Summer 2022 Reading Recommendations

Here are six book recommendations from past CBC authors to get you through the rest of this summer.

california book club authors, summer book recommendations

We hope you’re enjoying our August California Book Club selection, Rabih Alameddine’s dazzlingly original sixth novel, The Wrong End of the Telescope. In case you’re finished with the novel and looking for another book or two to close out your summer reading, here are four past CBC authors on what they’re reading now. Two of the authors have new, brilliant books out, so be sure to take a look at those, too.

Author Reyna Grande Recommends

Grande’s vivid memoir The Distance Between Us was featured in the November 2020 CBC gathering. Her latest novel, A Ballad of Love & Glory, is coming out in paperback with a new beautiful and haunting cover in January. She wrote to us, “For readers who enjoyed The Distance Between Us, I recommend Illegally Yours, by Rafael Agustin. In this poignant memoir, Agustin welcomes us into his life, his home, and his heart. Fluctuating between witty humor and tender vulnerability, he shows us how he became the amazing human being that he is today. This book is equal parts an act of rebellion and an act of celebration—rebellion against those who think immigrants are voiceless and a celebration of the resilience of the immigrant spirit.”

Author Héctor Tobar Recommends

Tobar, author of the December 2021 CBC selection, The Barbarian Nurseries, a novel rich in perspectives of Los Angeles, told us: “I’m currently reading Maud Casey’s novel City of Incurable Women. It’s an amazing book and tells the true story of the women confined to a sprawling, city-size mental hospital in France in the 19th century after having been diagnosed with ‘hysteria.’”

Author Elaine Castillo Recommends

Castillo, the author of the vibrant January 2021 CBC pick, America Is Not the Heart, has a new book of essays out, How to Read Now, that is gathering buzz and critical acclaim. She recommended a few titles to add to your to-read stack: “Some recent faves: (1) Osage writer Chelsea T. Hicks’s debut collection of short stories, A Calm and Normal Heart, which is full of sharp, funny, ambivalent, offbeat, heartbreaking stories that make me (a constitutionally long-form person) remain in awe of people who can do short form with such verve. (2) A book I read back when I was on my book tour in New Zealand in 2019, after doing an event with the author, Tayi Tibble—her collection Poukahangatus, which has now come out in the States with Knopf, is mordantly funny and often devastating, on everything from the settler colonial afterlife of New Zealand to the conflicted feeling of seeing Indigenous actresses play disposable characters in Game of Thrones. A section from one of my fave poems is an epigraph to an essay in my new collection, How to Read Now. Finally, (3) I started Jamil Jan Kochai’s new collection, The Haunting of Hajji Hotak, and loved the first short story, which wondrously threads together playing the video game Metal Gear and an Afghan family’s war trauma. A hit in the gut to me, especially as a fledgling gamer with not a small amount of family war trauma.”

Author Myriam Gurba Recommends

Gurba is the author of our April 2021 CBC pick, Mean, a groundbreaking memoir. She made the following recommendation of a Bay Area author’s book: “I’m reading Ingrid Rojas Contreras’s The Man Who Could Move Clouds. It’s a brilliant memoir that takes the reader into the world of curanderes Colombianes.”•

Join us on August 18 at 5 p.m. Pacific time, when Alameddine will appear in conversation with CBC host John Freeman and a special guest. Until then, visit the Alta Clubhouse to let us and your fellow California Book Club members know your thoughts on The Wrong End of the Telescope. Register here.


woman walking


Lauren Alwan writes beautifully about Alameddine’s intimist sensibility in The Wrong End of the Telescope. —Alta

wrong end of the telescope, rabih alameddine
Grove Press


Alta Journal’s books editor, David L. Ulin, calls The Wrong End of the Telescope a “masterpiece of indirection, a swirling tapestry of narratives and lives.” —Alta

thomas mann's los angeles, nikolai blaumer
Angel City Press


Ulin reviews Thomas Mann’s Los Angeles: Stories from Exile 1940–1952, which illuminates the author’s experience in California. —Alta

alta august 2022 new book picks


Here are 14 upcoming books by authors of the West we’re excited about. —Alta

properties of thirst, marianne wiggins
Simon & Schuster


Read the fifth installment of Marianne Wiggins’s serialized novel Properties of Thirst. —Alta

california bestsellers


Check out the books that are bestsellers at California independent bookstores, including The Daughter of Doctor Moreau and Crying in H Mart: A Memoir. Alta

elaine castillo
Amaal Said


Past CBC author Elaine Castillo has a new book out, How to Read Now. —New York Times

mike davis, right, author of “city of quartz,” is seen with actor viggo mortensen in 2004
Annie Wells/Los Angeles Times


Alta contributing editor and author Gustavo Arellano sits down with acclaimed writer-activist Mike Davis (City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles), who has terminal cancer. —Los Angeles Times

california book club bookplates

Alta’s California Book Club email newsletter is published weekly. Sign up for free and you also will receive four custom-designed bookplates.


Anita Felicelli, Alta Journal’s California Book Club editor, is the author of the novel Chimerica and Love Songs for a Lost Continent, a short story collection.
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