Having just opened our Larkspur store, my eyes look afresh upon the wonders of being in a bookstore surrounded by books filled with so much richness! Just standing in the store, gazing at the sections with books by or about the thousands of years of artistic production in all the arts is thrilling. Popular novels next to fiction classics and contemporary short stories, all waiting patiently on the shelves for the next set of eyes, heart, and mind. The latest breakthroughs in science, works of history, beautifully illustrated picture books, and powerfully imagined adventure stories -- all this in the same room, available to each of us as suits our mood and interest. Then the store fills with all of us and our passions, curiosities, needs, wants, and hopes, as we scan the shelves for new prompts, old comforts, varied perspectives, bumping elbow to elbow all day long. It's a very satisfying experience to be in and a part of all this. Come and join in the adventure. Hope to see you in the store soon.
John & all Dieselfolk
I finished reading Bill Bryson's One Summer right before I was supposed to meet a group of friends at a bar. From the moment we sat down, I became that person: "Guess what!" "Did you know..." "That reminds me of something I was just reading about..." I was like a woman possessed: I couldn't wait to share everything I had just learned about America in the summer of 1927. Since those friends are all still speaking to me, I have to assume that the facts as they stand are at least somewhat interesting. Bryson, however, is at the absolute top of his game with this book, and the way he intertwines the stories of Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover, Al Capone, Al Jolson, and dozens of other figures both major and minor is in turns dramatic, hilarious, tragic -- and always compelling. Not to mention transporting: while reading, I felt at times like I could taste the food (delicious) and smell the air (foul -- at least in the cities) of this long-past summer. However, as my friends and I drank our whiskey -- not deliberately poisoned by the government in an attempt to enforce Prohibition -- I was glad not to be living in this era in history, but to have Bryson as my gentle guide instead. -- Anna Kaufman
Snow Hunters by Paul Yoon is one of those little gems that might be short on page count, but every thought and sentence sparkles with meaning. Starting out with quiet, plain-spoken language, it tells the story of a young Korean man, Yohan, who flees his country to Brazil in time of war. He becomes the apprentice of a Japanese tailor, Kiyoshi, who over time teaches him not only his trade but about life, its meaning, and how years begin to "loosen, break apart and slip away." Yohan also learns important lessons from the two orphaned and vagrant children who slip in and out of his life over the years, and eventually, from his solitude and the loss that has become an integral part of his life. Though the book is light, and the prose is delicate, Snow Hunters is one of those spare, slim books that packs a powerful philosophical punch, and in finishing it, I felt much like I did after reading Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning. There may be so many books and so little time; so if you read one more book this year, read this one. Then read it again! -- Linda Grana
"Do you have any good romances?" is a question I have come to dread as a bookseller. One that does not involve infidelity or bondage or is too saccharine sweet, with pictures of Fabio or white people almost kissing on the cover? Me Before You by Jojo Moyes finally gives me an answer to that question! It has all of the elements of a proper romance in that the relationship is unexpected and born of genuine appreciation of one human being for another.
When blue blood, world-traveling financier Will is rendered paraplegic in a freak accident, he has little hope for the future. His caregiver, Louisa, is down-to-earth, a realist, and deeply sympathetic to the beauty of ordinary life. The exchange between these two unlikely comrades is exquisite. Will exposes Louisa to concerts and poetry and travel, and Louisa extends to Will deep-seated simple gratitude for life.
Me Before You lends itself to answering fundamental questions about our own lives. What is the nature of love? Does it rescue and protect at all cost? Should society support assisted suicide as a function of free will in the face of grave illness? What constitutes quality of life, and is it up to each individual to determine what that means to him or her? One reviewer aptly compared Me Before You to An Affair to Remember, so expect to boohoo like you did when you saw Deborah Kerr on the couch. Worth every cathartic moment! -- Mia Wigmore
Born out of a profound bout of writer's block, Karl Ove Knausgaard's massive, six-volume fictionalized memoir is steadily gaining a critical reputation as a literary feat. A bestseller in Sweden and Norway, and increasingly beyond, Knausgaard's painstaking eye for detail has been compared with Proust and his inexplicable narrative energy is reminiscent of Dostoevsky. But that's to make the reading experience sound too heady and difficult, though. My Struggle: Book One is, believe it or not, nothing short of a darkly comedic, utterly human page-turner. You will be at pains to explain why, but if you find yourself in its grips, wincing with occasional embarrassment at the protagonist's social awkwardness and laughing in an "I've been there" sort of way, you will not wish it to stop. Indeed, you will likely find yourself like a good many others: running back to Diesel for volume two! -- Brad Johnson
After spending every day using No. 2 pencils while working as a census taker, David Rees honed the sharpening of this noble, if oft-overlooked, yellow tool to an art. He began charging $35 a pencil for an artisanal sharpening, and now, after more than 1,800 satisfied customers, Rees has decided to share his accumulated sharpening wisdom with the general public in the aptly titled How to Sharpen Pencils. Best known as the creator of Get Your War On, Rees brings his considerable wit and wry humor to bear on artisanal products and the people who produce them. More than a simple satire, How to Sharpen Pencils offers an intimate portrait of a man who loves what seems to be a mundane task so deeply he has elevated it to an art form as noble as chanoyu, or even cheese-making. -- Will Kaufman
Collective nouns are one of the wonderful eccentricities of the English language. From an army of ants to the zeal of zebras in the subtitle, the wit, charm, and beauty of these popular and often evocative terms fascinate and entertain children and adults alike. A Compendium of Collective Nouns is an illustrated guide that compiles over 2,000 collective nouns and brings them to life in stunningly colorful, graphic artwork from the designers at London's Woop Studios, interspersed with etymologies, literary tidbits, historical anecdotes, and, as the author himself describes it, "general half-baked word nerd kind of stuff." The diversity of terms collected in the book covers topics from plants and animals (a parade of elephants, an embarrassment of pandas) to people and things (a pomposity of professors, an exultation of fireworks), and range from the familiar (a pride of lions, a pod of dolphins) to the clever (a murder of crows) to the downright obscure (an ooze of amoebas?). A Compendium might not be completely authoritative but it is beautiful and fun, entertaining and a visual delight. This will make a great gift for a fan of contemporary graphic art, and/or a lover of words and wordplay. -- Rod Froke
Talk about multitasking. This fun new picture book does it all: it's a counting book! It's an animal identification book! And it's a lesson in patience for standing in lines. Fifty animals are in a line, but no one seems to know what for. So they find fun ways to occupy their time. Just when they are starting to get wiggly and tired, the line starts moving...everyone steps on carefully...what is it? It's a ride! What kind of ride? You'll have to read the book to find out. I will tell you, everyone wants to stand in line again for it. -- Riley Ellis