Issue 20: Favorite Bookstores

Inside the Summer 2022 edition of Alta Journal.

alta, cover, summer 2022, issue 20



frida kahlo’s frieda and diego rivera,1931, painted during the couple’s first trip to san francisco
© 2022 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

They Left Their Hearts in San Francisco

A trio of frescoes reveals the turbulence and passion of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo’s marriage. By Gary Kamiya • Photos by Chris Hardy

Coming Soon: El Último Sueño de Frida y Diego

By Emily Wilson

guitarist bokyung “bo” byun
Christina Gandolfo

Instruments of Change

Some of the world’s leading guitarists are helping a nonprofit bring music to at-risk students in nearly 100 schools in the U.S. By Matt Jaffe • Photos by Christina Gandolfo

lava thomas, detail of thomas’s resistance reverb movements 1 and 2

The Seeker

Drawing on personal and national histories, Lava Thomas’s art centers the experiences of many Black Americans. By Faith Adiele

The New Space Age

chris kemp
Jason Henry

They Build Rockets Here

Astra aims to be a courier service for space, offering daily launches and delivering small payloads to orbit. Will Hearst in conversation with Chris Kemp

space movies

The Sounds of Space (Movies)

By Tim Greiving

space, humanity illustrations
James Ransome

Think Different

Space travel is just the beginning. We’ll soon do anything there we can do on Earth—and more. By Robert C. Jacobson • Illustrations by James Ransome

space travel agent
Getty Images

Have Space Agent, Will Travel

By Ajay Orona

astronaut and physician michael barratt, former head of nasa’s human research program at the johnson space center in houston
Annie Mulligan

Get Ready for a 10,000-hour Round Trip

Traveling beyond Earth’s orbit is highly toxic to humans, yet we’re likely to do it anyway. How scientists are preparing for this cosmic guinea pig experiment—and how it might turn out. By David Ewing Duncan • Photos by Annie Mulligan

foundation book series
Spectra Books

What to Read on Mars

By Ajay Orona

margaret burbidge

Poetry: “Lady Stardust

By Ishmael Reed

spacex, starbase, rocket prototypes
Jason Henry

Space Invaders

Life on Earth takes second stage as Elon Musk’s quest for Mars moves forward on the South Texas coast. By Kate Greene • Photos by Jason Henry

nicki minaj

Songs of the Stars

By Ajay Orona

orbital assembly
Orbital Assembly

Getting Away from It All

By Ajay Orona

terry gdoutos, principal research scientist in aerospace for the california institute of technology in pasadena
Gregg Segal

The Ultimate Solar Power Plant

Forget photovoltaic cells on rooftops. A bold project aims to capture the sun’s energy in space and beam it to Earth. By Sarah Scoles • Photo by Gregg Segal

inversion space
Adam Amengual

The Startup that is Looking Up

By Nasim Ghasemiyeh

elon musk, jeff bezo, richard branson, spacesuits
tim o'brien

Design That Is Out of This World

Why space fashion may be an unlikely beneficiary of the rocket boom. By Monica Corcoran Harel • Illustration by Tim O’Brien


The Asteroid Hit and Miss List

By Nasim Ghasemiyeh

alta picks space

Alta Picks: How to Experience Space Without Leaving Earth

By Jessica Blough, Nasim Ghasemiyeh, and Ajay Orona

jamis macniven, cofounder of buck’s of woodside, with his russian space suit hanging from the restaurant’s ceiling

How I Bought a Russian Space Suit

A tale involving the owner of a Silicon Valley diner, his chance meeting with a Russian army general, a visit to Moscow—and $12,000. By Jamis MacNiven • Photo by Chris Hardy

bethany ehlmann, a california institute of technology professor and a research scientist at nasa’s jet propulsion laboratory, became the president of the planetary society in 2019
Gregg Segal

A Salon for Space Lovers

Led by Bill Nye the Science Guy, the Planetary Society promotes exploration across generations—and platforms. By Robert Ito • Photos by Gregg Segal

chesley bonestell

Painting the Heavens

By Jessica Blough

evel knievel
Mark Smith

Evel Knievel, Astronaut

The strange but true Truax story of the world’s first private space program. By Adam Fisher • Illustrations by Mark Smith

nasa, artemis mission, moon

The Moon is Cool Again

By Jessica Blough

international space station

Blaze of Glory: The Fate of the International Space Station

By Ajay Orona

Alta’s 2022 Favorite Bookstores

alta 2022 favorite bookstore, the last bookstore
Christina Gandolfo

Our Favorite Bookstores

85 independents serve their communities— one devoted customer at a time. By Blaise Zerega

the book catapult, san diego
Charlie Neuman

Greater San Diego: The Book Catapult

Once a humble blog, this San Diego mainstay delivers books and community. By Amy E. Wallen

san diego area bookstores

More San Diego Area Bookstores

By Amy E. Wallen

eso won books’ james fugate began his indie bookstore journey after reading the self help book what color is your parachute
Christina Gandolfo

Los Angeles Area: Eso Won Books

The emancipatory power of reading is alive and well at this Black-owned landmark. By Michael Jaime-Becerra

skylight books, interior, los angeles
Christina Gandolfo

Los Angeles Area: Skylight Books

Inspired window displays set the tone for one of Los Angeles’s most inclusive literary hot spots. By Michael Jaime-Becerra

los angeles area bookstores

More Los Angeles Area Bookstores

By Michael Jaime-Becerra

located in the gold country town of grass valley, booktown books is a cooperative that houses nine stalls, each with its own specialty, nicole dillard, an original co op member, runs an inner sanctum, which offers books on art and cooking
David Calvert

