Summer is summing up, opening up a whole new season filled with great new titles. Wonderful new novels by Tom Perrotta, Michael Ondaatje, and Hector Tobar are just some of the books to look forward to. Fall this year will also include the re-opening of our Malibu store! It will be opening at the Malibu Country Mart, across the street from our previous location: back by popular demand.
We have also revived our store blog, CHATTER, with Diesel bookseller Susannah Long at the helm. Please let her know what you think of the blog, at firstname.lastname@example.org. As many of you know, you can also find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. We also have new staff recommendations on our site by all of our booksellers, including our most recent additions: Alex Melnick, Alex Kantner, and Susannah.
Lastly, I thought you might appreciate this excerpt from fellow bookseller Ed Morrow's intro to the new revised edition of Rebel Bookseller by Andrew Laties:
"The book is a cultural signifier that touches deep human feelings, often garnering almost mystical attachment. Books are so important and influential they are banned, censored, and burned, like witches at the stake. But they are organic objects, subject to damage and decay, and yet astonishingly durable...
"The intimacy and personality of independent bookstores provides a high-touch environment complementing the rich experience of the book -- an antidote to the relentless technological acceleration in our lives; a counterbalance to the local-disconnect felt by the globally connected." --Ed Morrow, co-founder of the Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT
John & all Dieselfolk
Fire Monks is the gripping story of the five Zen priests who stayed to defend Tassajara, the monastic training temple and popular tourist destination of the San Francisco Zen Center, during the summer of 2008 when massive wildfires swept the state. Busch, a Zen student herself, deftly weaves ecology and wildfire science with the biographies of the senior monks who stayed to defend the monastery grounds and Zen reflections to create an engaging narrative exploring the ways in which human beings can face the most dire of circumstances with calm, clarity, and composure. It is not a tale of man vs. nature, but rather a dynamic presentation of how humanity can find its place within nature, even under the most powerful and frightening of conditions. -- Alex Kantner
Glen Duncan has reshaped the werewolf myth with elegant, thoughtful prose and the result is sexy, profane, profound, and, quite often, extremely funny. When Jake Marlowe discovers he is the last remaining werewolf, he is ready to die. After 167 years of lycanthropy, he is tired of the violence, tired of the people, tired of the details of constantly avoiding those who seek to destroy him. But as it turns out, trying to meet your maker is not as easy as one might like. Try as Jake does to arrange for his own demise, his plans are consistently thwarted. And, just when he thinks he has at last found a way, he finds something unexpected, something he had long ago accepted simply did not exist, something that gives him the power, and desire, to live. If that doesn't make you want to read the book, I have only two words for you: werewolf sex. -- Grant Outerbridge
Is your book club looking for a hot, new, discussable paperback? Or how about just a great read for fall? Joyce Maynard's The Good Daughters should definitely be on your list! If you're new to Maynard's work, you're in for some awesome storytelling! Her prose is always gorgeous, fluid and lyrical, and her characters genuine and likable.
The Good Daughters tells the story of two girls dubbed "the birthday sisters," having been born on the same day, in the same hospital, in a small town in Vermont in 1950. The girls come from two very different families, one of which has lived on the same farm for generations, the other a very modern family that moves from place to place. Yet both girls feel they are just drifting, like somehow they don't belong where they are. This sounds like it could be heading somewhere obvious and predictable, but Maynard only wants you to believe you have it all figured out. Then she takes a tiny thread of a storyline and pulls on it until it begins to unravel. And because you think you know where the story is going, but not how or when the twists will be revealed -- well, let's just say you will be frantically turning pages!
The story is told by both girls, alternating from one to the other, as they navigate the course of their lives through adolescence, marriage, parenthood, and those roads not taken. It touches on emotions so intimate that you truly feel a part of the story. The many moral and ethical choices that are raised make this novel cry out to book clubs! So whether you're looking for that thought-provoking book club book, or just a really good "sink your teeth into it" story, don't miss Maynard's The Good Daughters. It's my favorite novel of hers to date. -- Linda Grana
There are those epics that gain their epicness through a kitchen-sink flooding of the senses -- Ulysses, Infinite Jest, 2666 -- and, on the far opposite end, those that focus so intensely on one subject that it becomes its own world. Next is an epic of the latter sort, and its subject is Kevin Quinn, a midwesterner spending a single, ambulatory, fish-out-of-water day in Austin, Texas. As the book opens, Kevin is about to land in Austin, and he seems to exist in a state of pure distraction, as his mind pinballs between recent terror attacks in Europe, his foundering career in Ann Arbor, and the attractive woman sitting next to him. If the book were nothing but an endless stream of mental diversions (from a fickle, dissatisfied, and underconfident middle-aged man) it would ultimately amount to very little. But Hynes' commitment to Kevin's inner monologue (once he's on the ground in Texas) is so overarching and total that his grand digressions, which at first border on seeming petulant or irrelevant, take on a far grander (and sadder) scale by the book's end. Ultimately, Hynes performs a sort of miracle through Kevin's internal monologue: he takes a voice that is stark, reductive, anti-romantic, hyper-modern, often explicit, and utterly, unapologetically male, and makes it universal. -- John Peck
Alain de Botton is probably better known for his more recent works How Proust Can Change Your Life and The Art of Travel, but this book is wonderful for those curious about the history -- both philosophical and technical -- of architecture. His erudite, crystalline language presses meaning into each sentence while gracefully carrying the reader along in a surprisingly gentle way that conceals the immensity of his associative intelligence, creating an overtly pleasant history of dwellings and their many significances. Covering everything from the sensuality of modern faucet design to neolithic engineering feats, this is a great introductory book for those curious about architecture, and something to think about for those already acquainted. -- Cameron Carlson
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." This famous quote by William Morris seems to be the basis of belief when you look at these nests. It makes you wonder if birds have some sense of aesthetic. How could a bird construct a home with the intent of it being solely functional, yet have it result in something so beautiful? The intricacies of the weaving and the use of found materials result in unique nests indicative of each species. Whether made of grass, twine, seashells, or a recycled beehive, each nest is simultaneously simple and complex, like a fine work of art. Even the eggs look like adornments, little speckled jewels, snug in the nest. This collection of nests will astound you. I guarantee you will keep your eyes peeled on your next nature outing in hopes of spotting the home of one of these winged architects for yourself. -- Cheryl Ryan
As a reader, there's a certain type of book I dream about: one that somehow manages to be smart and funny and meaningful. Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday is -- wonder of wonders! -- just such a book. Don't feel bad if you've never heard of it, however, because it also happens to be a kids' book. But it's one that can be appreciated equally by adults, who are just as likely to enjoy the novel's fantastic narrative voice and sharp sense of humor, and may get even more out of Smekday's central metaphor. The story follows precocious 12-year-old Tip after aliens land on Earth and claim it for their own. The Boov then force the human population to relocate -- in the case of the residents of the U.S., first to Florida, then to Arizona. (Sound familiar?) Tip, however, is separated from her mother at the beginning of the invasion, and so must travel on her own, encountering on her way one of the aliens who, in fantastic Ford Prefect tradition, has christened himself with the human name of J.Lo. Further -- utterly delightful -- shenanigans ensue. Both Tip's narration and the characters' dialogue are a constant source of amusement and sly cleverness, and Tip and J.Lo's blossoming friendship made me happy in the way that only a truly epic literary friendship can. I never wanted this book to end. Sadly, it had to, so I shall have to console myself by recommending it to as many people as I can, adults and children -- and even Boov -- alike. -- Anna Kaufman