March 2011



Dear Reader,

As those of you in Malibu are painfully aware, we had to close our store in Malibu a couple of weeks ago. We are energetically searching for another location in Malibu, so that we can reopen a renewed and improved store this spring. We want to thank our supportive readers in Malibu, in Oakland, and in West LA for celebrating our work, our books and our stores. We can't tell you enough, that it is because of you that the stores are what they are: stocked with interesting selections of books, staffed with passionately informed readers, and hubs of engaging, community-building conversations and events. Many people have been asking how they can help in this transition and we have stumbled through answers such as "Continue buying books from our Oakland and Brentwood stores", or "Buy all of your ebooks through our website, which supports the actual stores in our communities." Then, one of our customers said "Isn't there some way we can encourage all of our family and friends to support you, both online and in the stores, so that people who don't even know about you yet would be able to find out about you and support you, too?" And we said, "Yes". So, for those of you concerned about independent bookstores, and other indie businesses, in our communities, please feel free to do all of the above, to keep it all going. And thanks, again, for all of your support over the years in making our stores as interesting, enjoyable, and useful as they can be.

We hope you enjoy this latest newsletter from the coworkers at Diesel, and that you visit our website for more, and our stores for even more! We also encourage you to email us with your own brief reviews (we call them shelftalkers) for us to post on our shelves. You can email them to, or better, stop in the store and fill it out right there -- it's more fun that way.

Happy Reading!
John & all Dieselfolk


Staff Pick Logo
At Home: A Short History of Private Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780767919388
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Doubleday Books - October 5th, 2010

Why should you convince your book club to read a hardcover nonfiction book? Because it's Bill Bryson, and At Home is more engaging and pleasurable to read than much recent fiction. It's chock full of arcane factoids and cheeky observations that have made me seem smarter and more worldly than I really am. And who doesn't benefit from that? Each chapter follows a different room in Bryson's house, a Victorian parsonage in an altogether uneventful part of England. How those rooms came to be (and the various historical characters that helped shape them) is much more fascinating than this sentence makes them seem. From the hallway to the bathroom to the kitchen to the garden, Bryson uncovers a multitude of wealthy aristocrats and atheistic parishioners that, thanks to a few happy accidents and some very bad decisions, did more to influence the rooms in which we live and the conceptions we have about what those rooms are for than one could imagine. -- Grant Outerbridge

Staff Pick Logo
Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400068722
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Random House - March 1st, 2011

Some people just have a calling. For Gabrielle Hamilton, it's being a chef. While reading about her childhood, her pure enjoyment of food and ingredients is apparent, even at a very young age. Simple things such as her mother burning a tangerine peel in a candle flame or being given fresh peas in a local market to enjoy on the spot (after she stole a handful) made an indelible impression on her. This memoir recalls her days of struggling, the relationships she made (and lost) along the way, as well as the opening of her now famous restaurant, Prune, in New York City. -- Cheryl Ryan

Staff Pick Logo
The Marriage Artist Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805091786
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - October 26th, 2010

Andrew Winer's The Marriage Artist is the novel I would absolutely nominate for a National Book Award, if I could. This one work of fiction contains two love stories, a historical novel and a psychological thriller, and dares to journey into the minds of artists and their critics, all told in a thoughtful and eloquent voice.

Two seemingly separate narratives, one contemporary and one in pre-World War II Vienna, are revealed. Ultimately they are in place to answer the question of why a young and acclaimed New York artist committed suicide, if that is really what happened.

Themes abound. Are our children and grandchildren molded by the times we live in? Is there any escape from this fact? Is there a place for God or religion in modern life? Is He help or hindrance? Does death always hover? Is love ultimately detrimental or a blessing? What is the meaning and purpose of marriage? What is the meaning and purpose of art?

The Marriage Artist is an especially excellent book group book that will fuel hours of discussion. -- Diane Leslie

Staff Pick Logo
The Gates: A Samuel Johnson Tale Cover Image
ISBN: 9781439175408
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Washington Square Press - September 28th, 2010

Much like in his 2007 effort, The Book of Lost Things, the central character in The Gates is a young boy on the cusp of becoming a teenager. As if a frothing sea of hormones and a cruel babysitter are not enough, Samuel Johnson's neighbors have unwittingly opened a gap in our universe through which the gates of Hell are visible. And the gates are slowly melting. With the help of his friends, a bumbling scientist, his mother, and a good-natured demon named Nurd, Samuel must figure out how to stop this ridiculous mess before it's too late. As in The Book of Lost Things, Connolly excels at creating a believable world through the eyes of his young hero, and what may at first seem simplistic is, upon further inspection, wonderfully subtle, not to mention very, very funny. -- Grant Outerbridge

Staff Pick Logo
Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes (Persephone Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781906462017
Availability: Backordered
Published: Persephone Books - December 31st, 2009

Recently I succumbed to a craving for World War II home front fiction and went hunting: Good Evening, Mrs. Craven is my most impressive discovery. Written during the war, these short stories convey the ordinary heroism, uncertainty, and tumultuous passions behind the stiff-upper-lip Britishness that one associates with the period. But, allow me to emphasize, Panter-Downes' stories were written during the war. She was a correspondent for The New Yorker who for something like 40 years wrote their "Letter From England" column, as well as a fictitious piece every few months over the course of the conflict. The stories are as delicately written, subtle, and incisive as anything in James Joyce's infinitely better-known Dubliners, and it gives me chills to think that they were composed when the outcome of the war was still very much in doubt. Re-watch Casablanca sometime, keeping in mind that it was released in 1942 when V-E day was still several years away; read these stories in the same spirit. This is truly heroic fiction. -- Anna Kaufman

Staff Pick Logo
The Art of Charcuterie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780470197417
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: John Wiley & Sons - December 7th, 2010

Sausages, pate and terrines can be a bit daunting to prepare at home, but for those desiring to do so, this book covers it all. It begins with detailed descriptions and drawings of various cuts of meat and fish, and includes an extensive glossary of herbs and spices and other ingredients specifically used in the preparation of charcuterie. The chapter on sanitation and food safety is a must-read before beginning any recipe. Knowledge of how harmful bacteria can be prevented via proper inspection and food handling are of utmost importance. Step-by-step illustrated and photographic guides demonstrate equipment usage and various preparation techniques. While all of the recipes sound fantastic, my favorite chapter is that for accompanying condiments: sauces, relishes and pickled things...all the wonderful finishing touches that compliment charcuterie so beautifully. -- Cheryl Ryan

Staff Pick Logo
City Dog, Country Frog Cover Image
By Mo Willems, Jon J. Muth (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781423103004
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Disney-Hyperion - June 8th, 2010

You may recognize both of the names on the cover of this book. Mo Willems is the author of the quirky Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus series, as well as the multiple Caldecott award-winning Knuffle Bunny books. Jon Muth has written and illustrated the lovable Zen Shorts collection (among others). They are an unstoppable combination. City Dog, Country Frog is a heartwarming and sweet story about a city dog who decides to spend a day in the country where he meets a new friend (country frog). They continue their friendship through the seasons and teach each other their favorite pastimes. City dog learns that all things must come to an end but when one door closes, another opens in its place. -- Elise Clarkson