DIESEL, A Bookstore presents the Indie Next List for March 2018

  The best new books this month chosen by us and other
independent booksellers across the country.
Educated: A Memoir
By Tara Westover

(Random House, 9780399590504, $28)

"Tara Westover is barely 30; could she really write a necessary and timely memoir already? Absolutely. Raised largely 'off the grid' in rural Idaho--without school, doctor visits, a birth certificate, or even a family consensus on the date of her birth--Tara nevertheless decides she wants to go to college. This is a story in two parts: First, Tara's childhood working in a dangerous scrapyard alongside her six siblings, her survivalist father, and her mother, a conflicted but talented midwife and healer, while fearing Y2K and the influence of the secular world; then, her departure from her mountain home to receive an education. Both halves of her story are equally fascinating. Educated is a testament to Tara's brilliance and tenacity, a bittersweet rendering of how family relationships can be cruel or life-saving, and a truly great read from the first page to the last."

--Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC


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Indie booksellers have selected Educated: A Memoir (Random House), the debut from Tara Westover, as their top pick for the March Indie Next List.

Educated is a Winter/Spring 2018 selection for the American Booksellers Association's Indies Introduce program, which highlights debut authors, and one of The New York Times Book Review's "Must-Know Literary Events of 2018." In the book, Westover writes about her Mormon childhood living off the grid in the mountains of Idaho. Despite growing up without ever setting foot in a classroom, Westover manages to teach herself enough to get into Brigham Young University and ultimately earns a PhD at Cambridge.

Westover graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young in 2008 and subsequently traveled to the U.K. on a Gates Cambridge scholarship. She earned a master of philosophy degree at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She later returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

We spoke with Westover about her unorthodox upbringing and what it was like to write about it in her new memoir.

Family dynamics are tricky--what's absolutely normal to a member of a family can seem bizarre to a visitor. You had a deeply unconventional upbringing, but when did it actually begin to seem that way to you?

I think I always knew that it was unconventional because my family took a lot of pride in being unconventional. We didn't go to school and I knew other people who didn't go to school, and we were a bit odd for not going, but I really thought that we were correct. I thought that we were doing the right thing and that other people were making a mistake. It took me quite a while to come to terms with that.

I think it was easier for me to see my family as dysfunctional through my brother's violent behavior and the silence with that. It took me much longer to see dysfunction in other aspects of my upbringing, like the injuries at the scrapyard. I was well into writing the book, I would say, before I had any kind of perspective on that.

What inspired you to write about your experience?

I've had a lot of moments where people have said to me I needed to write a book, and I always pulled away from it. After I finished my PhD, there was a long time where I thought I would write a book just about my education because I had this kind of unusual educational experience. It took me a long time to realize that the story of my education and the story of my family were essentially the same story, and that I couldn't really tell either one of them without telling the other. If I hadn't left the mountain and tried to get an education, I think things with my family would have gone very differently....

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  Don't Skip Out on Me
By Willy Vlautin

(Harper Perennial, 9780062684455, $22.99)

"Horace Hopper, the Irish-Paiute Indian protagonist in Don't Skip Out on Me, dreams of erasing the shame of childhood abandonment by reinventing himself as a professional boxer. His boss and surrogate father, an elderly sheep rancher, wrestles with the choices of his own history, and does his best to maintain a way of life that is rapidly disappearing. Vlautin intertwines the lives and fates of these two men in a work of astonishing beauty and heartbreak, and guides the reader to an ending that is as true and real as it gets. Willy Vlautin has been literature's best-kept secret for far too long. He may well be our own Steinbeck, but with a haunting steel-guitar sensibility all his own."

--Patrick Millikin, The Poisoned Pen Bookstore, Scottsdale, AZ


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Anatomy of a Miracle
By Jonathan Miles

(Hogarth, 9780553447583, $27)

"A priest, a doctor, and a reality TV producer walk into a convenience store... Actually, the notable walker in this story is Cameron Harris, a paralyzed soldier who inexplicably rises from his wheelchair and starts walking in the Biz-E-Bee parking lot. Anatomy of a Miracle follows Harris and the aforementioned sundry characters in the aftermath and dissection of this reported 'miracle.' Was it science? Was it divine? Was it a hoax? Will it make for a hit TV show? Jonathan Miles' charming--and often humorous--novel explores the varying perspectives on faith, truth, and the unexpected consequences of the miraculous."

