Chatter's blog

Annie Leibovitz in Oakland

By the time Monday afternoon rolled around, every seat in the house was spoken for, we were gutting the store to make more space, and the phone was ringing off the hook, people satisfied just to get a spot in the signing line--their chance to meet the legendary Annie Leibovitz. 

She gave a generous reading and a candid Q&A, longer than anyone had hoped, while probably two-hundred people, shoulder to shoulder, held their collective breath to catch every word.

We have a short clip from the reading, but my favorite part was when she and Wavy Gravy (sitting front center) had a good laugh about that time with the pickle barrel on Ken Kesey's farm. 


My Bookstore Likes to Party All the Time

This last Sunday we threw a little Thank-You Party in our Oakland store. For one wonderful and very rainy afternoon we enjoyed pie and wine and crowds of our favorite customers and pottery on display from one of Diesel's favorite sons, Colin Waters.

And we made a little video of the festivities, in case you missed it. Thanks to all who came!


Colin's work is still available for purchase in our Oakland store.

Three Good Things: A Visit From Mansbach, Goodreads, and Back in the Day Bakery

1. A Bedtime Story. Adam Mansbach recently visited our Oakland store to read from his not-actually-for-children's book, Go the F*ck to Sleep. (Disclaimer: Video contains adult language. But wouldn't you be kind of disappointed if it didn't?)



2. A Lesson in Sharing.  I have a bad habit of writing book recommendations on whatever I have at hand. This means sifting through weeks of coffee shop reciepts every time I want to read that book that so-and-so told me about, ohhh, the one about that famous woman set in Havana. Or was it Houston? I think it had "hat" in the title...Or, worse, I'm the one trying to give the recommendation and I can't dig back into my brain and come up with the title that I think would be just perfect for a friend. 

Enter Goodreads: a book-centric cross between a social networking site and a dating service. You can make lists of what you've read, what you want to read, what you liked, and what you hated. You can share your ratings, reviews, and recommendations with friends. Based on your preferences, the site will also fix you up with books and authors you might enjoy. So make yourself a profile and invite your friends to join. We're makin' books cool again!


3. As Seen on YouTube. A good book trailer is hard to find, but this trailer for The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook is better than good. It's actually making me a little sad that I'm so far from Savannah AND the publication date, which is March 1, 2012. Enjoy this little video treat and then look for the cookbook, out from Artisan Books next year.


Thank You Malibu!

The pie was eaten. The parking lot was full. Thanks to all who made our Grand Opening and Thank-You Party a huge success!


Photos from the new store:


In Our Neighborhood: Grimm's Fairy Tales at Cella Gallery


I live in an area that is in the midst of an artistic transformation, yet for some reason I rarely take advantage of what my community has to offer. One Saturday night, not so long ago, I saw a post for an open gallery night where the galleries on one street were joining forces and welcoming all to explore what they had to offer. Rather than spend another night in my pajamas, I decided to see what was going on. 

When I arrived, people were milling about, drifting from one exhibit to another. Vintage pin-up girl posters with live music, indie horror flicks, and hip-hop dance lessons were some of the first things I encountered. At the end of the street was the Cella gallery,, where a themed group show, inspired by Grimm's Fairy Tales, was on display. The room was crowded--it was by far the most popular exhibit on the street. There were approximately 30 works ranging from pencil sketches to acrylic on canvas, but perhaps the most interesting were the mixed media pieces using books as the foundation. Hardcover boards became the canvases, a long braid hung from the spine of "Rapunzel", while "Hansel and Gretel" sprung to life from the opened pages. The most clever was called "Grimm Future" by W.B Fontenot. A vintage hardcover that was opened enough so you could see the computer jacks to plug in the book while all the words were blacked out. Very grim indeed. (I was told that if you did plug it in, it was loaded with a computer virus....nice touch!) 
The curator, Shannon Currie Holmes, plans on making this an annual exhibit with the hope of having 100 artists participate. Sign me up...this sounds like a great idea!

Visit the exhibit online at 

--Cheryl Diesel, Brentwood




Annie Leibovitz comes to Oakland


On Monday, November 21st, Diesel, A Bookstore in Oakland welcomes legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz to the store to sign her new book of photographs, Pilgrimage. The photographs in Pilgrimage took Leibovitz to places that she could explore with no agenda. Starting with Emily Dickinson’s house in Amherst, Massachussetts, she worked outward, traveling from Niagara Falls, to Yosemite, to the English countryside and even further afield. Filled with images of incredible beauty, Pilgrimage is a deeply personal collection from one of the world's foremost photographers.


Leibovitz's large and distinguished body of work encompasses some of the most well-known portraits of our time. She began her career as a photojournalist for Rolling Stone in 1970, while still a student, and by  the time she left the magazine ten years later she had shot 142 covers and published photo-essays on scores of subjects. In 1983, when she joined the staff of the revived Vanity Fair, she was established as the foremost rock music photographer and an astute documentarian of the social landscape. She has received numerous awards and honors, was decorated a Commandeur in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government, and was named a Living Legend by the Library of Congress. She lives in New York with her three children.


This event is free and open to the public, but we'll save you a spot!  Pilgrimage will be published on November 8th. If you purchase your copy at Diesel, we'll reserve your place in the signing line on the day of the event. 


PLEASE NOTE: While we will have copies of Ms. Leibovitz's other titles for sale, she will only be signing copies of Pilgrimage. Please contact our Oakland store at 510-653-9965 with any questions, or to purchase a copy of the book.


On Canaan's Side - Signed First Editions!

Last week, Sebastian Barry (two-time Man Booker shortlisted author of The Secret Scripture) was in the Bay Area, speaking, signing, and promoting his new novel, On Canaan's Side. Barry, pictured below with Diesel bookseller Linda Grana, has signed a carton of first editions for Diesel--now on sale in our Oakland store!


"Told in the first person, as a narrative of Lilly Bere's life over seventeen days, On Canaan's Side opens as she mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly revisits her past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland, at the end of the First World War, and continues her tale in America, a world filled with both hope and danger. At once epic and intimate, Lilly's story unfolds as she tries to make sense of the sorrows and troubles of her life and of the people whose lives she has touched. Spanning nearly seven decades, from the Great Depression to World War II and the Vietnam War, it is the heartbreaking story of a woman whose capability to love is enormous, and whose compassion, even for those who have wronged her, is astonishing."

Banned Books Week Wrap-Up

Today is the final day of Banned Books Week and we hope you all had a chance to celebrate. Last night we had a read-out in our Oakland store. People read from Candide and Harry Potter and Beloved and The Catcher in the Rye--great books that we couldn't do without.


 Diesel has also been participating in the nation-wide festivities by uploading videos to the Banned Books Week channel: