5 Great Books: M.G. Lord’s Recs for Members Month

This July is Members Month at the Library Foundation! As part of a month-long slate of special events and incentives to celebrate your support of the Los Angeles Public Library, we are hosting two free writing seminars with local writers. The first seminar, Between Biography and Memoir: Balancing Research with Recollection, will take place next Saturday, July 23rd at the Studio City Branch Library.


M.G. Lord, the author of an award-winning concept-driven biography of the movie star Elizabeth Taylor and a cultural history of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab that is also a memoir of her difficult rocket engineer father, will lead the upcoming seminar. Before Lord examines the importance of research on the storytelling process, we asked her for five of her favorite books to inspire our summer reading. See below on what Lord has to say about some new and old, fiction and non-fiction favorites–available at the Los Angeles Public Library.


Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Book Jacket for: The prime of Miss Jean Brodie

“This is my desert-island book. I try to read it every year. It is a marvel of non-linear narration. Other people admire it, too. When the novel’s young narrator grows up, she publishes a book called The Transfiguration of the Commonplace­—which is essentially what Spark herself does in her fiction. Trivia: Arthur C. Danto, the late art critic for the Nation, was so taken with that title that he used it for his first book of criticism.”


Attica Locke’s The Cutting Season

Book Jacket for: The cutting season : a novel

“Recently I had to go to New Orleans to visit my mother’s family. I was thinking of going to see a plantation. Locke’s terrifying thriller about a contemporary murder on a plantation made me nix that idea. The novel is beautifully written and I couldn’t put it down.”


Kathryn Lofton’s Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon

Book Jacket for: Oprah : the gospel of an icon

“Lofton, now the dean for diversity at Yale, has a background in religious studies. Writing with the energy of a novelist and the meticulousness of a scholar, she deconstructs Oprah as a religious phenomenon: ‘The appeal of Oprah is that she has absorbed so many flashbulbs that she has surpassed their glare.’ ”


Helen MacDonald’s H is for Hawk

Book Jacket for: H is for Hawk

“This extraordinary memoir is many books in one: a meditation on grief, a course in falconry, and a concept-driven biography of T.H. White. I plan to learn how to pronounce goshawk correctly so that I can teach it in the fall.”


Judith Freeman’s The Latter Days: A Memoir

Pic of Judith Freeman

“Freeman presents a tender, nuanced coming-of-age story against a backdrop that—to outsiders—often seems oppressively patriarchal and bizarre: the Mormon Church.”


Learn more about M.G. Lord’s seminar and all the Members Month celebrations here!



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