This is Oakland: A Meeting and an Adventure

This past Thursday, our correspondents at BookVibe were lucky enough to catch an event at Book Passage—a charming book shop in the San Francisco Ferry Building—featuring Melissa Davis and Kristen Loken, the masterminds behind This is Oakland: A Guide to the City’s Most Interesting Places.

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This photo-driven travel guide and book delves into the city’s most fascinating places to visit—ranging from boutiques and markets to cafes and restaurants—dispelling the myth that Oakland is crime-riddled and not worth visiting.

As we sat waiting for the authors to arrive, thumbing excitedly through our copy of This is Oakland (which, on top of being an excellent source of great fun, makes for a beautiful coffee table book), we were informed that the “reading” would be more of an intimate chat with the authors without the usual rigid seating and lengthy reading followed by Q&A – a decision we applauded heartily!

Both ladies turned out to be extremely lovely. Davis, a former editor at Harper’s Bazaar and Mademoiselle magazines and owner of a PR firm and Loken, a renowned photographer, were charismatic and open to any and all questions.

You could tell that they are passionate about the city by the way they talked, their words loaded with enthusiasm, eyes sparkling and hands gesticulating like fireworks. And that’s what’s so great about them—their passion and commitment to get the word out that Oakland is one of the most unique places in the world (Oakland, CA ranked #5 on The New York Times “The 45 Places to Go in 2012,” beating out New York City and Los Angeles), despite their busy schedules.

In fact, to get a full idea of just how much these ladies juggled, the process of creating This is Oakland took precisely a year—loaded with excursions to 90+ businesses, scheduled interviews and photo shoots, etc.—and was self-published to boot.

If that’s not love, then we don’t know what is. And It is precisely this love that inspired us to go on a little adventure.

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The next day, with the book firmly tucked under our arms, we set off to one of Oakland’s hottest destinations, Temescal. Although the book features different sections of Oakland including Downtown and Jack London Square, we were curious to explore Temescal Alley, where a row of the city’s most innovative and talked-about shops took the place of former horse stables.

Our first stop? Doughnut Dolly, because hello—doughnuts! A delightful little shop decked out with striped walls and strung up lights, Doughnut Dolly offers hand rolled doughnuts with a choice of the day’s four fillings (Naughty Cream, Strawberry Jam, Peanut Butter Cream, and Dark Chocolate).

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We chose to try the Naughty Cream (because let’s face it, it’s the most interesting-sounding one) and our taste buds floated up to heaven. The crème-fraiche vanilla bean pastry cream made the entire trip worth it—and we had only just started!

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Next, we traveled a few steps to Esqueleto, a dreamy, rustic space that features large assortments of one-of-a-kind jewelry and local art.

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Of course, we had to visit Book / Shop, where literary rarities ranging from $10 – $500 were on sale.

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As we rounded the corner, the full row comes into view, and it’s small and incredibly charming—we could picture the municipal stables that used to make up the alleyway, loaded with horses that pulled the streetcars down Telegraph Avenue.

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At Crimson Horticultural Rarities, we had a ball selecting the most beautiful pieces of floral and garden décor.

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Temescal Alley Barbershop, where we’d get our beards trimmed—if we had them.

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At Walrus, where ridiculously nifty home décor items are sold—including this awesome, confidence-inducing print.

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And last but not least—Homeroom. What can we possibly say about Homeroom? Their deliciously cheesy, impossibly creamy and perfectly cooked mac n cheese dishes are simply a must-try.

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We ordered the Garlic Gilroy mac n cheese. Best decision ever.

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We had so much fun throughout our outing and would have never discovered Temescal if it weren’t for This is Oakland. On a parting note, we’re very much looking forward to discovering the rest of what Oakland has to offer!

Top Baby Books on Twitter

Attention expecting and new moms!

 If you’ve been thinking about how to raise a smarter child, then now is the best time to gear up with the necessary tools.

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We’ve partnered up with Smart Coos—a web-based language learning community for babies and children, from ages 0 to 8 and their parents—to bring you the most mentioned parenting books from the Twitterverse. Don’t simply aim for brilliance—shoot for the whole package: intelligent, well-rounded, and happy children.


How Children Succeed by Paul Tough 

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The title says it all. Tough based his New York Times bestseller on the work of Nobel laureate James Heckman, expanding on the philosophy that psychological traits among children— such as resilience, curiosity, and confidence— play a monumental part in their happiness and success.

