Post by Jessica Magallanes

We all love a good TV show binge during winter break, but sometimes watching just isn’t enough. Here is a list of books that can help curb your super fan appetites while you wait for the new seasons of your favorite shows.

1. American Horror Story: Asylum / One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

This is one of the most popular seasons of AHS, and to any AHS fan this is the perfect book for you (we all remember Kit Walker…enough said). But if you aren’t a fan of the show and are just wanting a bit more of that Halloween spirit, I recommend Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. This classic novel shares a lot in common with American Horror Story: Asylum—from it’s setting, to the creepy-psycho employees, to even it’s dashing, and somewhat questionable protagonist. If you loved season two or just want to keep some of that post-Halloween spook, this is a great book to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Buy it here.

2. This Is Us Commonwealth

NBC’s This Is Us has been blowing up the charts recently, and will for the foreseeable future. If you just can’t get enough of the family love and drama that comes with it, then why not pick of Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth? This #1 New York Times Bestseller poses the question, “who is family?” and fits perfectly into the drama and tears that we’ve all come to love from watching the Pearson family. Expect some heartbreak and some warm fuzzy feelings with this one, because it’s sure to take you on quite a ride.

Buy it here.

3. Game of Thrones The Name of the Wind

All of us Game of Thrones fans are dying to get our hands on that final season, and, whether you are a #Jonsa fan or a #Jonerys fan, I know you are itching for some more action and romance. To try and ease your anticipation a bit, because let’s be honest, we still got six months to go, I recommend a healthy dose of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind. This will be sure to curb your appetite for action, magic and political intrigue. Be prepared though, because winter is coming, and finals week is dark and full of terrors, so you may not be able to handle the pull of this addictive fantasy read.

Buy it here.

4. Riverdale /One of Us is Lying

Is you favorite part of Riverdale the addictive mystery? Well if so, you’re not alone and you’ll love Karen M. McManus’s One of Us is Lying. With teen angst and delicious scandals, this book is perfect when you just can get enough of Riverdale High’s dark secrets. Try to solve the mystery before it’s revealed and see how wrong you were all along. You won’t want to put this mind game down until you’ve read the very last word.

Buy it here

5. Grey’s Anatomy The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Grey’s Anatomy fans live for the medical drama and love a good twist and Rebecca Skloot’s novel, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, has the biggest twist of all. What if you saved a million lives, even after death? What if no one ever knew that it was you? Henrietta Lacks is the owner of the first “immortal” human cell grown in culture, known today as HeLa cells. The book recounts the story of her life and how she came to be the savior of millions. If you love drama (it’s okay you can admit it, we all do) and love a good medical miracle, than this book is sure to hit the spot.

Buy it here.


(From left to right): Chiwan Choi, Judeth Oden Choi, Jessica Cabellos, and Peter Wood Source: writlargepress.com


Just last week, Chiwan Choi and Jessica Ceballos of Writ Large Press swung by our Westwind staff meeting to discuss the realities of writing and getting published in Los Angeles. Founded in 2007, Writ Large Press is a small press that, like Westwind, publishes exclusively LA residents. They have a total of eight books under their belt, one of which is on pre-order right now.

Both Chiwan and his co-founding partner, Judith Oden Choi, went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Together, they first created the literary journal, Wednesday. They went into the project thinking, “Let’s aim to fail in two years.” This carefree mindset allowed the two editors to do whatever they wanted and take creative liberties.


Source: writlargepress.com

Through their short-lived, 6-issue experience with Wednesday, they learned how to build a successful team. With this knowledge, Chiwan and Judith co-founded Writ Large Press, later adding Peter Woods and Jessica Ceballos. Though they have, by now, a wealth of experience, the literature and culture in the city is in itself ever-evolving, prompting the team every year to ask themselves, “Who are we, and what do we stand for?” As a result, they are constantly in the process of redefining their mission.

