"Alternating between poetry, science, history, fiction, cultural studies and spirituality with the occasional mystery or science fiction thrown in, eclectic is probably the best description of my reading. (Liminal and chthonic come to mind, but just because I like those words). Ideas, experiences, transformative writing, grace & sincerity are usually the draw for me, along with, if I'm lucky, humorous delight."
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Peace By Gillian Conoley Cover Image
ISBN: 9781890650957
Published: Omnidawn - April 1st, 2014

One of the most powerful books in recent years, Peace is the latest from one of our greatest contemporary poets.

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We Are Called to Rise: A Novel By Laura McBride Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476738963
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 3rd, 2014

This is a powerful fiction debut. Set in Las Vegas, it is the story of returned war veterans, of immigrants fleeing political persecution, of suburban families, and of the ways we break and the ways we heal. Though that sounds like a big sprawling novel, it is actually a very focussed, refined, and intimate story of an 8-year-old boy and his family, along with the limited array of people an 8-year-old regularly interacts with.

It is a graceful, and gracefully written story. It is deeply touching, emotionally suspenseful, and curiously contemplative. The depth is stroked lightly. The surface is described exquisitely. It is as if it ends on a major chord with a minor note left hanging poignantly in the air. Real life is so carefully and compassionately rendered in a simple tale, in an exaggeratedly legendary town that proves itself as ordinary as the extraordinary quotidian is anywhere.

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Susan Sontag: The Complete Rolling Stone Interview By Jonathan Cott Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300199024
Published: Yale University Press - October 28th, 2014

A fresh voice (straight from 1979), a fierce spirit, a compassionate heart, and a ready sense of humor—what's not to love in this intelligent and intimately probing interview with one of our finest critics and literary figures? It is a balm for anomie and a prompt to get out there and live a creative and engaged life. Go out there and get "involved in this task of lopping off heads—as Hercules did with the Hydra..."

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Rules of Civility: A Novel By Amor Towles Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143121169
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 26th, 2012

*** August 2011 Newsletter Pick ***

Masterfully written and harking back to another time, in both style and subject, Rules of Civility is a richly enjoyable read. Memories of read pleasures past -- Somerset Maugham, Fitzgerald -- rise up to meet this new addition to The Novel's great writers. This lushly textured novel, which follows the social and emotional arcs of a small cast of characters through New York in 1938, is touching, nostalgic, and evocative. Relaxing back into the text of a capable prose stylist is one of reading's great joys. You quickly develop the trust and faith to sink deep into the story. Absorbing, delightful, thoughtful, and well-crafted, Rules of Civility deserves to become a bestseller and to be read on planes, in armchairs, and in bed.

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The Shadow of Sirius By W. S. Merwin Cover Image
ISBN: 9781556593109
Availability: Not On Our Shelves - Available within 1 to 5 Days
Published: Copper Canyon Press - October 1st, 2009

*** March 2010 Newsletter Pick ***

Okay, so if you ride BART or the Metro, bus, carpool or ride in a car, and if you ever are waiting for five, ten, fifteen minutes, somewhere for someone sometime - then do you know what is the most expansive, freeing, delightful and productive use of your time in those situations? Yep, reading poetry. I'm not kidding - it is concise, direct, bears repetition, expands time, puts you in the zone of patience, waiting, and joy. It's dreamy, heartening, exciting, quickening, and gives you, your, own, sense, of, time. My recommendation for your next moment, your next wait, your next chance to extend your sense of time instead of contract it is: The Shadow of Sirius by Pulitzer Prize-winning W.S. Merwin. Just pick it up, carry it with you, find the moment where minutes are yours to kill, and read it. Read each poem three times, with breaks in between to feel your imagination breathe and stretch and grow. Then, read, another, one.

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The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America By Timothy Egan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547394602
Availability: Not On Our Shelves - Available within 1 to 5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - September 7th, 2010

*** November 2009 Newsletter Pick ***

Many of the most compelling, engaging, and thrilling books of the last decade are what we now call narrative nonfiction. Books like Erik Larson's The Devil in the White City, Susan Casey's The Devil's Teeth, and Timothy Egan's own National Book Award winning The Worst Hard Time, are some examples. They manage to capture the visceral fascination of their subjects (murder, sharks, hurricanes, The Depression, fire) along with social history and, often, the history of an idea. All of this organized by sound storytelling structures, and you have a wonderfully fascinating read. Well-researched, compassionate, and vivid, Egan's new book tells the stories of: The Big Burn forest fire of 1910, the founding of the National Park system, the creation of the enduring idea of conservation, and the immigration and labor histories of the Rocky Mountain West. These gracefully interwoven stories create a memorable picture of the political, social, cultural, and natural forces at play at a pivotal moment in the nation's history. Add to this the powerful personalities of Teddy Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, and the wide array of characters who made up the first generation of forest rangers and you have a narrative nonfiction can't-put-down firestorm in your hands!

