworld of LA’s underworld through the eyes of private investigator, Phillip Marlowe, during the 30’s. The novel eventually became a feature film on the big screen in 1946 and again in 1978. Heralded as a classic in the “Film Noir” genre, The Big Sleep is a great look into the past of a very famous city!
The Last Tycoon – F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald describes a Hollywood director’s life as he slowly works himself to death in the 1920s. It is an “unfinished” novel, due to the author’s death in 1940. It became a motion picture starring Robert Deniro and Tony Curtis in 1976.
The Concrete Blonde – Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly writes about Harry Bosch, a police detective in LA, as he travels throughout the city visiting major landmarks fighting crime. This is one of many mysteries by the author.
A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption, and L.A.’s Scandalous Coming of Age – Richard Rayner
The author, Richard Rayner, talks about LA being the fastest growing city on the world. He goes into depth about organized crime, celebrity scandal, and follows the lives of two men who are involved in crimes, murders, and other schemes. The novel is a deep look into the city known for sunshine and bright lights can turn dark and sullen. The author, Richard Rayner, has written for The New Yorker, LA Times, and others. Many revere this book as a great read.
History – Non Fiction
Bohemian Los Angeles by Daniel Hurewitz
Hurewitz book is a well written history of 20th century Los Angeles bohemian life and the almost forgotten stories of artists, left of center activists, and gay men and women. It is here in Edendale, near to Downtown LA, that the nations outsiders made the personal political and the first gay rights movement was born. For an alternative history to LA pulp and Hollywood, Hurewitz’s history book is thrilling reading.
Los Angeles Then & Now by Rosemary Lord
Los Angeles Then & Now matches 70 historic images with 70 specially commissioned photographs of contemporary LA. The contrast is quite startling from the literally dusty streets and shacks of LA Brea to the studio metropolis, billboard crazy and car loving 21st century city. Lord’s colorful tomb not only provides a sneak peak at Hollywood’s golden age and 19th century Spanish and Native American architectural influences, but it reminds us that in much less than a century, California rose from the dust to the glitzy metropolis it is now.
Inventing L.A.: The Chandlers and Their Times (Angel City Press)
Bill Boyarsky writes about a family that was in charge of the Los Angeles Times during the 20th Century. The book got great reviews and was nominated for a Southern California Independent Bookseller’s Award. The book also was met with a documentary on PBS, telling the story of the family’s ambition and struggles.
History – Literary
Writing Los Angeles: A Literary Anthology by David L. Ulin
For the definitive literary guide of Los Angeles, this literary anthology has excerpts from fiction, non-fiction, essays and poetry from some of the world’s greatest authors. The LA of 19th and 20th century is represented from all angles and covers diverse literary styles from authors such as, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, Joan Didion, Normal Mailer, William Faulkner, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Berolt Brecht.
Los Angeles: Portrait of a City – (Taschen)
This book has become a “must have” for many Los Angeles residents and newcomers, alike. Many years were taken to make this 500 page pictorial history of the city of LA. This collection of powerful images can be seen as a tribute to the aura and mystique that is Los Angeles. With a price tag of around $70, it is no secret why it holds a big fare when you see the history captured by the author in this photographical tribute to the city of angels. Jim Heimann, the editor, worked with others to compile the most compelling photos in this work and match them with wonderful context.
Los Angeles in Maps – Glen Creason
This book was compiled with by Glen Creason, a map librarian at the Los Angeles Public Library. He brings together some of the most detailed maps of the Los Angeles area from its rail system to the original layout of streets in the city before and after restoration. This book is a must have for those seeking a little more history on the city’s layout, past and present.
Non-Fiction – Practical
Walking L.A.: 36 Walking Tours Exploring Stairways, Streets and Buildings You Never Knew Existed by Erin Mahony
Contrary to popular belief, there are areas in Los Angles car loving city where walking is not only acceptable but positively encouraged. Erin Mahony has put together a colorful guide of 38 walking tours that will drag you out of your car but won’t exhaust you. The variety of walking tours will take you round peaceful residential neighborhoods where you will find architectural gems or through valleys and across hills for the ultimate view of LA’s downtown smog. Mahony’s book is possibly the best workout guide on the shelf.
An Architectural Guidebook to Los Angeles by Robert Winter and David Gebhard
Guidebooks in Los Angeles, even ones about architecture, can’t help but have ties with Hollywood. And so it is with Winter and Gebhard’s book on LA’s transformation from dusty streets to vast freeways and home to some of the best and most famous modern architecture in the world. Los Angeles has always been a miss-match of ideas and none is more apparent in the city’s architecture. All 20th and 21st century movements are represented, from Art Deco to Spanish Colonial. This book is recognized as an architect’s bible and its must-have guide as a companion to Walking L.A.
EAT, Los Angeles: The Food Lover’s Guide to Los Angeles by Colleen Dunn Bates
Colleen Dunn Bates thoroughly researched guide to eating in LA covers all areas from Burbank to Downtown, and the best of the city’s chow downs, from bakeries to fine dining restaurants. LA is home to scores of cuisines and EAT has them all covered with brief descriptions and comments included. This popular guide is now in its third edition.
Vintage L.A. Eats, Boutiques, Décor, Landmarks, Markets & More by Jennifer Brandt Taylor
Jennifer Brandt Taylor is an expert on everything vintage in LA. Her detailed book showcases the vintage world obsessed with Hollywood fame and glamour. Taylor takes us on a tour of well known sites such as the Beverly Hills Hotel and the Chateau Marmont, as well as an insiders sneak peak of boutique shops, LA’s vintage collectors, and the best places in the city to watch classic films and drink classic cocktails.