Desert/Sierra: Booktown Books

Lose yourself in this labyrinth of reading pleasures. By Marcus Crowder

space cowboy books, jean paul l garnier
Tod Seelie

Desert/Sierra: Space Cowboy Books

Joshua Tree’s only bookstore is from a galaxy far, far away. By Ken Layne

desert, sierre, california, bookstores

More Desert/Sierra Bookstores

By Ken Layne

jake padorr is one of three staff members at the henry miller memorial library in big sur
Mike Kai Chen

Central Coast: Henry Miller Memorial Library

At this one-room cultural center, stories come from the trees. By Mark Wallace

central coast, california, bookstores

More Central Coast Bookstores

By Mark Wallace

founded in 2003, underground books is managed by georgia “mother rose” west
Max Whittaker

Central Valley: Underground Books

This anchor of a Sacramento neighborhood filled the void left by the local library’s closure. By Sara Borjas

central valley, california, bookstores

More Central Valley Bookstores

By Sara Borjas and Jane Ciabattari

founded in 1960, marcus books is the longest continuously operating black owned bookstore in the united states
Penni Gladstone

Bay Area: Marcus Books

The nation’s oldest Black-owned bookseller is still here—and thriving. By Faith Adiele

booksmith event, san francisco
Penni Gladstone

Bay Area: The Booksmith

This indie offers readers an escape from the buzz of Haight Street. By Faith Adiele

bay area bookstores

More Bay Area Bookstores

By Faith Adiele and Jane Ciabattari

tin can mailman exterior
Amy Kumler

North Coast: Tin Can Mailman

A former bank in Arcata now serves as a quiet reprieve from today’s complicated world. By Joy Lanzendorfer

north coast, california, bookstores

More North Coast Bookstores

By Joy Lanzendorfer

craig florence, owner of mother foucault’s bookshop, has created a cozy environment for conversation, contemplation, and thousands of books
Celeste Noche

Oregon: Mother Foucault’s Bookshop

An old-world charm awaits those who enter this literary paradise. By Santi Elijah Holley

oregon bookstores

More Oregon Bookstores

By Santi Elijah Holley

left bank books is located near the entrance to seattle’s pike place market, its inventory, decor, and calendar of events reflect the shop’s anarchist sensibilities
John Lok

Washington: Left Bank Books

A slice of antiestablishment culture thrives in a Big Tech haven. By Claire Dederer

washington bookstores

More Washington Bookstores

By Claire Dederer

people love a bookstore with personality, says drew cohen, who co owns the writer’s block with his husband, scott seeley
Joe Buglewicz

Other Notables: The Writer’s Block

Readers get their thrills at this literary underbelly of Las Vegas. By Scott Dickensheets

west coast bookstores

A Few More Bookstores Worth Exploring Across the West

By Kim Cross, Scott Dickensheets, M.T. Hartnell, Jim Lewis, Anne Pedersen, Julian Smith


american me, author beatrice griffith
Steve Carroll

Open Your Eyes, Edward James Olmos

The 1948 book American Me has long been overshadowed by the film of the same name. It’s time for that to change. By Gustavo Arellano • Illustration by Steve Carroll

luis j rodriguez
Dustin Snipes

Books Were My Saving Grace

By Luis J. Rodriguez

Why You Should Read This: Always Running

By David L. Ulin

rabih alameddine
Eze Amos

My Book Came Out and Nothing Happened

By Rabih Alameddine

Why You Should Read This: The Wrong End of the Telescope

By David L. Ulin

julie otsuka
Idris Solomon

‘The Rules at the Pool’

By Julie Otsuka

Why You Should Read This: The Swimmers

By David L. Ulin

marianne wiggins, lara porzak, properties of thirst
Dustin Snipes

You Can’t Save What You Don’t Love

After suffering a massive stroke, Marianne Wiggins sought help
to complete her new novel, Properties of Thirst. By David L. Ulin • Photos by Dustin Snipes

properties of thirst
Victor Juhasz

Alta Serials: Properties of Thirst

By Marianne Wiggins • Illustrations by Victor Juhasz


amika mota
Carolyn Fong

Trailblazer: Amika Mota

Fighting the system’s Goliaths. By Jessica Klein


morning sky

Poetry: “Echoes” and “Rain Break

By Kim Shuck

jeff chang, the san francisco bay area author of can’t stop won’t stop a history of the hip hop generation, which won an american book award in 2005
Marissa Leshnov

Fighting Oppression with Diamonds

The history of hip-hop suggests that it could one day lead to greater participation in capitalism by Black people—for the good of all. By Ishmael Reed • Photos by Marissa Leshnov

willem de kooning’s montauk highway, 1958, contains fractures between space and scale, control and freedom, making the painting feel fresh and urgent
© 2022 Willem de Kooning Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Why This Art: De Kooning Showed Me a Master Painter’s Trick

By Nick Aguayo

pan afrikan peoples arkestra, bassist roberto miranda
Gregg Segal

All Power to the People

A decades-spanning L.A. jazz collective “passes the magic” to a new generation. By Mike Sonksen • Photos by Gregg Segal

mildred howard in her studio in west oakland

Public Purpose, Public Art

Mildred Howard may not set out to create political works, but the powerful statements they make cannot be ignored. By Carla Blank • Photos by Christie Hemm Klok

smoky forest

Poetry: “Friend Poem

By Rachel Richardson

In Every Issue

Publisher’s Note: The Promise of a New Space Age

By Will Hearst



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