The Reading List: February ’11

Every month compiles titles of local interest that are hitting the bookshelves. Here are some highlights

American Idol: The Untold Story
(Hyperion, hardcover, $25)
By Richard Rushfield
For Idol-izing fans — the former L.A. Times reporter chronicles the show’s history (such as the evolution of “Mr. Nasty,” Simon Cowell) as well as its biggest scandals (like the Jennifer Hudson incident) and behind-the-scenes manipulations (re-shooting “candid” moments with scripted dialogue).
Out: Feb. 1


Dead Reckoning
(Pinnacle Books/Kensington, paperback, $7)
By Caitlin Rother
Thomas and Jackie Hawks were a happily retired couple looking to sell their yacht, The Well Deserved, in Newport Beach. Skylar Deleon was a former child actor living in Long Beach, and he claimed to be an interested buyer. Instead, on a trial voyage, Deleon and accomplices forced the Hawkses to sign over everything to Deleon and then they tied the couple to an anchor and threw them overboard. The shocking tale gets even more sordid – Deleon wanted the money for a sex-change operation and his pregnant wife, Jennifer, was in on the plan.
Out: Feb. 1


The Naked Mom: A Modern Mom’s Fearless Revelations, Savvy Advice and Soulful Reflections
(New American Library, hardcover, $26)
By Brooke Burke
The busy co-host of “Dancing with the Stars” and mother of four reveals some of her struggles (libido swings and sharing custody with her ex), and offers tips for looking and feeling good, becoming self-aware (rather than selfless), and connecting with your sexy side.
Out: Feb. 1


Shortcut Man
(Scribner, hardcover, $24)
By p.g. sturges
The son of the legendary film director, Preston Sturges, has whipped up a snappy, hardboiled detective that clips the L.A. noir genre dead-on. Our hero, a former cop turned sometime collection man, tools around Laurel Canyon in a ’69 caddy and finds himself in a tight spot with an irresistible femme fatale.
Out: Feb. 1


Tough Without a Gun: The Life and Extraordinary Afterlife of Humphrey Bogart
(Knopf, hardcover, $27)
By Stefan Kanfer
Bogie’s Hollywood star was brief but brilliant, and his iconic aspects (particularly his cool way with women) continue to influence and captivate.
Out: Feb. 1


When the Killing’s Done
(Viking, hardcover, $27)
By T.C. Boyle
In the PEN/Faulkner award-winner’s new novel, a biologist on the Channel Islands is endeavoring to save the native creatures from invasive species while a dreadlocked local animal rights extremist and his folksinger lover attempt to sabotage the scientist’s plans.
Out: Feb. 1


The Last Greatest Magician in the World: Howard Thurston versus Houdini and the Battles of the American Wizards
(Tarcher, hardcover, $14)
By Jim Steinmeyer
Houdini may have pulled off the most daring stunts, but the era’s most beloved magician – with charismatic stage presence and grandiose productions – was a man named Howard Thurston. The L.A.-based author, a leading designer of magic illusion for television and Broadway, captures the Houdini-Thurston rivalry with drama and historical context.
Out: Feb. 3


Born Under a Lucky Moon
(Avon, paperback, $14)
By Dana Precious
The L.A. advertising executive who worked for nine years at Sony Pictures packs Hollywood insider ammo in her debut novel, in which a high-powered film executive gets a marriage proposal and must explain to her producer boyfriend why he has never met her crazy family.
Out: Feb. 8


A Discovery of Witches
(Viking, hardcover, $29)
By Deborah Harkness
Gothic mayhem abounds in the USC history professor’s novel: young scholar (and repressed witch) Diana Bishop stumbles upon a long-lost alchemical manuscript, unleashing a mob of supernatural creatures whom she must thwart along with a swoon-worthy geneticist (and vampire).
Out: Feb. 8


Fallin’ Up: My Story
(Touchstone, hardcover, $25)
By Taboo with Steve Dennis
The Grammy Award-winning singer and founding member of the Black Eyed Peas grew up on the streets of East L.A. and became a father at age 18. Here, he tells not only of the struggles of his childhood but also of the trials that fame would bring as well.
Out: Feb. 8


Living Loaded: Tales of Sex, Salvation, and the Pursuit of the Never-Ending Happy Hour
(Three Rivers Press, paperback, $15)
By Dan Dunn
Here’s a gift for your favorite frat boy’s coffee table: a memoir of the louche life from’s liquour columnist. See our full review in the Feb. issue of Los Angeles magazine.
Out: Feb. 8


Radio Shangri-La: What I learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
(Crown, hardcover, $25)
By Lisa Napoli
When the L.A.-based former NPR reporter decided to travel to Bhutan, she was in the grips of a mid-life crisis. Her chronicle of her trip not only provides a remarkable tour of the Himalayan nation (where she volunteered for a new radio project) but also yields an entertaining glimpse into the inner struggles of one determined woman.
Out: Feb. 8


Stuntman!: My Car-Crashing, Plane-Jumping, Bone-Breaking, Death-Defying Hollywood Life
(Little, Brown, and Co., hardcover, $26)
By Hal Needham
As a stuntman, he broke 56 bones and his back (twice), and as a director, he became wildly successful with films such as Smokey and the Bandit and The Cannonball Run. This autobiography is an entertaining spin through the wild life of a man who once bootlegged alcohol and also was Burt Reynold’s close friend.
Out: Feb. 9


Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty
(Harper, hardcover, $26)
By Tracey Jackson
If you’re finding that your minivan is suddenly empty and your cheeks suddenly saggy, take some tips about aging well (and with humor) from the screenwriter and blogger.
Out: Feb. 15


House of Prayer No. 2: A Writer’s Emergence from the South
(Nan A. Talese, hardcover, $24)
By Mark Richard
In this autobiography, the L.A. writer (Fishboy) tells of his Southern childhood, in which he underwent horrific “cures” for his crippling birth defects, and of the crimes of his later life.
Out: Feb. 15


Larger than Lyfe
(Strebor Books, paperback, $12)
By Cynthia Diane Thornton
A powerful female record label owner is also a powerful gangster in this second novel by the author who splits her time between L.A. and Memphis.
Out: Feb. 15


Undisputed: How to Become the World Champion in 1,372 Easy Steps
(Grand Central Publishing, hardcover, $28)
By Chris Jericho and  Peter Thomas Fornatale
In the popular A Lion’s Tale (2007), the author told the story of fighting his way through Mexico and making it in the WWE; in this follow-up, Jericho (who lives part-time in L.A.) details his years battling (both in and out of the ring) with a colorful cast of WWE characters.
Out: Feb. 16