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13 Best Books Set in LA (Novels, Biographies, & More)

Los Angeles crackles with an energy that’s both intoxicating and overwhelming. It’s a land of dreams, noirish undercurrents, reinvention, and relentless ambition. Countless incredible books capture aspects of this dynamic city, and we’ve compiled a list of some of the absolute best.

Books set in LA

Must-Read Books Set in Los Angeles

Whether you’re a local, planning to visit LA, or enjoy a good book, these stories will immerse you in the City of Angels, taking you from the glittering lights of Hollywood to the gritty underbelly of its streets:

1. Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

milk fed melissa broder

Named the Best Book of the Year and Most-Anticipated Selection, Milk Fed is an erotic lesbian fiction book with a side of humor.

The story is about a woman living in LA in her twenties, exploring physical and emotional hunger. While Milk Fed is profoundly emotional, Broder adds her classic quirky, fun bits into the mix, too. 

Milk Fed is an excellent book for anyone interested in a relatable read that dives into food rituals, challenging parental relationships, and finding oneself.

Buy a copy of Milk Fed here

2. White Oleander by Janet Fitch 

white oleander

White Oleander is a must-read if you’re looking for one of the most enthralling yet devastating novels set in Los Angeles. 

This Oprah Book Club read tells the story of a young woman who lived in multiple Los Angeles foster homes. Many hard lessons in various homes with dangers and challenges take the woman on a surprising journey of self-discovery. Although White Oleander is a heavy read, it’s beautifully written and incredibly moving.

Buy a copy of White Oleander here

3. Pizza Girl by Jean Frazer

pizza girl

If you like to read books that are quick and easy but have a huge impact, Pizza Girl is an excellent option. Winner of the LAMBDA literary award, you can finish this book in one sitting while following the story of a pregnant teen working in suburban Los Angeles.

She faces many life struggles that only intensify when she becomes obsessed with a married customer. Pizza Girl is bold, darkly funny, and always unexpected.

Buy a copy of Pizza Girl here

4. Light From Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki

light from uncommon stars

Light From Uncommon Stars is a fan-favorite for those who love science fiction and fantasy novels.

This defiantly adventurous read is set east of LA in the San Gabriel Valley and tells the story of a young Transgender runaway on a mission. Along the way, they find community, love, and identity.

As you read along and join three women who become connected by music, chance, and fate, it’s nearly impossible not to feel captivated.

Buy a copy of Light From Uncommon Stars here

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5. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

the seven husbands of evelyn hugo

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a New York Times Bestseller sapphic novel and a go-to beach read. 

It tells the story of an aging Hollywood movie icon who’s finally ready to tell the truth about her enchanting, scandalous life. And it turns out there might just be a reason she chooses a specific reporter to tell her story to.

This heartbreaking but captivating book is one that many readers find incredibly difficult to put down.

Buy The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo here

6. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

taylor jenkins reid daisy jones

As a #1 National Bestseller, Daisy Jones & The Six is considered one of the best fiction books set in Los Angeles. It’s also been named one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post and Esquire.

Daisy Jones & The Six explores the rise and fall of a fictional band in the late sixties, early seventies. The novel keeps you on the edge of your seat, waiting for what’s to come from start to finish.

Taylor Jenkens Reid is known for incredible work and certainly takes that to the next level with this book.

Buy Daisy Jones and The Six here

7. The Pisces by Melissa Broder

the pisces broder

If you’re looking for a unique page-turner, The Pisces, Melissa Border’s first novel, is an exciting option.

When Lucy visits Venice Beach in Los Angeles for the summer to dog-sit, she winds up becoming fascinated by a swimmer who turns out to be a merman. Follow along as Lucy starts questioning everything she thought she knew about the meaning of life and love.

Buy a copy of The Pisces here

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8. Eve’s Hollywood by Eve Babitz

eve's hollywood

Eve’s Hollywood is a special nonfiction book about Los Angeles. This biography is a love letter to Los Angeles, written by the city’s most charming daughter, a journalist, party girl, artist, and so much more. Throughout the book, Eve shares pieces of LA’s stunning landscape and interesting accounts of rockstars sleeping at Chateau Marmont and a hooker at the corner of La Brea Ave and Sunset Blvd.

It’s easy to appreciate Eve’s witty commentary and her love affair with Los Angeles shown throughout Eve’s Hollywood.

Buy a copy of Eve’s Hollywood here

9. Death Is a Lonely Business by Ray Bradbury

death is a lonely business

If you enjoy reading mysteries, Death is a Lonely Business is one of the best ones set in LA. This stylish, somewhat fantastical tale takes place in Venice, California.

It covers a series of murders happening around a young writer who’s constantly distracted by strange events around him. Ray Bradbury is known as an unmatched storyteller, and Death is a Lonely Business doesn’t disappoint.

Buy Death Is a Lonely Business here

10. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

the big sleep

Another one of the best crime novels set in LA that’s a bit different is The Big Sleep. When a dying millionaire hires a private eye to handle his daughter’s blackmailer, he finds himself involved in more trouble than he could’ve imagined.

This fascinating read features the iconic character that inspired the film Marlowe with Liam Neeson.

Buy a copy of The Big Sleep

11. The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

sympathizer LA books

The Sympathizer has been recognized as one of the best novels set in Los Angeles and has received the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. It was also named a New York Times Editor’s Choice. In fact, it’s won various awards, making this a unique debut novel.

Enjoy a story of love and betrayal narrated by a French-Vietnamese army captain who plans to come to the United States after the Fall of Saigon to build a new life in LA.

It’s easy to keep turning the pages of The Sympathizer as you follow along with the powerful story of friendship and love.

Buy a copy of The Sympathizer here

12. Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

weetzie bat

Weetzie Bat is a wonderful, poetic work of magical realism and won a Phoenix Award from the Children’s Literature Association. It’s perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Laura Ruby.

This coming-of-age novel is widely recognized as a young adult literature classic and follows two best friends as they navigate life and love in a dreamy version of Los Angeles. 

Buy a copy of Weetzie Bat here

13. Ask the Dust by John Fante

ask the dust

One of the most popular novels set in Los Angeles is Ask the Dust, which takes place during the Great Depression era. This intriguing story shares the account of a young writer, Arturo Bandini, who falls in love with a waitress. Arturo’s hope for success and love doesn’t go as planned.

Follow along as he struggles with relationships, poverty, and his ability to translate these experiences into words.

Buy a copy of Ask the Dust here

We hope you enjoyed exploring this list of the best books set in Los Angeles and found one you’re excited to read! If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing.

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