During their discussion with Westwind, both Chiwan and Jessica addressed the challenges of writing and publishing outside of New York. Although LA is a literary metropolis in its own right, it lacks many of the resources available on the east coast. Chiwan said that it is much more difficult to promote the press in such a large, sprawling city, especially one so far from the Big Apple, the U.S.’s capitol of publishing. Our visitors both agreed that their greatest challenges come down to money. “In L.A.,” Chiwan joked, “we’re all fighting for a piece of zero pie.”

As a group of aspiring writers ourselves, we asked Chiwan and Jessica about their own writing. In response, Chiwan and Jessica said that, as professional editors, they actually have very little time to read and write for pleasure. Chiwan said that by the time he gets home after work, he’s so tired of reading that he just doesn’t do much of it anymore. Jessica added, “It’s horrible… I’m trying to work on it.”

When asked about what they like to see in a manuscript, Jessica answered, “Something that’s unique.” It seems simple, but when put into practice, it’s much more difficult. Chiwan elaborated, explaining that he sees editors as “tastemakers”: editors suggest to the audience what to try, and that often means introducing them to new, “unique” tastes and textures.

To get acquainted with these unique tastes and textures, visit Writ Large Press at their website and view their selection of books.

The L.A. Festival of Books is like a holiday to me, except it’s always on the weekend. Only a true bibliophile would ever feel this way about an event that’s already on a free day.

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What do I like about it? I love the energy and presence of the many people who come out to celebrate books and literature.

People were lined up at pop-up bookstores, book-buses, and book-vans.

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Even LA’s legendary Book Soup had a booth open with cute little pictures of famous authors (I snapped one of Hunter S. Thompson!)

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I had an amazing experience with an independent press (Kaya Press) who had typewriters and a prompt for those who wanted to write an original work and bind it into a handmade booklet.


I liked the emotion of a typewriter, how chaotic and potentially unformed the lines could be versus a totally linear expectation one gets out of Microsoft Word. It was a different experience of writing that made me smile: maneuvering a typewriter’s carriage was a bit like manning the helm of a heavy ship’s wheel for the first time, because the words couldn’t go where I expected them to go to at first. As a result, the final product was wispy and chaotic. Just how I like it.

Another reason I love the LA Festival of Books is that you run into old friends and make new friends.

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I met Creative Writing and English Lit PhD graduates, Douglas Manual and Diana Arterian (https://dornsife.usc.edu/cwphd/students), who were very friendly. Guess what? Both poets. Talking to them was a great moment: I realized, geez, this is amazing – and they patiently bore my questions in the hot L.A. sun.

They were promoting the USC’s graduate program and their published books, such as Nestuary. Nestuary deals with interesting feminine concepts that were right up my alleyway – so I decided to grab more information for a future book buy.

Near the end of my visit, I luckily bumped into more poets. One booth called Poetry Flash had these really fun poetry quote ladden bookmarks.

photo 4 (1)In a nice shaded part of the campus, Red Hen Press and Beyond Baroque were booth to booth. It was there that I ran into a few awesome and experienced poets: Kim Dower, whose book, Slice of Moon I picked up after reading the first line in “They Only Want Meatloaf”:

I offered them everything:
coq au vin, skirt steak, lettuce cups
overflowing with pork and mint,

but they wanted none of it.

I recommend picking it up for just that poem alone. Much of Slice of Moon dwells on feminine themes like Nestuary, but offers a critical commentary on the attitudes to and from women, dwelling on domesticity, romance, sexuality… “I Hate It When She Says That” and “While Washing the Dinner Dishes” are some of my top picks in it.

At Beyond Baroque’s booth, Laurel Ann-Bogen (her book of poetry, Washing a Language) was a gracious surprise during my visit.

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Beyond Baroque is in the middle of a big promotion, pushing a new anthology of poetry titled Wide Awake. Looking through the pages is like wading through a wealth of LA Poets, all with something the city has imprinted on them to say and feel.

Next year, take the chance to go and visit the LA Book Fest if you’re curious. Let yourself wander around and be sure to bring a reusable bottle for water and an [empty] book-bag. Some of the water bottle prices were crazy.

You can find out more about Kim Dower at her website kimdowerpoetry.com, Laurel Ann-Bogen at laurelannbogen.com, and Diana Arterian at dianearterian.com.


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