Bookshelves from the Pasadena Antique Mall
Great Los Angeles Reads
Once you get to know me you'll find out I'm a bookworm. Here are a few of my all-time favorite books about L.A. and some of its notables...
Suicide Blonde is a fascinating read about one of film noir's most wonderful fatales: Gloria Grahame. She starred in films like Crossfire, The Big Heat, In a Lonely Place and The Bad and the Beautiful (for which she won an Oscar.) She is probably most remembered for her role as the fallen-woman-with-a-heart-of-gold Violet in It's a Wonderful Life, but her personal life was far more scandalous than anything Violet may have been accused of. (Hint: her fourth marriage was to her stepson.)
Los Angeles: Portrait of a City is my absolute favorite photographic book on LA history. Including over 500 images, the book follows Los Angeles' emergence from a desert wasteland to a flower-laden, palm-studded metropolis. Some of my favorite photos highlight the early days of Hollywood.
The book is edited by Kevin Starr, whose brilliant California histories are must-have reads for anyone interested in the inspiring, outrageous, bizarre and sometimes corrupt background of the golden state.
L.A. Noir details a city sold to the world in the mid 20th Century as a land of sunny days, fruit trees, wholesome Midwestern values and glamorous movie stars. It was protected by the most famous police force in the world. It was also a land of incredibly crooked cops, corrupt newspapers, buyable politicians and enough gangsters to fill an underworld. In this setting you'll find two competitors fighting for the soul of L.A. -- the most notorious gangster vs. the most famous police chief. (This book was the basis of the short-lived TNT crime drama Mob City.)