It's time to grab a cozy blanket and curl up with some new and upcoming cookbooks, mysteries, graphic novels and local history from Bay Area writers.
From cooking Japanese izakaya at home with Rintaro chef Sylvan Mishima Brackett to solving mysteries with beloved SF illustrator/author Paul Madonna, here are eight Bay Area books we're reading this fall.
Rintaro: Japanese Food from an Izakaya in California, by Sylvan Mishima Brackett
The debut cookbook from one of San Francisco’s most acclaimed restaurants, Rintaro, translates the experience of a Tokyo izakaya for the home kitchen. Crowd-pleasing foods like curry rice, tonkatsu, and yakitori—eaten most often at lunch counters and in home kitchens—live alongside sashimi, fresh bamboo shoots, and other dishes that are usually considered part of a more elevated Japanese cooking tradition. Through clear instruction, abundant photography, and utterly delicious recipes, Rintaro demystifies Japanese food for home cooks with more than 70 recipes for rice, simmered dishes, homemade udon and grilled foods, and shows a cross section of Japanese food typically not found in American cookbooks.
Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of Japan: The Cookbook says, "Sylvan Mishima Brackett embodies a deeply ingrained aesthetic sense, thoughtful attention to detail, and a desire to create pure deliciousness. These qualities are infused on each page of this remarkable book, reflecting a total dedication to excellence and community. Rintaro needs to be on the shelves of every cook interested in truly authentic Japanese food.” // $40, October 2023; hardiegrant.com
The Deserts of California, by Obi Kaufmann
From East Bay author-illustrator Obi Kaufmann comes a grand adventure through time, geography, and ecology in California’s deserts. Of a piece with his richly illustrated books The Forests of California and The Coasts of California, this volume features hundreds of vivid watercolor maps and illustrations blending art and science to breathtaking effect. Journeying through the Great Basin, Mojave, Colorado, and Sonoran Deserts, Kaufmann pays special attention to national and state parks and monuments, and to the dozens of wilderness areas that reveal the under-appreciated natural abundance of California’s arid lands.
From Joshua Tree to Death Valley, these deserts full of life, as Kaufmann evokes them, are perfect places for meditating on our future, and for imagining a California that might thrive beyond the age of climate breakdown. The Deserts of California is a canonical entry into the literature of the American deserts, uniquely colorful and celebratory, and abounding in hope and wonder. // $55, October 2023; heydaybooks.com
San Francisco's Forgotten Cemeteries: A Buried History, by Beth Winegarner
San Francisco is famous for not having any cemeteries, but the claim isn't exactly what it seems. In the early 20th Century, the city relocated more than 150,000 graves to the nearby town of Colma to make way for a rapidly growing population. But an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 burials were quietly built over and forgotten, only to resurface every time a new building project began. SF author Beth Winegarner explores the dead who still lie beneath some of the city's most cherished destinations, including the Legion of Honor, United Nations Plaza, the Asian Art Museum, and the University of San Francisco.
Local author Caroline Paul says, "A rarely examined look at our fair city's recent, raucous past through its cemeteries. Beth Winegarner's book traces the history of San Francisco through its forgotten cemeteries: their beginnings, relocations, and the bodies that often remain. I thought I knew my beloved city, but I wasn't looking deep enough—literally. Unique and eye-opening, I won't be able to walk these San Francisco streets without wondering what may still be buried just underfoot." // $25; arcadiapublishing.com
Scandinavian from Scratch: A Love Letter to the Baking of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, by Nichole Accettola
From Kantine chef Nichole Accettola, Scandinavian from Scratch brings to the page an assortment of baked goods and simple morning and midday meals rooted in Scandinavian cuisine. After moving back to the United States following more than a decade abroad, Accettola found herself longing for the wholesome breads, buttery pastries, decadent cakes, and cookies that she enjoyed on a daily basis while living in Copenhagen. She set out on a mission to bring the tastes and treats of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark to SF and opened her now-beloved Market Street bakery café.
