Books

Capitol Alert

Kevin Starr, California’s premier historian, dead at 76

Kevin Starr, the California state librarian emeritus, died Saturday, Jan. 14, 2017. Starr chronicled the ever-evolving saga of California and served as state librarian under three governors.

Books

Book review: 'I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.,' offers kids a wonderful introduction to King's life and legacy

Parents need to know that "I Am Martin Luther King, Jr." is the eighth book in author and History Channel host Brad Meltzer's Ordinary People Change the World picture book biography series, which includes books on Abraham Lincoln, Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, and Lucille Ball. The narrative approach and at times comics-like design of each book is the same: A pint-sized, big-headed cartoon version of the person looking like his or her adult self gives a capsule first-person account of childhood through greatest accomplishments. So here's King, sporting his trademark mustache and wearing a mini-black suit and tie, as a child in segregated Georgia, then a minister, then leader of nonviolent civil disobedience actions and marches to effect change. Police beatings and the infamous water hoses turned against child protesters are referred to but not shown. Sophisticated concepts and vocabulary (" ... it was a wake-up call for the nation's conscience") make this a better bet for kids 7 and up than the 5 to 8 recommended by the publisher. In any case, parents and teachers should be ready to answer questions about this turbulent period of U.S. history.

Books

Literary prose, ancient texts and political manifestos covered in 'Eating Words'

This gift was in my holiday stocking, snuggled next to a gift certificate from the Davis Beer Shoppe and a bag of Kauai Coffee Koloa Estate beans. "Eating Words: A Norton Anthology of Food Writing" (W. W. Norton & Company; $19.95, 512 pages) compiles a millennium of literature related to one of the most universal human experiences. It includes writings from ancient Rome on the morality of eating meat as well as modern musings on Hot Dog on a Stick by the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic Jonathan Gold. In between is an essay on the political manifestos of PETA, a piece of short fiction by Anton Chekhov about a boy eating oysters for the first time, and so much more. And for those who like to fly the local flag, this anthology has a Sacramento-area connection: Co-editor Sandra M. Gilbert is a professor emerita of English at UC Davis. Sink into your favorite reading chair and dig in.

Books

Best-sellers

Rankings for hard-cover books sold in Southern California, as reported by selected book stores:

Books

Best-sellers

Rankings for hard-cover books sold in Southern California, as reported by selected book stores:

Books

Review: ‘The Dry’ a mystery set in a parched Australia

Jane Harper’s “The Dry” is set in a parched Australian farming community within a day’s drive of Melbourne. It’s a region that hasn’t seen rain in two years, and the novel’s main character, Aaron Falk, is jolted to see that a rushing river he remembers from his youth has all but disappeared. Harper is not one to drop a fact like that without using it later. She has jampacked her swift debut thriller with sneaky moves that the reader has to track with care.

Books

This week's best-sellers from Publishers Weekly

Here are the best-sellers for the week that ended Sunday, Jan. 8, compiled from data from independent and chain bookstores, book wholesalers and independent distributors nationwide, powered by Nielsen BookScan (c) 2017, The Nielsen Co.

Books

John Hughes movies inspire a memoir

To grow up on Chicago's North Shore in the 1980s and '90s, Jason Diamond writes in his memoir (published in November), was to grow up in a world that looked an awful lot like a John Hughes movie. "Sixteen Candles." "Planes, Trains and Automobiles." "The Breakfast Club." "Uncle Buck." "Ferris Bueller's Day Off." All were filmed in Chicago's wealthier suburbs to the north, where a discombobulated childhood like Diamond's can be hidden from view behind an upscale facade.

Books

Author Patricia Polacco's good luck story

Patricia Polacco was in her 40s when she took a trip to New York City, bankrolled by her mother, to try to sell her first children's book. By day, she would meet with publishers. By night, she and her mother would walk to the stables in Central Park, touch the horses and even collect their manure - a Russian custom for good luck.

Books

9 ways to read more books in 2017

So you're still sorting through your resolutions for the new year, one of which is to read more. Easier said than done, right? Wrong. Here are a few tips to help you read more in 2017.

Videos

Bee Book Club: Jeffrey Toobin on the Patty Hearst case

Jeffrey Toobin, CNN legal analyst and author of the book 'American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst,' speaks to the Bee Book Club.
Jose Luis Villegas The Sacramento Bee
Bee Book Club: Jeffrey Toobin on the Patty Hearst case 3:43

Bee Book Club: Jeffrey Toobin on the Patty Hearst case

Best-selling author John Sandford speaks to the Bee Book Club 2:22

Best-selling author John Sandford speaks to the Bee Book Club

Sue Grafton on completing her 'Alphabet Series': 'I look forward to the freedom' 2:06

Sue Grafton on completing her 'Alphabet Series': 'I look forward to the freedom'

Video: Gretchen Rubin shares tips on how to change your habits 0:56

Video: Gretchen Rubin shares tips on how to change your habits