Local Lit | April’s top tips for book lovers
By Lou Fancher
During the month of April, keep it local and follow this short list of things you can do to support literature and the East Bay’s independent bookstores and libraries while enjoying good books by local authors at your own pace.
Leading the charge to Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, April 30, the Exedra highlights several Bay Area bookstores below, with details and a suggestion for books or poetry collections written by local writers to order and pick up at each location. An Earth Day Festival on the same day (Apr. 30) at the Lafayette Library & Learning Center and presented by Sustainable Lafayette caps the list with an activity that keeps public libraries in the loop of great places to find, share and celebrate the literary community. Don’t forget to BYOB (bring your own book)!
Walden Pond Books on Grand Avenue in Oakland is hyped during April about National Poetry Month. The family-owned independent bookstore has been selling new, used, and rare books in the Bay Area since 1973. On the website, 25 new collections are highlighted, but don’t let that stop you from ordering and picking up poetry written by the area’s finest, among them, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Kim Addonizio, Thea Matthews, James Cagney, Seema Yasminm, Tess Taylor, Brian Tierney and Paul Tran.
Rakestraw Books in Danville has several events leading up to its ninth celebration of Independent Bookstore Day, but consider saving a journey to Michael Barnard’s special book-crazed enclave for the end of the month. Online, this year’s Independent Bookstore Day ambassador, New York Times bestselling author Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), will serve as host at Rakestraw and over 900 participating independent bookstores across America. In the store, Rakestraw’s always knowledgeable staff will be selling exclusive Independent Bookstore Day items (while supplies last) and of course, terrific books! Pick up a copy of Santa Cruz-based, PEN-Faulkner and California Book Award winner Karen Joy Fowler’s latest novel, Booth. The fictional account of the family behind one of the most infamous figures in American history, John Wilkes Booth, catches the essence of an era and a country and family in a tumultuous state of change that will set your imagination on fire.
Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley has yet to disclose all the details planned for the special Saturday, but there’s no reason to doubt the vibe will be kid-friendly and feature more than one local author. Recent drops-ins at the store have included (and made available autographed copies of books by) KQED Journalist Dave Iverson (Winter Stars), Elizabeth Partridge (Parks for the People: How Frederick Law Olmsted Designed America), Katryn Bury (Drew Leclair Gets a Clue), and others. Find and bring home a copy of Oakland author-illustrator Obi Kaufmann’s The Coasts of California, a gorgeous watercolor and poetic word journey through California’s oceanside areas. In addition to information about sea creatures, the rhythms of tides, and shifting rocks and sand, detailed map paintings of parks along the California Coastal Trail find their place in this magnificent exploration of science and nature.
Books Inc.’s locations in Alameda and Berkeley, Montclair Village’s Great Good Place for Books, Lafayette’s Reasonable Books and Bel and Bunna’s Books, and Orinda Books in Orinda are all worth a visit. Depending on your place of origin (and how much fuel is in your vehicle’s tank), you won’t go wrong—regardless of which bookstore you select. Look for new releases such as Pulitzer Prize winner Matt Richtel’s intriguing new book, Understanding Creativity: a Journey Through Art, Science and the Soul; Orinda-based Vanessa Hua’s Forbidden City, her second novel and a historical fiction work set during the Cultural Revolution in China; former Contra Costa County District Attorney Paul Holes’ memoir, Unmasked; My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases; and from Meredith May, the Carmel Valley-based author of Honey Bus and a former award-winning San Francisco Chronicle journalist, there is Loving Edie: How a Dog Afraid of Everything Taught Me to be Brave.
Lafayette Earth Day Festival 2022 | Apr. 30Wrap up your all-month book odyssey and independent bookstore day journey at the outdoor festival from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM that takes place on April 30 in the Lafayette Library Amphitheater at Golden Gate Way and First Street in the city’s downtown core. The family- and earth-friendly free event features a kid’s bike safety course, 4-H petting zoo, small e-waste collection, a food truck and more. Take time to explore the library’s remarkable resources that include an impressive ‘friends of the library’ bookshop and more. Expect to join an enthusiastic community of people committed to serving as good shepherds of the environment and who love the planet Earth almost as much as they love good books.