Save the Date: LéaLA Feria del Libro en Español comes to LA


It’s back! The annual LéaLA Feria del Libro en Español de Los Ángeles happens again in a few weeks. Mark you calendars for this book fair that always has something for everyone who loves to read en español. No pierdan la oportunidad de buscar nuevos libros, apoyar la lectura y participar.

The Feria dates are Friday May 17th, Saturday May 18th and Sunday May 19th from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm and it will be held at the LA Convention Center.

You can look at the program here, where you’ll find the publishing houses attending, all the pláticas y conferencias by the authors and moderators, activities for kids and fun for everybody.

A few items stand out for me on the program, sólo por el nombre de la plática y el subject. Creo que I’m gonna have to split myself in two or three to be at all the conferences I want to see. This is just a sample of the program.

Viernes 17 de Mayo:

Homenaje a la Música Norteña. Salón Rómulo Gallegos. 5:00pm

Sábado 18 Mayo:

Conferencia: Divas del Cine Mexicano en Hollywood, con Michael Schuessler. Salón Carlos Fuentes, 1:00 PM.

Presentación del Libro “Me Vale Madres, Mantras Mexicanos para la Liberación del Espíritu” de Prem Dayal. Presenta Andrés Ramirez. Salón Rómulo Gallegos, 1:00 PM. (Si no han visto el video del autor presentando este libro, por favor busquenlo en YouTube (link here, it’s an instant classic! Y apréndanse los 3 Mantras…)

Conferencia: “Parientes, Encargos, Raiteros, Fayuqueros y Peregrinos Fronterizos” presentada por Rubén Hernández León, Center for Mexican Studies UCLA. Salón José Martí. 1:00 PM.

Presentación del Libro: Historias Pérdidas 2, de León Krauze. The news anchor from Noticias 34 Univision en LA is also an accomplished author. (Y es EX-A-TEC a mucha honra.) Salón José Martí. 2:00 PM.

Presentación del Libro: “Jenni Rivera: La Increíble Historia de Una Mariposa Guerera” por la autora Leila Cobo. Salón Miguel de Cervantes, 4:00 PM. (Creo que es la primera biografía autorizada de la cantante y actriz. Should be interesting.)

Presentación del Libro: “Viviendo” por Adamari López. Salón Miguel de Cervantes, 6:00 PM. (Muy importante conocer la historia de esta guerrera que venció el breast cancer.)

Domingo 19 Mayo:

Beto Cuevas, a man of many talents, will be presenting his book “El Arte de Ser Beto Cuevas” en el Salón Miguel de Cervantes a las 2:00 PM.

Yes, it must be an art form to be a chileno rocker-entrepreneur-coach-actor among other things in this day and age, especially when he’s done it since his La Ley days. Looking forward to this one! (Beto, Soy tu fan.)

See you there amiguitos!

(Photo from DigitalGirl Inc./Rocío Gutiérez on Facebook) Beto Cuevas en una conferencia de prensa hoy para promover LéaLA La Feria del Libro en Español. Su libro "El Arte de Ser Beto Cuevas" se presenta el 19 de Mayo a las 2pm en el Convention Center.

(Photo from DigitalGirl Inc./Rocío Gutiérrez on Facebook) Beto Cuevas en una conferencia de prensa hoy para promover LéaLA La Feria del Libro en Español. Su libro “El Arte de Ser Beto Cuevas” se presenta el 19 de Mayo a las 2pm en el Convention Center.

A must read: Andrew McCarthy’s new book “The Longest Way Home”

“When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” – Erasmus, humanist and scholar

Fall is here  (or so the calendar says) and it’s time to get new reading material.

I really love to get my hands on a fabulous new book, but most of all, I love discovering a great writer…Little did I know THIS ONE and I have a history that goes way back to 1986.

His name is Andrew McCarthy. His book is called “The Longest Way Home” and let me just say, it is excellent. 

My new favorite book.

Oh, he’s also an actor who you may remember from Pretty in Pink and all the other movies from the late 80’s/early 90’s.

 YES, THAT Andrew McCarthy. ¡Es el “Blane” y el de Mannequin!

 (And if you were not alive back then, then I feel sorry for you kids. You missed out! De veras amiguitos… those movies were something else. Y la canción de OMD “If You Leave” is permanently engraved in my life soundtrack. But I digress…)

I went to a book signing last weekend and met him in person. So you can imagine the teenager in me was kind of excited, but since I’m already a grown up, I honestly went to get my booked signed and meet the author, ok?

 Andrew McCarthy listens to his introduction at Vroman’s. He is an accomplished actor, director, travel writer and National Geographic Editor at Large. He’s got a pretty impressive resumé.

