In our lives, we must all take a journey.

The exploration of ourselves and our world is precisely what makes life worth living. A rich tapestry of personal and geographical discovery molds us into the individuals we become, and ultimately allows us to amass valuable memories. That is why we’re honoring Space Exploration Day and offering three new books that encourage us to be adventurous in both mind and body. On July 20, 1969, man walked on the moon; where will your adventure take you?

For added inspiration, we turned to The Booksmith, one of the country’s best independent bookstores located on Haight Street in the heart of San Francisco. A 39-year-old establishment “with a focus on unusual literary fiction and non-fiction,” they host about 200 events a year and enjoy a faithful following. Manager Camden Avery was good enough to participate in our weekly Shelfie Picks, and here are the results:

1. The Diver’s Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida (Ecco, 2015)


Vendela Vida, the author of acclaimed titles like Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name and The Lovers, has delivered a taut literary thriller that features both exotic locations and the “malleability of identity.”

When a woman travels to Casablanca on mysterious business and finds her personal effects gone (wallet, passport, money, ID), it’s far from your standard crime. The woman sense complicity in the authorities and she knows she’ll never get her identity back. That’s when she runs into a movie producer, which leads to a sticky situation where she pretends she’s a well-known film star. Who is she, really?

Says Avery:

“Vida’s new novel is a fast-paced, brilliant little gem; a quasi-thriller about the main things we discover when we’re stripped our identities and cut off far from home, in a strange land.”

2. The Folded Clock: A Diary by Heidi Julavits (Doubleday, 2015)


When one wishes to explore the depths of one’s own psyche, one keeps a diary. This is what author Heidi Julavits did and many decades after writing those poignant coming-of-age passages, she stumbles upon the diary.

Now, as a forty-something wife, mother and writer, she looks back on that anxious girl who worried about grades, looks, boys and popularity. The Folded Clock is an amazing and deeply personal chronicle that encourages us all to keep learning and developing, the ultimate adventure. Added Avery:

The Folded Clock is Julavits’ account of stumbling across her old diaries and launching back into the practice of recording her life, and determining what she learns about herself in the process. Beautiful, insightful and astute.”

3. Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins (Riverhead Books, September 29, 2015)


When our world transforms drastically, new explorations and discoveries must take place. Looking forward to  Gold Fame Citrus, set to release in September, we find an unrelenting drought that has completely transfigured Southern California. What remains is a ” surreal, phantasmagoric landscape,” as the Central Valley is barren and the Sierra snowpack is gone.  Here two young Mojavs must survive and forge a new life, filled with fear, love and hope. Said Avery:

“Watkins’ first novel is one of the major literary events of the year. It’s a searing, pre-apocalyptic, all-too-real story about the imminent, sweeping, cataclysmic drought in and around Southern California. Both a beautiful meditation on the things humans do in the face of disaster and a mesmerizing tour of an alien landscape that may soon become intimately familiar, Watkins’ book heralds the beginning of a major writing career.”

Many thanks to Camden Avery and The Booksmith and if you’re in the San Francisco area and you’re a confirmed literary lover, you owe it to yourself to pay them a visit.