8 Books for Everyone on Your List
Spoil your friends—and yourself—with gifts written by several of the East Bay’s top authors.
Book art by Isaac Salazar/photography by Sam Sargent
East Bay writers have your back when it comes to gift-giving. With a list that includes everything from a colorful children’s book to a suspenseful romance novel to nonfiction from top-selling author Michael Lewis, you’re sure to find presents for your curious nephew, your mystery-loving best friend, and your discriminating aunt in this roundup of recent releases. Maybe you’ll even discover a little something for yourself.
For Kids and Teens
The Rainbow Zoo
By Lucille Lang Day
Blue lions, tigers, and green bears—oh, my. Oakland author of 10 poetry collections, a memoir, and now a children’s book, Lucille Lang Day introduces kids to The Rainbow Zoo, where they will meet animals in diverse colors and patterns. Day, who received an M.A. in zoology and a Ph.D. in science and mathematics education from UC Berkeley, invents an animal kingdom in which neon is king. The vibrant artwork by Hayward illustrator Gina Aoay Orosco celebrates the unusual and the unique. Readers ages four and up (and their parents) will appreciate the lovely story and the inventive creatures found in this colorful zoo, where even the hot dogs are plaid.
The Horribly Hungry
By Elisa Kleven
Albany children’s author and illustrator Elisa Kleven released her latest book, The Horribly Hungry Gingerbread Boy, just in time for the holidays. Follow along as a freshly baked gingerbread boy comes to life and leads young Shirley on a wild chase through iconic San Francisco neighborhoods—including the Mission district, North Beach, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf—while he eats up the city. Kleven’s gorgeous artwork thrills with unusual details and vivid colors. A gingerbread-boy recipe is included, so bake a fresh batch and read with your small fry by the menorah or Christmas tree.
Rad Women Worldwide
By Kate Schatz
Learn history as it should be told in Rad Women Worldwide by Alameda’s Kate Schatz. This follow-up to The New York Times best-seller Rad American Women A–Z spans 31 countries and presents tales of 40 women from 430 BC to the present who have inspired, brought about change, and led revolutionary lives. Stories highlight well-known women, including Frida Kahlo and Venus and Serena Williams, along with little-known figures—such as Ancient Egypt’s Hypatia, the first female mathematician and scientist, and Antarctica explorers Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft. The book’s arresting, mod papercut illustrations by Miriam Klein Stahl bring these crucial stories to life. Buy one for your daughter and another for her classroom.
Caravaggio: Painter on the Run
By Marissa Moss
Marissa Moss of Berkeley, best known for her Amelia’s Notebook series, makes a perfectly executed turn into young adult historical fiction with Caravaggio: Painter on the Run. A Junior Library Guild selection, the book tells the tale of one of the fathers of modern painting from the late 1500s to early 1600s. Caravaggio’s dark work greatly differed from the pastel-colored, mannered paintings of the times. His life echoed the darkness of his art, whether he was throwing an artichoke in a waiter’s face or committing an unintended murder. Kids will love the drama of the 16th century, the Inquisition, and Caravaggio’s rip-roaring story—and learning about the painter’s rebellious art.
Fiction For Adults
Everything We Keep
By Kerry Lonsdale
Get swept away in Everything We Keep, Brentwood author Kerry Lonsdale’s debut novel that explores love—and plans gone awry. Sous chef Aimee Tierney is engaged to her childhood sweetheart and dreams of taking over her family’s longstanding restaurant, but when her fiancé disappears in a boating accident, she’s left to unravel a mystery and reimagine what her life has really meant. Let Lonsdale’s raw, honest language lead you through twists and turns to a satisfying ending. Perfectly weaving together romance, suspense, and surprise, Everything We Keep will captivate readers, who will be thrilled to hear that the sequel comes out next summer.
Valley of the Moon
By Melanie Gideon
Oakland’s Melanie Gideon, whose popular Wife 22 is in development with Working Title Films, turns her attention to time travel in Valley of the Moon. While on a camping trip to Sonoma Valley in 1975, single mother Lux steps back into the early 1900s and finds herself drawn to the simpler era—and its residents. Fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife will love following Lux’s story of longing that questions where we belong and explores how time “traps us and also frees us,” says Gideon.
Nonfiction For Adults
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
By Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis, the Berkeley-based author of Moneyball and The Big Short, steps away from sports and high finance to examine two scientists who studied how we think in The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds. Lewis’ passion project tells the story of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who researched how the human mind systematically errs when forced to make judgments about uncertain situations. Their findings from 40 years ago have led us to rely less on human intuition and defer to algorithms when it comes to decision making—revolutionizing behavioral economics and big-data studies. The book reveals the scientists’ heroic efforts in academia and in the Israeli military, all while shining light on the mysteries of the mind.
By Sasha Duerr
The perfect gift for the DIYer, Sasha Duerr’s beautiful and hefty Natural Color will look good on both your coffee table and work shelf. Oakland’s Duerr, a professor at the California College of the Arts, takes you season by season, recommending sustainable plants from your garden that you can use to create dyes for prints and patterns. Abundant rosemary produces an earthy tone for a linen tablecloth and napkins to decorate your holiday table; red cabbage gently tints a pastel Angora baby hat and mittens; and rose petals imprinted on fabric make breezy silk organza curtains. You can use everything from eucalyptus and black walnut to pomegranate rind and bougainvillea. Most surprising? Avocado pits yield a soft palette of pinks, blues, and purples. So get ready to raid your garden—and create as nature intended.