If you’re like us, your 2012 was so fast-paced you didn’t have much time for sitting down with a good book. Sadly with the proliferation of tablets, however cool they may be, real book reading – and even coffee table book collecting- is becoming rarer and rarer. We LOVE books and we did manage to enjoy a few tomes in their physical form (free advances- thanks P.R. people) this past year, but there were a few we really wanted under the Christmas tree that Santa forgot…. Thankfully, The Rolling Stones’ 50th Anniversary 5-pounder wasn’t one of them! Hooray!
We still plan to read 50 Shades of Grey at some point (for kicks) and there is some fiction and non of various genres that look interesting… But here, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite (non-fiction) books about, well, our favorite subject: Los Angeles! Actually some of these are just by LA writers, but if you read this blog regularly you know we never pass up an opportunity to celebrate anything to do with our beloved city. These ten books provide many reasons to be proud of the city of Angels, its art, fashion, music and people.
We’ve read most of these and some we plan to dive into as part of our New Year resolution to get off the computer screen and into a tangible paper and printed word piece of writing… We think the following are all so fun, artistic and fabulous (with lots of pretty pictures!) you’ll want to join us…
All are available on Amazon.com but we say, in the spirit of getting off the computer (after you read THIS BLOG of course)– go to one of LA’s awesome book stores such as Book Soup, Stories, Skylight, La Luz De Jesus…. even Barnes & Noble will do! Happy reading…
10. City of Style- Exploring Los Angeles Fashion, From Bohemian to Rock by Melissa Magsaysay – The style editor for the Los Angeles Times explores signature LA styles and how they’ve evolved and influenced the fashion landscape here and everywhere. A must-read for every runway snob who dismisses LA fashion. It all starts here bitches, and this book is a good start in proving it.
9. Letters to Kurt by Eric Erlandson - Great subject, cool concept. Kurt Cobain serves as “the muse” for the Hole guitarist’s journal-like book about this life with the band and his former love/bandmate Courtney Love. Read our interview from early 2012 with the author here.
8. Born This Way by Paul Vitagliano - Paul V.’s book featuring photos and memories of GBLT writers as kids is a bittersweet slice of life that shows gender differences aren’t black and white (or rather blue and pink) until society imposes its rules. Read our profile of author Paul V here.
7. Hello Kitty! Hello Art! compiled by Roger Gastman - Love Hello Kitty? We did this year. And our favorite singular HK item of the year was this beautiful book. Not only did it combine all the best Sanrio-inspired work, it featured great profiles and info about the artists and the history of pop culture’s most purr-fect character. And it has really cute, free temporary tattoos in the back of the book!
6. 101 Essential Rock Records by Jeff Gold - This is one of the books we wanted this holiday. Collector Gold covers “the golden age of vinyl, from the Beatles to the Sex Pistols,” spotlighting albums that are as amazing to look at (cover-wise) as they are to listen to. For those of us who actually bought and coveted vinyl before it was a retro thing, this one appears to be the ultimate homage to music in its coolest form: wax. Also, it was put out by Bryan Ray Turcotte, a friend and the fellow who put together one of our all time favorite music-related books, Fucked Up & Photocopied: Instant Art of the Punk Rock Movement.
5. Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano - Another local author we admire, Arellano released a bueno book in 2012. We don’t know him personally, but have always been a big fan of Arellano’s “Ask A Mexican” (syndicated in LA Weekly among others). We are Mexican-American living in LA also. Even if you are not, if you like Mexican food (who doesn’t?) and want a well written document of its rise that goes beyond the trendy taco truck, this is it. We can’t think of a better writer to sink his teeth into the material.
4. Herb Ritts- LA Style - Celebrating the career of the iconic photographer in pictures and with two in-depth essays, this is one gorgeous collection. Ritts was a Los Angeles-based photographer known for his fashion model, nude, and celebrity portraits and ad work with everyone from Donna Karan to Calvin Klein to Versace. His signature style, especially the black and white stuff, was often imitated, rarely duplicated and his surroundings were always a big part of his photo aesthetic: California’s natural light and landscapes (our beaches in particular). Many photos are from the Getty exhibit of his work this past Fall, including the cover (see feature post photo above and nudes here).
3. Idle Hands- The Art of COOP - Another LA artist whose work has influenced not only individuals but the pop art and “lowbrow” art world itself, Coop’s voluptuous devil girls, hotrod embellishments and sexy creatures have made him a favorite for album covers, rock posters and car culture accoutrements. This book gathers his most iconic work and some never before seen work as well as works that show the artist’s personal process.
2. The World According To Wonder by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato - The producers behind RuPaul’s Drag Race and the awesome website, The WOW Report, have created the ultimate pop culture bible filled with audacious actors, pop stars, writers, and performers. The WOW manifesto sort of says it all: “Bring us your weird, your extreme, your niche, your marginal, your utterly twisted.., and we will show you a world of wonder.” We got and advance of this one… Book comes out Feb. 5 and is available for pre-order now.
1. Made in L.A. - The vibrant, original and compelling work of 60 artists from in and around Los Angeles are featured with engrossing essays, in celebration of the widely acclaimed Hammer Museum exhibit. If you missed it, this book is the next best thing.