2019 BookSwell Gift Guide for the Holidays

We polled our favorite authors and literary community organizers for their reading recommendations this holiday season. They responded with titles across a range of genres. There is something for everyone in the list below.

Lynelle George says…

I’m midway through “Olive, Again” by Elizabeth Strout and have “Red at the Bone” by Jacqueline Woodson on deck.

Listen to BookSwell Intersections podcast episode #4 featuring an interview with Lynell George.

Tori Eldridge recommends…

“Rage” by Jonathan Maberry, a Joe Ledger action thriller that kicks off his new International series

“Land of Shadows,” by Rachel Howzell Hall, the first book in the Detective Elouise Norton series

Listen to BookSwell Intersections episode #11 featuring an interview with Tori Eldridge.

Carla Sameth had this to say…


On her to-read pile…

“Black Wings” by Sehba Sarwar “which had temporarily disappeared and magically reappeared this week on my bookshelf.” Tis the season for book magic!

Rachelle Yousuf says…

“I’m a huge fan of anything by local author Attica Locke. She’s a superstar already but always deserves a shout out.”

BookSwell Intersections Episode 08
Poet, author, and editor Shonda Buchanan shares her story with Cody Sisco, Dan Lopez’s current favs in LGBTQ YA, and events for bookworms seeking the “Anti-Beach Read”

Summer has finally arrived in sunny Los Angeles, and we hope you all had a wonderful Pride Weekend! Dan Lopez and Cody Sisco are here to dig deep into Michelle Obama’s runaway hit, Becoming, and Dan recommends books that fill his very particular current obsessions — LGBTQ YA and Sci-Fi! After that, enjoy Cody’s conversation with Shonda Buchanan that covers the history of World Stage Press, Leimert Park, and Shonda’s own imprint at Tsehai Books — Harriet Tubman Press. You won’t want to miss Buchanan detail her moving journey of self-discovery and owning her identity, and the cherry on top of this interview is a truly phenomenal reading of one of her poems. You can find out more about Shonda on her website, and while you’re exploring, be sure to check out World Stage Press and Eso Won Books. And finally, are you looking for events that don’t feature the typical glossy beach reads of the summer season? Shannon Eagen has you covered with some June book signings (and a book club!) celebrating slightly less mainstream genres. Enjoy!

Listen Now:

Also Available Here:

Link to BookSwell Intersections Podcast on Spotify
Listen on Google Play Music


Events Mentioned:


Books Mentioned:

American Lion by Jon Meacham

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

No Ashes in the Fire by Darnell Moore

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach\

The Lady from the Black Lagoon by Mallory O’Meara

BookSwell Intersections Episode 03
Interview with author Patrick Nathan, Sarah LaBrie and Cody Sisco chat about books, and Shannon Eagen previews April events

Episode 3 is here, and our listeners are in for a treat. To kick things off, Managing Editor Cody Sisco does a lighting round book roundup with Sarah Labrie. After that, enjoy an extended interview between Cody and rising literary star Patrick Nathan. His debut novel, Some Hell caught the attention of readers and critics alike. The heartbreaking coming-of-age/coming-out story was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and is a 2019 Lamdba Literary Award finalist. We’re so grateful Patrick took the time out of his busy schedule to chat about his career, his upbringing in small-town Minnesota, and the increasing demands placed on authors in the contemporary publishing landscape. Finally, we’re excited about all things Literary LA in April but as usual…the list is overwhelming. Lucky for you, BookSwell Contributor Shannon Eagen is here to give a roundup of some of the “can’t miss” events for lit fans that are looking to support underrepresented voices in our crowded literary scene.

Listen Now:

Also Available Here:

Link to BookSwell Intersections Podcast on Spotify

Listen on Google Play Music


Events Mentioned


Books Mentioned

Baby of the Family by Maura Roosevelt

The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Some Hell by Patrick Nathan

Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

On Photography by Susan Sontag

The Civil Contract of Photography by Ariella Azoulay

There There by Tommy Orange

Grace by Natashia Deon

The Coiled Serpent

Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid


BookSwell Intersections Episode 02
Rachelle Yousuf joins co-hosts Cody Sisco, Irene Yoon, Dan Lopez, Sarah LaBrie

We’re back for Episode 2! Today, BookSwell’s Managing Editor Cody Sisco is joined once again by Irene Yoon, Sarah Labrie and Dan Lopez. Rachelle Yousuf is our latest addition to the Intersections crew, a book event coordinator with The Freya Project and YALLWEST. In this episode, they confess to skipping events to stay home and read, turning away from literary fiction and local authors who truly capture the spirit of Los Angeles in their work.

Listen Now:

Also Available Here:

Link to BookSwell Intersections Podcast on Spotify

Listen on Google Play Music


Events Mentioned


Books Mentioned

Black Leopard Red Wolf by Marlon James

Headcase edited by Stephanie Schroeder and Teresa Theophano

A Student of History by Nina Revoyr

Lost Canyon by Nina Revoyr

False Calm by Maria Sonia Cristoff

Wired for Story by Lisa Kron

The Design and Engineering of Curiosity by Emily Lakdawalla

Heaven, My Home by Attica Locke

BookSwell Intersections Episode 01
First episode! Introducing co-hosts Cody Sisco, Irene Yoon, Dan Lopez, and Sarah LaBrie

For our first episode, BookSwell’s Managing Editor Cody Sisco sat down with Director of the LA Review of Books/USC Publishing workshop Irene Yoon, professional book club facilitator Sarah Labrie, and local author/bookseller Dan Lopez. This week they address the best events they’ve been to recently, the March events they can’t wait for, and underrepresented authors finding mainstream audiences.

Listen Now:

Also Available Here:

Link to BookSwell Intersections Podcast on Spotify

Listen on Google Play Music


Events Mentioned


Books Mentioned

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan


Leading Men by Christopher Castellani


Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter


Less by Andrew Sean Greer


The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones


The Hate U Give by Angie Jones

BookSwell Intersections: Connecting Los Angeles readers to the literary events that matter most. 

Music credits:

Chill Wave Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License