Inaugural Palisades Reads Closes With Community Book Club

By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief

The inaugural two-part Palisades Reads—hosted by the Friends of the Palisades Library—concluded on November 13 with a Community Book Club Night, led by Palisadian author Laura Nicole Diamond.

For the first year, the group focused on “Shelter Us,” a novel by Diamond that is set in the Palisades and explores the layers of human experience through grief and helping out someone in need.

Community members from around town and from as far away as Mid-City and Mar Vista gathered at Palisades Branch Library for the book club night and sat in a circle, snacking on cheese and crackers assembled by Diamond while asking the author questions about everything from her writing process (part of which includes listening to dubstep) to how she relates to her characters.

“It was wonderful to bring together new faces and old friends in one circle to talk about the book and its back story,” Diamond shared after the event.

Diamond explained that she was a couple of years into motherhood when she started to write what she knew—including taking notes about what her kids were saying.

When asked if she had a plot or outline in mind when starting the book, Diamond responded: “Yeah, no, I didn’t.”

She shared that she didn’t know where the book would lead when she was getting started, but the story started to take shape organically, drawing from her own experiences in the world—and especially in the Palisades.

“Shelter Us” took Diamond about seven years to finish overall, with a handful of edits looking at different aspects of the book, including dialogue and scene.

When she reread the book ahead of Palisades Reads, Diamond shared that she “felt proud” and thought, “That was a good book.”

The first part of the event, which took place on October 23, was a panel on the topic of “Save One Life, Save the World?” featuring representatives from the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, Safe Place for Youth and griefHaven.

“By all measures, the inaugural year of Palisades Reads was a big success,” President of Pacific Palisades Library Association Laura Schneider shared. “Both the informative panel on homelessness and the follow-up book club discussion were lively, inspiring and very well attended.”

Palisades Reads plans to return in 2020 with a new book and theme.

“I hope everyone who attended felt they got something new and meaningful from the experience, and will consider helping to select next year’s Palisades Reads book,” Diamond said. “I’m looking forward to that process, and to being an audience member next year.”

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