Not only does the Bay Area have an embarrassment of artistic talent within its borders, the region has seemingly unending source material as well.
The books on this list, many previously reviewed by The Chronicle, all share some connection to our beloved backyard and explore its natural world, our food, our history, our waters — even our beer.
In some ways, each is connected to the next. The story of the powerful women in “Comrade Sisters: Women of the Black Panther Party” has a direct link to Tanya Holland’s innovative cuisine featured in “California Soul.” The Gold Rush is woven into the history of Anchor Steam Beer and the destruction and rebirth of Monterey Bay, a place explored in rich detail both by Obi Kaufmann in “The Coasts of California” and by photographer Frans Lanting in “Bay of Life.”
Each book is a mini-portrait of life in the Bay Area. Together, they weave a grand tapestry, illuminating past and present, the beautiful and the complex.
By George McCalman
(HarperOne; 384 pages; $34)
There are artists and athletes and librarians and restaurateurs in the gorgeous “Illustrated Black History.” Aside from five interstitial essays from luminaries like James Beard Award-winning chef Bryant Terry and journalist Patrice Peck, the entire tome is the product of San Francisco artist George McCalman’s efforts, from the illustration and accompanying profiles to the book’s layout and design. The result is essential, educational and dazzling.
— Cassandra Landry
By Jay Blakesberg
(Rock Out Books; 312 pages; $65)
San Francisco-based rock photographer Jay Blakesberg has been chronicling Bay Area music and culture for more than 40 years. In his latest book, a photographic journey through the 1970s to the early 2000s, he captures the fashion, music and the subcultures that emerged, morphed and faded over the decades.
Artists in this book include the Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Nirvana, Green Day, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Radiohead and more. But it’s the images of fans dancing, hanging out and experiencing music that may be most compelling.
It’s got a foreword by Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and an introduction by local musician Michael Franti, with extended captions and essays by the photographer himself.
— Samantha Schoech
By Ericka Huggins and Stephen Shames
(ACC Art Books; 192 pages; $45) 
Six out of 10 Black Panther Party members were women, and “Comrade Sisters” tells their story.
Through striking black and white photographs, see some of the more familiar protests and rallies but also discover more about the female party members, mostly in Oakland, doing the domestic, educational and community work that was central to the movement.
The book features an essay by Ericka Huggins, an early party member and leader, as well as contributions by more than 50 former party members and their families, who vividly recall their personal experiences from that time.
— Samantha Schoech
By Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom
(Earth Aware; 240 pages; $60)
The thriving Monterey Bay is the result of a unique confluence of land and sea. But the beauty we see now wasn’t always the case. Over-exploitation of resources, going back to the Gold Rush, denuded the mountains and emptied the waters of fish and marine mammals. But that ecological collapse has been reversed in our time.
In “Bay of Life,” the Santa Cruz husband-and-wife team of nature photographer Frans Lanting and writer Chris Eckstrom detail the remarkable recovery that shows that damaged ecosystems can be restored when people put their minds to it.
The book is not only beautiful, it offers a very welcome bit of ecological hope at a time when that seems rare.
— Samantha Schoech
By David Burkhart
(Ten Speed Press; 291 pages; $32.50)
San Francisco’s own Anchor Brewing Co. is intimately interwoven with the history of the city itself. Over the past 126 years, the brewery has survived the Bay Area trifecta — earthquakes, fires, and economic collapse — to become the leader of the craft beer wave that moved us away from the mass produced swill of the mid-century to the fine and infinitely varied beers we know today.
Author David Burkhart has worked side-by-side with owner and brewmaster Fritz Maytag at Anchor since 1991, doing nearly every job at the brewery. In 2010, Burkhart became the Anchor brewery historian — and the perfect guy to tell its story.
— Samantha Schoech
By Tanya Holland
(Ten Speed Press; 256 pages; $35)
In more than 80 recipes, the award-winning chef — a contestant on season 15 of “Top Chef” —  showcases modern soul food. Holland, chef/owner of Oakland’s now-closed Brown Sugar Kitchen and host of OWN’s “Tanya’s Kitchen Table” cooking show, shares inventive cuisine rooted in Black Southern cultural foods that are updated for a California sensibility using local, sustainable and seasonal ingredients. Think reboots like collard green tabbouleh; zucchini-scallion waffles with toasted pecan romesco; grilled shrimp and corn, with avocado white barbecue sauce; and rhubarb upside-down cake.
