We’re may be home bound this winter, but our dreams can run free with a book in hand. Consider this our homage to the Bay Area’s vast literary scene, from must-read books to fascinating authors, chilling mysteries and plenty of Bookish things to do or contemplate.
Thrills, chills and noir
Given the sheer volume of California mystery and thriller writers, you would think the Golden State had vast murderous appeal. Now some of the best writers in the business — James Patterson, John Lescroart, Lee Goldberg and more — are dishing on why their characters roam the streets of Los Angeles, Jamestown, Davis and San Francisco, including a creepy little alley near UCSF. Here’s what they said.
Poetry in a pandemic
Poetry is having an unexpected moment right now, at the presidential inauguration, on the “America’s Got Talent” stage and in Emmy-winning documentary depictions, too. Now six poets laureate from across California are talking about how the art form can illuminate our world.
On the trail of Twain
Tom Sawyer may have painted that infamous fence — or made everyone else do it — in Hannibal, Missouri, but Mark Twain’s footsteps are painted large across California, from the Gold Rush camps and Calaveras, famous for that jumping frog, to the Bay Area, where he hobnobbed with San Francisco’s high society, the fantastical Emperor Norton and a bartender with a very familiar name.
Pow! Wow! Zap!
From vintage Marvel to Wondercon and Comic Con, colorfully illustrated comic books have inspired fan communities around the world. Take Concord’s Joe Field, who launched the first Free Comic Book Day at his Flying Colors bookstore in 2002. It’s a global phenomenon now, with Marvel Comics and other syndicates publishing books specifically for those giveaways in the U.S., Asia, Europe and Australia. Here’s how it all began.
Still more winter reads
Wondering what to read next? We talked with half a dozen Bay Area authors about their newest books and their favorite reads. Among them:
Marin County’s Cara Black, whose best-selling Aimee LeDuc mysteries bring intrigue to the Left Bank, Saint-Germain and other Parisian arrondissements, talks about her newest book, an espionage thriller set in Nazi-occupied Paris, and what she’s reading right now.
Award-winning Bay Area children’s book author Jesse Byrd talks basketball, laughter and heritage — and the books we should be reading right now.
And Stanford doctor Seema Yasmin, whose newest (and very timely) book explores medical myths — what they are, how they spread and how to combat them. Now she’s answering all those questions and sharing some book recommendations, too.
Coming this week…
Jan. 26: From Frank Herbert to Octavia Butler, Philip K. Dick and Ursula K. Leguin, so many iconic sci-fi writers have a West Coast connection, it made us wonder: What is it about the Golden State that makes us look to the future? Now four sci-fi experts are answering the question.
Berkeley-based Brooke Warner, founder of SheWrites Press and the podcast Write Minded, delves into the appeal of the memoir, and fellow Berkeley resident, graphic novelist Thi Bui, traces the stories of immigration and family in her debut novel, which was chosen by the SF Library for the “one city, one book” program last year.
Jan. 27: Need some recommendations for 30 great winter reads? Five Bay Area bookstore owners are sharing their favorites, from vintage volumes — hello, “Three Men in a Boat” — to just-published books.
With the fourth and final entry in her best-selling “Ember in the Ashes” series launched, fantasy/science fiction author Sabaa Tahir talks about how real-world wartime crises inspired this fictional world, and how two of her books landed on Time magazine’s list of the top 100 fantasy books ever written.
Jan. 28: Who else but a Beverly Hills filmmaker — and director of “Shadow of the Vampire” — would have a 2,000-volume library of esoterica, including a tarot deck once owned by Russian occultist Madame Blavatsky. Now E. Elias Merhige is talking about his collection, freemasonry and other arcane topics.