The month of July has been packed with a variety of literary experiences, created by the Bay Area Book Festival to cover your summer reading, further professional goals, inspire personal transformation, address current events, and of course offer plenty of great family programming.

Here are our July book picks:




Before and After the Book Deal: A Writer’s Guide to Finishing, Publishing, Promoting, and Surviving Your First Book by Courtney Maum
There are a lot of “how to write and publish a book” guides out there, but none are as frank, surprising, and funny as this breath of fresh air from novelist Maum, who unveils the secrets that editors, agents, and published writers typically keep under lock and key. In a serendipitous feat of timing, Maum’s “everything you wanted to know but were afraid to ask” guide comes out during a time of profound reckoning and truth-telling for the notoriously secretive publishing industry. Famed writers like Anthony Doerr, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Lisa Ko spill the beans about the road to publication and what happens next, and Maum frames their journeys–and her own–with the conversational warmth and verve of a friend confiding trade secrets over drinks. Whatever stage of the drafting/publication/promotion process you’re in, this book is your expert advisor, therapist, and straight-shooter, all in one.

For more candor and insights, check out  “Ready, Set, Publish,” Maum’s recent Bay Area Book Festival # UNBOUND conversation with NaNoWriMo’s Grant Faulkner and She Writes Press’ Brooke Warner.


F*ck Like a Goddess: Heal Yourself. Reclaim Your Voice. Stand in Your Power by Alexandra Roxo
Transformational healing coach Roxo’s favorite Greek myth is the tale of Persephone, fated to spend half the year in the underworld with Hades, only to emerge triumphantly in spring. The myth is a thematic fit for Roxo’s earthy guide to female self-knowledge and freedom, which carries serious “rebirth and regenesis” vibes. Roxo’s mission is to help every woman sublimate trauma, self-doubt, and dissociation into a radically different energy that paves the way for passionate engagement with the world and oneself. Called a “sharp forceful debut” by Publishers Weekly, F*ck Like a Goddess uses storytelling and exercises to guide readers to a place, in Roxo’s words, of “wildness and joy unbridled.”

On July 29, Bay Area Book Festival #UNBOUND is partnering with The Battery to present a special live event with Roxo for its Women Lit members.


The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
The setting for See’s multigenerational novel is a Korean island called Jeju, known for its “Three Abundances: wind, stones, and women.” And not just any women, but a fierce collective of intrepid female divers who are the island’s primary breadwinners. See’s portrait of familial legacies, underwater adventure, and global upheaval feels both intimate and panoramic, and is all the more riveting for its framework within a real-life matriarchy that finds itself suspended between tradition and modernity. called The Island of Sea Women a “mesmerizing historical novel that women’s strengths—and the strength of their friendships.”

See and bestselling author Sue Monk Kidd dove deep into the complexities of these friendships, and the challenges of depicting them in fiction, in a recent BABF #UNBOUND conversation with Aimee Phan, “Braving Deep Waters.” 




Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family by Nelly Buchet, illustrated by Andrea Zuill; ages 3-7 years
This book has only two words—“cat” and “dog”—but what Nelly Buchet and Andrea Zuill do with those two words is sheer delight and it brought them three starred reviews. And rightly so! Buchet and Zuill take us to a blended family, because, you know… They’re not always easy, for humans or for pets. Come with us and meet Cat and Dog, who live with their human in a suburban house with a big backyard. Sure, they fight like… well, cats and dogs, but they’re used to one another. Dog—a different dog!—lives a happy only-child life in the city with his dad. He has the bed to himself, he never has to share his toys, and that’s the way he likes it. So, what happens when Dog’s dad and Cat and Dog’s mom move in together? These two words make a wonderfully smart, heart-warming, and laugh-out-loud picture book. Two words is all Nelly Buchet and Andrea Zuill. Really. Or… would there be a surprise word or two?

Check out our recent virtual conversation with Nelly Buchet and Andrea Zuill.


On These Magic Shores by Yamile Saied Méndez; ages 8 – 12
Many families and children struggle to find a safe life, including Minerva Soledad Miranda, a young Latinx teen who is terrified that her mom, after not returning home from work one night, may have been wrongly taken by ICE. Afraid that she and her two little sisters she takes care of may be taken to foster homes or holding centers for migrant children, Minerva decides to pretend everything is normal until her mom returns. The plan falls through almost immediately. Luckily, Minerva finds a special, mysterious, and magical helper to get to the bottom of her mother’s worrying disappearance. Though, Yamile Saied Méndez touches upon many heavy problems like racism, immigration, stereotyping and income inequality, her extraordinary ability to craft wonderful characters full of life and smarts, and with big dreams makes On These Magic Shores a tale that will warm your heart and make you laugh.

Check out our recent virtual conversation with Yamile Saied Méndez and Aimee Lucido (In the Key of Code), moderated by ten-year-old Naomi Wilson from Cinnamongirl, Inc., an Oakland-based nonprofit that empowers girls of color with mentorship and educational opportunities.


This Time Will be Different by Misa Sugiura; ages 14 – 18
Misa Sugiura’s This Time Will be Different introduces us to CJ, who discovers a hidden talent for floral arrangement in her family’s flower shop—only to make another discovery that leads her to fight, for the first time in her life, for what is important to her. With a deft pen, Sugiura paints CJ and other characters true to life, with all their flaws and vulnerabilities. And she lets them grow. Just like Sugiura lets the reader grow and find truth when it comes to racism and by breaking through myths like those of the model minority. She does that with a deft pen, lots of humor and glorious romance. A book that will pull you in from page one!

Check out our recent virtual conversation with Misa Sugiura, Abigail Hing Wen, and Jasmine Edwards, moderated by Jasmine Edwards, senior of Bentley School in Lafayette and a member of Cinnamongirl, Inc.