The linkages between the books we read in a week a month a year, are mysterious, usually unconscious, and occasionally surprising.  You can play connect-the-dots from one title to another and to another, until a picture seems to arise.  A picture which looks like an intention a plan even a necessity.


I had meant to read The Ticking Is The Bomb ever since Alison had told me how much she liked it and how much she thought I'd like it too.  I did and I did, I read it and liked it immensely.  It's an immense book in a driftingly wideranging way.


In connecting dots you don't connect all the dots just the dots that seem to need or want to be connected.  I'll tell you now that the other dots are A Thousand Lives and The Old Man: John Brown at Harper's Ferry. Barely a line these three books an arc an arrow.


I read all three I thought for very different reasons.  Ticking as I said by recommendation curiosity and an interest in poets who write in other forms than poetry.  A Thousand Lives I read for a dinner with the author, though I am interested in Jonestown and in other extreme social events.


Reading Old Man arose from an ignorance of John Brown's history and a fascination with defiantly moral conviction.  Where does conscience arise come to proclaim itself and be heard?  The boundaries of principle violence and history.


I hadn't intended to read these three books let alone in close proximity.  They all deal with the farthest reaches of the social contract.  Torture, mass suicide, violent overthrow.


I don't usually read crime thrillers mysteries, whether fiction or nonfiction, or movies for that matter.  I'm not attracted to violence except as a flaring edge of human choice.  I am intrigued by powerful resistance to systems that repress human rights.


The three books congeal around the commitment to violence against a fellow human made with the cool eye of seeming reason.  Moral principle rationalizes the destruction and certifies its necessity.  Torture is justified in certain cases; revolutionary suicide is required to confront the oppressive status quo; violence is the only means left to catalyze an uprising to end the greatest evil of slavery.


After reading all three books I became like Flynn at the beginning of Ticking anxiously confounded by the human capacity for intentional violence.  The dot to dot penetration of that capacity in the everyday forms of our speech our media our government our lives.  The recognition that the righteousness in each of these books is just a few degrees away from where each of us speaks thinks acts.


It wasn't intentional.  I just read these books this summer of all the hundreds of books that surround me.  The dots joined up like silver in a mirror.


John Evans 

Diesel's BIG BOOK Sale


While supplies last, we're selling select BIG BOOKS at 30% off! Look for books with the blue dot at all three of our locations. 


Happy New Year from DIESEL! 




Trust This Particular Blog Entry: A Presale Giveaway

On Friday, January 20th at 7pm, the legendary William Gibson will be in our Oakland store to discuss and sign his latest book, Distrust That Particular Flavor.


Between Wednesday, December 28th and Tuesday, January 3rd (when the book goes on sale) we will be doing presales as part of a store giveaway: buy your book either in person or over the phone before January 3rd and you're entered into a drawing for a $50 Diesel gift certificate. Winners will be announced on the third!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: For nearly thirty years, William Gibson has been both chronicler and prophet of our transition into the digital era. His award-winning novels include Neuromancer, Mona Lisa Overdrive and Pattern Recognition. "Gibson writes about the present as if it were the future," says Lev Grossman, "as if he were a time traveler to whom everything seems fresh and new and strange... what Gibson has is a sense of the past; the past that our present is constantly, relentlessly becoming."

ABOUT THE BOOK: Throughout his carreer, Gibson has been sought out by widely varying publications for his insights into contemporary culture, writings that are collected for the first time in Distrust That Particular Flavor. In addition to articles from major publications, the book includes journalism from small publishers, online sources, and magazines no longer in existence. It is essential reading for any lover of William Gibson's novels, and offers readers a privileged view into the mind of a writer whose thinking has shaped not only a generation of writers, but our entire culture.



Dispatch from the Occupy Amazon Camp

We're so grateful for all the support we've recieved in our local and online communities. Here's the update:

  • The buttons and coasters are going like gangbusters--if you'd like to order some for your store contact Louise Marler at
  • Check out this BrowBeat post about the backlash against Farhad Manjoo's pro-Amazon Slate article. (The article prompted Salman Rushdie to tweet: “Book lovers are ‘cultists’? Maybe, but this man is a moron.”)
  • Get in on Colleen Linday's #bkstorelv on Twitter and let your favorite indie bookstores know how much you care
  • Bookselling This Week did a great round-up of bookseller, author, and media reacitions to Amazon's price-check app
  • If you don't have time to read the whole round-up, be sure to read Richard Russo's New York Times op-ed piece Amazon's Jungle Logic



Because Amazon can't keep you warm on a Friday night.

