Six Must-Read Books to Finish Out the Summer


The Best of L.A.

theessentials_masa_tCopycat: And a Litter of Other Cats
(Akashic Books)
By David Yow
In this, the age of Grumpy Cat, the L.A. artist and musician’s unique cat portraits—each of which is based on a pun (“Catatonic,” for example, shows an inebriated feline perched precariously in front of an alcoholic beverage)—is this generation’s perfect coffee table book.

theessentials_masa_tForest of Fortune
(Tyrus Books)
By Jim Ruland
An alcoholic, an epileptic, and a gambling addict walk into a casino. It sounds like the start of a bad joke, but in local author Ruland’s Fortune, it’s a sad-sounding reality. The three men stumble into Thunderclap Casino hoping to turn their luck around, but instead they are unexpectedly forced to face their torturous addictions and haunted pasts.

theessentials_masa_tHope For Film: From the Frontlines of the Independent Cinema Revolutions
(Soft Skull Press)
By Ted Hope with Anthony Kaufman
Step into the indie film industry with one of the business’s most notable producers. Hope and Kaufman trace the rise and fall and rise of independent cinema, from its boom in the 1990s to its momentary collapse in the early aughts to its current revitalization.


The Best of the Rest

theessentials_masa_tBad Feminist
(Harper Perrennial)
By Roxane Gay
Novelist and critic Gay follows up her May 2014 novel, An Untamed State, with this collection of essays that boldly confront identity politics. In the titular piece she calls herself a “bad feminist” for liking the color pink and reading Vogue, but through commentaries on topics ranging from abortion to Chris Brown, it’s clear that she’s anything but.

theessentials_masa_tColorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
By Haruki Murakami
This long-awaited release from the popular Japanese author—whose global acclaim is becoming more and more prevalent—follows a drifting engineer named Tsukuru who, in his youth, was mysteriously dumped by his group of friends. The turn of events and lack of explanation left him suspended in uncertainty, and he has never quite gotten over it. Prompted by a new girlfriend, Tsukuru decides to find his old quartet and determine what really happened.

theessentials_masa_tYour Face in Mine
By Jess Row
When a black man calls out to Kelly Thorndike on the streets of Baltimore, he is unclear as to why—he doesn’t recognize the man at all. It isn’t until the man identifies himself as Martin, one of Kelly’s best friends from high school, that Kelly goes into shock: in their youth, Martin was skinny, white, and Jewish. Martin explains that he has had racial-reassignment surgery and enlists Kelly to help him tell the world about the procedure. Kelly agrees, but things quickly take a turn for the worse.