Rebecca Solnit continues to be one of San Francisco's literary treasures, as her new collection, Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness, amply illustrates. There are a whopping 29 essays in the book, touching on a range of topics from the political (Occupy, climate change, Arab Spring) to the historical (who did Henry David Thoreau's laundry?) to the personal (travelogues from Iceland and Haiti). Poetic, thoughtful, and prolific, Solnit will leave you with plenty of new interests and questions by the end of this encyclopedic (and appropriately titled) work.
Appearances: December 7 at City Lights
If grim winter weather has you itching to book a plane ticket somewhere sultry and foreign, consider picking up the inspiring An Innocent Abroad, a new collection of travel essays put out by Oakland-based guide gurus Lonely Planet. 35 writers share the travel experiences that forever changed them, including such notables as Ann Patchett, Cheryl Strayed, Dave Eggers, Jane Smiley, Richard Ford, and Pico Iyer. To celebrate the book's release, editor Don George and six of the book's contributors will read from their contributions at Book Passage this week.
Appearances: December 13, Book Passage Corte Madera
Irish novelist Colm Toibin (Brooklyn, The Master, The Testament of Mary) has been on a hot streak lately, and his new novel Nora Webster continues the line of awesome reads. The titular protagonist is a grief-stricken widow in late-'60s Ireland, so bereft after the loss of her beloved husband that she can't seem to accept anyone's help—or help her own children, who are struggling. But it's not a downer: instead, it explores how we can overcome what seems impossible, find our way back, and discover what really moves us (in Nora's case, music). It's a moving and humane book.
Appearances: December 4, Books Inc. Castro