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Gift Books For Discriminating Readers

"Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542 to 2018," edited by David Kipen.

Posted Monday, December 17, 2018 - 4:53 pm

Books can be great gift and personalized for the giver. Here are four options for:

• Those who love a good mystery-thriller by a popular local author and his son;

• Fans of the U.S. space program;

• Those who want an intimate look at L.A through the centuries by an eclectic cast, and

• Rock music aficionados.

A Measure of Darkness by Jonathan Kellerman and Jesse Kellerman

Local author Jonathan Kellerman is “a master of the psychological thriller” (People Magazine) with more than 90 million copies of his novel combined in print. His son Jesse is an award-nominated novelist and playwright.

Last summer, they delivered a character-driven thriller introducing Clay Edison—former college basketball star-turned-coroner investigator.

Now in A Measure Of Darkness (Balantine Books), the Kellermans bring Clay back for a case that peels back the myriad emotional motivations for crime, betrayal and revenge.

It’s been a busy year for Clay—he solved a decades old crime and redeemed an innocent man, things are getting serious with his girlfriend, and his brother’s fresh out of prison.

Then the call comes in the middle of the night: A party in West Oakland, an argument with the neighbors, two guns, firing at random.

When the dust settles, there’s an extra victim. A young woman, strangled, not shot, without ID and a stranger to all. She is Jane Doe, and it’s Clay’s dogged search to give her a name, and some peace and justice, that will reveal the strangeness and darkness of the human heart and motivations for crime.

The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation by Michael Cassutt

The Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spaceflight for a Generation (Chicago Review Press) by Michael Cassutt is a compelling account of the power dynamics within NASA, and an exclusive look at the live of a man who aided its success.

Trained as an Air Force helicopter pilot and aerospace engineer upon joining NASA, George W.S. Abbey became familiar with all aspect of its human spaceflight program, organizing and planning Apollo missions. He also contributed to NASA’s recovery from the fatal Apollo I tragedy and was a part of the effort to bring home the astronauts in the Apollo 13 accident—including Sally Ride.

He would later serve at NASA headquarters, then return to Houston as director of the Johnson Space Center.

From the smallest administrative task to the conception of Shuttle-Mir an the International Space Station, Abbey was an essential, if unseen lay in every program.

Informed by interview with Abbey and his family, friends and former colleagues, The Astronaut Maker is an exceptionally detailed look at the man who had incredible influence on human spaceflight.

Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542 to 2018 by David Kipen

Scouring the archives of libraries, historical societies and private estates, David Kipen has assembled a kaleidoscopic view of Los Angeles from the Spanish missionary expeditions of the 16th century to the present day in Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542 to 2018.

The entries are arranged by date—Jan. 1 through Dec. 31—but are selected from centuries of writing by native Angelenos, transplants and visitors alike. Weaving a nostalgic tapestry of recollections with historical context, Kipen’s handpicked entries reveal a city of remarkable endurance, spice and culture.

Profound, historical, whimsical, this collection offers intimate flashes of life in Los Angeles over the past four centuries through the words of actors, authors, musicians, activists, cartographers, students, geologists, cooks, merchants, journalists, politicians, composers and more—voices as eclectic and diverse as Los Angeles itself.

Kipen, born and raised in L.A., opened the nonprofit Boyle Heights lending library Libros Schmibros in 2010. Former literature director of the National Endowment for the Arts, book editor/critic of the San Francisco Chronicle, and contributor to multiple volumes of California cultural history, Kipen teaches full-time in the UCLA writing program.

The Story Of The Band – From Big Pink to The Last Waltz by Harvey Kubernick and Kenneth Kubernick

July marked 50 years since The Band first released its groundbreaking debut album, Music from Big Pink, which grew out of sessions at the group’s big pink house in the wood of Ulster County, N.Y.

The Story Of The Band – From Big Pink to The Last Waltz (Sterling) a is a celebration of the band’s music by L.A. residents Harvey Kubernick and Kenneth Kubernick.

The unofficial retrospective spans The Band’s career from its early days playing with Ronnie Hawkins and its collaborations with Bob Dylan to its tours, recordings and landmark final show, The Last Waltz, filmed as a documentary by Martin Scorsese. Released 40 years ago, its is hailed as one of the greatest concert movies ever made.

The Story of The Band features little-known and previously unpublished interview with members of The Band and those who worked with them—including Ronnie Hawkins, Jerry Garcia, Andrew Loog Oldham, D.A. Pennebaker and long-time Beverly Hills resident Mike Stoller—as well as the scenemakers and musicians of he time, offering a rare behind-the-scenes look inside the studio and onstage.

Lavishly illustrated with photographs and memorabilia, the book is the ultimate book for all fans of The Band.


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