Yay it’s book week

This is a fitting occasion to take a break from writing about geological matters to celebrate the official release of Deep Oakland: How Geology Shaped a City — an ode, in its own odd way, to my beloved city. That happens this week on Tuesday 2 May. The printed book will be up on the shelves at bookstores, and the e-edition will be available to download. (See a list of related links at the bottom of this post.)

Heyday Books

This book grew out of a manuscript I started about six years ago that I titled Deep Oakland: Geology of a City. It took a while to work out. When I thought I was near finishing the third draft, I sent a query to Heyday Books, with a sample chapter and a paragraph that said, “My intended audiences are Oakland’s walkers, park visitors, neighborhood leaders, and citizens with a stake in the city, whether they work here, live here or recreate here. . . . A secondary audience consists of thousands of geologists, nature lovers and science enthusiasts who, for family or professional reasons, make the Bay area their travel destination.”

Heyday asked to see the whole manuscript, then came back three months later asking for something rather different, something . . . deeper. I realized that what I had written was a manual for Oakland geologizers. I set it aside and started over again, working closely with Heyday’s editor to create the proper Heyday book they saw inside my work. We finalized that manuscript a year ago, and now it’s a real book with the greatest looking cover and a custom block diagram by Laura Cunningham leading off each chapter.

But the earlier work, totally independent, still has a viable audience, I think. Whereas the new book invites you to see Oakland with deeper appreciation as you look around, the original manuscript is full of specific detail on where to go and what you’ll see there, plus some deeper geological geekery.

Both books, the newly published one and the unpublished one, have the same purpose I spelled out in my query letter:

Oakland is a bellwether city for America’s transition to sustainability in the face of climate change and related challenges. It also faces the certainty of a major earthquake, and every effort should be made to envision and prepare for that calamity while calm instruction is possible. For these reasons, Oakland should take its distinctive geology into its heart, its identity and its sense of place. The under-natured children of Oakland have health-giving wildness all around them, and Deep Oakland is meant to inspire and inform the adults—parents, teachers and other leaders—who will personally take them there.

Later in the week, Heyday will throw me a little party in their book-lined Berkeley headquarters. There will be toasts, gratitude and maybe a few tears.

Then begins a short series of appearances and talks, starting Saturday with a panel appearance at the Bay Area Book Festival. The book has taken up so much of my time and energy that I’ve cut back on these things, as well as my own personal outings. It feels good to resume the old life.


*Book-related announcements and progress reports
*Order the book from the publisher (discount code “oakland” is good through 2023)
*Descriptive notes and supporting links for each chapter
*The “Deeper Oakland” newsletter

9 Responses to “Yay it’s book week”

  1. theoaklandraiders Says:

    Well done! Heyday is a fantastic publisher, perfect for your work. Can’t wait to read it.

  2. oaklanddots Says:


  3. Andrew Alden Says:

    It warmed my heart to arrive at Walden Pond Books for the signing session and see this:

  4. shayne del cohen Says:


  5. Andrew Aldrich Says:

    Having already devoured and loved Deep Oakland (it came early via Bookshop.org), I now want to read your other book. Are you going to look for a publisher or otherwise make it available?

  6. Karl Hans Says:

    My copy is on the way from Heyday and I am looking forward to diving into it. Just one request, can you please publish the other version too?

  7. Amelia Sue Marshall Says:

    It is so delightful to see _Deep Oakland_ on the shelf, front and center, at the front door of Pegasus Books.


  8. Raleigh McLemore Says:

    Just finished taking a Merritt College Geology field trip class and was constantly reading your posts. Order for your new book is complete and I’ll be watching my mail. I’m pretty excited about having your work in one place. Congratulations on finishing what must have been a lot of work. Let us know your book signing dates and I’ll come to get the book signed.

  9. ginnyparsons Says:

    Thank you for writing about the natural world. Although I have yet to do one of your walks, your research has enriched my world. I am a painter and my subject matter is often the hills of Oakland that I see from my kayak on San Leandro Bay. They remain a bit mysterious to me but you’ve filled in many of the holes. I will definitely buy your book.

    Thank you,

    Ginny Parsons

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