October 2015

Dear Reader, 

A rich range of titles await you in the reviews below, as in our store. The Fall Season is always the biggest book publishing season of the year, and this year is no exception. There are wonderful arrays of carefully selected books on display and on the shelves, awaiting your browsing pleasure. Please check out our events listings, so as not to miss out on something special (Jojo Moyes Luncheon in Oakland, a host of children's events in Larkspur, and Cory Doctorow and Sarah Vowell coming up in Brentwood, as examples).  We look forward to seeing you soon and sharing our passions for particular books, authors and ideas.

Happy Reading!
John & all DIESELfolk


Staff Pick Logo
The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101874899
Availability: Special Order - Please call to confirm availability
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 8th, 2015

Never is devastation so wonderful as when reading sentences written Joy Williams. If the decade-long gaps between her books occasioned our forgetting, The Visiting Privilege reminds us: she is one of our undisputed masters of the short story. As with the likes of Flannery O'Connor and Don DeLillo, two of her closest kin, Williams' renown for exploring the darker corners of the human experience, specifically its fragility, often leaves her sense of humor under-appreciated. There are lifelines (of a sort) extended in even the darkest stories -- if perhaps not as close as we might like. 

At a recent reading she presented a list of things that make for a good short story. I will close with my favorite: "A novel wants to befriend you, a short story almost never." -- Brad J.  

Staff Pick Logo
Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning Into the Unknown Cover Image
By Pema Chodron, Seth Godin (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781622035311
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - click to see which location!
Published: Sounds True - September 1st, 2015

When her granddaughter was accepted to Naropa  University, Pema Chodron promised she would speak at the commencement ceremony. Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better is the wisdom she shared that day.

With her classic sense of humor and down to earth style, Pema Chodron raises subjects that most of us would shrink from. She affirms that the human experience of failure, grief, and loss, while difficult to confront, hold the potential for tremendous creativity and personal change. Drawing from classic Buddhist teachings and the experiences of her own life, Pema demonstrates how "mistakes can be portals of discovery."  

The book ends with an interview between Chodron and Tami Simon, founder of Sounds True Multimedia Publishing, where they talk in depth about loss, failure, and triumph. This interview is a great complement to the original speech and gives Chodron the opportunity to expand on her teachings in a more intimate fashion. For those who are not familiar with Pema Chodron's writings Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better is an accessible and very readable introduction to her teachings. -- Terry S.

Staff Pick Logo
The Art of Hearing Heartbeats Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590514634
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - click to see which location!
Published: Other Press (NY) - January 31st, 2012

Occasionally a customer so highly recommends a book that I immediately buy it. In fact, this is how I've come to read some of my favorites like this one. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats is a family story set in Burma and New York City -- an easy narrative and quick read. Steeped in eastern spirituality and fairy tale, it's an archetypal depiction of love that does not spoil or fade in spite of adverse circumstance. -- Mia W.

Staff Pick Logo
The Story of My Teeth Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894098
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Coffee House Press - September 15th, 2015

Recently I read about a bookstore in Japan that sells one book each week. They host talks and readings about that week's book, and the store's concept is predicated on the idea that a single book should foster at least a week's worth of conversations. If we did something similar at Diesel, I think I'd make a push for Valeria Luiselli's The Story of My Teeth. It is casually smart and funny in a way that few books manage or dare. I loved Luiselli's deliciously inventive debut novel in English last year, Faces in the Crowd, so the expectations were high for the follow-up. The Story of My Teeth absolutely exceeds these hopes, and is, hands-down, one of the best books of 2015. I loved it so much I wrote a blurb for the book -- open it up and see for yourself! --- Brad J. 

Staff Pick Logo
Dinner Cover Image
By C'Sar Aira, Katherine Silver (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811221085
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - October 6th, 2015

C├ęsar Aira is my idea of a perfect writer: eloquent and concise, intellectual yet primal, and completely unafraid of wading into straight-up B-movie territory. In the case of The Dinner, we're talking the brain-eaters pop culture loves to be terrified by. October seems a fitting month to read a zombie story, but if you come to Aira expecting standard splatter fare, you're going to be disappointed. Zombies are without a doubt overdone as vehicles for social commentary. They are the kings of consumer criticism, the very definition of mindless pursuit; and yes, Aira is adding to the pile of metaphors. Oh, but he's adding as only Aira can, and it's completely wonderful. -- Chris P. 


Staff Pick Logo
American Rustic Cover Image
By Chase Reynolds Ewald, Audrey Hall (Photographer)
ISBN: 9781423640271
Availability: Backordered
Published: Gibbs Smith - October 6th, 2015

For many people the word "romantic" could easily substitute for "rustic" in American Rustic design. Its timeless style takes us back to a simpler time when our dwellings were more closely rooted to the land. In fact rustic is the ultimate in place-based architecture. Large, color photographs depict ranches, farms, cabins, and haciendas in stunning natural landscapes. New residents may have added their own art, books, and collectibles, but the great stone walls, weighty timbers, and weathered woods are the essence of these structures, and they remain as solid as ever. Their promise to remain so, unchanging, is probably their greatest appeal. This book will be the center of attention on any coffee table.-- Alan D.

Staff Pick Logo
The Nest Cover Image
By Kenneth Oppel, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781481432320
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - October 6th, 2015

The Nest sets a high bar for itself: this is a book for middle-grade readers about a kid with OCD who becomes convinced that a telepathic wasp-queen is communicating with him through dreams, promising to "fix" his deathly-ill baby brother. There are so many places where a novel with this premise could go horribly wrong, but author Kenneth Oppel is some sort of literary gymnastics champion and totally sticks his landing. The tone of the book is perfect throughout. Oppel, to continue the gymnastics metaphor, maintains perfect balance between the emotional reality of what his protagonist, Steve, is experiencing and the fantastic -- and fantastically horrifying -- forces he's up against. This is a creepy, unsettling story, but like The Graveyard Book and Coraline before it, I feel like the way it confronts certain nightmare imagery will actually help kids understand fears they've already experienced -- and provide catharsis when Steve ultimately defeats his (metaphorical and not-so-metaphorical) demons. The Nest is an amazing novel -- vivid, fast-paced, and really about stuff in a way few adult novels are, or are so effectively. Parents should give this to their kids, and kids to their parents.-- Anna K.