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

Good morning, and welcome to the L.A. 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 doctor navigating the chaos and drama on medicine’s front lines.

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

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

“In poignant and inspiring snapshots, Harper looks at how her childhood sets her up for becoming an ER doctor and how a life of service to others teaches her how to heal herself,” John Fogarty writes.

Mark your calendar: The virtual book club event with Harper and Evans starts at 6 p.m. PDT on June 29 and will be livestreamed on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Sign up on Eventbrite. Eso Won, named bookseller of the year this week by Publishers Weekly, is the partner for this event.

Join us in the weeks ahead 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 in advance of June 29 to

(LaTosha Oglesby / Riverhead Books)

Creating ‘Interior Chinatown’

Author Charles Yu joined book club readers Thursday night for a wide-ranging conversation with film critic Justin Chang about “Interior Chinatown,” cultural representation and making a career as a writer after a decade working as a corporate attorney.

“I didn’t reduce my weirdness level ever,” 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 he is currently writing a screen adaption of the novel for Hulu. He also is a TV writer whose credits include “Westworld.”

If you missed Thursday’s virtual event, no worries: Watch this lively book club conversation here.

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

(Los Angeles Times)

Keep reading

Lost piece of California noir: Nine years before John Steinbeck published his Pulitzer Prize-winning classic “The Grapes of Wrath,” he was working on a lighthearted 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 you won’t want to miss.

Remembering Eric Carle: “It’s hard to overstate the impact Eric Carle left on generations of readers, including me; his work is embedded in our first memories of learning,” writes Aida Ylanan in this staff appreciation of the bestselling children’s author who died this week. “I’m inclined to believe more well-worn copies of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ are read and passed down than bought new. The copy my mom read to her students is the same one she read to me and my older brothers.”

Library gig: Four girls walked into the Cypress Park branch of the L.A. Public Library for their first gig since the start of the pandemic. Days later, the library blasted out 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: Bestselling Los Angeles writer Roxane Gay is starting a book imprint with Grove Atlantic that will focus on underrepresented fiction, nonfiction and memoir writers. “There are so many barriers and so many gates,” Gay says in a New York Times interview. “Let’s take them down.”

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

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