As it turns out, Andrew McCarthy has been traveling the world for the last decade, in addition to the show business- acting and directing, and has also become an award winning travel writer and editor at large for National Geographic. How cool is that! And how did he go from one thing to another? We’ll, you’ll just have to read the book.

I came across the title on a Sunday morning, reading the NY Times Sunday Book Review two weekends ago (The New York Times REALLY loves himclick here to read it) and also their Travel Magazine, where they had an excerpt back in August, and I was intrigued.

During the presentation there were funny moments and great stories about his life and travels.

How random is it then, that I should be in Pasadena the day he came for a book signing? Serendipity, I tell you! It’s not often that your teenage crush turned accomplished writer visits your favorite bookstore in town, the lovely Vroman’s on Colorado boulevard. But there he was.

He’s still super taquillero…. It was a full house, and not just all of us ladies, the “groupies” (You know who you are!) Había gente from every age group: men and women,  a bit older, wiser folks who appreciate a good book and author when they see one.

The crowd at Vroman’s, and this was before it started.

Andrew said someone described his book “The Longest Way Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down”  as Eat, Pray, Love for men, and then he joked that he wanted Julia Roberts to play him in the movie. Yet in the NY Times book review, Cheryl Strayed writes “It’s a good book about a good man who’s trying good and hard to figure himself out.”

So it was wonderful to see him in person, listen to him read from the book, talk about his life, his family, a few of the movies and acting, the travel experiences, what traveling does for your soul and how it’s made him a better person, a bit of everything that leads up to the memoir.  He is a funny, smart and articulate person, and had us laughing and hooked throughout.

 Además… sigue estando super cute, no se le quita. ¡Esa sonrisa!

Yes, he’s still got it. Tan lindo él!

 We all got our books signed and he even took pictures with everyone, and there were over a hundred people. A few even brought their Pretty in Pink memorabilia and he signed everything. Such a cool guy!

 So yes, please read his book. You’ll enjoy it.

He was so gracious and signed everyone’s book until we all went home.

(In the meantime you can also read his piece for the LA Times Travel section on Ireland, published this past Sunday. It’s quite good!)

Yeah, I did a little swoon…

That evening I followed Erasmus’ advice and got a few other books.  Turns out my teenage idol, Molly Ringwald,  TAMBIEN has a new book out recently! This one is fiction and it’s called “When it Happens to You.” It’s a novel told in short stories, I’m also looking forward to it. So it’s kind of a reunion of sorts.

Together again. Both Andrew McCarthy and Molly Ringwald both came out with new books this year. And I’m going to read them both.

But it blows my mind a little bit. Imagine watching their movie in 1986 a hundred times, and now in 2012 both of them have become writers with new books and new careers.  It’s like they now live in this wonderful parallel literary universe.  Goes to show you, true talent will take you far indeed!

Learn Spanish “pronto” with these Spanish 101 books

Traveling to Mexico soon? Don’t speak a word of Spanish but need to communicate and get your point across? Or maybe you just want to brush up on a few basic phrases?

Never fear, there’s always a handy dictionary/guide/ “tumbaburros” (dummy rescue) ready for your language needs.

I found these books browsing at the Kitson store in Santa Monica, but I’m sure you could find them on or online. Leave it to a practical gringo (that’s a term of endearment my friends, I mean no disrespect) to come up with Spanish on the go  booklets to get you through your next trip.

“Mexican Spanish” is not to be confused with Spanish Spanish…Here’s a book to get you through Mexico without having to spend hours learning the important stuff like grammar and pronounciation.

Learn basic Spanish with your Spanish Flash Cards… or have your kids use these to not feel ridiculous when asking “Donday Es-tah el Bain-nio?”

A VERY CLEVER take on learning to pronounce Spanish correctly with graphics and smart icon references . “Cone Goose Toe” Spanish Slanguage by Mike Ellis.

“Cone Lee Moan: With Lemon”… “Poe-Yo: Chicken”… but of course you have to know who Edgar Allen Poe was, so it takes a little bit of smarts to read this. Me Gusta! (May Goose-Tah: I like it)

Visiting the LA Times Festival of Books this weekend

(A little note/disclaimer: It’s been about two weeks since my last post. Ademas de sentir que ando neglecting a mi blog un poquito, me siento a little under the weather. I have a really bad cold that won’t go away. So they sent me home from work today because I really didn’t sound/look/feel well… and here I am trying to get back into the writing mood. I guess I needed the time out. Hasta una mujer no quiso ride the elevator conmigo this morning. Oh the horror! I think she thought I was a walking virus and let me go first…

Anyhooooo, entre mi last post and this one, we had a family visit con los sobrinitos, Semana Santa and Easter came and went, now it’s tax day and I’m thinking que vamos muy rápido con este 2012.)