--Lelia Nebeker, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA


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By Laura Lippman

(William Morrow, 9780062389923, $26.99)

"Sunburn pays homage to the novels of James M. Cain, offering up crooked cops, handsome drifters, and, of course, a femme fatale. Watch the secrets unravel as a runaway wife with an ugly past takes up in a small town. Lovers of noir will delight in the familiar tropes. We know she's bad, but how bad is she? Will an affair between two untrustworthy people turn into true love? Sunburn is the perfect book to take on that spring break to a sunny locale. Pour the lemonade and lay out your beach towel."

--Sarah Sorensen, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI


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Sometimes I Lie
By Alice Feeney

(Flatiron Books, 9781250144843, $26.99)

"I feel messed up after finishing this, which is what I look for in a thriller. The twists and turns are dizzying, leading to an ending you won't see coming. Amber is recovering from a car crash, and since she's not quite out of her coma, we get to see flashbacks of her life and the events that brought her to where she is today. Everything--her radio job, her writer husband, and her perfect sister, Claire--is not what it seems. But then, neither is Amber. A perfect thriller to discuss and deconstruct with your book club!"

--Kate Towery, The Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA


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  The Sea Beast Takes a Lover: Stories
By Michael Andreasen

(Dutton, 9781101986615, $25)

"It is a rare thing when a collection of short stories absolutely blows your mind, and Andreasen's collection packs a wallop. His uncanny world-building, using animals and strange mythologies to describe a world so much and slightly unlike our own, gives him the gift of nailing such deep concepts and providing such profound insights into the human character. How can we explain to aliens the difference between 'having relations' and 'having a relationship?' When an ideal exists that we all strive for, what will our lives be like if we actually achieve it? Magnificent, enchanting, and full of literary verve."

--Raul Chapa, BookPeople, Austin, TX


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Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
By Mario Giordano
John Brownjohn (Transl.)

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9781328863577, $24)

"Introducing Auntie Poldi, a sixtyish amateur sleuth who stars as the heroine of Giordano's new series of delicious mysteries. She's sexy, outrageous, can't mind her own business, and has just retired to Sicily, where she intends to lay about and drink good wine for the rest of her days on the world's most fabulous island. Of course, things are soon stirred up by the murder of her hot young handyman, and Poldi becomes deeply involved. Great characters, fun plot, Italian charm--and what could be better reading for the chilly months than a novel set in sun-soaked Sicily? Don't miss what the Times Literary Supplement calls 'a masterful treat.' "

--Lisa Howorth, Square Books, Oxford, MS


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By Minrose Gwin

(William Morrow, 9780062471710, $25.99)

"I could not put this book down. I felt like I was trapped in Gwin's tornado, wandering through the devastated streets and blown-apart buildings, feeling the chaos and brokenness. In the midst of it all, I could also feel the strength and determination of Dovey and Jo and experience their humanity, honesty, obstinance, and kindness. With all the fires, hurricanes, and floods we've had around the country recently, along with continuing racial tensions, this story, though set in 1936, speaks loudly to us today."

--Serena Wycoff, Copperfish Books, Punta Gorda, FL


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Eat the Apple: A Memoir
By Matt Young

(Bloomsbury USA, 9781632869500, $26)

"To take the memories of a combat veteran and transform them into something funny, tender, and even whimsical at times is a delicate dance. Matt Young's Eat the Apple does this in frank flashes, exposing the senseless acts of cruelty inherent in military training and its psychological effects on soldiers. His unrelenting refusal to be pitied and the humor in his self-awareness are what make this memoir especially readable. Although you'll cringe with him during vulnerable and humiliating moments, his ownership of these experiences translates into a sort of wisdom you can take away, making Eat the Apple both a playful and cautionary war tale."

