Dreams are alive in colorful LA, where your waiter may be the next Brad Pitt, the sunshine never ceases, and the city is teeming with such good people watching, you won’t be able to distinguish the stuff of Hollywood from the stuff of real life. From the beaches to the mountains, the Sunset Strip to historic downtown, sunny Southern California is unlike any place else on earth.

Less Than Zero
by Bret Easton Ellis

pianoPartying, drugs, sex, and disaffection are the name of the game in Brett Easton Ellis’s novel, Less Than Zero. The book captures a particular moment in LA’s history; the early 1980s were infused with lots of money, lots of hedonism, lots of disregard, and a whole lotta vainglory. Ellis tells the story of a boy returned home from college for Christmas break, who encounters this underground LA, as it threatens to consume his friends and spiral out of control.

The Big Sleep
by Raymond Chandler

pianoDouble-crossings, death, and daughters all come together in Raymond Chandler’s classic work of 1939, The Big Sleep. Private Eye, Philip Marlowe is on the case when Old Man Sternwood hires him to handle a mysterious blackmailer. But Marlowe gets more than he bargained for with Sternwood’s wild daughter and her sister, Vivian, whose husband has mysteriously disappeared. The story twists and turns its way through LA in a whirlwind of riddles.

Play It As It Lays: A Novel
by Joan Didion

pianoIn the clipped and perfect prose of Joan Didion, Play It As It Lays unwinds along the topography of Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and the Mojave Desert. Sparse and powerful, it is a novel unique unto itself in narration and style. Maria Wyeth stands at the center of this work, fresh off a mental breakdown, and battered by unfulfilled dreams of becoming an actress, she spins across its pages, dallying in sex, drinking, drugs, pregnancy, and prison.

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles
by Mike Davis

pianoLos Angeles is a veritable battleground of forces, a power struggle that has shaped the contours of the city in so many subtle and not-so-subtle ways. From the real estate moguls to the ruling newspaper families to the religious factions, Mike Davis excavates these shaping elements of LA in his classic 1990 book, City of Quartz. It is a brilliant look at an urbanism that is uniquely Los Angeles.

Post Office: A Novel
by Charles Bukowski

pianoWhat else would we expect from the inimitable Charles Bukowski than a salacious dip into three of his favorite pastimes: the ladies, the drinks, and the racetrack? Post Office is his brazen LA novel about Henry Chinaski, who shares Bukowski’s penchant for these three pleasures, and yet has managed to squander away a good portion of his life to the US Postal Service. A must-read for any lover of Bukowski or any open-minded LA adventurer.

The Day of the Locust
by Nathaniel West

pianoIn this canonical work by Nathaniel West, The Day of the Locust drops us in Hollywood during the Great Depression. It depicts the life of an aspiring artist, who works behind-the-scenes, painting backdrops and designing costumes. Around him forms a lonely cast of characters, who have come to LA to pursue their dreams, only to find them dashed by the capriciousness of Hollywood culture.