To get back into the blogging spirit, may I make a recommendation? If you are a book lover, a voracious reader or just generally enjoy talking to likeminded people who READ: The annual Los Angeles Times Festival of Books takes place this weekend at the USC  Campus and it is not to be missed.

The advertising supplement from the Sunday Los Angeles Times was very useful for planning a trip to the book fair. Photo by yours truly with the iPhone.

I’ve been hearing about it on the radio (KCRW) and yesterday’s LA Sunday Times included the newspaper insert with the program. There’s all sorts of useful information.

You can click HERE for the link to go to the website and browse to see if there’s anything that suits your fancy. The event is free, but some of the lectures or presentations require admission.

There will be something for everybody, book signings, celebrities, books for kids, books on any subject/theme you can imagine, generous sponsors and finally some nice California weather for a change.

I am particularly excited about three  lovely and amazing ladies I practically grew up with (aunque no las conozca en persona, they influenced me and are part of my life in Spanglish) who will be at the event:

Julie Andrews: Our dearest, most favorite actress from The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins will be presenting “The Very Fairy Princess: Here Comes The Flower Girl” on Sunday at 12:55 pm, Target Children’s Stage.

Judy Blume: YES! THE one and only Judy Blume, the writer that made me love reading in the first place. My friends and I practically devoured her entire collection: Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Are You There God It’s Me Margaret, Superfudge, Blubber, etc etc.I think she set me on a lifelong love of books, and I don’t say this lightly.

“Judy Blume in Conversation With Mary McNamara” on Saturday 2:30pm, Bovard Auditorium. ($13 admission)

Betty White: Our beloved national treasure and ultimate Golden Girl will also be in person at the fair. “Betty and Friends: My Life at the Zoo,” Interviewed by Karen Grisby Bates. On Sunday at 1:20 pm, Los Angeles Times Stage.

Also, not to be outdone, latinos RE-PRE-SENT! con el super wacky and cool author and editor of the OC Weekly, Gustavo Arellano (Ask a Mexican!) who also just happens to have recently written a book with a very clever title: “Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America” which I’m planning to get a copy of at the fair.

Looking forward to reading Gustavo's new book "Taco USA" since I've been hearing good reviews.

So take advantage of this wonderful opportunity and also, get ready, because in May, we have another Book Fair coming, pero en español!

Yes, pretty soon we must visit the LEA-LA Feria del Libro en Español, el 11, 12 y 13 de Mayo en el Convention Center. More on that later.

A visit to The Last Bookstore in DTLA

The Last Bookstore is located on the corner of Spring and 5th Street in downtown Los Angeles.

For those of us who love books, finding a new bookstore that speaks to our nerdy sensibilites as well as to our aesthetic values brings new thrills which are hard to describe. For me, I guess it’s one of those things that makes me want to do a happy dance. No me da pena admitirlo, estas son las cosas that get me all excited.

So it was a particular joy to discover such a place right in the middle of the vibrant downtown LA reinvention, on the corner of Spring and 5th street. The place is called “The Last Bookstore” and it is awesome.

Originally, I had read of about this bookstore in a fabulous article/list which was shared on Twitter called “The 20 Most Beautiful Bookstores in the World”. (Click on the link to go to the list.) I was particularly excited to see that El Péndulo, in Mexico DF (La Condesa) had made the list. I’ve been there several times and yes, it’s beautiful. But since one of the bookstores mentioned is right here in LA, I knew I had to visit. (I hereby proclaim a newfound obsession about visiting them all, even if it takes years to travel around the world.)

Lucky for me that my friend Olivia is also a nerd (I say it with respect and admiration) and was psyched to go along for the discovery. So off we went. The site is a wonderful building with great “bones” and architecture. Its wide open space and columns made me think of an opulent time from the past in downtown LA, when it may have been a bank or financial institution, but thankfully has been rescued/recycled into a place of knowledge.

You can read the story about The Last Bookstore here, and you may be curious to know, they buy books in good condition (no encyclopedias, no books that are falling apart or smell like kitty litter) and they are usually interested in classical literature in hardcover. Pero yo les voy a llevar algunas novelas/libros en español que talvez puedan quedar en mejores manos…

Here are some pictures, and just so you know, you can find books on almost any subject here at a great deal. Most of them are very cheap and you won’t feel like you are breaking the bank.

Happy Reading!

A wide angle view of the bookstore.

The cashier is a beautiful sculpture of books.

Grab a book and make yourself comfortable.

Just don't stay there too long, lounging and not buying anything. This is a business after all. There is a one hour time limit for sitting and reading. ¡No se vayan a dormir!

La sección de libros en español. I personally plan to contribute to new reading material, since I think they could use more titles.