--Aubrey Winkler, Powell's Books, Portland, OR


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  Rosie Colored Glasses
By Brianna Wolfson

(MIRA, 9780778330691, $26.99)

"Readers who loved Half Broke Horses will wholly embrace debut author Brianna Wolfson's Rosie Colored Glasses. Loosely based on Wolfson's own family story, Rosie Colored Glasses follows 11-year-old Willow through the divorce of her parents, the navigation of two homes, the extreme and outrageous outpourings of love from her mother, Rosie, the stoic steadfastness of her father, and the ultimate realization that Rosie's behavior, although loving and caring, may not ultimately be healthy for either of them. A quick, powerful read that will stick with you long after you turn the final page."

--Angie Tally, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC


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The Last Equation of Isaac Severy: A Novel in Clues
By Nova Jacobs

(Touchstone, 9781501175121, $25)

"Isaac Severy has died and taken the secret of his last mathematical equation with him. Except that he has also hidden clues to a hiding place for this final work and shares these clues with his adopted granddaughter, Hazel, who he has charged with finding his hidden treasure and getting it into the hands of a trusted colleague. But she's not the only one looking for his equation, and some of the other searchers are dangerous indeed. This inviting mystery allows us to follow along as Hazel makes her way toward the answer, so be prepared to put on your thinking cap and get out your best clue-solving approach--you'll need all the help you can get. I absolutely loved this debut!"

--Linda Bond, Auntie's Bookstore, Spokane, WA


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  Registers of Illuminated Villages: Poems
By Tarfia Faizullah

(Graywolf Press, 9781555978006, $16; trade paper)

"'Why do you always ask what can't be answered?' Registers of Illuminated Villages is a collection of immense physical, emotional, and spiritual hunger. Faizullah explores the boundaries of open, unending questions as she looks for a timeline for grief, a god to fulfill the duties of a god, and a home that doesn't resemble home anymore. Contemplative and beautiful, this book should be held close to feel the power of its vulnerability."

--Nicole McCarthy, King's Books, Tacoma, WA


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Speak No Evil
By Uzodinma Iweala

(Harper, 9780061284922, $26.99)

" 'This is who I am.' 'This is what happened to me.' These are the simplest of expressions, yet the ability to speak them fully is a privilege not shared by the teenaged protagonists of this novel. Nigerian immigrant and Harvard-accepted aspiring doctor Niru is not able to tell his conservative religious parents that he is gay. The daughter of D.C.'s political elite, Meredith is not able to tell the world what really happened in an alley outside a bar on a hot spring night. Speak No Evil describes how loving relationships are strained, how trust is shattered, and how bodies can be broken when the truth is silenced. This heartbreakingly beautiful story will stay with you for a long time."

--Jill Zimmerman, Literati Bookstore, Ann Arbor, MI


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  The Hush
By John Hart

(St. Martin's Press, 9781250012302, $27.99)

"The Hush, set 10 years after The Last Child, explores what Johnny Merrimon has made of his life. Despite all the publicity around the events of his childhood, Johnny tries to keep a low profile, staying hidden in the swamp of Hush Arbor, where he feels a connection to his land. The only person he wants to see is his childhood friend, Jack, who senses an evil presence in the swamp Johnny loves so much. When bodies start piling up on Johnny's land, the sheriff is convinced that Johnny had something to do with the deaths. Hart does not disappoint with his newest book, a story about friendship, family, and connection. His writing will draw you in from the first chapter, and you'll be hooked until the end."

--Melissa Oates, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC


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By Jesse Ball

(Ecco, 9780062676139, $25.99)

"Jesse Ball, you brilliant weirdo, how did you do it? Census is a novel about everything big, told in the miniature, heart-wrenching tableau of a census. We are grazed by the notion that something is a bit different in this world, breathing down our necks. Sentences inspire double takes, characters jump from the page into life, and a transformative journey is undertaken for both the reader and the characters. As the end of the alphabet approaches, the landscape becomes more haunting, and the reader learns more about love and death than I thought was possible in a single book."

