Chatter's blog

Bay area bookstores are thriving!


Point Reyes Books is owned by Stephen Sparks and Molly Parent, who met while working at San Francisco’s Green Apple Books and acquired the 16-year-old shop in 2017.Who said indie bookstores are dying? Not in the Bay Area, thank you!

By Barbara Lane for Datebook

For years the death knell was clanging for the independent bookstores. First, they would be killed off by the chain stores — Borders, Barnes & Noble, et al. We all know how that turned out. Then the predator was Amazon. Then e-books.

But while there’s no doubt that Amazon has had a major effect on our book-buying habits, I’m happy to report that here in the Bay Area, the indies are thriving. And better still, a new crop of young, passionate booksellers has sprung up, ensuring that the future looks bright for those of us who love nothing better than to get lost for hours in a well-curated bookstore.

Part of this happy trend is thanks to the foresight and wisdom of what I’ll call bookstore elders. Kate Levinson and Steve Costa out at Point Reyes Books and John Evans and Allison Reid, who owned Diesel in Rockridge, handpicked their successors, making it possible for their beloved stores to both endure and change with the times.

The proud next-generation owners of Point Reyes Books, Stephen Sparks and Molly Parent, have been running the store for more than two years. The pair met while doing what could be called a residency at Green Apple, the venerable San Francisco indie. When Levinson and Costa decided it was time to sell Point Reyes, there were over 30 interested parties, and Sparks and Parent were deemed the best fit — they actually won an essay contest — for carrying on the store’s legacy.

The most important thing the former owners did to help the new owners was to create favorable terms for the purchase. Then it was up to Sparks and Parent to find investors. Happily, it wasn’t too difficult: They got financial support from Point Reyes locals who wanted to keep their beloved bookstore open and book-loving angels from outside the area.

Point Reyes Books is a hub for the West Marin community. The store reflects the glory of the natural surroundings with a strong environmental and nature section, one Sparks aspires to make “the best in the country.” Prominently displayed as one enters the store are Peter Wolleben’s “The Hidden Life of Trees,” “Horizon” by Barry Lopez, Robert Macfarlane’s “The Old Ways” and Obi Kaufmann’s “California Field Atlas.”

“People want to live their best life up here,” says Sparks, adding there’s lots of “aspirational purchasing.”

Book Trailer for "The Light Years" by Chris Rush


The trailer for this remarkable book features a quote from our own John Evans! 

Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. But underneath the gleaming mid-century house, the flawless hostess mom, and the thriving businessman dad ran an unspoken tension that, amid the upheaval of the late 1960s, was destined to fracture their precarious facade.

His older sister Donna introduces him to the charismatic Valentine, who places a tab of acid on twelve-year-old Rush’s tongue, proclaiming: “This is sacrament. You are one of us now.”

After an unceremonious ejection from an experimental art school, Rush heads to Tucson to make a major drug purchase and, still barely a teenager, disappears into the nascent American counterculture. Stitching together a ragged assemblage of lowlifes, prophets, and fellow wanderers, he seeks kinship in the communes of the west. His adolescence is spent looking for knowledge, for the divine, for home. Given what Rush confronts on his travels—from ordinary heartbreak to unimaginable violence—it is a miracle he is still alive.

The Light Years is a prayer for vanished friends, an odyssey signposted with broken and extraordinary people. It transcends one boy’s story to perfectly illustrate the slow slide from the optimism of the 1960s into the darker and more sinister 1970s. This is a riveting, heart-stopping journey of discovery and reconciliation, as Rush faces his lost childhood and, finally, himself. 

More Poetry !


More Poetry! 

One of DIESEL's favorite poets -- Layli Long Soldier -- whose stunning book of poems, Whereas, is an instant classic, was interviewed by Krista Tippett in this moving issue of the On Being podcast.  Take some time away from the news and turn to poetry since "Literature is news that STAYS news." (Ezra Pound)

Layli Long Soldier — The Freedom of Real Apologies - The On Being ...



April Is Poetry Month!


DIESEL has always been a welcoming home for poetry and a site for poetry's exuberance!  This month we are going to either introduce you or reintroduce you to poetry that has made its way onto our website over the years and that has entered our ears over the past months via various podcasts that you may have missed. 

As you may know, audio streaming from DIESEL's partnership with Librofm has made audiobooks available for download on your user-friendly phones, tablets, and computers.  There are a plethora of sources for poetry on the internet, which is one big part of the current surge in interest in poetry.  Social media, social dislocation, global challenges, cultural flux have each foregrounded some of the virtues of poetry as part of our coping, our thriving, and our connecting with ourselves, our relationships, and with the world.

We hope this helps, by turning you on to poets and their work, and encouraging you to seek out more in our store. 

Here is our first taste, to get Poetry Month 2019 started:

Teju Cole — Sitting Together in the Dark - The On Being Project



Have a wonderful month of poetry!
John & all DIESELfolk

Podcast Interview with John from DIESEL


Dear Reader,

Vik Singh does these hourlong + (!) podcast interviews with booksellers, called Bookstories.  (I just recently heard Allison Hill's and loved it!) Anyway, Vik interviewed me a few months ago and just aired it.  You may or may not be interested in listening to this while you are driving, or drinking a cocktail at home, or on the treadmill.  I really enjoyed talking with him and we delved into many things bookwise.  Hope you get a kick out of this.
Here’s the link: 

Happy Reading!

Young Adult Newsletter May 2018

Reading is an adventure!


Dear Reader,

Welcome to our May YA Newsletter! Exploration of other worlds, internal and external, continue in these reviews of contemporary YA fiction. Entertaining and intriguing, they give a great vantage on power relationships, emotional challenges, and the wonderful diversity of our world as well as their own. As Lindsey writes in this newsletter: "These stories, though often set in unrelatable worlds, have something that everyone can relate to."

Happy Reading!

John & all DIESELfolk