Autumn is upon us. The turning inward of the sun, the season where spirits haunt our memories, thoughts, and dreams. The coming together to celebrate the harvest before winter arrives in full. We are also gathering up the nuts of ideas of excellent gift books and writing reviews for our special gift newsletters to help with the coming holidays' gift-giving. The books of the Fall are landing in our stores, having flown from the authors' minds across great distances to finally rest in the hands of you, dear reader.
This is also the season of elections and, though we tire of the 18-month long American road to the voting booth, we know we have to pay attention to the facts and issues below all the hype, promotion and melodrama. So, one little piece of political and economic news, quietly released on September 28th, regarding the local, state, and national impact of Amazon on our communities, our state, and our country. If you are interested, take a little peek at this new study, and the carefully calculated measure of the impacts of Amazon economically on our world - click here.
We hope you enjoy these encouraging reviews by DIESEL booksellers and that we see you soon in the store, for all your reading needs.
John and all DIESELfolk
One of the best simple challenges that sprang up this month in my Twitter feed was "15 Under 150": photos of fifteen books with fewer than 150 pages. It was a lot of fun not only seeing on display my friends' reading tastes but also their clever arrangements. It even prompted me to create a popular in-store display in Oakland.
I love a good, long book. It builds muscles carrying it around and the mind reading it, but recently I've become absolutely fascinated by artfully rendered short ones. Many people agree, often citing time in their schedules and space on their shelves. For me, though, it's more a matter of marveling at the interplay of density and subtlety -- the weaving together of unsaid and said.
Whatever you're looking for in a book, long or short, diversion or depth, chances are there's a reader at DIESEL looking for the same.
Claire-Louise Bennett’s debut novel captures our attention in whispers more than it does with bells or whistles. It’s not a “loud” novel. It doesn’t explain or announce itself. What action there is, is retold from the distance that memory provides—a distance bridged by way of second-guesses and digressions. Pond is the expression of a wry, melancholic voice, as serious as it is funny, strange yet so very familiar. Readers will rush to find suitable comparisons—mine was Samuel Beckett—but Bennett successfully squirms away at every turn, and achieves something singularly her own. It is a delight being relocated into the rural headspace of Bennett’s unnamed narrator, where the stuff of the everyday gets the attention it deserves. -- Brad
The 20th century had some extraordinary thinkers/philosophers/ writers, some of whom are not as well-known now as perhaps they should be. Some of them, brought back to light ways of thinking and experiencing this human life that had also been forgotten, or obscured. There has been a resurgence in certain aspects of spiritual philosophy in the last century, some of it dovetailing with psychology and some of it uncovering lost traditions, methods, and modes. Kabbalah, shamanism, eastern spirituality of all forms have had their turn at regaining attention, sometimes becoming popularly read for a time.
One of the obscured geniuses of the latter half of the last century is Henry Corbin. He is known to those who either have read deeply in Black Mountain poetics, or have an appreciation for the depth psychologist James Hillman, or are familiar with the Jungian milieu of the Eranos conferences. Though his books have all been gradually getting pubished in the U.S., and a few books have included him in surveys of the cross-pollination of his ideas with others', especially with psychologists, there has not been an English language introduction to his writings and thought -- until now.
This is an excellent introduction to the work of this most intriguing of European philosophers, an encyclopedic scholar of Islamic Studies and the religious thought of the Middle East. This may all sound dry and unappealing, but the point of view, the disciplined attention, and the literary discernment of Corbin's writing will astonish you. Cheetham has done an invaluable service in giving this overview of Corbin's complex, intricate and profoundly challenging thought. It is clear, generous, well-written and thorough. It has propelled me to read, more intensively, the books that I've been collecting (and dipping in and out of) for decades.
Any book that 'propels' you to read more with gusto and anticipation is a great gift. Give this to the philosopher, the poet, the seeker, the gnostic, or the psychologist in you, or in your life. Let me know if it propels you too. -- John
A young, nameless woman boards a train going from Moscow to Mongolia. Sharing her compartment is a belligerent ex-soldier, loud, crude, opinionated. As the train heads from the center of civilization towards the hinterlands, he waxes at length on a variety of topics, sharing views she neither agrees with nor cares to hear. Compartment No. 6 is allegory at its best. Metaphor abounds: a slow but inexorable trainride, an older traveling companion whose worldview is everything she despises, a succession of stops in a crumbling countryside that grows increasingly desolate, and a silent, passive character needing a change. As the train moves from station to station, the story moves in and out of reminiscences and rants; philosophies and histories are spouted forth alongside hopes and regrets; and somewhere beneath the man’s grizzled exterior a core of humanity is glimpsed. Perhaps harmony will forever lie out of reach for these two, between the old guard and the disenchanted youth, but like it or not, they’re on this journey together. -- Chris
Some of the best book recommendations I have ever received come from customers, and The Moon & Sixpence by Somerset Maugham is the most recent of these. Written in 1919, it is a fictionalized account of Paul Gaugin. Not only was Gaugin an accomplished artist, it turns out he was also quite the blackguard. I love historical novels to begin with, but learning the scandalous details of Gaugin's life through Maugham's positively elegant prose reminded me why novels matter. As The Razor's Edge is already one of my favorite novels, I think I'm on to Of Human Bondage next! -- Mia
Spontaneous is a perfect storm of a wild, outrageous, horrifically compelling concept (a plague of spontaneous human combustion starts moving through the senior class of a New Jersey high school) and an insanely irresistible narrator who grabs you by the heart from page one and never lets go. This book is a feminist rebuttal to the excess of male-led apocalyptic fantasies in current media, featuring a touching, but never saccharine, tribute to female friendship. It's also completely unlike anything else I've read: frightening and fresh and surprisingly deep. I rushed through it because I couldn't put it down, but it's going to linger with me -- mentally, emotionally -- for quite a while. -- Anna
his glorious fresh look at the current work of architects and designers in Los Angeles makes the case that the city has become an international center for style and design. From the title one might assume that these are just Hollywood residences, but the influence of Hollywood is felt everywhere in the region from the hills to the coast, from Silver Lake to Malibu. The incredibly diverse range of styles celebrate the individual in a way which exists nowhere other than here.
The title implies another meaning, which is that of the dreamlike quality we associate with Hollywood. Many of these residential interiors could easily be seen as film sets. But there is also the practical side that takes advantage of the famed southern California climate with indoor living spaces flowing seamlessly to the outdoors.
Nineteen homes are featured. In each case the residences have been recently updated by established designers such as Kelly Wearstler, Rose Tarlow, and Commune, or up-and-coming designers like Chu Gooding, Courtney Applebaum, and Nickey Kehoe. Some of the homes they are working with were designed by famous architects such as George H. Fruehling and John Lautner, while others are of a distinctive style like Spanish revival or midcentury modern by unknown architects. The author, an art and architecture critic, explains the history of each project, the challenges the designers faced, and the successful outcomes are beautifully shown in 200 color photographs. This is a book for lovers of design as it could only exist in a storied place like Hollywood. -- Alan
Lots of fun for Harry Potter fans in this brief history of the popular wizarding sport of Quidditch, which was published between the fourth and fifth novels.
Learn the answers to such frequently asked questions as: How did the sport evolve from early broomstick-based games? What are some common fouls? What are some of the best (and worst) teams? Which nations play Quidditch, and what are some other popular wizarding sports around the globe? Why broomsticks, anyway?
At least $1.90 is donated to the UK children's charity Comic Relief for every copy of Quidditch Through the Ages sold.in the United States. -- Alex