--Halley Parry, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN


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  Tomb Song
By Julián Herbert

(Graywolf Press, 9781555977993, $16; trade paper)

"Julián Herbert's English-language debut is a stunner. Meshing memoir and essay, Tomb Song is the rough, darkly comic tale of a writer finding his voice while coming to terms with his mother dying. Switching between the past and the present, the author reflects on a childhood spent in poverty and a decade lost to drug use. A rare glimpse into the lower ranks of Mexican society without hyperbole or stereotypes of narco traffickers, Tomb Song is vibrant with humor, passion, and the realization of a family's profound importance."

--Mark Haber, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX


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Some Hell
By Patrick Nathan

(Graywolf Press, 9781555977986, $16; trade paper)

"The teen years are difficult for most young people, but 14-year-old Colin is having a particularly devastating experience. In the aftermath of his father's suicide and an epic betrayal by his best friend, Colin tries to come to terms with his budding sexuality and his role in the new dynamics of his troubled family. His father's diaries and a road trip with his mother open new horizons for Colin as he attempts to find his place in an uncertain future. Author Patrick Nathan takes a brutally honest look at coming of age in the wake of tragedy. Prepare for an unflinching look at the life of the modern family in this stunning debut by a talented and fresh voice in fiction."

--Pamela Klinger-Horn, Excelsior Bay Books, Excelsior, MN


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  I Found My Tribe: A Memoir
By Ruth Fitzmaurice

(Bloomsbury USA, 9781635571585, $25)

"Life's journey is not fair. It isn't. But you cope, as Ruth Fitzmaurice did and does. The book's short vignettes read like fables--as if the author is above, looking in on herself, her life. Reminiscent of the humor of Anne Lamott and the candor of Joan Didion, I Found My Tribe is a memoir about a resilient woman who finds ways to cope with her husband's debilitating disease: daydream, become a superhero, swim in the frigid waters of Ireland, and, of course, find her tribe in family and friends."

--Mindy Ostrow, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, NY


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The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote
By Elaine Weiss

(Viking, 9780525429722, $28)

"Over the course of two steamy weeks in August 1920, hordes of suffragists, anti-suffragists, lobbyists, and lawmakers descended on Nashville in a fight to make Tennessee the 36th and final state to ratify the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote. This was the final chance, and both sides would do whatever it took to win--bullying, bribery, blackmail, and even kidnapping. I was on the edge of my seat. I had no idea how close the suffragists came to losing. This is narrative nonfiction at its best."

--Lisa Wright, Oblong Books and Music, Millerton, NY


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  A Long Way from Home
By Peter Carey

(Knopf, 9780525520177, $26.95)

"Carey uses the Australian cross-country Redux auto trials of the 1950s to explore how the need to be accepted directs our motivations and, accordingly, our fates. Titch and Irene Bobs join up with their neighbor Willy Bachhuber, a maps expert, to race the Redux. For Titch, an opportunistic car salesman, the race represents the chance to seize national fame--and the respect of his larger-than-life father. Through the journey, Carey delves into Australia's virulent racism toward its indigenous populations and its embedded intolerance of miscegenation. As the miles accumulate, Irene and Willy's lives change in profound ways, and we, in turn, experience Carey's wit, heart, and intelligence, as well as his skill in bringing these characters and this place and time so vibrantly to life."

--Lori Feathers, Interabang Books, Dallas, TX


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  Abandon Me: Memoirs
By Melissa Febos

(Bloomsbury USA, 9781632866585, $17)

"Melissa Febos has one of those minds that's as good at describing scenes as it is at clearly breaking down a complicated idea or articulating ambivalence. Abandon Me is a powerhouse collection--each essay can be enjoyed on its own, but taken together, they form a striking autobiographical portrait of a talented young writer and thinker. You won't want to abandon a voice this powerful, and you won't forget it either."

