30 Poetry Videos in 30 Days

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For the month of April, we have created a video poem for each day. Spread the word and, most importantly, enjoy!


Three Good Things: Bookart, Bookbrain, Booktalk.


1. Booksculpting. I recently culled a few bags of books from my collection; call it Spring Cleaning. They're now sitting by the front door, watching me as I come and go, accusing. It's very uncomfortable. I try to tell them that they're going to good homes--to be loved by good, careful readers. They say: "We do not want the mediocrity of the home-bookshelf. We want immortality!" So maybe I'll send them to Alicia Martin for one of her book installations.

Books can be so pushy...

especially fiction.


2. Fiction Addiction. "Brain scans are revealing what happens in our heads when we read a detailed description, an evocative metaphor or an emotional exchange between characters.  Stories, this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life."

Read the rest of this op-ed from the New York Times, which offers scientific evidence that reading fiction makes us better human beings. 


3. The Conversational Stylings of Evison and Mohr. Jonathan Evision, author of West of Here, and Joshua Mohr, author of Damascus, came to Diesel, Oakland for a chat and I caught it on film at a rather odd angle. They cover such sundry topics as bodybuilding, Bigfoot hunting, and the health benefits of acid, so, maybe the camera angle is appropriate, I don't know. 


Algonquin's Lucky 7: Make your reading light jealous

 The staff over at Algonquin Books has picked seven of their favorite titles from past years and, until March 25th, are offering the e-book format for only $1.99. 

And did you know that you can buy your e-books through DIESEL, Online? Look at our list of all seven titles HERE.


Bonus: Two of my favorite Algonquin titles happen to be on the list. For non-fiction, I'd recommend Robert Goolrick’s memoir, The End of the World as We Know It. And, for fiction, The Resurrectionist by Jack O’Connell. 





Three Good Things: Stache, Slate, and Signed Copies


1. Litstache. Authors have long been purveyors of style, one of the many responsibilities of those who cultivate culture. I would like to share a recent feature from HuffPo, which celebrates the facial hair stylings of several great authors. My personal favorite is William Faulkner's mustache (right), but check out the whole slide show to find the perfect lit-stache for you or a loved one.


2. Slate's Book Review. The folks over at Slate noticed that many news sources were cutting down on book coverage so, to be contrary, they decided to devote their home page to book reviews for the first weekend of every month. With its attention to diverse subject matter and reputation for quick, pithy reporting, I turn to Slate for 90% of my information anyhow. This is just going to make my morning web-surfing easier. Read more.


3. Author Drop-Ins.  Sometimes authors stop by to sign books for us. Sometimes I embarrass them by taking photos. Left, Matt Ruff signing The Mirage and Richard Mason, right, with History of a Pleasure Seeker.

March Madness - The Tournament of Books


March: Time to fill out your brackets and trash-talk with co-workers. TIme to squish a you-shaped imprint in your side of the couch. Time to practice the rhythm of team cheer and the nimble acrobatics of creative insult. Time to wear that sweatband at the breakfast table. That's because it is time, once again, for The Tournament of Books! (What? Is there some other nation-wide competition in March?)

For those of you who don't know, tomorrow begins the 8th Annual TMN Tournament of Books, a fight to the death between 16 of the year's best and brightest novels, as decided by a panel of fiction's best and brightest reviewers.

You can follow the tournament HERE

You can (and should) print your own bracket HERE

And these are your champions:

Nathacha Appanah - The Last Brother
Julian Barnes - The Sense of an Ending
Teju Cole - Open City
Helen DeWitt - Lightning Rods
Patrick deWitt - The Sisters Brothers
Jeffrey Eugenides - The Marriage Plot
Chad Harbach - The Art of Fielding
Alan Hollinghurst - Stranger’s Child
Jesmyn Ward - Salvage the Bones
Haruki Murakami - 1Q84
Téa Obreht - The Tiger’s Wife
Michael Ondaatje - The Cat’s Table
Ann Patchett - State of Wonder
Donald Ray Pollock - Devil All the Time
Karen Russell - Swamplandia
Kate Zambreno - Green Girl

 All of these titles are available for purchase online through DIESEL or in any of our three locations! We'll be reporting on the tournament all month and would love to hear your thoughts on our Facebook page.


Three Good Things: Bad Blurbs, Backlash, and Love for Booklovers.

1. Good Writers, Bad Blurbs. A great feature from Greg Zimmerman: 8 Bad Book Blurbs By Good Writers. He's gathered eight exceptionally odd, off, or over-the-top reviews from otherwise technically sound authors and provided generally demeaning commentary on each. Nothing quite like taking Jeffrey Eugenides to task for abusing a colloquialism...

