This fall, local bookstores and libraries are offering their usual range of works on professional, political and scientific triumphs, overcoming personal setbacks and crime and murder mysteries, many penned by local women authors.
But this year autumn is also a time to recognize hometown writers, activists and celebrities — among them Pasadena native and two-time Academy Award-winning actress Sally Field.
Vroman’s Bookstore kicks off the literary season at 7 p.m. Sept. 4 with the live quiz show “Wait…Wait…Pasadena!” staged in honor of the impressive latest edition of the perennially popular book “Hometown Pasadena.”
Host Lian Dolan, contributing writer and contributing editor to “Hometown Pasadena,” will be joined by other contributors to the book in addition to local celebrity guests in leading audience members in playing Bluff the Audience, Pasadena Expert: Authors vs. Audience, and Lightning Fill in the Blank.
Edited by Collen Dunn Bates, “Hometown Pasadena” writers include author Naomi Hirahara (also a contributing editor), LA Times columnist Chris Erskine, Jill Ganon, Lynell George, Sandy Gillis, Roberta Martinez, Monica Hubba, Akila Gibbs, Raphael Simon, Tom Coston, Maria Bamford, Star-News Editor Larry Wilson and Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic and author Jonathan Gold, a resident of Pasadena who died in July.
The biggest literary event of September, however, is likely to be Vroman’s evening with two-time Oscar-winner Sally Field, who is promoting her memoir “In Pieces” with an appearance that will be held as a special off-site event at 7 p.m. Sept. 27 at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. In the book, Field, who was born in Pasadena, provides what she describes as an “intimate, haunting” look at her entire life, from a lonely childhood through her acting career, and covering her journey as a daughter and a mother as well.
Among the other authors appearing at Vroman’s is Glen David Gold, who started with a life filled with privilege but had a series of devastating setbacks as his father’s fortune disappeared and his parents divorced. Things got even worse when his mom abandoned him at age 12, leaving him to fend for himself, but he survived through a series of twists and turns and has the stunning memoir “I Will Be Complete” to show for it. Gold tells his tale and signs his tome at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at Vroman’s.
On the flip side of families in turmoil, few if any families have been more politically powerful than the Browns, who produced two California governors in the father-son combo of Pat and Jerry Brown. Author Miriam Pawel has written the definitive look at the Brown family legacy, called “The Browns of California: The Family Dynasty That Transformed a State and Shaped a Nation,” and will discuss it with LA Times book critic David Ulin at 7 p.m. Sept. 20 at Vroman’s.
If space exploration is your cup of tea, head over to La Cañada Flintridge’s Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse on Sept. 20 to hear veteran JPL scientists Dan Kohne, Tim Thompson and Robert Anderson discuss their book “A Temple of Science: The 100-Inch Telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The book is a retrospective on the 100th anniversary of the 100-inch Hooker Telescope at Mt. Wilson Observatory, covering how it radically altered our conceptual understanding of the universe.
In October, Hank Green, brother of author John Green, who has turned the young adult (YA) novel world upside down with his instant-classic bestsellers, will be the featured guest at Vroman’s second off-site event of the season, also at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. Hank and his debut YA novel, “An Absolutely Remarkable Thing,” are already such a force that Vroman’s is hosting his discussion and signing of the book at 7 p.m. Oct. 3 at the church.
Anne Lamott has long shared her struggles with alcoholism, single-motherhood and depression as well as her deeply Christian faith in a best-selling series of essay collections. She’ll be discussing and signing her latest book “Almost Everything” with renowned Catholic priest and CNN religion expert Father Edward Beck in a third off-site Vroman’s event, this time at All Saints Church in Pasadena, at 7 p.m. Oct. 16.
Vroman’s isn’t the only hotbed of literary activity this fall. The Pasadena Public Library will host a number of notable events as well.
Father Greg Boyle, founder of the gang intervention program Homeboy Industries and a frequent Pasadena visitor, will discuss and sign his most recent book, “Barking to the Choir — The Power of Radical Kinship,” from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 30 at the Central Library’s Donald R. Wright Auditorium.
From 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 13, the library’s auditorium will play host to the Los Angeles chapter of the Sisters in Crime women’s mystery writers’ group as they present an evening of discussion called “LAst Resort.” The event will feature 10 authors who appeared in the group’s “LAst Resort” anthology as they talk about their own individual experiences as writers, and why the City of Angele serves as an excellent backdrop for crime and mystery fiction.
And one must not forget the sterling seven branches of the Glendale Public Library. While they don’t have any author events scheduled for September-October, you can find groups and clubs for any age group or reading interest at glendaleca.gov/government/departments/library-arts-culture/calendar. Those interested in the LGBTQ experience can explore the central branch’s exhibit “I Defy: The LGBTQ Experience” opening reception at 7 p.m. Oct. 19 or visit throughout its run through Nov. 8.