13 New Books for April

This month, we’ve got our eyes on Becoming Story, City on Fire, Happy for You, and 10 other titles by writers from the West.

alta april book picks
Alta
1 THE ACCIDENTAL ECOSYSTEM: PEOPLE AND WILDLIFE IN AMERICAN CITIES, BY PETER S. ALAGONA
the accidental ecosystem , peter s alagona
University of California Press

As wildlife declines around the world, cities increasingly teem with wild creatures. In The Accidental Ecosystem, conservation scientist Alagona explores this phenomenon by delving into the natural history of urban spaces like Seattle and San Francisco to reconsider the definition of wild habitats. University of California Press, April 19

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2 BECOMING STORY: A JOURNEY AMONG SEASONS, PLACES, TREES, AND ANCESTORS, BY GREG SARRIS
becoming story, greg sarris
Heyday

In this complex and thought-provoking memoir, Sarris contemplates questions of ancestry and belonging. Moving between childhood and his later position as a tribal leader, Sarris uses his life story to reflect on a history greater than his own. Heyday, April 5

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3 BEFORE WHITENESS: CITY LIGHTS SPOTLIGHT NO. 21, BY D.S. MARRIOTT
before whiteness, ds marriott
City Lights Books

British Caribbean poet Marriott contributes the latest entry in the City Lights Spotlight series; it is as much an ode to Black strength and suffering as it is a decisive analysis of the rhetoric and violent practice of anti-Blackness. The Middle Passage, the Grenfell Tower fire in London, lynchings, and other atrocities undergo critical commentary through Marriott’s emotionally rich verse. City Lights Books, April 26

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4 LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY, BY BONNIE GARMUS
lessons in chemistry, bonnie garmus
Doubleday

Garmus’s novel revolves around chemist Elizabeth Zott, the reluctant star of a top American cooking show, Supper at Six, who draws on her scientific knowledge and quirky humor to build a massive fan base: “Combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride.” But in 1960s California, not everyone finds the trailblazing Zott and her influence on female viewers palatable. Doubleday, April 5

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5 CITY ON FIRE, BY DON WINSLOW
city on fire, don winslow
William Morrow & Company

In Winslow’s latest novel, a beautiful woman emerges from a swim in the ocean and two Rhode Island mobsters quarrel over her. The dispute disrupts the already tenuous treaty between the Italian and Irish gangs, and chaos ensues. William Morrow & Company, April 26

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6 THE COASTS OF CALIFORNIA: A CALIFORNIA FIELD ATLAS, BY OBI KAUFMANN
the coasts of california, obi kaufmann
Heyday

This latest field guide by naturalist Kaufmann offers a trove of fascinating information about beaches, creatures, habitats, and tides. The author interweaves hundreds of beautiful scientific images, maps, and illustrations with poetic studies of the coastlines of California—all 1,200 miles of them—and undertakes an especially deep exploration of the California Coastal Trail. Heyday, April 19

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7 HAPPY FOR YOU, BY CLAIRE STANFORD
happy for you, claire stanford
Viking

Silicon Valley dystopia meets emotional analysis in Stanford’s novel, the protagonist of which, Evelyn, is at a crossroads in her life. Unsure whether to finish her degree, whether she’s ready to get married, or what career move is right, Evelyn starts a job at a tech company that seems to commodify happiness, one algorithm at a time. But this new role only raises more questions than Evelyn can answer. Viking, April 19

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8 HATE MAIL: THANK YOU FOR READING, BY MICHELLE ROBERTSON
hate mail, michelle robertson
Vine Leaves Press

SFGate reporter Robertson saved emails from readers in response to her articles, and now she’s transformed the messages—sometimes kind, often not—into a book of poetry. The collection gives a look at the other side of news reporting and the downside of reader feedback. Vine Leaves Press, April 12

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9 PORTRAIT OF A THIEF, BY GRACE D. LI
portrait of a thief, grace d li
Tiny Reparations Books

In Li’s novel, Harvard senior Will Chen is unsure of what to do after graduation when an unexpected challenge lands in his lap: steal five artworks from U.S. museums and return them to China. Success means making millions, but failure is another matter, with the chance of compromising the future—and the past. Tiny Reparations Books, April 5

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10 SIX CALIFORNIA KITCHENS, BY SALLY SCHMITT
six california kitchens, sally schmitt
Chronicle Books

In this posthumous book, Schmitt, who founded the restaurant the French Laundry, presents 115 recipes that bring the essence of Northern California to the plate. More than just a cookbook, this collection of recipes comes woven with stories and recollections, chronicling the author’s journey through six kitchens that made her the chef she was. Chronicle Books, April 5

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11 A TINY UPWARD SHOVE, BY MELISSA CHADBURN
a tiny upward shove, melissa chadburn
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

In A Tiny Upward Shove, Chadburn introduces her protagonist, Marina Salles, in the afterlife, where her spirit travels between different states of mind. Marina uses the consciousness of others to revisit the terrain of her traumatic childhood and drug addiction on the streets of Los Angeles. Unexpectedly, she channels the serial killer who murdered her, on whom she considers enacting revenge. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 12

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12 THE TREES WITNESS EVERYTHING, BY VICTORIA CHANG
the trees witness everything, victoria chan
Copper Canyon Press

Chang’s new book of poetry explores loss, mourning, and redemption through the prism of the Japanese waka. The poet uses this traditional form as a contrast to her contemporary language. While some subjects, such as the loss of her mother, are somber and melancholic, the music of Chang’s verse soars with hope. Copper Canyon Press, April 26

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13 TRIGGER POINTS: INSIDE THE MISSION TO STOP MASS SHOOTINGS IN AMERICA, BY MARK FOLLMAN
trigger points, mark follman
Dey Street Books

Since before the 1999 Columbine massacre, the United States has been plagued with mass shootings. Sidestepping the typical Second Amendment disputes, journalist Follman investigates ways to thwart attacks and provide proactive intervention. From the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit to schools in Oregon, Follman traces efforts to keep the country’s students and teachers safe. Dey Street Books, April 5

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