--John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT


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All Our Wrong Todays
By Elan Mastai

(Dutton, 9781101985151, $16)

"Tom Barren is a time traveler. From 2016. A different 2016 from ours, that is. It's complicated. You see, he travelled from his techno-perfect utopian 2016 back to 1964 and really messed things up, leaving us with our current world.  Now, the 2016 Tom-in-our-world, given the chance to return to 1964 and fix what he broke and return the world to the spiffy state he knows, faces the dilemma of loyalty to friends and family from his world versus the possibility of settling down with the love of his life in our grungy world. Whichever he chooses, people he loves will cease to exist. I predict the clever, witty, and poignant All Our Wrong Todays will be a huge bestseller for screenwriter and first-time novelist Elan Mastai."

--Clay Belcher, Signs of Life, Lawrence, KS


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  Edgar and Lucy
By Victor Lodato

(Picador, 9781250096999, $18)

"Edgar and Lucy is about a terribly broken family that faces crisis after crisis yet never gives up trying to be a family. The main narrator is eight-year-old Edgar, a child brilliant beyond his years but who has a problem relating to almost everyone except his grandmother, Florence. Edgar's mother, Lucy, loves him in her own way but thanks to Florence, Lucy really doesn't need to make much of an effort. When Florence dies, everything changes. A stunning novel, dark at times, raw and bold, written with an uncanny feel for life and death, Edgar and Lucy kept me spellbound waiting for its conclusion but unwilling for the story to end."

--Nancy McFarlane, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC


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The Fall of Lisa Bellow
By Susan Perabo

(Simon & Schuster, 9781476761480, $16)

"I was surprised by the lasting impact of this novel. Though it speaks to a horrible crime, it is not the crime that becomes the plot, but rather the crime's impact. This book is an intimate look at adolescence—of how gritty and hard it can be. Through Meredith's eyes, we are reminded of the tug-of-war between needing family and needing independence, the way that friendship and loyalty can get lost in the status wars of high-school cliques, and how innocence and wisdom twist together to leave behind something much more complex. I loved this book for its intimacy rather than its sensationalism."

--Susan McCloskey, Bookshop Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA


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  Fever Dream
By Samanta Schweblin
Megan McDowell (Transl.)

(Riverhead Books, 9780399184604, $16)

"Haunting, foreboding, eerie, and ominous, Schweblin's Fever Dream is the first of the Argentine author's books to appear in English. Despite its brevity, Fever Dream throbs with a quickened pulse, as heightening tension is its most effective quality. An intriguing yet purposefully vague plot adds to the story's mystique, one of peril, poison, and the unexplained terror of worms. Metaphorical in scope, Schweblin's impressively constructed tale leaves much to the imagination but is all the richer for doing so. Unsettling and compelling, this is a delirious, potent novel not to be overlooked."

--Jeremy Garber, Powell's Books, Portland, OR


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Girl in Disguise
By Greer Macallister

(Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492652731, $15.99)

" 'I'm a resourceful and strong young woman, there is no other option.' That's the concept behind Greer Macallister's telling of the real, honest-to-goodness life of Kate Warne, the first female Pinkerton detective. Kate is a widow with no money and no honest prospects, and she is desperate. Her unconventional upbringing taught her flexibility, and, spotting Pinkerton's ad, she won't take no for an answer. She is hired as an agent and, having proved her value, is soon hiring and training more female agents and serving as a spy as the U.S. prepares to split apart. Girl in Disguise is a delight: entertaining and a sure nonstop read."

--Becky Milner, Vintage Books, Vancouver, WA


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  The Heart's Invisible Furies
By John Boyne

(Hogarth, 9781524760793, $17)

"A love song to John Irving, this new novel from John Boyne, acclaimed author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, may just be his masterpiece. The story follows the life of Cecil Avery, an adopted child raised in repressed Ireland by unconventional parents. Hilarious and awkward, heartbreaking and beautiful, the pains and small triumphs of its characters leave you feeling hopeful for the future. I loved this book!"

