Summer Reads: Punk Chicanas, Love, Poetry and Assata Shakur!

The third in our series of must-read recommendations from independent booksellers. This week: Imix Bookstore in Los Angeles

By Julianne Hing Aug 09, 2013

We’ve surveyed a number of independent bookstores to ask, ‘What should we be reading this summer?’ Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you recommendations from each.

Elisa Garcia, owner of Imix Bookstore, has a literary love so strong that she’s pulled Imix (pronounced "ee-meesh") through multiple locations over the last decade. The newest location is at Espacio 1839 in Los Angeles.’ Imix now shares space with a collective featuring an arts space, community radio station and a clothing store. The aim, she says, is to be a positive and rich cultural hub for Imix’s working-class Latino neighborhood of Boyle Heights. "My dad tries to convince me every year to give it up and go become a good librarian," Garcia says. "I tell him, ‘I am a librarian, just in a different way.’" Here are Garcia’s summer picks:

"Love and Rockets Companion" edited by Marc Sobel and Kristy Valenti (Fantagraphics, 2013)

"Brothers Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez, occasionally joined by their brother Mario, have been writing the graphic novella ‘Love and Rockets’ for over 30 years now, and this book is a look back at those three decades. ‘Love and Rockets Companion’ is super dynamic and it’s a great place to start for someone who’s never read the series. It’s centered on two Latinas, Maggie and Hopey. They’re punk rock Chicanas and best friends and they’ve kind of been in love and been fighting it the whole time. Often the audience of ‘Love and Rockets’ is very white, but these comics are totally based on women of color. Comics and graphic novels are such a wide-open space where anything can happen."

 "Assata: An Autobiography" by Assata Shakur (Lawrence Hill Books, 1987)

"When the FBI put Assata Shakur on its most wanted terrorists list this year they pushed her back on the bestseller’s list. Her autobiography has always been a really good seller here at the store. I always recommend this book. It’s unfortunate what’s going on with her case but it’s engaged people with her story again. Her book cemented the commonality of struggles of women who are politicized, regardless of whether you’re black or Filipina or Chicana, even within movements; to this day we’re struggling with patriarchy, with machismo. So it’s really about what we can learn from her struggle and apply to what’s going on right now."

"The Unknown University" by Roberto Bolaño (New Directions, 2013)

"Bolaño’s been the literary rockstar for some time since ‘The Savage Detectives’ was translated in 2009. Most of what’s been published in English has been his novels and short stories, but when he was alive, Bolaño said poetry was what he was most passionate about. So I’m really excited about ‘The Unknown University,’ which is poetry from when he was 20 years old until his death. These days people are publishing anything he wrote, which I think is kind of a disservice to him. ‘The Unknown University’ is something he put together from beginning to end before he died, and it’s a really beautiful book. It’s hardcover and 800 pages, so it’s probably not conducive to bringing to the beach, but you’ll look really impressive reading it."

"Ways of Going Home" by Alejandro Zambra (Farrar, Strous and Giroux, 2013)

"Zambra is a Chilean writer. This is his third novel, so he’s not really an emerging one but he’s becoming more well-known in the English-speaking world. ‘Ways of Going Home’ is a sweet story about a young man who, after an earthquake in Santiago, goes out along with everyone else into the street to sleep because there’s nowhere else to go. In that short period he falls in love with a young girl. The second part  of the novel is the character as an author trying to write their love story as an adult. It’s [only] 160 pages long and it’s brilliant and really sweet."