Deep in the midst of winter, which in California feels more metaphorical than actual, we are offering up some romance (it is the month of Valentine's Day after all) and some uprising. The whole world seems interested in freedom, and the barriers to freedom -- whether that's threats of tyranny, loss of civil rights, structural inequalities, or historical injustices.
The predatory state capitalism of the kingdom of Sempera; the challenges to freely expressed love in Mormon Utah; and the cultural hate-mongering in the Bonelands -- all of these have direct parallels throughout the world just now.
The romantic storylines running through these fictional worlds bring the characters alive and highlight the human costs of these distortions of power. Fantasy and romance in YA novels are excellent ways to clarify and experience these real-world dangers and begin to imagine ways to counteract them. Here are just three examples from our YA section, reviewed by our passionate and able Bookoholic reviewers!
On the cover of this month's Indie Next list is The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border, by Francisco Cantú.
View from a bookseller:
“Cantú personalizes the U.S.-Mexican border and all of its complexity in a way I’ve never seen. His writing is beautiful, with haunting and detailed descriptions of the desert, the immigrants, the cartels, and his own fears about violence and identity confusion. The criminalization of searching for a better life and the dehumanization of the process is looked at from several angles, and his journalistic approach does not make judgments, but clearly tells the facts. A great new writer to follow.”
—Pat Marsello, Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM
Thanksgiving is around the corner which means the holiday season is in full swing. It's the season of giving, which started early in Northern California this year. The Fire Relief Children's Book Drive initiated by Gibson Thomas of Edible Marin & Wine Country Magazine and embraced by DIESEL ended up with more than 10,000 books for children being donated and distributed in the Fire areas! Thanks to Gibson and to the hundreds of individuals, families, organizations and publishers that donated books at this critical time. The recovery from the Fire will take years b
The fires raging throughout Northern California have left thousands homeless. Many are staying in shelters awaiting news of their homes. Children are afraid, and bored, in the shelters, away from their homes, their pets, and their books. We are mounting a Children's Book Drive at our store at the Marin Country Mart, as part of Fire Relief efforts spreading throughout our communitites.
This is our last note to you from #1 DIESEL, in Oakland. At midnight tonight DIESEL in Oakland becomes East Bay Booksellers, with Brad at the helm.
It has been indescribably wonderful being your local booksellers for the last 28 years. The community you’ve welcomed us into and that we’ve created and maintained together has been so important to us, and still is! (We will continue to live in the neighborhood, so we will still see you around – but no longer behind the counter, or shelving books.)
For immediate release:
DIESEL, A Bookstore in Oakland Officially Becomes East Bay Booksellers on September 1, 2017
Oakland, CA — How often do you get to talk about a bookstore closing, and it actually is a good story? When we announced in November that the founders of DIESEL, A Bookstore wanted to sell their Oakland location to me, one of their longtime managers, I had no idea what the response would be. When I called a customer meeting at the store to explain what we had in mind and why we wanted to do it, my greatest fear was awkward silence.
Our customers, however, were neither awkward nor silent. In two months, I raised half of what I needed to buy the inventory. A couple months after that, I had enough to do so. By mid-summer, I had sufficient capital to run a business.
I've had some time now to reflect on why we met with such fundraising success. From the stories people told me, especially as we talked about their love of DIESEL and independent bookstores, it clearly wasn't because something had to change. As I repeated early and often, the changes we were pursuing were not necessary -- there was no financial doomsday behind it all. I think our customers recognized the positivity at the root of our plans. What better time is there to make a change than when it isn't being forced upon you?
On Friday, September 1, 2017, the store will open its doors with relatively minimal fanfare as East Bay Booksellers. Customers will be forgiven if they don't immediately notice the new logo on the window. Or perhaps don't at the moment remark on the new bookmarks we slide into their books. We want the store to feel familiar, with touches of difference they can't quite put a finger on -- and not just when they come in for the first time after the change, but every time thereafter. Change doesn't have to happen, but thankfully it does anyway!
Of course, as the word spreads and the dust settles, we will schedule a party so everyone can celebrate their memories of DIESEL. In the meantime, moved by the devastating need of in Texas and beyond, East Bay Booksellers is honoring its history as a progressive cultural hub by donating 20% of its opening weekend sales to Hurricane Harvey relief.
Some things will never change.
5433 College Avenue
Oakland, CA 94618
Ph: (510) 653-9965
It's taken a long time -- just shy of a year -- but the transition of our Oakland store into East Bay Booksellers is very nearly complete. Current store manager, Brad Johnson, has raised the money he needs to move ahead. All that's left now are the legal and practical niceties. September 1 is marked on our calendars. Maybe now it is on yours, too.
Brad answered some questions for LitHub about buying the store, and we expect you have some as well. So here's a stab at answering some of them:
What will change (besides the name)? -- Did you notice the yellow in that logo?! You'll definitely be seeing more of that on bookmarks, tote bags, and the like.
You know what we mean? Are you still going to have the same diverse array of books? -- Oh, definitely! In addition to managing the store for a few years now, Brad's been buying the books we put on the shelves. You're in very good hands.
What about the staff? -- As above, you're in very good hands. DIESEL was built in Oakland by its booksellers being some of the best of the land. Brad believes that so much he put "Booksellers" in the name of the new store. There are no staffing changes in the works.
Are you still going to host events and book groups? You better believe it. Check out the Oakland events calendar, and you'll see things booked in September. Those will become East Bay Booksellers events after September 1. That means: Jesmyn Ward! Santiago Gamboa! Daniel Handler! And you can expect so very much even after that.
That East Bay Booksellers website looks kind of bare? Will I still be able to buy books online? Patience! We're still doing business in the East Bay, online and in person, as DIESEL. (& will continue doing so in the North Bay and SoCal!) In other words, DIESEL isn't going away. It's only a little complicated. Short version: if you shop DIESEL in Oakland, soon, very soon, you will be able to buy books at East Bay Booksellers, read staff reviews, and whatever else tech wizardry can conjure. In the meantime, follow them on Twitter and Facebook!
More throughout the month!