--Whitney Kaaz, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT


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Her Every Fear
By Peter Swanson

(William Morrow Paperbacks, 9780062427038, $15.99)

"Swanson builds tension in Her Every Fear like a chess grandmaster slowly revealing his game. Kate Priddy tries to escape her dark past with a move to Boston, only to discover that she is not the only one trying to hide their secrets, and that many are darker than her own. Moving seamlessly between each character's point of view, Swanson's heart-stopping thriller draws readers into this terrifying and twisted tale of revenge and holds them until the surprising end."

--Luisa Smith, Book Passage, Corte Madera, CA


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  The Idiot
By Elif Batuman

(Penguin Books, 9780143111061, $16)

"Batuman's voice is bitingly original and her protagonist, Selin, brings vitality to the pages through her odd, serious, and slightly sardonic naïveté. The honesty of Selin's self-exploration during her first year at Harvard struck a chord with me. Her frank sense of observation as she navigates first love, friendship, and freshman year are a breath of fresh air. I have not read anything quite like The Idiot and I doubt I will again. I loved it."

--Kisky Holwerda, Astoria Bookshop, Astoria, NY


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One of the Boys
By Daniel Magariel

(Scribner, 9781501156175, $15)

"The intensity of this novel is such that you'll be relieved that it is not longer than its 176 powerful pages. When 'the war' with his wife ends, a man uses devious methods to win custody of his two sons, 12 and 14, packs them in his Jeep, and heads from Kansas to start a new life in Albuquerque. The boys are aware that their father uses drugs, but their loyalty to him and their youth keep them trapped in a home that soon becomes little more than a torture chamber as their father sinks further into his addiction. Narrated in excruciating detail by the younger son, this is a moving story about how parent/child love can be turned on its head by drug abuse. Excellent writing keeps one riveted in hope that the boys will survive."

--Alice Meloy, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX


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  The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women
By Kate Moore

(Sourcebooks, 9781492650959, $17.99)

"The harrowing true story of The Radium Girls is a compelling and forthright portrayal of a dark, insidious mystery and the 'shining girls' who revealed it. Author Kate Moore takes the reader from Orange, New Jersey, to Ottawa, Illinois, following several women who work at factories that specialize in painting watch faces and instrument dials with the glow-in-the-dark wonder element radium. As these women fall ill in various and dire ways in the ensuing years, they seek answers and relief from the very companies that would deny them. In The Radium Girls, Moore, like the 'shining girls' before her, casts a bright light on these lives lost too young."

--Heather Herbaugh, Mitzi's Books, Rapid City, SD


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Small Great Things
By Jodi Picoult

(Ballantine Books, 9780345544971, $17)

"Picoult can be relied upon to find the themes that are most important to our national conversation and then to explore them with wit, warmth, and skill. In Small Great Things, she illuminates the racial divide in our country through the vivid stories of a black nurse, a white supremacist, and the public defender who intervenes when the worst happens. This excellent, timely novel is sure to be loved by Picoult's fans and is certain to create new ones."

--Michael Hermann, Gibson's Bookstore, Concord, NH


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DIESEL's Young Adult Newsletter for February 2018!


Dear Reader,

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!

Happy Reading!
John & all DIESELfolk

New Books We Love This Month
by Sara Holland

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is literally money. It’s taken from the blood of the people, bound in iron, and can then be consumed to add time to one’s lifespan. The rich of Sempera, such as the Gerlings, tax the poor at high rates to expand their lifespans by centuries. Jules hates the Gerlings more than anyone. She and her father were once servants at Everless, the Gerling estate, till an accident forced them to flee. When Jules discovers her father is dying, she takes a job at Everless to earn more time for him. but going back to Everless turns out to be more dangerous than Jules could have imagined. Soon, Jules is caught up in the secrets of the palace and the history of Sempera. Danger lurks around every corner, and Jules has the power to change not only her fate, but the fate of time itself. 

