Book Club: Breaking the Rules to the Bestseller List


Hello and welcome to the LA Times Book Club newsletter.

Silvia Moreno Garcia heard the same advice over and over again when she started writing books: stick to your genre. Stay in your lane. Don’t mess with success.

She thanked everyone for all that safe expert advice, then completely ignored it — and jumped straight to the bestseller list, doing it her own way.

Going from fantasy to mystery, sci-fi, horror and noir, often mixing multiple styles at once, helps Moreno-Garcia find a new direction each time.

“There’s also the fact that some of the authors I’ve most admired have shown agility and fluidity,” Moreno-Garcia writes in a new essay for The Times. “Walter Tevis wrote the chess drama “The Queen’s Gambit”, but also the science fiction novel “The Man Who Fell to Earth” and “The Hustler”, about a pool player wishing to break into the major leagues. Joyce Carol Oates’ a prodigious production, which runs the gamut from family drama to horror, also caught my imagination.

“Growing up, it thrilled me when I found a writer who seemed to escape classification, be it a British writer Tanith Lee or Mexican novelist Sergio Galindo.”

Moreno-Garcia blurs the tracks more than most and gives headaches to booksellers who try to put his work aside. But also talents as diverse as Jeanne Didion (celebrated this week for her novels, memoirs, documentaries and social commentary); Roxane Gay (who is writing novels, short stories, documentaries and comics); and former book club author Luis J. Rodriguez (former Los Angeles Poet Laureate who also writes non-fiction, novels and children’s books).

“What I ask readers is to follow me into the forest,” Moreno-Garcia says in an interview with the critic. Paula L. Woods. “You won’t get lost, hold my hand and I’ll tell you a story.

On September 27, Moreno-Garcia joins the LA Times Book Club to discuss his latest bestseller, ‘Doctor Moreau’s Daughter,’ a sci-fi thriller based on the classic novel by HG Wells about a mad scientist and reimagined in the rainforests of the Yucatán Peninsula. Register on Eventbrite for that free live eventwhich begins at 6:00 p.m. PT.

If you are an audiobook fan: AudioFile Magazine features “Doctor Moreau’s Daughter” on its August Best Listening List, via bookmarks: “At Gisela Chipe’s the performance of this audiobook is exceptionally touching. She skillfully captures the spirit of these richly defined characters and the mood of growing terror.

If you like community discussions like this: Many readers tell us how much they appreciate the chance to see, hear and meet world-class authors and journalists each month. We greatly appreciate your enthusiastic emails and survey responses. Now go to the next step: please make your tax deductible donation to the new Los Angeles Times Community Fund to help our community book club continue and grow.

Banned Books Week

School book bans have seen an unprecedented increase this year, according to a new PEN America report released for Banned Books Week. The report cites three most frequently targeted titles: At Maia Kobabe’s memoirs, “Gender Queer,” banned in 41 districts; George M. Johnson “Not all boys are blue”, banned in 29 districts; and Ashley Hope Perez “Out of Darkness”, banned in 24 districts. The authors with the most disputed books were Ellen Hopkins, Kobabe and Toni Morrison.

“This censorship movement is turning our public schools into political battlegrounds, driving wedges within communities, forcing teachers and librarians out of their jobs, and chilling the spirit of open inquiry and intellectual freedom that underpin a thriving democracy,” says PEN’s Chief Executive. Suzanne Nossel.

ICYMI: Watch the author George M. Johnsonstudent activist Madison Clevenger, relative Brooke Harper and historian Michael Hines discuss “The wave of book bans” during this week’s Ideas Exchange.

And after

In October, the LA Times Book Club reads “Dinosaurs,» the forthcoming novel by Lydia Millet.

Millet’s latest novel, “A Children’s Bible,” explored climate change and was a 2020 Pulitzer and National Book Award finalist.

Now Millet returns with “Dinosaurs,” the story of a middle-aged protagonist who escapes Manhattan to seek solitude in the West after a breakup, only to find himself next to a family. in a glass house. Editors Weekly calls ‘dinosaurs’ a ‘brilliant story of survival’.

The author of more than a dozen novels, Millet lives in the desert outside of Tucson, Arizona, where she worked as an editor and writer at the Center for Biological Diversity. Last year, she wrote this article for The Times: “The climate crisis is here; climate fiction too. Don’t you dare call it a genre.

Ticket information for our October Book Club will be available soon.

keep reading

Fall Fiction: Andrew Sean Greer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his 2017 comedy novel, “Less.” The San Francisco writer returns this month with a sequel, “Less Is Lost,” that finds its way to both satire and tears. “Take an insecure man, a ‘middle-aged gay white novelist no one’s ever heard of’, and put him in a whole host of places he’s uncomfortable in, especially when he’s down. comfortable everywhere, and some hilarity is inevitable,” says reviewer Marc Athitakis. “At the beginning, we are promised ‘a donkey, a pug, a whale and a moose’. In due time, the full menagerie arrives.

Explaining Putin: At the start of the pandemic, the British historian Orlando Figs began his book “lockdown”: an investigation into the ideas, myths and beliefs that have shaped Russians over the past thousand years. Published as the Russo-Ukrainian War enters its seventh month, Figes’ “History of Russia” unpacks the region’s history and helps explain current events and motivations.

AI on: Here’s the latest from the arts columnist and book club guest Caroline A. Miranda: ” What did I do ? I read books – looking for the weirdest descriptions I could find of Los Angeles and fed them into an AI image generator. Read more.

Give it: “We have always considered Patagonia as an experience for doing business in an unconventional way”, Yvon Chouinard wrote in his book “Let My People Go Surfing”. “None of us were certain it was going to be successful, but we knew we weren’t interested in ‘business as usual’.” On September 14, the billionaire CEO announced that he is divesting his Ventura-based outdoor clothing business to fight climate change.

Defender of nature: A new book,Citizen justiceexamines the environmental legacy of US Supreme Court justice William O. Douglas. “He was an advocate for the environment, and he turned out to be so critical to the history of conservation,” said Mr. Margaret McKeowna San Diego judge and the author of the book.

Bilingual Book Festival: ⁠The fourth edition Los Angeles Book Festival continue on Saturday September 24, featuring Spanish and bilingual storytelling, author talks, workshops and performances at the Central Library downtown. It’s free.

Reserved until: Have you checked the new LA Times Book Club hats, socks and crew necks? Send us a picture of what you’re wearing and read in an email to

Last word: “Read the books they ban,” says actor and former host of “Reading Rainbow” The Var Burton. “That’s where the good stuff is.”


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