Grades and exams aside, see why these qualities possess the ability to unlock your child’s true potential.

Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success by Madeline, PhD Levine

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While in the process of growing up, the high-stakes and competitive culture that is exposed to children can be taxing. The pressure to achieve the top grades and shiniest trophies is high—which is why psychologist Madeline Levine, armed with thirty years of clinical experience, has provided parents with a toolbox to help clarify a definition of success that caters to their values as well as their children’s interests and abilities.

Complete with coping exercises and a trove of relevant research, Teach Your Children Well is an essential read for parents who are looking to better their kids and nudge (not push or shove) them on the pathway to success.

The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way by Amanda Ripley

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Look ahead and out of the box as Time magazine journalist Amanda Ripley takes you through the lives of three American students, each studying abroad for a year.

Ripley claims that although “wealth had made rigor optional” in the American education system, kids these days need to be “driven” and “know how to adapt.” Discover the passionate students of Finland, the “rigor on steroids” attitude in South Korea (students would wear small pillows over their wrists, should they fall asleep on their desks), and Poland, a country that is known for their international test-score rankings.

Speaking of innovative learning techniques, don’t forget to check out Smart Coos– from baby sign language, to an interactive language program and live tutoring sessions with a French, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, or English native speaker, they’ve got your kids covered.

If any of these books interest you, don’t miss our full list of parenting books!

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Top 8 Books To Help You Get a Tech Job in 2015

It would be nice to get book recs on how to break into the tech industry from Silicon Valley experts— but there are so many books out there, where should you start? At BookVibe we recorded the votes of the 80 million Twitter users who tweeted about a book last year to figure it out.

  1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  2. The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
  3. App Empire: Make Money, Have a Life, and Let Technology Work for You by Chad Mureta
  4. The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson
  5. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley
  6. The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life by Robin Sharma
  7. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future by Chris Guillebeau
  8. Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal by Nick Bilton

We’ve created this definitive list using our unique technology that reads tweets and identifies when books are discussed. Its impressive accuracy, even when dealing with books with common titles, ensures that the list reflects public opinion closely. Recently, for instance, we’ve noticed a surge in discussions about start-up and career improvement books—a sure sign that 2015 is the year to get involved with a cool new company.

This year’s list features new books from people at the cutting edge of their field, as well as books that have stood the test of time—an eclectic collection with one theme in common – they can all help you to land and keep the job of your dreams.

But which one should you read first?

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The Leader Who Had No Title: A Modern Fable on Real Success in Business and in Life by Robin Sharma—one of the most sought-after leadership advisers in the world—capitalizes on the importance of influence and how to exercise it like a superstar.

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Brothers David and Tom Kelley, founder and partner of IDEO, wrote Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All to dissect the principles and strategies of innovation, while entrepreneur Chris Guillebeau gives a crash course on investment in The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future.

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This list isn’t restricted to contemporary works —Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution throws it back to legendary greats ranging from Ada Lovelace and Vannevar Bush, to John von Neumann and Alan Turing. Isaacson hones in on the timeless skills that made them successful—in particular their ability to collaborate with others—while Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (released during the Great Depression and famously credited for Ken Norton’s boxing upset of Muhammad Ali in 1973) continues to stun with its ageless methods that help people achieve success in all lines of work.

Winners of the Costa Book Awards

Since the winners of the Costa Book Awards—a set of annual literary awards recognizing books by writers based in Britain and Ireland—were announced, there has been a lot of excited hullabaloo on Twitter.

The Costa Book Awards are split into five categories: Novel, First novel, Children’s book, Poetry, and Biography. One of the winning books will then go on to be named Costa Book of the Year, the ultimate prize.

So what have Tweeters been saying about these books? We scanned thousands of tweets that picked out to bring you some highlights!

Costa Biography Award Winner

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H is for HawkHelen Macdonald

Heartbreaking and hilarious, H is for Hawk is an account of Macdonald’s time raising Mable, a fierce and deadly hawk. After the death of her father, Macdonald finds that she can relate to the vicious goshawk’s anger and attempts to project herself “in the hawk’s wild mind to tame her.”

Costa First Novel Award Winner

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Elizabeth is MissingEmma Healey

A stunning debut, Elizabeth is Missing chronicles the story of Maud, who doesn’t remember most things. From drinking her tea, to recalling her daughter’s name, Maud forgets almost everything except the note in her pocket that says her friend Elizabeth is missing.

