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Best Books About Los Angeles

Dive into the heart of the City of Angels with this collection of critically-acclaimed reads about Los Angeles, compiled from leading book blogs and ranked by frequency of recommendations.

Recommendations from 21 articles, Bill Gates, B.J. Novak, Edgar Wright and 14 others.
70 books on the list
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City of Quartz book cover
City of Quartz
Excavating the Future in Los Angeles
Mike Davis - 1992-03-10 (first published in 1990)
Goodreads Rating
Discover the hidden truths of Los Angeles with this captivating read. Delve into the city's power struggles, exploring who controls the money and the ongoing battle between the privileged and the underprivileged.
The Big Sleep book cover
The Big Sleep
Raymond Chandler - 1988-07-12 (first published in 1939)
Goodreads Rating
A master of the 'hard-boiled' detective novel, Raymond Chandler introduced readers to Philip Marlowe, a streetwise and heroic private eye, in his first novel, The Big Sleep. With his articulate and literary writing style, Chandler won over a wide audience, from the everyday person to the intellectual elite. Selected as one of Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels, this book will keep you on your toes from the very first sentence.
Recommended by
Adam Sessler
Ask the Dust book cover
Ask the Dust
John Fante - 1960-01-01 (first published in 1939)
Goodreads Rating
This novel follows the struggles of Arturo Bandini, a young Italian-American writer in 1930s Los Angeles, and his complicated relationship with Camilla Lopez, a Mexican waitress. As he strives for success in his writing career, he must navigate his emotions for Camilla and the challenges of a difficult industry. However, everything changes when Camilla has a nervous breakdown and disappears, leading Bandini to question his pursuit of the writer's life.
Recommended by
Neil Strauss
L.A. Noir book cover
L.A. Noir
The Struggle for the Soul of America's Most Seductive City
John Buntin - 2009-08-25
Goodreads Rating
Discover the hidden world of midcentury Los Angeles, where the reality behind the city's public image was a seedy underworld of gangsters, corrupt cops, and ruthless tycoons. Two men, one the city's most notorious gangster and the other its most famous police chief, battled for the soul of the city. The outcome of their entanglement shaped modern American policing and helped create the Los Angeles we know today. Experience the secrets of L.A.'s underbelly in this enlightening, entertaining, and richly detailed narrative.
Southern California book cover
Southern California
An Island on the Land
Carey McWilliams - 2009-10-26 (first published in 1946)
Goodreads Rating
This book delves into Southern California's fascinating history, exploring everything from the birth of Hollywood to the rise of international-style architecture. Through insightful accounts of notable personalities like Aimee Semple McPherson and Hatfield the Rainmaker, readers will gain a deeper understanding of the region's rich cultural heritage.
The Informers book cover
The Informers
Bret Easton Ellis - 2000-01-01 (first published in 1994)
Goodreads Rating
This collection of short stories takes us back to Los Angeles in the early eighties, where the characters all know each other and inhabit the same world of drugs, sex, and violence. From a friend's death on a desert road to a newscaster's jaded relationship with her stepdaughter, these tales take a dark and seductive look at the city's underbelly. Bret Easton Ellis once again delivers a chilling, fascinating, and outrageous portrayal of L.A.'s moral badlands.
The Long Good-Bye book cover
The Long Good-Bye
Raymond Chandler - 1988-08-12 (first published in 1953)
Goodreads Rating
Private Investigator Philip Marlowe helps out his down-and-out friend, Terry Lennox, who needs to escape LA after his millionaire wife’s death. When Lennox commits suicide in Mexico and others start turning up dead, Marlowe is drawn into a sordid web of the city’s wealthy yet morally bankrupt. This classic hard-boiled crime novel by Raymond Chandler is a gripping, original masterpiece featuring one of the greatest detectives in literature.
Recommended by
Andy Greenwald
Helter Skelter book cover
Helter Skelter
The True Story of the Manson Murders
Vincent Bugliosi - 2001-12-17 (first published in 1974)
Goodreads Rating
Explore the shocking and disturbing case of Charles Manson and his followers in a book written by the prosecuting attorney of the trial. Discover what motivated Manson's cold-blooded selection of victims and his terrifying hold over his followers, particularly the young women who carried out his orders. This harrowing true crime story is accompanied by 50 pages of black and white photographs.
Devil in a Blue Dress book cover
Devil in a Blue Dress
Walter Mosley - 2002-09-17 (first published in 1990)
Goodreads Rating
This gritty crime novel blends the style of Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled detective fiction with the social commentary of Richard Wright. The result is a fresh and explosive addition to the American detective genre.
Los Angeles book cover
Los Angeles
The Architecture of Four Ecologies
Reyner Banham - 2001-04-02 (first published in 1971)
Goodreads Rating
Discover the marvels of Los Angeles with this groundbreaking book. Reyner Banham offers a fresh perspective on the built environment of the city, analyzing its popular taste and industrial innovation. He introduces the concept of "four ecologies" that showcase the relationship between Angelenos and the beaches, freeways, flatlands, and foothills. The book celebrates the mobile and posturban nature of this metropolis, making it a must-read for anyone fascinated by cities, architecture, and culture.
Holy Land by D. J. Waldie
The History of Forgetting by Norman M. Klein
White Oleander by Janet Fitch
In a Lonely Place by Dorothy B. Hughes
The White Boy Shuffle by Paul Beatty
L.A. Confidential by James Ellroy
Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler
Counter Intelligence by Jonathan Gold
Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez
Los Angeles. Portrait of a City by Kevin Starr
The Price Of Experience by Randall Sullivan
Southland by Nina Revoyr
Play It As It Lays by Joan Didion
The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle
The Run of His Life by Jeffrey Toobin
Wait Until Spring, Bandini by John Fante
The Simple Art of Murder by Raymond Chandler
An Empire of Their Own by Neal Gabler
Trouble Is My Business by Raymond Chandler
The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler
The High Window by Raymond Chandler
1933 Was A Bad Year by John Fante
Fante by Dan Fante
Raymond Chandler Speaking by Raymond Chandler
A People's Guide to Orange County by Elaine Lewinnek, Gustavo Arellano, Thuy Vo Dang
Material Dreams by Kevin Starr
Raymond Chandler by Tom Hiney
The Kid Stays in the Picture by Robert Evans
The Grifters by Jim Thompson
My Dark Places by James Ellroy
The Road to Los Angeles by John Fante
The Hollywood Economist 2.0 by Edward Jay Epstein
Hit and Run by Nancy Griffin
Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles by Alain Silver
The Love of the Last Tycoon by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Less Than Zero by Bret Eastonellis Bret Easton Ellis
Tropic of Orange by Karen Tei Yamashita
Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Your House Will Pay by Steph Cha
The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
The Brotherhood of the Grape by John Fante
The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia
Dreams from Bunker Hill by John Fante
Full of Life by John Fante
John Fante & H.L. Mencken by Michael Moreau
The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler
Becoming Mexican American by George J. Sanchez
Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey
Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar
This Book Will Save Your Life by A. M. Homes
Chandlertown by Edward Thorpe
Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis
The Onion field by Joseph Wambaugh
The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy
A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood
If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes