Local Lit | January’s top literary happenings
By Lou Fancher
Shop at Marcus Books and Ashay | Throughout January and especially on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Jan. 18.
The Bay Area literary community is fortunate to have two local black- and woman-owned independent bookstores: Ashay, specializing in African American and multi-cultural children’s books, founded and operated online by CEO Deborah Day, and Marcus Books, the nation’s oldest bookstore specializing in African American literature and operated in Oakland by Blanche Richardson. Throughout January—a month that includes the annual MLK celebration and salutes past and present peaceful civil rights activism—is the perfect time to “visit” the two establishments. Both establishments suggest any number of books that have recently received awards and recognition: Caste, How to Be An Antiracist, White Fragility, Why Didn’t We Riot? While Ashay also highlights titles for children, teens and young adults, such as ballet dancer Misty Copeland’s Bunheads, Brown Girls Coloring Book, a Jazz Band Jigsaw Puzzle and more.
Conversations with Authors: Alex Davies | Jan. 6 @ 6:00 – 8:00 pm
Bay Area readers will find combined satisfaction for science-tech appetites and traffic-jam-cursing impulses in Alex Davies’ new book: Driven: The Race to Create the Autonomous Car. Fierce competition drove Google, Uber, Toyota and other companies in the race to develop driverless cars. Davies is a senior editor at Business Insider where he oversees the transportation coverage. He is also a former editor at WIRED, and has authored features about General Motors’ victory over Tesla in building affordable, long-range electric cars, and profiled Alphabet’s “moonshot factory.” Aarian Marshall, a staff writer at WIRED who covers people and things on the move, joins Davies for the online event. Before writing for WIRED, she wrote for The Atlantic’s CityLab, GOOD, and Agri-Pulse, an agriculture trade publication.
Jan. 6 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm | Virtual
Daniel Mason in Conversation with Diane Del Signore | Jan. 10 @ 2:00-4:00 pm
In an online event organized by Mrs. Dalloway’s and hosted by Ashby Village, Daniel Mason (The Piano Tuner, A Far Country, and The Winter Soldier) discusses his most recent book, A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth. Mason is the winner of the Simpson Library Project’s Joyce Carol Oates Prize and the Northern California Book Award for fiction and is joined by SLP Executive Director Diane Del Signore. The new book’s collected stories represent an award winning fifteen-year project for Mason and feature his signature blend of well-researched historical fiction, complex characters, places and plots that offer insight about the world and its people.
Jan. 10 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm | Free | Virtual
Women Lit presents Ann Patchett | Jan. 13 @6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Pt. Reyes Books partners with the Bay Area Book Festival in a rare, virtual event with bestselling author (and bookstore owner) Ann Patchett. Her latest book, The Dutch House is a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and described by NPR as an “engrossing, warmhearted book.” Spanning five decades, Patchett tells of a brother and sister whose past is haunted by their childhood home, an ornate mansion, the Dutch House. Patchett owns an indie bookstore in Nashville and is not shy when it comes to interacting with readers. Participants in the live, online event are invited to submit questions when purchasing tickets. Patchett will answer as many as possible during a portion of the two hour event. A membership-based program in support of women writers, Women Lit members are able to reserve a free ticket and have the option to order a signed copy of The Dutch House. Consider a membership, and make note that each ticket includes private access to the event recording for 10 days following the live event.
Jan. 13 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm | $15 – $30
Virtual Class: Mock Caldecott | Jan. 24 @ 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
For those who didn’t spend their childhoods with their nose in a book, the bright medallion stamp of the Caldecott Medal is the most important award given to illustrated children’s books. And for anyone who wants to take a deeper dive into understanding criteria used by the committee of librarians who bestow this honor—this hands-on, experiential class is the perfect opportunity to learn. Not only will you understand what turns a children’s picture book into a bestseller, and what propels an illustrator to the spotlight on the literary stage, the Zoom session is designed to be engaging and fun. Space is limited to 24 people and requires reading selections on a reading list of this year’s best illustrated books. There’s terrific pleasure and, of course, fantastic artwork, in books such as In the City (Chris Raschka); Julián at the Wedding (Jessica Love); The Little Mermaid (Jerry Pinkney); ¡VAMOS! Let’s Go Eat (Raúl the Third); and You Matter (Christian Robinson). Melissa Manlove, a Senior Editor at Chronicle Books in San Francisco serves as host and mock committee leader.
Jan. 24 from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm | $20
Berkeley Public Library: Farm To Shelf with the Authors of The Filipino Instant Pot Cookbook | Jan. 16 @ 2:00-3:00pm
Introducing their new release, The Filipino Instant Pot Cookbook, Bay Area-based Jeannie Celestial and Art Swenson demonstrate in a livestream event how to make Chicken Adobo using an Instant Pot. The program is part of the library’s Farm to Shelf series and comes with the news the library will soon have instant pots available for checkout at the Tool Lending Library as a part of the Kitchen Tools collection. Celestial was born on Guam and raised by Filipino parents and grandparents who were skilled farmers and gardeners. She is a practicing psychologist in Vallejo and graduate of the University of California at Berkeley. She holds a Master of Social Work Degree from San Francisco State University, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Palo Alto University. Swenson is native to San Francisco and was raised in Oakland. He grew up with his Caucasian dad and Filipina mother from Pampanga who together inspired his love for multi-cultural cuisine and stories. In addition to being an author and cook, he is a fine arts sculptor and digital designer. Register on Zoom or Eventbrite for a link to the livestream. The event is made possible by support from the Berkeley Public Library Foundation and the Friends of the Berkeley Public Library.