Our Occupy Amazon button meets the cover of Wired.

Today Amazon is promoting their Price Check app by offering up to five-dollars-off purchases when a customer goes into a brick-and-mortar store, scans the barcode of a product, and then buys the product through Amazon. This special offer doesn't apply to books, specifically, but the application is something that blatantly exploits the careful work of all small, local businesses. Huffington Post has a great article about the local bookstore response to this "Price Check" (in which we're mentioned). Also, I wanted to include the open letter to Jeff Bezos written by the CEO of the American Bookseller's Association, Oren Teicher. His words resonate with all of us booksellers. 


Take care of your community, friends. The best part of working at Diesel during the holidays has been watching old friends run into one another while shopping. You're holding each other's babies and recommending books and catching up on who's married and whose start-up is really taking off. We love the neighborhood and hope to be here for a very long time, not just doing business, but providing a space for people to, you know, be people.

- Sus


Courtesy of

Dear Jeff Bezos,

We’re not shocked, just disappointed.

Despite your company’s recent pledge to be a better corporate citizen and to obey the law and collect sales tax, you created a price-check app that allows shoppers to browse Main Street stores that do collect sales tax, scan a product, ask for expertise, and walk out empty-handed in order to buy on Amazon. We suppose we should be flattered that an online sales behemoth needs a Main Street retail showroom.

Forgive us if we’re not.

We could call your $5 bounty to app-users a cheesy marketing move and leave it at that. In fact, it is the latest in a series of steps to expand your market at the expense of cities and towns nationwide, stripping them of their unique character and the financial wherewithal to pay for essential needs like schools, fire and police departments, and libraries.

But maybe we’ve misunderstood.

Even though you’ve spent millions on lobbyists, fired affiliates in seven states, and threatened to shut warehouses to avoid collecting sales tax, maybe you really mean it now when you say you support a level playing field.

It’s up to you to show us.

In the meantime, indie retailers remain the heart of countless communities — offering discovery, energy, support, and unique experiences. See you on Main Street.


Oren Teicher, CEO

American Booksellers Association   

Occupy Amazon Swag

FREE in our stores, Occupy Amazon buttons and coasters, designed by our own Jon Stich.

Annie Leibovitz in Oakland

By the time Monday afternoon rolled around, every seat in the house was spoken for, we were gutting the store to make more space, and the phone was ringing off the hook, people satisfied just to get a spot in the signing line--their chance to meet the legendary Annie Leibovitz. 

She gave a generous reading and a candid Q&A, longer than anyone had hoped, while probably two-hundred people, shoulder to shoulder, held their collective breath to catch every word.

We have a short clip from the reading, but my favorite part was when she and Wavy Gravy (sitting front center) had a good laugh about that time with the pickle barrel on Ken Kesey's farm. 


My Bookstore Likes to Party All the Time

This last Sunday we threw a little Thank-You Party in our Oakland store. For one wonderful and very rainy afternoon we enjoyed pie and wine and crowds of our favorite customers and pottery on display from one of Diesel's favorite sons, Colin Waters.

And we made a little video of the festivities, in case you missed it. Thanks to all who came!


Colin's work is still available for purchase in our Oakland store.

Three Good Things: A Visit From Mansbach, Goodreads, and Back in the Day Bakery

1. A Bedtime Story. Adam Mansbach recently visited our Oakland store to read from his not-actually-for-children's book, Go the F*ck to Sleep. (Disclaimer: Video contains adult language. But wouldn't you be kind of disappointed if it didn't?)



2. A Lesson in Sharing.  I have a bad habit of writing book recommendations on whatever I have at hand. This means sifting through weeks of coffee shop reciepts every time I want to read that book that so-and-so told me about, ohhh, the one about that famous woman set in Havana. Or was it Houston? I think it had "hat" in the title...Or, worse, I'm the one trying to give the recommendation and I can't dig back into my brain and come up with the title that I think would be just perfect for a friend. 

Enter Goodreads: a book-centric cross between a social networking site and a dating service. You can make lists of what you've read, what you want to read, what you liked, and what you hated. You can share your ratings, reviews, and recommendations with friends. Based on your preferences, the site will also fix you up with books and authors you might enjoy. So make yourself a profile and invite your friends to join. We're makin' books cool again!


3. As Seen on YouTube. A good book trailer is hard to find, but this trailer for The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook is better than good. It's actually making me a little sad that I'm so far from Savannah AND the publication date, which is March 1, 2012. Enjoy this little video treat and then look for the cookbook, out from Artisan Books next year.