No matter how many times Maud’s family and friends ask her to drop the subject, she refuses and is absolutely determined to get to the bottom of a seventy-year-old mystery.

Costa Novel Award Winner

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How to be bothAli Smith

Like a brilliantly colorful painting, How to be both features two interconnected stories that almost read like poetry. The lives of a girl named George and another named Francesco, along with their struggles with sexuality are mapped and plotted out in an unconventional fictional form.

Costa Poetry Award Winner

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My Family and Other Superheroes Jonathan Edwards

Delve into Edward’s crazy world and fall madly in love with his quirky family. This impossibly charming collection hops back and forth between Evel Knievel, Sophia Loren, hippos, and more.

Costa Children’s Book Award

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Five Children on the Western FrontKate Saunders

A heart-wrenching follow-up to E. Nesbit’s Five Children and It stories, the elusive Sand Fairy has suddenly returned after a decade. The now grown children—Robert, Anthea, Cyril, Jane and Lamb—are happy to have something to take their minds off the war, but this time the Psammead is here for a more serious purpose.

Have you read any of these books? Do agree with the judges of the Costa Awards? Drop us a comment and let us know!

“A Year of Books”: Mark Zuckerberg’s Next Pick

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg possesses a healthy love for many things, including but not limited to: studying Mandarin, fried chicken pizza, and New Year’s resolutions.

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In fact, he takes his New Year’s resolutions so seriously that he asked members of the Facebook community to contribute suggestions for his personal goals this year. Over 50,000 users answered, and the overwhelming consensus is that Zuckerberg should “read a new book every other week—with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories, and technologies.”

And that is how the Mark Zuckerberg book club was born, aka “A Year of Books,” a group page on Facebook.

Zuckerberg’s first book selection—The End of Power by Moises Naim— caused sales to skyrocket.

So what will his next picks be? Since Zuckerberg took Facebook users’ suggestions seriously, it’d only make sense that he’d do the same with their book recommendations—which is why we’ve scoured Facebook’s Twitter network to see which books Facebookers are raving about.

We decided to highlight the selections of current and former Facebook employees:

LexiconMax Barry  

Recommended by Nicholas Felton, formerly one of Facebook’s Lead Designers

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What if words can be used as weapons? At an exclusive school in Virginia, students aren’t taught history or math—they’re taught to persuade. The very top of the class consists of master wordsmiths, known as “poets,” who are part of a nameless organization of unknown purpose.

When gifted Emily Ruff is recruited and drawn to their strange world, she learns that nobody is safe: every person can be classified by personality type, his mind unlocked by the skillful application of words.

A brilliant thriller, Lexicon explores the themes of identity and the power of language and coercion.

The Skies Belong to UsBrendan I. Koerner

Recommended by Adam Conner, former Public Policy Manager of Facebook

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American history takes an exciting turn during the end of the 60’s, the “golden age” airplane hijackings. These incidents—most times involving guns, bombs, and jars of acid—would occur sometimes as much as once a week, the disillusioned desperate to escape (mostly to Cuba).

The book examines the causes of the epidemic and follows the more famous cases (about 160 in total), including the story of the longest-distance skyjacking in U.S. history involving a young couple that took control of Western Airlines Flight 701 in 1972.

Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and SoftwareSteven Johnson 

Recommended by Tom Watson, former Product Designer at Facebook

The belief that “the whole is sometimes smarter than the sum of its part,” is media theorist Steven Johnson’s basis for Emergence. He asks questions such as, “Why do people cluster together in neighborhoods?” “How do internet communities spring up from nowhere?” “What causes a media frenzy?”

The answer to these questions is emergence: change that occurs from the bottom up. When enough individual elements interact, the result is collective intelligence, even though no one is in charge. Change the way you see the world with this phenomenon that exists at every level of experience.

Paul Rand: Conversations with StudentsMichael Kroeger

Recommended by Simon Cross, Product Developer at Facebook

Dive into the world of Paul Rand, one of the most influential graphic designers of the twentieth century. From his iconic logo designs for IBM, UPS, and the ABC television network, to his prolific poster and magazine work, Rand is not only revered as an educator, but also for his insight and humor.

This book chronicles Rand’s last interview one year before his death, a tour de force that touches on varied topics ranging from design philosophy to design education.

What books do you think Mark Zuckerberg should add onto his list of must-reads? Drop us a comment and let us know!