Ruth Asawa, forming a looped-wire sculpture, 1957. (Photograph by Imogen Cunningham; © The Imogen Cunningham Trust, via kqed.org)

7 Books by Bay Area Authors to Read This Summer

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Need an escape from shelter in place? Books are great for that.

Our summer reading list includes seven new releases from Bay Area authors, including a Ruth Asawa biography for art lovers and Meena Harris' Kamala & Maya's Big Idea, an illustrated book inspired by her famous aunt and extraordinary mother and written for phenomenal young girls.


Happy reading.

​ Everything She Touched: The Life of Ruth Asaw​a, by Marilyn Chase

San Francisco author Marilyn Chase mined letters, diaries, sketches, and photos and conducted interviews with those who knew Ruth Asawa to create Everything She Touched, which recounts the incredible life of the American sculptor. She draws on Asawa's extensive archives and weaves together many voices—family, friends, teachers, and critics—to offer a complex and fascinating portrait of the artist.

Born in California in 1926, Asawa forged an unconventional path in everything she did—whether raising a multiracial family of six children, founding a San Francisco high school dedicated to the arts, or pursuing her own practice independent of the New York art market. She survived adolescence in the World War II Japanese-American internment camps and attended the groundbreaking art school at Black Mountain College before developing her signature and iconic art style.

Her beloved fountains are now SF icons, and her signature hanging-wire sculptures grace the Museum of Modern Art, de Young, Getty, Whitney, and many more museums and galleries across America.

// $30, chroniclebooks.com

Color x Color: The Sperry Poster Archive, by Chuck Sperry

If you're missing the live music scene at the moment, here's a book to satisfy your eyes with some familiar beauty. Color x Color illustrates the 40 year career arc of renowned rock poster artist, master screen printer, and Haight-Ashbury resident Chuck Sperry. The 750-plus page tome features more than 800 color reproductions of Sperry's work, from his early years creating posters for Bill Graham's legendary Fillmore Auditorium, to his gorgeous and colorful work for The Who, Eric Clapton, Pearl Jam, and the Black Keys. Each chapter includes insightful autobiographical content, sharing details about his art and life.

Nearly everything Sperry releases sells out quickly, including the first edition of this book, which was created to tie in with the extensive special permanent collection of Sperry's art being added to the archives of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.

Stay tuned for announcements about an upcoming 2nd edition at chucksperry.net.

The Son of Good Fortune, by Lysley Tenorio

San Francisco author Lysley Tenorio's The Son of Good Fortune is his highly-anticipated debut novel about an undocumented Filipino son navigating his relationship with his mother, an uncertain future, and the place he calls home. Tenorio's 2012 short story collection, Monstress, was a San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year and was also adapted for the stage at American Conservatory Theater in SF.

Kevin Wilson, author of Nothing to See Here, says "The Son of Good Fortune is flat-out brilliant, and what makes it so wondrous is how Tenorio controls the complexity of the narrative. How can a book be filled with so much humor, such a light touch, and yet still touch that weird place in our heart that can break us apart? Excel and his mother, Maxima, are characters you won't forget, and the world in which they exist, stuck between belonging and not belonging, does not deserve them."

// Available July 7; $28, pre-order at harpercollins.com

​Nourish Me Home, by Cortney Burns

Most of us are cooking way (way!) more than we are used to, and sometimes a fresh cookbook hits the spot more than endless internet searches for inspiration.

Cortney Burns—formerly of Bar Tartine on Valencia Street—is back with a personal cookbook project about nostalgia, immigration, and her own uniquely delicious recipes. Nourish Me Home pays homage to the seasons and the elements of water, fire, air, and ether. Burns' cooking always includes layered flavors and textures, surprising ingredients, and healthful twists, and her recipes range from weeknight go-tos such as salads, soups, and vegetable-forward mains to the homemade liqueurs and ferments that have earned her quite the following.

As in Bar Tartine, the pantry of preserved foods forms the backbone of this cookbook, adding all the physical and mental health benefits of fermented foods and streamlining cooking.

// Available Aug. 20; $35, pre-order at chroniclebooks.com

Wiving: A Memoir of Loving Then Leaving the Patriarchy, by Caitlin Myer

After traveling the world for seven years, Caitlin Myer, founder of the San Francisco–based literary reading series called Portuguese Artists Colony (PAC), recently settled down in Portugal. Wiving, her upcoming literary memoir, tells her journey in the vein of breakout hits like Cheryl Strayed's Wild and Jeannette Walls's The Glass Castle.

At 36 years old, Myer is ready to start a family with her husband. She has left behind the restrictive confines of her Mormon upbringing and early sexual trauma and believes she is now living her happily ever after . . . when her body betrays her. In a single week, she suffers the twin losses of a hysterectomy and the death of her mother, and she is jolted into a terrible awakening that forces her to reckon with her past—and future.

Author Glen David Gold says, "Wiving is a wonder, a hypnotic account of the dangers of desire—specifically female desire—when it dares to run counter to all the barriers that were created to keep such passions in their place. Myer's self-examination and honesty go way past brave and into a dizzying kind of free-fall confession. When I finished this, I felt heart-broken to know what finally 'shook her free.' Highly recommended."

// Available July 21; $25, simonandschuster.com

​Kamala and Maya's Big Idea, by Meena Harris

Even the kids are starting the get tired of screen time (right?), so bring home an inspiring and adorbs book from San Francisco community builder and now author Meena Harris.

Meena Harris, who founded the Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, a female-powered organization that brings awareness to social causes, now debuts with an empowering picture book about two sisters who work with their community to effect change, inspired by a true story from the East Bay childhood of her aunt, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, and mother, lawyer, and policy expert Maya Harris.

Glamour says, 'Stories about girls of color are still underrepresented on bookshelves. Kamala and Maya's Big Idea sets out, in true Harris women fashion, to do its part to fix that."

// Available June 2; $19, phenomenalgirl.com

​The Color of Air, by Gail Tsukiyama

Let's all enjoy a virtual Hawaiian vacation in literature this summer. From the New York Times bestselling author of Women of the Silk and The Samurai's Garden comes a historical novel about a Japanese-American family set against the backdrop of Hawaii's sugar plantations.

Alternating between past and present—from the day of the volcano eruption in 1935 to decades prior—The Color of Air interweaves the stories of Daniel, Koji, and Mariko to create a rich and bittersweet chorus that celebrates their lifelong bond to one other and to their immigrant community. As Mauna Loa threatens their lives and livelihoods, it also unearths long held secrets simmering below the surface that meld past and present, revealing a path forward for them all.

Gail Tsukiyama was born in San Francisco to a Chinese mother from Hong Kong and a Japanese father from Hawaii. She attended SFSU and she currently divides her time between El Cerrito and Napa Valley.

// Available July 7; $27, pre-order at harpercollins.com

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