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Sleeping Where I Fall: A Chronicle By Peter Coyote Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619025608
Published: Counterpoint - April 14th, 2015

*** October 2009 Newsletter Pick ***

You'll know Peter Coyote's woody voice from countless commercials, often for nonprofits and environmental groups, or his accomplished acting in some 120 or so films. If you ever lived in the Bay Area you might know him also as a member of The Diggers or the San Francisco Mime Troupe. Lucky for us, he is also a writer. Sleeping Where I Fall charts the trajectory of a tribe of individual humans, the ideas they shared, and the communal life they created from roughly 1964 to 1980. It is beautifully written, painfully honest, and luminously revealing of the intentions, failings, strengths, and humanity of that radical wet edge of the counterculture called the Digger Family. Coyote wisely incorporates thoughtful, graceful, and probing chapters on fellow Diggers in this tribal memoir, attempting to more clearly reveal their collective culture, their creativity, their struggles, and their wild successes. Their impact on the wider culture, and influence on the counter culture, is well-known but has never been captured so clearly and so articulately. Part memoir, chronicle and cultural history, it is the most insightful, intelligent, on-the-ground transcription of the moments, events and intentions swirling through the hearts and minds of that era. Honoring their heroic, troubled, and energetic attempts to be fully human, the book is both testimony and inspiration, encouraging a compassionate, imaginative and active engagement with your life in all of its relations. For those who lived it, it will be a vivid flashback, and for those who are curious, a wondrous, literary immersion. Dont' miss it.

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A Dangerous Friend By Ward Just Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618056705
Availability: Not On Our Shelves - Available within 1 to 5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - April 19th, 2000

Only a master stylist of Just's abilities could create a contemporary political novel rivalling Graham Greene. Set in Vietnam in the early 60's, this is a gripping, elegant, insightful book of human character, politics, and history. He has all the subtlety and deceptive ease of the finest craftsman, generous and delightful.

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The Palm-Wine Drinkard and My Life in the Bush of Ghosts By Amos Tutuola Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802133632
Availability: Not On Our Shelves - Available within 1 to 5 Days
Published: Grove Press - December 15th, 1993

The Palm-Wine Drinkard. Published to astonished acclaim in 1952, this surrealistic, modern African fable becomes more contemporary with each passing breath. Like hearing Son House, or The Clash, or Thelonious Monk for the first time: forever changed.

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The New American Poetry, 1945-1960 By Donald Allen (Editor) Cover Image
By Donald Allen (Editor)
ISBN: 9780520209534
Published: University of California Press - July 27th, 1999

Just reissued by California, this incredible anthology has literally transformed American poetry since its original publication in 1960. Still packing a powerhouse of poets and poetics, this is an excellent introduction to American poetry & a deep course in writing from the New York School to the San Francisco Renaissance, Black Mountain to Beat.

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Stages of Meditation By Dalai Lama, Geshe Lobsang Jordhen (Translated by), Losang Choephel Ganchenpa (Translated by), Jeremy Russell (Translated by), Kamalashila Cover Image
By Dalai Lama, Geshe Lobsang Jordhen (Translated by), Losang Choephel Ganchenpa (Translated by), Jeremy Russell (Translated by), Kamalashila
ISBN: 9781559391979
Published: Snow Lion - July 28th, 2003

Not for the novice, this is the clearest and most generous book on the deep philosophy of Buddhism that I have ever read. It opens endlessly. Direct, intimate, supremely intelligent, it is for the serious student.

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What Is Gnosticism? By Karen L. King Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674017627
Published: Belknap Press - April 30th, 2005

THE historical scholar on gnosticism that everyone is talking about. Elaine Pagels cites her as the current authority, and she's no slouch. It provides a history of the idea of gnosticism, its evolution in the last century and a clear assessment of the relationship of heresy to orthodoxy.

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The Biotech Century: Harnessing the Gene and Remaking the World By Jeremy Rifkin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780874779530
Availability: Not On Our Shelves - Available within 1 to 5 Days
Published: TarcherPerigee - April 5th, 1999

President of the Foundation on Economic Trends, Rifkin has penned a vitally important book on the Biotech Industrial Revolution. Part serious historical and political analysis and part clearheaded reportage, it is a thorough, thoughtful, and fact-laden treatment of contemporary science and business not to be missed.

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The Poetry Deal (San Francisco Poet Laureate #7) By Diane Di Prima Cover Image
ISBN: 9781931404150
Availability: Not On Our Shelves - Available within 1 to 5 Days
Published: City Lights Books - October 28th, 2014

A revolutionary of love and vision, Di Prima continues with still more wonderful poems following a life's passionate trajectory of great writing.

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Tree Line By Judy Halebsky Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936970254
Published: New Issues Poetry and Prose - September 16th, 2014

Musical, visual, graceful and honest, this a book of well-honed, precise, thoughtful and moving poems.

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The Beauty: Poems By Jane Hirshfield Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385351072
Published: Knopf - March 17th, 2015

Always elaborating an aesthetic spirituality, Hirshfield's latest furthers her heartfelt poetic project.

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Beyond the Chainlink (New) By Rusty Morrison Cover Image
ISBN: 9781934103463
Published: Ahsahta Press - February 1st, 2014

Publisher and poet Morrison has penned an elegant and lyrical language poetry of quotidian revelation.