8 Great Books: More Reading 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 took place last week, and the second seminar, Adapt This: A Consideration of the Art and Craft of Adaptation, will take place next Saturday, July 30th at Central Library.


This upcoming seminar on the complexities of adaptation will be led by Phyllis Nagy, a writer and director whose most recent screenplay, Carol, won the New York Film Critics Circle award for Best Screenplay, and was nominated for an Academy Award, and Brighde Mullins, a playwright and the Director of the M.F.A. Playwriting Program at Hunter College in New York City. For a dramatist, working on an adaptation is both a pleasure and a challenge. How do dramatists honor the emotional core of their source material even as they make it their own? What’s the right material for you and what’s important to preserve in the source material? Before this workshop explores these challenges, we asked Nagy and Mullins for some “right material” to inspire our summer reading. Here are their recommendations to finish out Members Month.


From Brighde Mullins:


Paul Lisicky’s The Narrow Door

Book Jacket for: The narrow door : a memoir of friendship"

“A beautiful memoir about friendship, death, literary yearnings and realizations, also there are cameos by dogs and landscapes.”


Shakespeare’s King John

Book Jacket for: Essential Shakespeare handbook

“Especially because hardly anyone seems to have read it and I know only one person who has ever seen a production of it….it’s amazing because of the twisted/wonderful family/political machinations, timely in our election year, and the character of the Bastard — he is so layered, so complicated, so appealing.”


Suzan Lori Parks’s 365 Plays/365 Days 

Book Jacket for: 365 days/365 plays

“Because I saw her play Father Comes Home From the Wars at the Taper recently and I was reminded of her idiosyncratic, deeply theatrical voice, and these plays are short, and she wrote them at the rate of a play a day, as the title suggests.  Her project of writing so much and so freely takes away the preciousness of the approach to the page.”


Jamaica Kincaid’s A Small Place

Book Jacket for: A small place

“This is a long essay that has so much power, so much depth, so much passion.  It’s a meditation in the form of a rant about the island of Antigua and the legacy that made it what it is.”


Thich Nacht Hanh’s Be Free Where You Are

Book Jacket for: The miracle of mindfulness : a manual on meditation

“I carry this short meditation with me everywhere I go— and I read it once a week, sometimes every day, to remind myself of certain things….”


From Phyllis Nagy:


Rachel Kushner’s Telex From Cuba

Book Jacket for: Telex from Cuba : a novel

“This first novel from the author of The Flamethrowers is an epic, multi-layered portrayal of the lives of expatriate Americans in the Oriente Province of Cuba in the years preceding Castro’s revolution. It’s a consistently surprising piece of work— a propulsive narrative that never overwhelms the delicacy and emotional precision of its character studies.”


Melanie Raabe’s The Trap

Book Jacket for: The trap

“Another debut novel, a psychological thriller about a well-known, agoraphobic novelist who hasn’t left her home in nearly twelve years. Why? The last time she left her house, she saw her sister’s murderer fleeing the scene of the crime. In the present day, she believes she’s found her sister’s killer. She spots him, quite by chance, on television. And now she must devise a plan to elicit a confession from him… with as many twists as you would want from a cracking mystery, with the added bonus of quite an insightful character study of a woman consumed by guilt and grief.”


Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding

Book Jacket for: The art of fielding : a novel

“I seem to be in the debut-novel mode here! Haibach’s generous fantasia on the search for perfection is gossamer disguised as Dickens. If you love baseball, Melville and the idea of university as community, you’ll fall for this book as hard as I have.”


Learn more about this upcoming seminar on adaptation and all the Members Month celebrations here!

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