Dave Eggers’ ‘The Monk of Mokha’ explores a coffee-flavored American dream

A young immigrant from Yemen becomes a coffee exporter in Eggers’ latest nonfiction page-turner.

“The Monk of Mokha”

by Dave Eggers

Knopf, 352 pp., $28.95

“You’re in front my face.” That’s a rough translation of a traditional Yemeni expression — something people in that country say to others to let them know they are valued.

And in Dave Eggers’ riveting new work of nonfiction, “The Monk of Mokha,” that’s what 26-year-old Mokhtar Alkhanshali tells the women he has hired to work in the new business he has set up in Sana’a, Yemen. A self-styled coffee exporter, Mokhtar has returned to his family’s homeland at the southern end of the Arabian Peninsula with the dream of reviving Yemen’s ancient coffee-growing traditions.

But Mokhtar is as green to the business as the coffee beans he wants sorted out of the shipments his new hires are inspecting.

Author appearance

Dave Eggers and Mokhtar Alkhanshali

The author and subject of “The Monk of Mokha” will speak at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, at Broadway Performance Hall, 1625 Broadway, Seattle; $37 (includes copy of book); tickets available through strangertickets.com.

Raised in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district, a bright guy but an indifferent student, Mokhtar bounced around in a series of jobs, dabbled in college and, by his mid-20s, has little to show for himself.

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

He is working as a doorman at a San Francisco high-rise when he gets inspiration one day from an unlikely source. He notices a statue in the plaza across the street. Erected to honor the Hills Brothers Coffee Co. that once had occupied that spot, the statue is a 9-foot-tall, bronze rendition of that company’s original mascot, a man in flowing robes, turban and curly-toed slippers, sipping coffee from a cup he holds aloft. According to an accompanying placard, the Hills brothers had launched their coffee-importing business in the late 1800s as Arabian Coffee and Spice Mills.

It is Mokhtar’s light-bulb moment.

When he goes home that night and tells his mother about his Arabian discovery, she informs him that his own family has grown coffee for generations. Not only that — Yemenis were the first, anywhere, to drink coffee — “You didn’t know this?”

He didn’t, but now he wants to learn more. He discovers that ancient Ethiopians made weak tea from coffee beans, but it wasn’t until the early 14th century that a holy man living in the Yemeni port of Mokha brewed coffee as the wakeful beverage we know today. Coffee houses sprang up throughout the region, and as coffee became increasingly commodified, it was appropriated by colonial powers.

Centuries later, and half a world away, Mokhtar decides that his mission is to restore his family’s homeland to its rightful place as a coffee-growing powerhouse.

Eggers traces this young man’s journey as he shuttles between California and Yemen, coaxing coffee roasters, investors, aid agencies and farmers toward his vision of a revitalized coffee-growing industry.

Once Mokhtar proves that Yemeni farmers can produce superior coffee beans, he still needs to find a way to ship them to the United States. He identifies a coffee conference in Seattle as the best place to find assistance.

But just as he’s about to depart Sana’a for Seattle, civil war breaks out across Yemen. The Saudis are dropping bombs, the airport shuts down, different armed factions erect checkpoints along the roads, and pirates roam the waters off the coast.

“The Monk of Mokha” is a page-turning mash-up of genres — coming-of-age, business how-to (and in some cases, how-not-to), and international political thriller.

This is the third book Eggers has written to focus on the amazing true-life stories of recent immigrants to America. “What Is the What” (2006) followed the difficult path of one of Sudan’s Lost Boys. “Zeitoun” (2009) focused on a Syrian-American house-painter who gets caught between Hurricane Katrina and the war on terror.

Caffeinated Seattle readers should embrace this third book not only as a terrific read, but also as a relevant backgrounder to their daily habit.

When you lift that next cup of coffee to your lips, remember to put the growers “in front your face.”

Marvel’s Kevin Feige Talks Black Panther: “Dream Come True” (Video)

As promised, here is an interview with Kevin Feige talking about the Black Panther movie from the recent world premiere.

“Well, this cast is astounding,” Feige said. “Our director Ryan Coogler… The day we hired him and the day the deal was done, he sent me a picture, and it was a picture of he and his then-fiancee at the comic book shop in his hometown holding a Black Panther comic. That was the comic shop he used to go to as a kid and read these stories. This movie finally coming to life is a dream come true. In a lot of ways, it feels like a highlight of my time at Marvel.”

Black Panther

Kevin Fiege continues with mention that Black Panther isn’t going to be a slow film like some other origin stories are.

“It’s great. Whenever we do a Part 1, a first story, sometimes there is a slower burn, and people start to get used to the idea and used to who this new character is,” Feige offered. “That has not been the case with this at all. Obviously Chadwick’s role in Civil War really helped to establish him as this character, but there is a bent up love of this character going on fifty-plus years, and I’m so happy we are doing it, and that finally today people get to see the movie.”

Black Panther

Kevin Feige also says Black Panther has real world appeal.

“The feedback we are getting, not from just the United States, but from Asia and all over Eurpose and all over the world, they want to see this character,” Feige said. “And not just this character, but the cast and this world, because in this film we go to this unseen side of Africa called Wakanda, and it is more advanced than anything you have ever seen. We have this wonderful movie that is equal parts real culture, equal parts comic book fantasy, into something wholly unique.”   