Accettola has curated 75 delicious bakes, organized by occasion and arranged from simplest to most complex, drawing from her collection of each Scandinavian country’s baking traditions. Fill your home kitchen with the enticing aromas of coconut dream cake, black currant caves, cardamom morning buns, saffron rusks, gravlax and chive potato salad smørrebrød, and so much more. The easy-to-follow recipes will expand your baking horizons and bring something special to the table, from breakfast and brunch to afternoon tea to holiday celebrations. // $30, October 2023; penguinrandomhouse.com
Preserved: Fruit and Condiments, by Darra Goldstein, Richard Martin and Cortney Burns
From three acclaimed food writers, including former Bar Tartine chef Cortney Burns, come the first two in a series of six guides focused on preservation, packed with history, kitchen inspiration, and delicious recipes. In Preserved: Fruit, discover 25 recipes for jams, syrups, and shrubs that give new life to seasonal bounty. Meanwhile, Preserved: Condiments showcases 25 recipes for delicious sauces and spreads plus skills like fermentation, curing, smoking, and pickling.
Author and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson says “Preserved goods are deliciously complex in flavor, great for avoiding food wastage, and a trip around the world without even leaving the kitchen. But beyond that, the act of preserving is also such a great interactive experience. These inspiring and mouthwatering guides make me so excited to get into the kitchen with my son—and with plenty of canning jars!” // $22 each, October 2023; hardiegrant.com
Monica, by Daniel Clowes
Five years in the making, this long-awaited new graphic novel from Oakland-based Daniel Clowes is a genre-bending thriller from one of the defining voices of the graphic novel boom over the past quarter-century.
Monica is a series of interconnected narratives that collectively tell the life story—actually, stories—of its title character. Clowes calls upon a lifetime of inspiration to create the most complex and personal graphic novel of his distinguished career. Rich with visual detail, an impeccable ear for language and dialogue, and thrilling twists, Monica is a multilayered masterpiece in comics form that alludes to many of the genres that have defined the medium—war, romance, horror, crime, the supernatural—but in a mysterious way that rewards multiple readings.
Daniel Clowes is the acclaimed cartoonist of the seminal comic book series Eightball and the graphic novels Ghost World, David Boring, Ice Haven, Wilson, Mr. Wonderful, and The Death-Ray. He is the subject of the monograph The Art of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist, published in conjunction with a major retrospective at the Oakland Museum of California and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. // $30, October 2023; fantagraphics.com
The Commissions, by Paul Madonna
From the world of the Emit Hopper Mystery series, The Commissions kicks off the origin story of what promises to be an unforgettable new eccentric detective, Ronnie Gilbert. In a mystery filled with suspense and surprises around every corner, San Francisco award-winning artist and author Paul Madonna brings to life the last days of SF before the turn of the millennium with dozens of his signature pen-and-ink drawings.
Former rock star-turned-artist Emit Hopper’s life has taken yet another strange turn. His old friend, the legendary private detective Ronnie Gilbert, is dead, and his killer has just been acquitted. But when a disheveled acquaintance from Ronnie’s past walks into Emit’s shop, a puzzling mystery resurfaces, 20 years cold. We’re transported back to San Francisco in 1999, when Emit and Ronnie first met. Emit has returned to taking commissions drawing people’s houses, only to be strong-armed by a shady police lieutenant into acting as her off-the-books spy. On top of that, a strange young woman claiming to be his daughter refuses to leave him alone. From there unfolds an intricate tale of corruption and murder that leads to an explosive scandal, with consequences that, two decades hence, are finally revealed. // $38; turnerbookstore.com
The Museum of Scent: Exploring the Curious and Wondrous World of Fragrance, by Mandy Aftel
Mandy Aftel is one of the world’s preeminent natural perfumers: Vogue called her "one of the fragrance industry's most creative thinkers, not to mention one of its most prolific talents."
In 2017, Aftel opened a one-room museum―the Aftel Archive of Curious Scents―in her backyard in Berkeley, California, to help a modern audience rediscover the enchantment of this lost world. Now Aftel has created this beautiful book, illustrated with treasures from her museum’s collection, so that readers at home can immerse themselves in the world of scent. She guides us through the different families of botanical fragrances (including flowers, woods, leaves and grasses, and resins), depicting each plant with a hand-colored antique woodcut and revealing its olfactory notes and lore. Special chapters are devoted to the most rare and precious fragrances―such as ambergris, formed of a rare secretion of the sperm whale―and to antique essential oil bottles, handwritten recipe books, and other evocative artifacts. The Museum of Scent, which includes a bookmark subtly scented with a natural essence, invites us on a sensuous, imaginative journey. // $40, October 2023; abbevillepress.com