Past Selections

Tsar, Love & Techno
2017 Selection
Anthony Marra
The Tsar of Love and Techno Stories

The Tsar of Love and Techno, a stunning, exquisitely written collection, introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recounts their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts. In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.

The Martian by Andy Weir
2016 Selection
Andy Weir
The Martian

Our honoree for our 10 Year Anniversary is Andy Weir’s acclaimed debut novel, The Martian.

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

2015 Selection
Daniel Alarcón
At Night We Walk In Circles

Finalist, 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction
The breakout book from a prizewinning young writer: a breathtaking, suspenseful story of one man’s obsessive search to find the truth of another man’s downfall.

Nelson’s life is not turning out the way he hoped. His girlfriend is sleeping with another man, his brother has left their South American country, leaving Nelson to care for their widowed mother, and his acting career can’t seem to get off the ground. That is, until he lands a starring role in a touring revival of The Idiot President, a legendary play by Nelson’s hero, Henry Nunez, leader of the storied guerrilla theater troupe Diciembre. And that’s when the real trouble begins.

Farm City
2014 Selection
Novella Carpenter
Farm City: The Education of An Urban Farmer

AN UNFORGETTABLY charming memoir, Farm City is full of hilarious moments, fascinating farmer’s tips, and a great deal of heart. When Novella Carpenter-captivated by the idea of backyard self-sufficiency-moved to inner city Oakland and discovered a weed-choked, garbage-strewn abandoned lot next door to her house, she closed her eyes and pictured heirloom tomatoes and a chicken coop. The story of how her urban farm grew from a few chickens to one populated with turkeys, geese, rabbits, ducks, and two three-hundred-pound pigs will capture the imagination of anyone who has ever considered leaving the city behind for a more natural lifestyle.

Click here to view a video recording of our final event featuring Novella Carpenter

2013 Selection
Mary Roach
Packing for Mars

Space is a world devoid of the things we need to live and thrive: air, gravity, hot showers, fresh produce, privacy, and beer. How much can a person give up? How much weirdness can they take? What happens to you when you can’t walk for a year? What happens if you vomit in your helmet during a space walk? Is it possible for the human body to survive a bailout at 4,000 miles per hour? To answer these questions, space agencies set up all manner of quizzical and startlingly bizarre space simulations — making it possible to preview space without ever leaving Earth. From the space shuttle training toilet to a crash test of NASA’s new space capsule (cadaver filling in for astronaut), Packing for Mars takes us on a surreally entertaining trip into the science of life in space and space on Earth.

Click here to view a video recording of our final event featuring Mary Roach

2012 Selection
Michael David Lukas
The Oracle of Stamboul

The Oracle of Stamboul is a historical novel about a preternaturally intelligent little girl who becomes an advisor to the Ottoman sultan and through her advice to him, changes the course of history. It is the story of an eight year-old orphan who pushes back against the tides of history and changes their direction. Influenced by Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Italo Calvino, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Oracle of Stamboul is an evocative, magical historical novel that will transport readers to another time and place – romantic, exotic, yet remarkably similar to our own.

Click here to view a video recording of our final event featuring Michael David Lukas

Cutting For Stone
2011 Selection
Abraham Verghese
Cutting for Stone

The story is a riveting saga of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone, born of a tragic union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father’s disappearance, and bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.

Click here to view a video recording of our final event featuring Abraham Verghese

2010 Selection
Michael Chabon
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

With this brilliant novel, the bestselling author of The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and Wonder Boys gives us an exhilarating triumph of language and invention, a stunning novel in which the tragicomic adventures of a couple of boy geniuses reveal much about what happened to America in the middle of the twentieth century. Like Phillip Roth’s American Pastoral or Don DeLillo’s Underworld, Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a superb novel with epic sweep, spanning continents and eras, a masterwork by one of America’s finest writers.

Click here to view a video recording of our final event featuring Michael Chabon

2009 Selection
Dave Eggers
What is the What

Dave Eggers’ highly-acclaimed novel What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng is the 2009 selection for One Book One Marin. This story of the lost boys of the Sudan follows the life of Valentino Achak Deng as he was chased from his village at age seven and forced to trek across Africa under the most harrowing circumstances.

Click here to view a video recording of our final event featuring Dave Eggers

2008 Selection
Amy Tan
Saving Fish From Drowning

Saving Fish from Drowning, set in Burma, is a provocative and
mesmerizing tale about what is real and what is make believe — and the profound answers one seeks when things seemingly fall apart. Amy Tan has fashioned a distinctive fictional landscape, where Asia meets America, and where the traditional past encounters the shape-shifting present. In the end, Tan takes all readers to that place in their own hearts where hope is found.

Click here to view a video recording of our final event featuring Amy Tan

2007 Selection
Isabel Allende
Daughter of Fortune

Isabel Allende’s Daughter of Fortune follows the story of Eliza Sommers. Born and reared in Chile in a rigid household, she follows her lover to California during the Gold Rush of 1849 – a danger-filled quest that will become a momentous journey of transformation for Eliza. Daughter of Fortune is rich in historic detail for a pivotal period in California history. It is filled with critical topics of our day: the status of women, diversity, multilingualism, immigration.