Diesel A.V. Club: Bookseller Gone Viral


 Did you see this video of Diesel bookseller, Ian, singing "I Dreamed A Dream" as Gollum? We're very proud.


Three Good Things: In Snow, In Song, In Darkness


1. When life gives you snowdrifts...

"While the many in the Northeast were sledding and digging out our cars, artist Sarah Cohen made the most out of the abundant snowfall in Boston this past weekend. She explained: 'My books are usually made from ice and melt, referring to the melting icecaps, global warming, and the loss of books through newer technologies like the e-reader. It's all related. And just like ice, the snow books will also disappear over time--representing that permanence is always fleeting and that books may also disappear from contemporary culture.'" Read more

2. A New Opera

"Adapted through the decades for stage, screen and TV, this tale is now an opera, opening March 1 in Berkeley. A co-presentation of San Francisco Opera (which commissioned it) and Cal Performances, it's 'a trip from darkness to light,' says composer Nolan Gasser, also known as architect of the Music Genome Project, the technology behind Pandora, the Internet radio service. 'And by the time you get to the end, we're swimming in a sea of consonance and melody.' The story is 'about as universal as it gets,' he adds. 'That's what has filled me and inspired me. And it's just proven to be such a fantastic source for an opera because, whether you're in China or San Francisco or on the Andromeda galaxy, any intelligent being would be inspired by the nature around them. Because we all come from it.'" Read more. (Big fan of musical adaptations? Here's...something.)

3. The Dark Horse Printz Winner

"For many recipients of the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz Medals, the phone calls from the award committees come while the first pot of coffee is brewing or the kids have just been sent off to school. Not so for this year’s Printz winner, Nick Lake, who lives near Oxford, England, where he’s publishing director at HarperCollins Children’s Books. Lake, who won the Printz on Monday for his novel In Darkness (Bloomsbury), had been working at home for hours when the phone rang: 'There was an American voice on the other end, and I thought, "That’s strange,"' he told PW by phone on Tuesday. When the Printz committee informed Lake that he had won, he said, 'My reaction was one of utter disbelief. I asked them if they were sure they didn’t want to give it to someone else, which evidently authors do not usually ask. It was pure shock and surprise in the middle of a working-from-home day.'” Read more. Read In Darkness


I'm shopping local. I don't want to live a life of loneliness and
disconnection even if it might be cheaper. Price is important,
but it is not the only thing that is important."
--Author Jon Katz on Bedlamfarm.com

February's Bookseller of the Month

Our bookseller of the month for February is John Peck. Each month, we ask a staff member a few questions about their relationship with books, and reading in general. Below are John's responses.

1. What kind of reader are you?

My tastes are all over the map, and when I read I like to ping-pong between genres - if I've just finished a novel, I'll move on to a book of essays, then a graphic novel, then poetry, then some reference book that isn't really supposed to be read, like an atlas or a cookbook - I can read atlases and cookbooks for hours. I love new authors, but to me reading is about looking back, reliving some golden age - in that sense, I guess I'm a fairly conservative reader, even though most of what I read is on the darker, stranger side of the spectrum. I believe in canons, plural, as in each reader assembling his or her own. Mine is made up of authors like Borges, Lorca, Lispector, Murakami, Spicer, Calvino, Gogol, Brautigan, Vonnegut; authors who create worlds. I've been on a massive sci-fi kick lately, and have been hungrily reading and re-reading everything from A Fire Upon the Deep to Ender's Game to Neuromancer.

2. Name three favorite titles that came out in the last three years.

The new translations of Lispector from New Directions, particularly Hour of the Star; Amazing Everything, the long-overdue first collection from Scott C, one of my favorite cartoonists; and the updated edition of How To Cook Everything, my all-time favorite cookbook.

3. What reading experience surprised you recently?

I picked up the audiobook of Guns, Germs and Steel, thinking I'd listen to it in the car, but ended up listening to it entirely on headphones, mostly while walking. It was a great way to absorb such an epic book, and I now associate certain passages with whatever part of the city I was walking through when I heard them.

4. What upcoming book are you looking forward to?

Since Tenth of December is already out, I'll say The Fun Parts by Sam Lipsyte. Also, my friend Ben Catmull's book Ghosts and Ruins is coming out from Fantagraphics this fall, and it looks amazing.

5. If you could spend a day with one living author, who would it be and why?

Dead authors are so much easier to choose from; you can imagine them brooding their way through the afterlife. The worry with living authors is that it will actually happen, and will be underwhelming, so I'd have to choose someone who knows how to have a good time - how about Slavoj Zizek?

Check out some of John's favorite books on his recommendation page.