2. Slash-and-Burn Bookselling. Cory Doctorow (author of one of my favorite young adult novels, Little Brother) wrote this post about Jim C. Hines and the tyranny of self-published e-book contacts with Amazon. Says Hines:

"With my DAW books, if a bookstore offers a sale, I still get my royalties based on the cover price. Amazon is selling Libriomancer for pre-order at almost half-off, but I’ll get paid my full amount for every copy sold. Not so with self-published titles. Looking at my reports for last week, my royalties were slashed by 2/3 for every copy sold, because Amazon paid me 70% of the $.99 sale price, not my list price."

Read the rest.

3. Girls Who Read.
I thought my favorite ode to book-loving girls was Charles Warnke's "You Should Date An Illiterate Girl", but that was before I came across this video of Mark Grist performing his spoken word piece on girls who read. I blush every time I watch it.

DIESEL A.V. Club: Ausubel, Patchett, and Sendak

We here in the audio-visual club at Diesel would like to share a few videos with you. We have a Q&A from a recent reading and a couple great Colbert interviews--just hang on a sec while I run a few cables, just, yeah, but move your chair to the right, your head is blocking the projector.

1. Ramona Ausubel, author of No One Is Here Except All Of Us, answers questions in our Oakland store. 


2. Maurice Sendak talks to Stephen Colbert about the state of children's literature.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Grim Colberty Tales with Maurice Sendak Pt. 2
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive


3. Ann Patchett champions independent booksellers on The Colbert Report.


The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Ann Patchett
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogVideo Archive

Thomas Peele comes to Diesel, Oakland


Last night we hosted Thomas Peele and Martin Reynolds, in dialogue about Peele's new book, Killing The Messenger. Look for the full reading, to air on Book TV within the next two weeks. 




About the book: On the morning of August 2, 2007, journalist Chauncey Bailey was walking to his office at the Oakland Post, a weekly newspaper. As he reached the corner of 14th and Alice streets in downtown Oakland, a masked gunman ran up to Bailey and shot him at point blank range.  Investigating police would soon uncover the motive behind Bailey’s shocking murder: it was ordered by Yusef Bey IV, leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, and was intended to stop Bailey's forthcoming story on the organization.

Outraged by Bailey's murder, a group of California journalists banded together to finish his work. Known as the Chauncey Bailey Project, this group of reporters and editors has worked together to see that justice for Bailey is served and his work completed. In Killing the Messenger, award-winning investigative reporter Thomas Peele provides the first comprehensive narrative examination of Bailey's murder, and finally brings the whole, tragic story to light.


Diesel Loves You.


 --Just in case you had any doubts--


Travel Dispatch: The 7th ABA Winter Institute

Much to my surprise and elation, I was this year's recipient of the Glenn Goldman scholarship to the annual independent bookseller's conference, The Winter Institute. For those of you not familiar with Glenn Goldman, he was the owner of Book Soup on the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. When he passed away in 2009, a scholarship was established in his name so that eligible Southern California booksellers could apply in the hopes of winning an opportunity to attend The Winter Institute. This conference is conducted by the ABA, The American Booksellers Association, whose sole purpose is to support the independent bookselling community. Let me tell you, this is no small task!

It was the 7th annual Winter Institute and this year's chosen city was New Orleans. The ABA board members put in countless hours, organizing a myriad of presentations relating to all aspects of bookselling. Structured days left you with just enough time to rotate fro
m meeting to meeting. Some topics included improving profitability, tools for demographic studies, and procedures for supporting the rights of free speech. Publishers and authors were there as well, showing us all new and exciting titles that are coming this spring. It was a whirlwind of activity but, I have to say, one of the highlights of the conference was listening to author/bookstore owner, Ann Patchett, speak. Her enthusiasm and passion for books was so infectious and moving, she got a standing ovation and I actually shed a tear or two.

Over the course of the three days, there were many opportunities to meet other independent booksellers from all over the United States. The available slots for the Winter Institute quickly filled to capacity, with around 500 attendees. That's an impressive amount, representing booksellers from almost every state. The wealth of knowledge and experience was astounding, not to mention the dedication.

our free time, we all ventured out into one of the most charming cities I have ever seen. This was my first time visiting New Orleans and I was immediately smitten. Its history, architecture, people, food, music, art are all so amazing...I could gush all day. On my last night there, I sat on Royal Street enjoying the balmy evening, trying to sift through my experiences over the past few days. Trying to sum it up in one word, the best description is overwhelming, but in a wonderful, life-changing way. I return having learned more about the business I love, grateful for the new friends I have made, and for the opportunity of experiencing a city that now feels like home.

Diesel, A Bookstore, New Orleans anyone?

-Cheryl Ryan