Full Bloom! Yes, flowers and independent
bookstores are in full bloom this spring.
We, of course, have opened up in Brentwood,
because every neighborhood deserves a great
independent bookstore. Don't miss the other
neighborhood bookstores scattered around us.
For those of us in the Bay Area, don't miss
the blossoming of a new variety of bookstore: The Green
Arcade in San Francisco. "Specializing
in books on the environment, politics,
sustainability, the slow food movement,
organics, urban planning, nature, and
children's books," they are wonderful: check
them out. Just up the block from Zuni!
John & all Dieselfolk
Madness Under the Royal Palms, about some of the denizens of Palm Beach, shocks and roils if not awes. It is to my mind an entertaining and thorough anthropological study of some of America's super rich. If you ever actually thought money could bring you happiness, reading this book will bring to light your mistake. Add to that the knowledge that many of the book's non-fiction "characters" wound up in Bernie Madoff's maw and you will delight that you vacation at 39 Palms in lieu of Palm Beach. -- Diane Leslie
My first encounter with David Hinton was a slim volume of poetry entitled The Selected Poems of Li Po. The translations felt fresh and alive and I read and re-read that book many times. For me, it was the language that I kept going back for - or, really, the not-language. Paired with the concise and vivid nature of Chinese poetry, Hinton's use of space and his attention to sound allows the mystery in each image a chance to blossom, and I say a chance because the poems never feel finished, they continue to grow and unfurl with each new read. This newest anthology, Classical Chinese Poetry, is just as wonderful. Hinton includes selections from all the early classics (The Book of Songs, Tao Te Ching, Songs of Ch'u, and a large selection of Tang poetry) but also gives his readers a chance to visit other folk-song collections and versions of poems which I personally had never seen before, including a wonderful series of seasonal poems by Lady Midnight. Aside from beautiful translations, the reader also gets many historical aids, in-depth notes and a large reference for future reading. Any fan of Chinese poetry, history, poetics or poetry in general should take a look at this wonderful collection. It is a beautiful edition and one I will pull from my shelf again and again over the years. -- Sean Mix
Intuition features a truly compelling premise: two young doctors involved in high-stakes cancer research come in conflict when one produces a new, potentially life-saving drug, causing the other to doubt the veracity of his results. What really impresses, however, is how incredibly well-drawn all of Goodman's characters are. When moving between points of view - from Cliff, the discoverer of the potential cure; to Robin, his colleague (and - uh-oh - ex-girlfriend) who fears he's lying about the effectiveness of his drug; to Sandy, the press-savvy lab director; to Marion, his much more tentative but also more ethically-minded partner - Goodman manages the incredible feat of making every one convincing, and allowing each set of motivations to seem logical when you're inside the head of the person they belong to. It's not so much that she manages to keep the reader unable to choose who to believe; she makes you change your mind about who you think is right based on whose head you're currently in. It's a fascinating look at human psychology and ethics, and both inter-personal and societal responsibility. It even has a note-perfect ending. -- Anna Kaufman
We all love reading books, but as we have learned, the message is in the medium. 500 Handmade Books: Inspiring Interpretations of a Timeless Form capitalizes on this notion and collects an outburst of books that range from arch experimental books which unfold like an engineer's dream or are nestled in a seed like an unborn idea, to more quotidian, though gorgeous, examples of elegant books well-stitched and housed in embossed covers. Because you're reading this, I am willing to bet that you love books, so why not take a little time to explore the concept of this object that has shaped so profoundly how we live and think. With nearly a thousand full color photos over 400 pages, readers can come back to this marvelous catalog again and again, and will be delighted, surprised, and inspired. -- Trevor Calvert
This is the story about King and Queen Grumpy and their children who, as their names would suggest, never smile. Their town, Grumpy Town, is thrown into disarray when Prince Grumpy the Sixth is born with a 'mysterious illness'. The story that transpires is both charming and hilarious as the town tries to make sense of the goofy expression on the young prince's face. The pictures are subtle and unlike other picture books on the shelves right now. Both children and adults should read this book (especially the grumpy ones); it's sure to make you...smile. -- Veronica Tyler