— Samantha Schoech
By Obi Kaufmann
(Heyday; 672 pages; $55)
California’s coastline is world-famous, an endless source of fascination and fantasy, but there is no book about it like this one.
Obi Kaufmann, author-illustrator of “The California Field Atlas” and “The Forests of California,” focuses on the 1,200 miles of the Golden State where land meets ocean. Bursting with color, “The Coasts of California” is done in Kaufmann’s signature style, fusing science with art and pure poetic reverie.
— Matt Jaffe
By John Darnielle
(MCD; 416 pages; $28)
The plot of John Darnielle’s first book since 2017’s “Universal Harvester” centers on a true-crime writer who moves into a home in Milpitas dubbed “Devil House.” His plan? To solve an infamous, possibly occult-related murder that took place there during the height of the “satanic panic” of the 1980s. Naturally, he is also writing a book called “Devil House,” chronicling his experience. Is it confusing? Yes, but that’s kind of the point.
— Zack Ruskin
By Isaac Fellman
(Penguin Books; 256 pages; $17)
Dead Collections” is the story of Sol Katz, a vampire and archivist working for the Historical Society of Northern California. Haunted by a very rational fear of fatal sunlight exposure, Sol spends his days literally buried in work. The San Francisco setting jumps out whenever our hero goes outside. Whether he’s hitting a taco stand, riding BART or catching a movie at the Metreon, Sol definitely feels like a local. It’s a fantasy book so firmly anchored in space and time, and so rooted in queer and trans intimacy, that it achieves a hyper-real quality.
— A.D. Cirulis
By Christopher Moore
(William Morrow; 400 pages; $28.99)
To read local author Christopher Moore’s latest novel, “Razzmatazz,” is to give yourself up to the loony mayhem of a Raymond Chandler-esque escapade through 1940s San Francisco. But this is Chandler if ancient stone dragons could talk.
First off, the stone dragon is kind of the narrator. But he’s not the main character. That title belongs to Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin, a bartender and occasional gumshoe tasked by his friend Eddie “Moo Shoes” Shu to find the dragon for Eddie’s Uncle Ho. All these voices and perspectives sometimes feel only loosely connected, but the sum of it all dazzles, entertains and squeezes in more than a few laughs along the way.
— Urban Waite
By Leila Mottley
(Knopf; 288 pages; $28)
There are many moments in “Nightcrawling,” the fierce, lyrical debut novel from the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Leila Mottley, that ask us to consider what we owe the ones we love.
The story’s skeleton is drawn from recent history: Some readers might recall the 2016 criminal charges brought against various East Bay police officers accused of sexually exploiting an underage sex worker. “Nightcrawling” imagines the life and circumstances of the young woman — or one much like her — at the center of the case.
— Cassandra Landry
By Jamil Jan Kochai
(Viking; 288 pages; $26)
The 12 stories in this collection by Sacramento writer Jamil Jan Kochai are all stories of Afghanistan and the Afghan diaspora in Northern California, and they travel back and forth from Davis, Sacramento and Fremont to Kabul and the Afghan province of Logar in the Black Mountains. Many of these interconnected stories are told with matter-of-fact surrealism — a young man rescues his long-dead uncle in a video game, a man turns into a monkey and leads a simian army hoping to defeat the Americans in Afghanistan, a captured American soldier is transformed into a goat — that seems to reflect the sometimes sheer unreality of being intimately linked to both Afghanistan and contemporary America.
— Samantha Schoech
By Margaret Wilkerson Sexton
(Ecco; 304 pages; $28.99)
Set against the backdrop of the Fillmore, a Black neighborhood in gentrifying 1950s San Francisco where the likes of Sam Cooke and Sarah Vaughan grace the stages of Bop City and other local music venues, “On the Rooftop” turns its spotlight on one family’s quest for musical stardom and what happens when a mother’s well-intentioned aspirations for her offspring conflict with her daughter’s ever-changing vision of herself.
— Alexis Burling
Your weekly guide to Bay Area arts & entertainment.
©Copyright 2022 Hearst Communications, Inc.

source

Shop Sephari