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Melinda's Reviews

Melinda Powers is the head book buyer at Bookshop Santa Cruz and is therefore responsible for choosing which of the 300,000 titles published each year will make their way to our shelves (not including the children’s section). Formerly at Capitola Book Café, she can’t seem to quit this wonderful community of readers, booksellers, and books. She is okay with this addiction.

Playing at the Border written by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Teresa Martinez

Celebrated musician Yo-Yo Ma played Bach’s cello suites to an audience straddling the US-Mexico border in 2019 as part of an effort to build bridges through music, and this lovely picture book is a bridge of its own. Connecting Ma’s remarkable life with his global efforts, the music itself, and of course his cello (Petunia!), Ho’s lilting prose and Martinez’s clear-eyed, hope-filled palette show music transcends borders, and so can we.—Melinda

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Playing at the Border: A Story of Yo-Yo Ma Cover Image
By Joanna Ho, Teresa Martinez (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062994547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins - September 28th, 2021

Wayward by Chris Burkard

In 2005, Chris Burkard left Pismo Beach to begin his audacious career as a surf photographer, picking up skills, equipment, and incredible experiences as he went. Wayward is the chronicle of this journey, told through his own stories from far flung places over the years. Accompanied by stunning photographs and behind the scene shots, and including technical inserts and pieces by guest authors, this book is an inspiration for budding surfers, travelers, and photographers alike. Or someone like me who is astonished by it all.—Melinda

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Wayward: Stories and Photographs Cover Image
ISBN: 9781419732768
Availability: Not Yet Published - Available for Pre-Order; Please See Publication Date Below Before Ordering
Published: Abrams - February 1st, 2022

The Kaepernick Effect by Dave Zirin

When then-49er Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee in protest in 2016, he inspired a movement, and acclaimed sportswriter Dave Zirin wanted to make sure that he and the countless athletes who followed his lead were not forgotten. The result is this project, the stories of these brave players, their actions, and the responses within their communities. Broken into three parts—high school, college, and pro—some of the names are well known like Megan Rapinoe and Michael Bennett, but it is the young kids on hometown fields across the country who truly inspire.—Melinda

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The Kaepernick Effect: Taking a Knee, Changing the World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620976753
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - September 14th, 2021

A Woven World by Allison Hawthorne Deming

Allison Hawthorne Deming has written a lovely ode to the makers, beginning with those most felt in her own life, her family’s lineage of haute couture women dressmakers and the Canadian weir fishermen of Grand Manan Island, home to her childhood summers. From here, she weaves across the world and time, seeking the intimate and the remarkable, infusing essay with poetry, detail, and an environmental awareness that understands the importance of craft, the purposeful act of making in a world of constant breaking.—Melinda

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A Woven World: On Fashion, Fishermen, and the Sardine Dress Cover Image
ISBN: 9781640094826
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint - August 24th, 2021

How I Became a Tree by Sumana Roy

Everything is interesting and charming about this book, but the first lines really got me: “At first it was the underwear. I wanted to become a tree because trees did not wear bras.” Yes. Indian writer Sumana Roy says that she wrote on tree time, without structure or expectation, and I find that to be the best way to read it as well. A compelling and far-ranging meditation on trees, those who love them, and our relationship with all—this book is the most delightful, informative gem I’ve read in a while.—Melinda

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How I Became a Tree Cover Image
ISBN: 9780300260441
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - August 31st, 2021

New World Coming edited by Alastair Lee Bitsóí & Brooke Larsen

With a year exacerbated by the global pandemic, it is clear that we are all interconnected, as are our systems: health, social, environmental. It is no longer possible to speak of one without the other, nor is it productive. This impassioned anthology speaks to the intersectionality of activism and what can be created in crisis. Utah activists Bitsóí and Larsen intentionally bring together their elders, organizers, and friends to explore the way people come together for each other and the land locally. I find I am searching for “real” these days, and these essays, poems, and pieces are it.—Melinda

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New World Coming: Frontline Voices on Pandemics, Uprisings, and Climate Crisis Cover Image
By Alastair Lee Bitsóí (Editor), Brooke Larsen (Editor)
ISBN: 9781948814539
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Torrey House Press - November 2nd, 2021

Underwater Wild by Craig Foster

I was mesmerized by the documentary My Octopus Teacher, but after poring through this gorgeous not-quite-companion book, I realize now that was just the beginning. Underwater Wild is a heart-stopping collaboration, as Foster introduces Frylinck to the therapeutic wonders of skin diving in the kelp forests off South Africa and among the animals within it. Full of vibrant images, accompanying nature writing, the healing narrative journey of these two men, and the octopus teacher herself, this book is a gift we all deserve. —Melinda

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Underwater Wild: My Octopus Teacher's Extraordinary World Cover Image
ISBN: 9780358664758
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - November 16th, 2021

The 1619 Project edited by Nikole Hannah-Jones & The NYT Magazine

1619 is the year captive Africans were first brought to the shores of North America and enslaved in the colonies. Thus begins a new history of our country that centers the supremacist systems of oppression, the resistance against them, and the ongoing pursuit of justice. Originally a NYT Magazine project, Hannah-Jones paints a comprehensive landscape with contributions by historians, scholars, poets, and artists, that casts a vital perspective on all aspects of where we’ve come from and how we must choose to move forward. An incomparable must-read. —Melinda

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The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story Cover Image
By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor)
ISBN: 9780593230572
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - November 16th, 2021

Read Until You Understand by Farah Jasmine Griffin

In this far-ranging yet deeply personal book, Farah Jasmine Griffin has gifted us with a richly experiential Black literature survey, all without sitting in a lecture hall or in front of a computer. As the chair of the Department of African American & African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University, Griffin knows how to thematically frame her course, but the heart of the book and her passion comes from her father whose cherished presence lives on in the library, music, and inquisitive nature he bequeathed her as a child.—Melinda

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Read Until You Understand: The Profound Wisdom of Black Life and Literature Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393651904
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 14th, 2021

Read This to Get Smarter by Blair Imani

As Blair Imani states in the introduction to this empowering and accessible primer, we are already smart but we can all get smarter. Her book is a wonderful resource wherever you are on your learning curve. From topics on race and class, gender and disability, Imani leads us through the historical contexts and current landscapes, as well as her own welcomed personal experiences and insight, ending each with reflection questions to help us further our own growth. What a great gift for anyone.—Melinda

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Read This to Get Smarter: about Race, Class, Gender, Disability & More Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984860545
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ten Speed Press - October 26th, 2021


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