News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by

4 books to read that aren't 'Fire and Fury'

Henry Holt

It's been a week since Michael Wolff's "Fire and Fury" stormed onto bookshelves. While booksellers are enjoying brisk sales, librarians report a similar phenomenon with checkouts.

"We haven't seen anything like it since the first day sales of the 'Harry Potter' books back in their heyday," said Peter Persic, spokesman for the Los Angeles Public Library. "What is particularly unusual is that this is a nonfiction book. Usually bestsellers of this magnitude are fiction."

The L.A. Public Library has 350 print copies of "Fire and Fury" on order. More than 2,400 holds have been placed.

But you have other options. Los Angeles Times Books Editor Carolyn Kellogg joined Take Two's A Martinez to walk him through some new titles.

"Red Clocks" is a dystopian feminist novel.
Hachette Book Group

"Red Clocks" by Leni Zumas

Red clocks is a reference to menstruation. The book is about a woman who's a professor. She wakes up one morning and there's a president who she didn't vote for and who thinks about reproductive rights in an archaic way that's alien from the pro-choice world.

Zumas takes it to the next degree where all these things around childbirth are being legislated. It's a post-"Handmaid's Tale" dystopia.

"Wonder Valley" is a thriller set in Southern California.

"Wonder Valley" by Ivy Pochoda

It starts out with a scene we've all seen a million times — a chase, seen from above. But it's not a car chase. It's a naked man running down the freeway.

This guy takes an action he wouldn't normally take. He jumps out of his car to help and his life is radically changed, intersecting with many other lives including those of a bunch of people in a utopian settlement in the desert. That's where the title "Wonder Valley" comes from.

"Bluebird, Bluebird" is about a black Texas ranger who is suspended for his possible role in the murder of a white drug dealer.
Hachette Book Group

"Bluebird, Bluebird" by Attica Locke

Locke is a crime novelist and was also a writer on "Empire." This is her first book since leaving the show's writing staff. It's the first book in a series.

The book features the black sheriff of a small town in Texas, as he investigates two murders that happen around the same time — the murder of a black person and the murder of a white person.

Even being a black law officer in Texas, where Locke is from, is freighted. On top of that, he's dealing with issues of race, power and the law.

"So You Want to Talk About Race" is a personal and humorous look at what it means to be black in the U.S.
Da Capo Press

"So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo

Oluo is a Seattle-based writer. She's a middle class, college-educated, queer black writer who was brought up by a single white mom. She talks about all of those things in this book.

She asks big questions — What is privilege? What is systemic racism? — in a way that might make a lot of people feel more comfortable talking about these huge issues.