Everless is Sara Holland’s debut novel, and it was absolutely incredible. The characters are interesting and full of life, and the world of Sempera is beautifully immersive. There is a little bit of romance in this book, but it’s by no means the main focus of the book. --Lindsey

by Cristina Lauren

This is a story of a teenage boy named Tanner and his journey of temporarily going back in the closet. Having lived in California, he was free to be outwardly bisexual, however, moving into a Mormon community in Utah, not so much. His best friend, Autumn, dares him to join this program to write a book in four months. Previously being tentative about whether or not it was possible, he finally agrees -- if only to prove Autumn wrong. During this semester-long seminar, he soon falls for Sebastian Brother, a Mormon prodigy who had previously published novels in past seminars.

Truthfully, I expected a cute little romance story. I never expected this book to make me tear up. This book was phenomenally written with an emotional storyline about an adorable relationship. As a person who doesn’t normally read or enjoy romance often, this book seriously broke down that wall. This book left me an emotional wreck, watching this love story unfold.--Carolyn

Reign the Earth
by A.C. Gaughen

Shalia loves her desert homeland and is willing to do whatever it takes to secure peace between her land and the Bonelands. Shalia agrees to marry the king of the Bonelands, trading her freedom for the safety of her people. Unfortunately, her husband is motivated only by his hatred of Elementae, people with elemental powers, and his desire to wipe them out. Shalia begins to suspect that she is an earth Elementae and she must do whatever it takes to hide her powers from her husband. Even more unfamiliar than her newfound powers are her growing feelings for her husband’s brother. When rumors of a rebellion from Elementae grow stronger, Shalia is forced to decide what matters more to her: peace, or freedom?

This book really had it all.  There was an intriguing plot, immersive world-building, dimensional characters, well-written romance, a terrifyingly real villain, and a strong heroine to stop him. I loved every second of this book, and I can’t wait to see how Shalia further develops in the rest of the series. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, especially fans of Sarah J. Maas.  --Lindsey

DIESEL, A Bookstore presents the Indie Next List for February 2018


View this month's complete Indie Next List.


The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border by Francisco CantúOn 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 but the communities strengthened and created by coming together have already begun.

Books make some of the most meaningful gifts -- we all know this.  We have some of the most beautiful, interesting and gift-worthy books in the English-speaking world in stock, on display, and on the mental fingertips of our professional crew of independent booksellers.  We wrap; we recommend; we are excellent at matching book to person, either you or someone dear to you.

So, come on into the stores and enjoy the books this season and make it possible for others to enjoy them too!

Have a happy Thanksgiving with friends, family and even a stranger or two!

And Happy Reading!

John & all DIESELfolk

Fire Relief: Children's Book Drive at DIESEL in Larkspur


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. 

Please help to provide books to the thousands of children who have lost their community and home libraries.  You can drop off books at our Larkspur store at the Marin Country Mart day and night.  Any books in good condition are welcome at this time.  Those of you with children may find that your children want to help those in need, and giving books that they've read and enjoyed would be a wonderful way for them to help.

We will deliver them to those in need.  Thanks, in advance, for your generosity, your compassion, and your books.  We will all have to rise to this occasion, and help those keenly facing this devastation.

--- John & All DIESELfolk

DIESEL Oakland Says Goodbye


Dear Reader,

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.)

Thanks so much for all of our conversations; for the events that we’ve shared; for the love of books and recommendations we’ve exchanged; and for keeping reading, and writing, and all of our imaginations alive in times that have challenged our humanity and our conviviality.

As we have often written: ‘Thank you for supporting the fragile ecology of free speech which independent bookstores help to sustain.’  Thank you, again, for this too.  

As many of you know, DIESEL can be found in Larkspur, and in Southern California, in Brentwood.  We look forward to seeing you there.  But for those of you who stay close to home and live in or near Rockridge – enjoy the new East Bay Booksellers, with the same wonderful booksellers who have been working for DIESEL the past few years.  They will carry on that most-wonderful of East Bay literary traditions: the fine art of independent bookselling.

We will be having a joint party on Saturday September 23rd!  Please come by to share stories and toast the past, present and future.  Hope to see you there.

With Gratitude,
Alison & John



                              (John, Alison & Brad signing!)