Books by Bruins
rom fast-paced mysteries to heartfelt memoirs and enthralling historical fiction ꟷ Bruins are writing compelling and engaging stories. In this new series featuring Bruin authors, we've assembled a list of works based on positive book reviews. For a larger selection, check out the UCLA College Bruin Bookshelf, which celebrates a wide range of faculty, student, alumni and staff authors.
“Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage” by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ʼ69
Former UCLA and NBA basketball star and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is also a New York Times bestselling author of 15 books, including his biography, “Giant Steps” and the memoir “Coach Wooden & Me” on his long-time friendship with the legendary coach. The third book in his “Mycroft and Sherlock” series, “The Empty Birdcage,” thrills with action and intrigue as the Holmes brothers pursue a murderer through Victorian England.
"The third Mycroft tale is another winner. The Victorian setting is well drawn, the dialog rings true, the period details, both factual and fictive, support a labyrinthine plot including race and class distinctions...Highly recommended, as are its two predecessors." - Library Journal Starred Review
“Force of Nature: Three Women Tackle the John Muir Trail” by Joan M. Griffin ʼ77
Joan M. Griffin holds a degree in psychobiology from UCLA. Her memoir, “Force of Nature” is the compelling story of three women in their fifties who set out on a 200-mile hiking adventure. Her inspiring tale blends the beauty of the journey with all its exhilarating dips and climbs.
"’Force of Nature’ is a tale of both physical endurance and a story of inner transformation and the enduring power of nature... a must-read for both adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers." - Readers' Favorites Reviews
“Delicious El Salvador: 75 Authentic Recipes For Traditional Salvadoran Cooking” and “El Salvador, Sabores Deliciosos: 75 Recetas Auténticas de la Cocina Tradicional Salvadoreña” by Alicia Maher ʼ92
Winner of the Gourmand Award for best first cookbook, “Delicious El Salvador” and “El Salvador, Sabores Deliciosos” contain recipes for authentic and delicious meals including pupusas, quesadilla and torrejas. Maher was born in El Salvador and moved to the United States at the age of 19, earning her B.A. in art history at UCLA. UCLA Magazine named her El Salvador's culinary ambassador.
"In Delicious El Salvador, Maher gives you a thorough course on Salvadoran cuisine - one of the strongest Latin cuisines represented in Los Angeles - with around 75 recipes in English. It's the only book of its kind and one of only two Salvadoran cookbooks in print . . . Maher makes sure to include the fundamental preparations like salsa casera and salsa criolla - the two essential tomato sauces - and Salvadoran-style beans, rice dishes and tortillas that are served with many dishes. Yes, there are recipes for pupusas ꟷ don't worry..." - Bill Esparza, Los Angeles Magazine Digest
“Every Day We Get More Illegal” by Juan Felipe Herrera ʼ72
The former United States Poet Laureate has written more than 30 books of poetry. A poet, performer, teacher and activist, Herrera’s newest poems came from his travels across America as Poet Laureate. Voted a Best Poetry Book of the Year by Library Journal and included in Publishers Weekly's Top 10 Poetry Books of the Year, the political and poignant book delves into the idea of who is called “illegal” and what that means.
"Many poets since the 1960s have dreamed of a new hybrid art, part oral, part written, part English, part something else: an art grounded in ethnic identity, fueled by collective pride, yet irreducibly individual too. Many poets have tried to create such an art: Herrera is one of the first to succeed." - New York Times
“Facing the Mountain: An Inspiring Story of Japanese American Patriots in World War II” by Daniel James Brown, M.A. ʼ77
Daniel James Brown is the author of “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics,” which spent two-and-a-half years on the NY Times bestseller list and is now a major motion picture. His most recent book, “Facing the Mountain: An Inspiring Story of Japanese American Patriots in World War II,” explores the meaning of patriotism, resistance, trust and betrayal. The book was longlisted for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography and winner of the Christopher Award.
“Brown combines history with humanity in a tense, tender and well-researched study of the lives disrupted and disregarded by misperceptions and misinformation. ‘Facing the Mountain’ is ‘not a story about victims,’ as Brown writes. Rather, ‘It’s a story of victors, of people striving, resisting, rising up, standing on principle, laying down their lives, enduring and prevailing.” - San Francisco Chronicle
“The Bohemians” by Jasmin Darznik ʼ94
Chosen as one of the best historical novels of 2021 by Oprah Daily, "The Bohemians" returns to 1920s San Francisco and imagines a friendship between renowned photographer Dorothea Lange and her assistant. A New York Times bestselling author, Darznik also wrote “Song of aCaptive Bird” and “The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life.”
