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LA has been the subject of countless novels, film and documentaries. Here’s our list of recommended reading and viewing, from film noir to contemporary classics.


Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi (1974)

Los Angeles doesn’t get darker than Helter Skelter. It’s a 700-page tome chronicling Charles Manson written, in part, by the prosecuting attorney Vincent Bugliosi.

City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles by Mike Davis (1990)

Mike Davis deconstructs the forces that shaped modern LA through history, from the ruins of a socialist 1914 community to the influence of real estate developers, journalists, and WWII exiles.

L.A. Confidential by James Ellory (1990)

A graphic and dark 1950's crime story where police officers testifying against each other making the main character enemies as well as some powerful friends. The tale of corruption surrounding the unsolved murder at a downtown Los Angeles coffee shop was brought to the silver screen in 1997.

Bungalow 2 by Danelle Steel (2008)

Steel’s novel follows the life of a suburban housewife caught up in the glamorous world of Hollywood on her journey to becoming an award-winning screenwriter.

American Dream Machine by Matthew Specktor (2013)

Beau Rosenwald arrives in Los Angles in 1962 with nothing but an ill-fitting suit. By the late 1970's he has founded the most successful talent agencies in Hollywood.

Melting the Snow on Hester Street by Daisy Waugh (2013)

Evoking the Golden Age of Hollywood in the late 20s, Daisy Waugh’s novel is a compelling portrait of love, fame, and survival.


Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)

This wacky homage to LA detective fiction, set in 1947 Los Angeles, blends live action and animation to tell the story of a washed-up detective and cartoon film star Roger Rabbit.

L.A. Story (1991)

Steve Martin's love letter to his adopted hometown reveals the side of Los Angeles usually seen only by long-time residents.

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Quentin Tarantino's cult movie requires little introduction, with it's cast of intense characters bring the city's aggressive weirdness and dark humour to life.

The Big Lebowski (1998)

This surrealistic comedy was inspired by real-life people and has been called "the first cult film of the Internet age”.

Mulholland Drive (2001)

This psychological thriller written and directed by David Lynch, tells the story of an aspiring actress which the director describes as “a love story in the city of dreams".

Los Angeles Plays Itself (2003)

This cult film has been called the best documentary on Los Angeles, showing the impact Hollywood has played in the demise of the Angel City.

Confessions of a Superhero (2007)

This film focuses specifically on four individuals who dress up as superheroes and goes in-depth about the psychology of its subjects.

The Hollywood Complex (2011)

Every spring, hundreds of parents bring their children to Hollywood, hoping to use television’s pilot season as a way for the kids to break into showbiz. This offbeat documentary showcases the nightmare the media industry puts children through.