Love Month: OLM Visits Diesel Malibu


A visit from our funny valentines over at Our Lady of Malibu!

Women Who Raised Me: Episode Four


I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, I grew up with a wonderful, attentive mother. Super parents, both. Really. But a young girl and developing bibliophile requires a whole host of literary mothers to show her the way. It takes a village.

Episode Four: Charlotte Perkins Gilman

The year is 2005 and I hate my sophomore English teacher. She's teaching the class Charlotte Perkins Gilman's story "The Yellow Wallpaper" and demonstrating the main character's psychosis by crawling around the room on her hands and knees. We are only fifteen, but we can sense that this is not the first time this total whack-job has crawled around on a dirty floor in a crowded room. But I digress.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman was a novelist, poet, editor, lecturer, and political activist. This is a woman who spoke her mind. One of the remarkable things about "The Yellow Wallpaper" is Gilman's candor about her own experience with postpartum depression and her creative working-out of what would have been seen, at the time, as an extreme failure as a woman. It's also a fantastic piece of horror about the betrayals of the mind. Do not read this if you actually have any yellow wallpaper in your house.


Next Time: I find out that women were funny back when people didn't smile in pictures.


Read Episode Three: Ursula Hegi

Read Episode Two: Kate DiCamillo

Read Episode One: Maud Hart Lovelace


Four Good Things: Tactile Edition

1. Indie Bookstores on the Rise!

" The American Booksellers Association welcomed 43 indie bookstores that opened in 2012 in 25 states. Among them were six branches of existing businesses and seven selling primarily used books. California is home to seven new stores; New York, five; Florida and Texas, three; and Kansas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, two." Read more...

2. Putting it Down on Paper.

"There is a kind of naive sophistication to the commonplace idea that writing is writing, a text is a text, on the screen or on the page. Against this, I take the words of these old men as a clue to a subtle transformation that took place in recent decades, prefiguring the more noticeable arrival of the ‘electronic book’." Read More...

3. The Indie Impact Study Series.

"Communities as different as Las Vegas, New Mexico, and Louisville, Kentucky, have at least one thing in common: Their independent businesses recirculate a substantially greater proportion of their revenues back into the local economy than do their chain competitors. This, according to a national study, The Indie Impact Study Series: National Summary Report, a summary of 10 localized studies conducted by Civic Economics, in partnership with the American Booksellers Association, over an 11-month period from 2011 - 2012." Read More...

4.  The Argument for Paper Books.

"Okay, for anyone who's still not convinced that books--paper books, as sold in brick-and-mortar bookstores--are not absolutely indispensable to even the most shallow among us, here's my go-to argument, my deal closer, as it were. Listen up, horny people, and hipsters: Anyone who ever said they got laid reading an e-book is lying. It is physically impossible to look cool in the coffee line holding a tablet. You just can't do it! But if you've got a thin volume of Baudelaire poems, say, or a Murakami novel, look out! That Rolodex you bought at Goodwill is gonna fill up in a hurry, bro! You know why? Because books are social currency, always have been. Books will always be cool. Even if most people don't read them. As long as they buy them, the rest of us will be okay." 

-Jonathan Evison, author of The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,
in an essay called "The Argument for Books: 'Heavy, Smelly, Cumbersome,
Perfect Bound Books


Sign Up For World Book Night!

The deadline to sign up to be a giver for World Book Night 2013 is JANUARY 23RD. And as a special treat, for our dear Dieselites, we'll be throwing book pick-up parties at our Malibu, Brentwood, and Oakland stores. So apply today!

Got questions? Here are some answers, courtesy of the World Book Night website. 

 Q. What is World Book Night?
A. World Book Night is a charity dedicated to the promotion of literacy and the celebration, sharing and enjoyment of reading amongst teenagers and adults. The first World Book Night was held in the UK in 2011. In 2012 World Book Night was celebrated in the UK, Ireland, Germany and the USA on April 23 and saw tens of thousands of givers share the joy and love of reading with millions of people who don't regularly read.

Q. What are givers, and what do they do?
A. Givers are volunteers who are passionate about reading and have signed up to give copies of a certain book on or around April 23 to those who don't regularly read within their communities. Givers collect the books they've been allocated from their local participating bookshop or library in the week before World Book Night.

Q. How do I get involved?
A. Giver applications for 2013 are now open and you can apply here.

World Book Night 2013 - Become a Giver!