“Modern echoes abound in a city under a pall of economic turmoil and racial disharmony advanced by politicians for their own ends as well as the global influenza pandemic. Darznik has created an arresting portrait of two women set before an illuminating backdrop.” - Booklist
“So Sorry For Your Loss: How I Learned to Live with Grief, and Other Grave Concerns” by Dina Gachman ʼ96
Dina Gachman graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English Language and Literature/Letters from UCLA, where she was a staff writer for the Daily Bruin. In her book "So Sorry For Your Loss," she explores her personal grief through a combination of storytelling, reporting and memoir, resulting in a book that can provide comfort to others.
“Journalist Gachman 'Brokenomics' delivers a poignant, personal exploration of grief…Gachman perceptively puts words to the uncomfortable realities of loss…and deconstructs its social myths, helping readers feel less alone. Those facing loss will find solace here.” - Publishers Weekly
“Dream Town” by Lee Goldberg ʼ85
New York Times bestselling author Lee Goldberg earned his B.A. in communication studies from UCLA, where he was a reporter and feature writer for the Daily Bruin. He published his first book ".357 Vigilante" as a UCLA student under the pen name, Ian Ludlow. In “Dream Town,” the latest installment of his Eve Ronin series, the title character investigates the murder of a reality star in a gated neighborhood where fact and fiction begin to blur.
“Fans of fast-paced police procedurals will enjoy Goldberg’s trademark humor and his insight into the entertainment world in his latest Eve Ronin novel (following ‘Movieland’).” - Library Journal
“Hotel Laguna” by Nicola Harrison ʼ01
Nicola Harrison is the author of three books of immersive historical fiction including “Montauk” and “The Show Girl.” Her latest novel, “Hotel Laguna,” tells the story of a young woman who becomes a Rosie the Riveter during World War II. When the war ends, she must decide whether to return home or make a new life in California.
"Nicola Harrison captures all the turmoil of the post-war world, of the women who found factory work until the men came home ꟷ and then found themselves with no place to go, except back home. But what about the women who don't have a home to go back to? In Hotel Laguna, a destitute and desperate young woman finds an unexpected home and sense of purpose when she takes a job with an aging artist, never guessing that finding his secrets will also help her find herself. You'll feel like you've dipped your toes in the sand of Laguna Beach. The perfect book to slip into your beach bag." - Lauren Willig, New York Times bestselling author
“Buck: A Memoir” by MK Asante, M.F.A. ʼ06
The Los Angeles Times called Asante “one of America’s best storytellers.” He has an M.F.A. from the UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television and is the author of five books. He recounts his experiences growing up in North Philadelphia in the bestselling “Buck: A Memoir,” and shares the story of how literature changed his life. His forthcoming book, “Nephew: A Memoir in 4-Part Harmony” is about the transformational power of family bonds.
“Frequently brilliant and always engaging . . . It takes great skill to render the wide variety of characters, male and female, young and old, that populate a memoir like ‘Buck.’ Asante [is] at his best when he sets out into the city of Philadelphia itself. In fact, that city is the true star of this book. Philly’s skateboarders, its street-corner philosophers and its tattoo artists are all brought vividly to life here. . . Asante’s memoir will find an eager readership, especially among young people searching in books for the kind of understanding and meaning that eludes them in their real-life relationships. . . A powerful and captivating book.” - Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
“Living Colour’s Time’s Up” by Kimberly Mack, M.A. ʼ11, Ph.D. ʼ15
Kimberly Mack is a double Bruin, with a M.A. and Ph.D. in English. Her latest book, “Living Colour’s Time’s Up,” is part of the 33 1/3 series on iconic record albums. The book builds a legacy of their experimental and political second studio album, which blends rock with jazz, soul-pop and metal.
"Expansive. . . . Mack digs deep into Living Colour's history as a band while fleshing out their story with some crucial historical and personal context." ― Okayplayer
“The Do-Over” by Suzanne Park, MBA ʼ02
Suzanne Park is a former comedian and the author of seven books. She holds an MBA in marketing strategy and entertainment from the UCLA Anderson School of Management where she was a first year Dean's fellowship recipient. In her latest romance novel, "The Do-Over," a young woman must return to college to be eligible for her dream job. Once there, she reunites with someone special from her past.
"'The Do-Over' is a delight — hilarious and smart, with insightful commentary about second chances, self-doubt and what it really means to have a successful life." - Real Simple