Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Los Angeles Books for Christmas

It's actually pretty easy to figure out what to get me for a gift these days: Books about Los Angeles.

My growing collection of L.A. books -- found at book sales, on eBay and in stores -- now fills a full bookcase in our living room. And it keeps growing.

Mrs. Franklin Avenue knows of two books on my wish list this year: "Los Angeles in Maps" and Taschen's "Los Angeles: Portrait of a City."

Kevin Roderick talks about giving L.A. books as the perfect gifts this holiday season in his weekly KCRW commentary:

The best of them helps us clarify what we think we already know. Or delights us with the telling detail and nuance you get from closely examining a great photograph. Or a nicely turned insight.

The big, expensive book that every Angeleno-phile wants this year is Taschen’s major work, many years in the making, called "Los Angeles: Portrait of a City."

It overwhelms as both pictorial history and photographic tribute.

There are more than 500 pictures, and they really tell a story of the greater LA area and its people, present and past.

The editor, Jim Heimann of Taschen, and LA Times book critic David Ulin selected images we haven’t seen before and give them crucial context. Essays by the historian Kevin Starr add essential backstory to the scenes we see.

The book lists at 70 dollars, though you can probably get it for less online. This is the one that’s sure to be a hit with anyone who fancies themself a student of LA.

It's true -- I've seen it for as cheap as $35 online. For any fan of Los Angeles, I'd say you've just been given your holiday marching orders.

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