Hey, you can find paperbacks from James Joyce and the book of Dream Interpretation from Freud. (I have a few dreams I have to analyze myself!)

Olivia finds a Decca record she likes. They have a huge selection of LP's for 99 cents.

She also found a disco de Menudo, from the early days, and I almost flipped. Look: Miguel, Xavier, Charly, Ricky, and Jhonny!

They also have a coffee bar that serves "Cafecito Orgánico" coffee and other treats.

The lovely Miss O at The Last Bookstore.

Checking out La Reina del Sur dvd at the Library

Man, the weekends go by fast. Somehow 48 hours are not enough para hacer todo lo que quieres/tienes que hacer, especially when you know you’re going to spend a Sunday afternoon watching commercials and the SuperBowl. (OK the halftime with Madonna was amazing, right?… But I digress.)

On my list for the weekend was to squeeze in a visit to the Library in downtown LA, even if it’s totally out of the way for me. If I can just get in 30 minutes during the week, I am a happy camper. May I recommend you visit it (again!) and see the cool stuff they have going on?

Browsing through their DVD collections on the first floor, oh joy! There are Documentaries, Foreign Movies and TELENOVELAS. A really good selection for all of us who have discerning tastes. I was impressed.

Wouldn’t you know it? They already have the La Reina del Sur dvd on the shelf. If you haven’t already seen it, here’s your chance to see what all the hoopla was about last year. Mind you, this is an edited version on 2 volumes (12 dvds total) but it’s a great series, nevertheless. Or maybe you’re just a LRDS junkie and you just want to re-live your favorite moments con El Ratas y Don Epifanio, not to mention El Pote y el Batmancito. I miss them…You could buy the series at Amazon, but it will set you back 40 bucks. Here at the library you can check it out for free for 2 weeks.

You can check out La Reina del Sur series dvds at the 1st floor of the LA Central Public Library in downtown.

Interesting juxtaposition of the Novelas dvds next to Anime. There is something for everybody.

Cinephiles rejoice. A cult classic from el DF in the late 80's. Alfonso Cuarón's first hit: Solo con Tu Pareja. Still funny after all these years.

Los pasillos de la biblioteca, with miles and miles of books.

Cool title in Spanglish. "Orozco in Gringoland" Will have to check it out soon. Chronicles Jose Clemente Orozco's work in New York City.

Mi favorite Spanglish professor Bill Santiago is in the Huffington Post.

Read all about it! Bill Santiago, Spanglish genius, comedian and fabulous writer has a great column today over at HuffPo. Get over there and take a look.

Click here to go to the link.

Great writing, funny stuff! Bill Santiago's "Harry The Dirty" post from HuffPo.

I promise you, promise you you’re going to LOVE his writing. In fact,  I’m going to re-read it just about now. He also has a brilliant way of explaining Spanglish to people like me who can’t describe it any better than just a mesh of 2 languages in my brain, going on “al mismo tiempo”.

But here’s an excerpt:

…See, this is the way a properly wired Spanglish mind processes information — constantly analyzing English and Spanish in terms of each other, scrutinizing translations, combinations, confabulations. Your brain is in a constant loop between the two operating systems, your two cultures, your two realities. Granted, most of the time it’s unconscious. Uno ni se da cuenta, really, that you’re doing it. It’s just that cuando you have both languages inside you, vives en los dos a la vez. It’s very quantum, como quien dice.

It can be a little dizzying to always be filtering the world in a Spanglish default mode. Pero, would I want it any other way? ¡Jamás! Which by the way is one of my favorite Spanish words, meaning “never” or “never again” or “when el infierno freezes over.”

There’s a lot of passion in the word jamás; you can feel it when you say it, spewing up like magma from way inside your gut. It’s pronounced with a soft ‘j’ (like an ‘h’ in English), not with the jelly ‘j’ in pajamas. You can hold that soft ‘j’ sound as long as you like, depending how much you are feeling it in the moment, and then nail the sentiment with a dramatic accented stress on the last syllable. It’s very cathartic. ‘Never’ can also be translated into Spanish as ‘nunca,’ of course. But ‘nunca,’ isn’t nearly as strong a word. It only means never. Whereas ‘jamás’ means never ever ever ever ever. So never say ‘nunca’ when you mean ‘jamás.’ Not to be confused with Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group, by the way.

See what I mean? Es la única persona que me puede explicar lo que pasa en mi cabeza con los dos idiomas. And with comedy!

You can also get Bill’s book, “Pardon My Spanglish” over at Amazon and catch his stand-up around the country. His website is on my blog roll to the left.

Este, señores, es el Spanglish Bible. Leanlo please. "Pardon My Spanglish" by Bill Santiago is available on

Saludos Bill! Keep the funny posts coming.