(credit: Simona Dumitru/sxc.hu )

Luckily in SoCal it’s beach season all year long.These beach-reading recommendations have plenty of local color; all of the authors mentioned have made their homes in the Los Angeles area at one time or another. Some of their novels take place here in your own backyard; others will take you far away. Note – many of these titles can be purchased at LA’s tenacious old-school independent bookstore, Vroman’s.

The Ruins of California

Martha Sherrill
Riverhead Books, 2007; ISBN 9781594482311
Available in trade paperback
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Martha Sherrill’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel about growing up in 1970’s California features locales both real (Laguna Beach) and thinly disguised (suburban Van Dale=Glendale, moneyed, staid San Benito=San Marino, the bohemian, bucolic Ojala Valley=Ojai), an engaging narrative voice, and one intriguingly messy father-daughter relationship.

This One Is Mine

Maria Semple
Back Bay Books, 2010; ISBN 9780316031332
Available in trade paperback, hardcover, and e-book
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Former TV-comedy writer Maria Semple’s first novel reflects what many people who don’t live in Los Angeles think the city is really like, and it’s interesting to compare that perception to our reality here. Semple explores life among Hollywood’s beautiful, wealthy, and deeply unhappy with a satirical edge and a sharp eye for what underlies the surface.

My Hollywood

Mona Simpson
Vintage, 2011; ISBN 9780307475022
Available in trade paperback and hardcover
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The most recent work of literary fiction by Santa Monica resident Mona Simpson has just been released in paperback. It’s a tale of two mothers under one roof: one just learning to care for her first child while her husband devotes all hours to a new career, and one who has left her five children thousands of miles away while she earns money for their education by caring for the children of others.

Helen of Pasadena

Lian Dolan
Prospect Park Books, 2010; ISBN 9780984410224
Buy the trade paperback online or locally
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This smartly funny first novel by Satellite Sister Lian Dolan hits lots of hometown buttons; setting, author, and publisher. After her husband is accidentally killed by an errant Rose Parade float, displaced Pasadena wife and mother Helen Fielding finds an unexpected new career, new love, and a new sense of self.

Going in Circles

Pamela Ribon
Downtown Press, 2010; ISBN 9781416503866
Available in trade paperback or e-book
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Pamela Ribon is a pioneering humor blogger, TV-comedy writer, and novelist whose post-divorce recovery plan included a stint with the LA Derby Dolls, skating under the name of May Q. Holla. Her semi-autobiographical third novel draws on those experiences. It’s funny, touching, and occupies a unique niche – women’s fiction that prominently features roller derby is pretty rare.

The Lotus Eaters

Tatjana Soli
St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010; ISBN 9780312674441
Available in trade paperback, hardcover, and e-book
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This beautifully-written, evocative debut novel by Orange-County based Tatjana Soli looks at the Vietnam War from the unique perspective of the “in-country” press who reported it – specifically, the perspective of photographer Helen Adams, who grows unexpectedly connected to the conflict, the country, and the two men she becomes most closely involved with, both professionally and personally.

Wife of the Gods

Kwei Quartey
Random House, 2009; ISBN 9780812979367

Children of the Street

Kwei Quartey
Random House, 2011; ISBN 9780812981674
Buy the trade paperbacks online or locally
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Pasadena physician Kwei Quartey has set his series of Inspector Darko Dawson Mysteries in his native country of Ghana. Wife of the Gods introduces Dawson as he works to solve the murder of a female medical student and AIDS educator in a remote village. In the just-published follow-up, Children of the Streets, he’s hunting the brutal killer of poor, urban teenagers in Ghana’s capital city, Accra.

Shanghai Girls

Lisa See
Random House, 2010; ISBN 9780812980530

Dreams of Joy

Lisa See
Random House, 2011; ISBN 9781400067121
Available in hardcover, paperback, e-book. and audio CD
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Bestselling local favorite Lisa See engaged readers in the lives of sisters Pearl and May Chin, who brought their secrets from Shanghai to postwar LA’s Chinatown, in Shanghai Girls. She resumes their story in the just-published sequel Dreams of Joy, in which American-born daughter Joy journeys to China in search of her birth father, and into the upheaval of Mao’s Great Leap Forward.

Florinda Pendley Vasquez has been blogging primarily but not exclusively about books for four years at The 3 R’s Blog: Reading, ‘Riting, and Randomness, and has been reading books for many more years than that.