Summer is a great time for lighthearted “beach reading” of thrillers and romance novels. But just as each fall sees a shift at the nation’s movie theaters from silly blockbusters to more intellectual fare aimed at winning Oscars, so too does autumn bring more seriously literary heft to the nation’s bookstores.
With one of the best bookstores in the country, Vroman’s, as a jewel in the Crown City, as well as one of the most beautiful libraries in the nation, Pasadena is blessed with a plethora of options for bibliophiles. Here’s a sample of some of the most intriguing events in Pasadena this fall.
The season kicks off in impressive fashion this Sunday, Sept. 1, as the bookstore takes over the 2,200-seat Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles for “An Afternoon with Louise Penny.” The author of the Number One New York Times bestselling series off Chief Inspector Armand Gamache novels is back with the series’ latest, “A Better Man,” and will kick off the giant event at 3 p.m. Sunday at the theater, located at 929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles. $45 plus taxes buys one admission and a copy of the novel, while $55 buys two of each.
Those wishing to stay in town only have to wait until Tuesday for another big event, as popular local author Naomi Hirahara bringing her latest novel, “Iced in Paradise: A Leilani Santiago Hawai’i Mystery,” to the store for a 7 p.m. discussion and signing. One of the top Japanese-American writers in existence today, Hirahara has long been a source of pride for Pasadena lit fans.
At 6 p.m. Wednesday, a young author — 10-year-old Emerson Forester — will bring her simple yet profound book, “People of Pasadena,” to Vroman’s. Through it, Forester set out to shine a light on locals who help bridge divides in a bitterly divided nation, serving up a powerful reminder that we have more similarities than differences and is a celebration of all things Pasadena.
An eclectic group including LA punk legend John Doe of the band X, filmmaker Allison Anders, Los Lobos member Louie Perez and writer Tom DeSavia will come together for a discussion moderated by LA-based writer and deejay Chris Morris at 7 p.m. next Thursday, Sept. 5. They’ll be exploring the history of LA’s punk scene through a discussion of the book “More Fun in the New World: The Unmaking and Legacy of L.A. Punk.”
On Sept. 7, world-famous activist Sister Helen Prejean will be the focus of a special off-site Vroman’s event at All Saints Church. She will discuss and sign her new memoir, “River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey,” in conversation with the church’s rector, the Rev. Michael Kinman.
One of the most pressing questions of our age is how society should handle the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in a way that helps make life easier without kicking humans out of jobs and other aspects essential to existence. Scientist Gary Marcus has been exploring these quandaries as the CEO and founder of the machine learning startup Geometric Intelligence, and he’ll be discussing his findings in the new book “Rebooting AI: Building Artificial Intelligence We Can Trust” in an appearance at 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at Vroman’s.
Other top Vroman’s events in October and November include former Pasadena Weekly contributor Chip Jacobs with his latest book “Arroyo” at 7 p.m. Oct. 18. New York Times best-selling social critic Meghan Daum will discuss and sign her latest, “The Problem with Everything: My Journey Through the New Culture Wars” at 7 p.m. Oct. 30. Finally, the hugely popular novelist Ann Patchett will bring her latest novel “The Dutch House” to a special Vroman’s event at All Saints Church in Pasadena at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5.
Not to be outdone, the Pasadena Central Library is bringing top crime novelist Michael Connelly to the Donald R. Wright Auditorium at 5 p.m. Oct. 25 to discuss and sign his latest novel “The Night Fire.”
Even more impressively, the library has created a series of eight author talks that will run throughout the fall, including former “Oprah’s Book Club” author Janet Fitch. Fitch will be bringing her latest, “Chimes of a Lost Cathedral,” to the auditorium at 3 p.m. Sept. 14.
Also in the series are Pasadena Weekly contributor Carla Rachel Sameth with her essay collection “One Day on the Gold Line” at 7 p.m. Sept. 19, and novelist and former PW writer Ann Louise Bannon teaching “How to Write a Novel” at 7 p.m. Oct. 3.
Readers’ spiritual sides will be nurtured by two other authors in the series, as Yolanda Nava discusses “Journey Through the Dark: How Sudden Blindness Awakened a New Spiritual Vision” at 7 p.m. Oct. 17. Mary Lea Carroll brings her memoir “Saint Everywhere: Travels in Search of the Lady Saints” at 7 p.m. Nov. 7.
695 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena.
(626) 449-5320 • vromansbookstore.com.
The Pasadena Central Library
285 E. Walnut St., Pasadena.
(626) 744-4066 • cityofpasadena.net/library.