Here are some reviews by your local booksellers of some great books for all ages, for armchair and for beach reading. Recently Clare, our kids' specialist at our Larkspur store, was asked by a local website for her summer reading picks for kids. You can check out the list here and find the books at our store! We hope that you enjoy this newsletter and the abundance of events at each of our stores this month. See you at DIESEL!
John & all Dieselfolk
A fresh voice (straight from 1979), a fierce spirit, a compassionate heart, and a ready sense of humor -- what's not to love in this intelligent and intimately probing interview with one of our finest critics and literary figures? It is a balm for anomie and a prompt to get out there and live a creative and engaged life. Go out there and get "involved in this task of lopping off heads -- as Hercules did with the Hydra..." -- John Evans
This is not your average prison saga. It's rich, dark, and redemptive. The creatures living and working here are entwined in a tapestry only seen by us the reader and one very special inmate. From the office of the chaplain, to the library, to the depths of the death row basement, this tale takes us through the cell bars and into the souls of those locked behind the prison walls, not just the inmates but anyone entering. Can a maximum security prison be enchanted? -- Christine Longmuir
A well-researched, beautifully written story of real-life abolitionist Sarah Grimke's lifelong quest for racial and gender equality. It is told parallel to the (fictionalized) story of her slave, Handful, who refuses to allow her mind to be enslaved even if her body is. It follows both women from the ages of 11 through 50 as their lives grow together, apart, and back together again.
Sarah Grimke and her sister, Angelina, are fascinating historical figures who have been largely forgotten. Despite living in the Grimkes' hometown of Charleston, Sue Monk Kidd says in her lengthy author's note that she hadn't heard of the sisters until she saw artist Judy Chicago's installation, The Dinner Party (a must-see). Both figures are definitely worth researching further, but don't look them up until you finish the book!
The Invention of Wings is just begging to be your next book club pick. It is a story filled with insightful commentary on race, feminism, and the meaning of freedom, but it's also not without humor and levity. Kidd's excellent storytelling will keep you engrossed until the very last page, and leave you wanting more. -- Maria Jennings
This bizarre, wonderful book is perhaps too easily overlooked because it is so difficult to pin down. The back-page blurb is accurate, but also doesn't quite do it justice. Is it about a passionate, suicidal artist you almost certainly have never heard of? Yes...yes, it is -- but only in the sense that a haunted house is exclusively about the ghosts inhabiting it. What if the ghosts are incidental visitors and the true story is the house that invites them? This is how I read Where the North Sea Touches Alabama. Shelton may be a sociologist by trade, but he is a writer of Southern Gothic at heart, and here he successfully taps into a Southern imagination that exists only in memories turned ghosts (or vice versa). His book is a mesmerizing weaving of biography and cultural analysis, and it bears patience and attention without being "difficult" in the sense you might expect from a book published by an academic press. If you open your doors to the ghosts he has conjured, they will linger a while. -- Brad Johnson
With the release of the third of Rajaniemi's Jean Le Flambeur novels coming up in July, now is the time to catch up with one of the most interesting and exciting contemporary science fiction series. The Quantum Thief introduces readers to Le Flambeur, a thief in a post-human, post-singularity, post-quantum computing universe, who has been broken out of prison -- a prison made of an infinitely recurring prisoner's dilemma -- for one more impossible job. I love this series for its complexity, and for how rewarding Rajaniemi makes the experience of discovering and coming to understand the story, the characters, and the world. This is Science Fiction of the highest order, reminiscent of Gene Wolfe. Additionally, the way the world expands in The Fractal Prince, the second book in the series, is pretty astounding, and it left me very excited for the upcoming The Causal Angel. -- Will Kaufman
This absolutely, wonderfully, subversively brilliant book has probably sparked as many conversations as any book in the store. Originally self-published by L.A. author/illustrator Ken Tanaka, Everybody Dies has recently been reissued by Harper Design, which means that this long-time Brentwood favorite is now available to spread confusion, amusement, and occasional consternation nationwide. Customers' reactions have ranged from hilarity to outrage, with some people finding genuine comfort in the simple message. Although described as "A Children's Book for Grown-Ups," I've found that many children are actually more comfortable with it than their parents. -- Alex Melnick
Saba Khan is a good student, a fierce tennis player, and a creature of habit, but her life is destroyed when her family's home is the target of an arson attack. They're unharmed, but the fire leaves them with nothing. The community at Saba's exclusive Chicago school pull together to help her family by organizing a fundraising auction. Events take a turn for the truly strange when a highly valued work of outsider art is found, donated, and stolen in the run up to the auction. The Art of Secrets is told in diary excerpts, emails, text messages, and press interviews as we put the story together and assemble the clues. And there are plenty of mysteries to solve here: who burned down the Khans' home? Where did the paintings go? Why is the class president suddenly so interested in Saba? And what is the principal up to? The Art of Secrets is a clever young adult mystery from the award-winning author of Love Drugged. The story is fun with plenty of surprises and an emphasis on the theme of the Outsider, in art, in school, and in life. -- Clare Doornbos