Hello Reader,

There is an exciting book event happening this spring, across this whole wide country of ours (as well as the U.K., Ireland and Germany).  It's called World Book Night 2013!  The idea is that on one night, throughout America, 1 million books will be given away by hand by tens of thousands of people.  Authors and publishers have enthusiastically agreed to print over 30 thousand copies of 30 different titles, to be delivered to pick-up locations throughout the country -- mostly independent bookstores and libraries.  Individual readers will sign up to be Givers who agree to hand deliver 20 copies of a title of their choice to strangers in locations outside of their homes, their bookstores, and their libraries.  It may be a park, a prison, a school, a hospital, an intersection, an airplane, a bus. 

You can sign up as a Giver, choose DIESEL as your pick-up location, and choose from this year's title list.  World Book Night 2013 is April 23rd, which is UNESCO's World Book Day and is the day of both Miguel de Cervantes' death and William Shakespeare's birth and death.   

In 2011, this was done in the U.K. and Ireland with astounding results and last year the U.S. joined in, with great success. The deadline for signing up as a Giver is January 23rd!  Please take the time to go to the World Book Night 2012 website and sign up to be a Giver.  You can see video footage from last year's event on the site as well, to get a sense of the joy created by this generous sharing of the love of reading between strangers. 

The World Book Night 2013 website is here.  The direct link to the sign up form is here.  Please put DIESEL as your registered pick-up location and let's make this event one of the biggest and best feel-good events of the year! 

Encourage your friends, your mayor, the media, your family, your favorite organizations -- all of them! -- to sign up and join to help to make this as big an event as we can!  It will take all of us to work together to get books into the hands of those who least expect them. 


Happy Reading! 

John and all Dieselfolk


January's Bookseller of the Month

Our Bookseller of the Month for January is Cameron Carlson. Each month, we ask a staff member a few questions about their relationship with books, and reading in general. Below are Cameron's responses.

1. What kind of reader are you?

I read everything, mostly nonfiction; history, 
journals, philosophy, and religious texts. I also enjoy non-American 
literature and American Noir. I read several books at once. I'm not sure 
how many I'm currently making my way through but definitely four books 

2. Name three favorite titles that came out in the last three years.

The Map and the Territory by Michel Houellebecq, People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry, and 
The Tiger by John Vaillant

3. What reading experience surprised you recently?

I expected Houellebecq's The Map and the Territory to be sort of 
nihilistic like Bret Easton Ellis' writing, based on his reputation, but I 
find it very honest and compassionate. Also, I picked up Patrick White's 
Voss, which I knew nothing about and was floored by his dense, 
medical precision with emotional language.

4. What upcoming book are you looking forward to?

The next book that I would buy based on an author's reputation, would 
be John LeCarre, out of curiosity. I think James Ellroy was undertaking a 
new series. Also, John Jeremiah Sullivan.

5. If you could spend a day with one living author, who would it be and why?

This is a difficult question for me to answer because I prefer to spend 
time with people I know well, and having interviewed some authors in the 
past, know that I am incapable of asking a fascinating, observant, and 
intelligent question in the moment. So this would have to be like who 
would I want to hang out with in a bar or in a storm shelter for a couple 
hours. Jim Harrison or Lydia Davis. Definitely Umberto Eco or James 
Salter. Joan Did's. Zadie Smith is really beautiful. Really anyone, now 
that I think about it.

Check out some of Cameron's favorite books on his recommendation page.


Women Who Raised Me: Episode Three


I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea, I grew up with a wonderful, attentive mother. Super parents, both. Really. But a young girl and developing bibliophile requires a whole host of literary mothers to show her the way. It takes a village.

Episode Three: Ursula Hegi

The year is 2002 and I am in the eighth grade. That's the top of the middle school heap, folks. And, at thirteen, I'm feeling as grown up as I've ever felt (peaked too soon). My English teacher is young and full of radical, anti-establishment ideas about the futility of benchmarks and we have rallied around her in the revolutionary spirit and burned our spelling workbooks. She tacked a list of banned books to the wall and had many of them in her room to loan out; I could mainline the inflammatory literary smut they wouldn't keep in the middle school library. My first selection? Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi.

War, sex, Nazism, dwarfism, and a librarian heroine? What's not to love? And, until this moment, I had read only young adult fiction, never something so complex and beautifully written. Not to say that young adult authors can't be masters of craft, but Hegi is particularly daring and shocking. The story is about both Trudi, a dwarf woman reconciling her otherness in World War II-era Germany, and the greater implications of Nazism on the lives of Trudi and the members of her town. I want to make this clear: it blew my mind. Hegi opened me up to a number of great novelists that year--Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway--things that I didn't think I was ready to read because no one had ever told me it was okay.   


Next Time: I find out that women write the best horror.


Read Episode Two: Kate DiCamillo

Read Episode One: Maud Hart Lovelace