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This week, Beverly Hills' native daughter Amy Ephron published Loose Diamonds, a memoir-in-stories detailing decades of her bicoastal life. Best-selling novelist and filmmaker Ephron has the wry wit of a woman who has lived; most deftly handled are chapters on Los Angeles in the 1970s, when sirens ordered champagne by the case and National Lampoon writers misbehaved, sometimes horribly.

Ephron's insider perspective brings to mind another pair of must-read L.A. women, both also California-born. Most famously, there's Joan Didion, whose crisp yet revealing early nonfiction covers idiosyncratic topics from Jim Morrison to her own nervous breakdown. This winter, everyone will be talking about her upcoming Blue Nights; start reading Didion now with We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live.

And get your hands on a copy of Black Swans by Eve Babitz. Rediscovered by many when New York Times columnist Holly Brubach called her "the life of the party I somehow failed to attend," Babitz's stories of floating through glamorous fine-art and rock-and-roll circles engage with a charmingly breezy voice not quite hiding a fierce intelligence. The book is out of print but available on Alibris.

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