Book Club reads Michele Harper’s ‘The Beauty in Breaking’

Good morning and welcome to the LA Times Book Club newsletter.

Our June book is Michele Harper’s “The Beauty in Breaking,” a bestselling memoir about her experiences as a black emergency room physician navigating the chaos and drama on the frontlines of medicine.

Earlier this year, we featured Harper’s memoir in the United We Read series, Heather John Fogarty’s reading journey through every US state during the pandemic.

And now, on June 29, Harper will join the book club’s readers for an interview with Times reporter Marissa Evans about her book and her decade-long career. Harper describes her work with gunshot victims, abused children, cancer patients and violent walk-ins, as well as the scars of her own childhood in Washington, DC, that led to her career choice.

“In poignant and inspiring snapshots, Harper looks at how her childhood primed her to become an emergency room physician and how a life of service to others teaches her to heal herself,” writes John Fogarty.

Mark your calendars: The virtual book club event with Harper and Evans kicks off June 29 at 6:00 PM PDT and will be streamed live on Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Sign up on Eventbrite. Eso Won, this week’s Publishers Weekly’s Bookseller of the Year, is the partner for this event.

Over the next few weeks, join us as we read “The Beauty in Breaking” and share your comments in the book club’s Facebook group. What would you like to ask Michele Harper? Send questions to before June 29.

(LaTosha Oglesby/Riverhead books)

Creating ‘Interior Chinatown’

Author Charles Yu joined the book club’s readers on Thursday night for an in-depth conversation with film critic Justin Chang about “Interior Chinatown,” cultural representation, and making a career as a writer after ten years as a corporate attorney.

“I never lowered my strangeness level,” he says of writing fiction. “I just went for it.”

In November, Yu won a National Book Award for “Interior Chinatown,” his fourth book, and is currently writing a film adaptation of the novel for Hulu. He is also a TV writer whose credits include ‘Westworld’.

If you missed Thursday’s virtual event, don’t worry – check out this lively book club conversation here.

Film critic Justin Chang, left, and author Charles Yu at the LA Times Book Club.

(Los Angeles Times)

keep reading

Lost Slice of California Noir: Nine years before John Steinbeck published his Pulitzer Prize-winning classic ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, he worked on a light-hearted detective novel featuring a werewolf. But don’t expect to read it any time soon.

California and the West: Alta Magazine rounds up 14 new books for May that you won’t want to miss.

I remember Eric Carle: “It’s hard to overstate the impact Eric Carle has left on generations of readers, including me; his work is embedded in our early memories of learning,” writes Aida Ylanan in this staff appreciation for the bestselling children’s book author who passed away this week. “I tend to believe that more worn copies of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ are read and passed on than bought new. The copy my mother read to her students is the same copy she read to me and my older brothers.”

Library gig: Four girls walked into the Cypress Park branch of the LA Public Library for their first gig since the start of the pandemic. Days later, the library released a video of their “Racist, Sexist Boy” performance, and the Linda Lindas suddenly became the most talked-about band in the country.

First Fiction: Amy Kaufman profiles “Three Women” author Lisa Taddeo and her debut novel “Animal.”

Roxane Gay Books: Los Angeles bestselling writer Roxane Gay is starting a book imprint with Grove Atlantic that will focus on underrepresented fiction, nonfiction, and memoir. “There are so many barriers and so many gates,” Gay said in an interview with the New York Times. “Let’s take them down.”

Final word: “Our book club isn’t what I thought I wanted. It’s what I needed. Maybe because it’s in a library I felt welcome from the moment I walked in. And that’s what matters,” writes LA writer Christina Simon of Electric Literature about the community she found in her public library.

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