Watch the video with Kevin Feige talking Black Panther:

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther

Black Panther has a February 16, 2018 release starring Chadwick Boseman (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Get on Up”), Michael B. Jordan (“Creed,” “Fruitvale Station”), Academy Award winner LupitaNyong’o (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “12 Years a Slave”), Danai Gurira (“The Walking Dead,” upcoming “All Eyez on Me”), Martin Freeman (“Hobbit” trilogy, “Sherlock”), Daniel Kaluuya (upcoming “Get Out,” “Sicario”), with Academy Award® nominee Angela Bassett (“American Horror Story,” “London Has Fallen”), with Academy Award® winner Forest Whitaker (“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” Lee Daniels’ “The Butler”), and Andy Serkis (“Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”). Additional cast members include Letitia Wright (“Urban Hymn,” “Glasgow Girls”), Winston Duke (“Person of Interest, “Modern Family”), Florence Kasumba (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Emerald City”), Sterling K. Brown (“Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”) and John Kani (“Captain America: Civil War,” “Coriolanus”).

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.

Tough Competition Amongst Selling the Dream Nominees

The Business Book Awards 2018

Selling the dream is what every entrepreneur aspires to achieve.

The organisers behind the Business Book Awards have announced six nominees for this year’s Selling the Dream category. These awards celebrate the best UK business books published between January 1 and December 31 2017 that are designed to motivate new business owners in the early stages of enterprise.

The founder of the awards is Lucy McCarraher, author of 11 books, and co-founder and Managing Editor of Rethink Press. Lucy McCarraher said, “Selling the dream is what every entrepreneur aspires to achieve. To be able to create something that your consumers adore is the pinnacle point of a business career. We’re proud to announce such a fantastic list of nominees that showcase a wonderful judgement of the Selling the Dream category.”

The authors represented on this year’s shortlist are experts in a large variety of topics, ranging from owning a successful start-up business to teaching effective branding in the modern era. Whilst some feature personal experiences which are motivational, others focus more on first-class advice on how to succeed in a competitive market. These books also represent a range of different publishers, from ReThink Press to Authority Guides.

Selling the Dream Nominees
Judged by Andy Lopata

Scale Up Millionaire by Gordon McAlpine (Rethink Press)
Secret Skill, Hidden Career by Paul Owen (Rethink Press)
Strategic Tendering for Professional Services by Matthew Fuller and Tim Nightingale (Kogan Page)
The Authority Guide to Pitching Your Business by Mel Sherwood (The Authority Guides)
The Growth Director’s Secret by Andrew Brent (Bloomsbury Publishing Plc)
UnBranding by Scott Stratten and Alison Stratten (Wiley)

The Business Book Awards ceremony will take place on March 16 2018 at The Grange City Hotel, London. Tickets for this event can be purchased through the website: https://www.businessbookawards.co.uk/product/book-your-ticke….


Lucy McCarraher and the event organisers are available for interview.

For further information please contact Mary-Jane Rose, email [email protected] or Adam Betteridge, email [email protected] or Tina Fotherby, email [email protected] or call 0333 344 2341.

Lucy McCarraher, Managing Editor

Lucy McCaraher started her first publishing company at university, and has been publishing, editing and writing ever since. She has been a magazine and book editor and publisher, print and TV journalist in Australia and the UK; a writers’ agent, and editor for Methuen. As Director of Development at Lifetime Productions International, she developed, wrote and edited UK and international TV and video series, including three series of Runaway Bay, a children’s series shot in Martinique and starring Naomie Harris; Go Wild! with Chris Packham; and the Lovers Guide video series and books.

Lucy became a national expert in work-life balance, writing academic and business reports for clients and authoring The Work-Life Manual and The Book of Balanced Living. Her clients included multinational and blue-chip companies, large public sector and voluntary organisations, and SMEs. She has also worked as a coach with many individuals on their work-life balance and personal development.

Lucy is the author of ten published books, including her latest, best-selling How To Write Your Book Without The Fuss, with her business partner Joe Gregory; and the acclaimed How To Write Fiction Without The Fuss. Her first novel, Blood and Water, was shortlisted in a major competition and published by Macmillan New Writing, followed by Kindred Spirits and Mr Mikey’s Ladies. Lucy’s self-help books include A Simpler Life and The Real Secret, both co-authored with social psychologist, Annabel Shaw. The Real Secret was published by Bookshaker and Lucy subsequently became Commissioning Editor of the publishing company, contributing to its 14-year experience of niche business and self-development books.

Lucy became the Publish Mentor for KPI UK in 2013, for KPI Singapore in 2015, and enjoys working with the wide variety of talented KPI entrepreneurs to plan, write, and publish their business books.

She mentors and coaches individual writers; gives keynotes, workshops, masterclasses and webinars in all aspects of writing and publishing; and has a post-graduate diploma (DTLLS) in teaching Creative Writing and Literacy.

2-day ‘Young, Gifted and Dreaming Fearlessly’ summit kicks off Thursday | Neighborhoods

Young entrepreneurs, achievers conference

Join young entrepreneurs, entertainers and achievers in various fields from around the country for the two-day “Young, Gifted and Dreaming Fearlessly” summit. Listen to panel discussions and keynote speakers for free from 6 to 8:20 p.m. Thursday at the Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., and from 9:45 a.m. to 1:50 p.m. Friday at the American Family Insurance NHQ auditorium, 6000 American Parkway. Topics including tackling challenges, networking, building a “dream village” and paying it forward will be addressed. Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and CNN contributor and author Van Jones will be among the attendees. For more information or to register for the first day, go to go.madison.com/day1. To register for the second day, go to go.madison.com/day2.

Grant writing for artists

All about Indian mounds

Learn about the 4,000 remaining Indian burial grounds in Wisconsin during a discussion with Robert Birmingham, co-author of the book “Indian Mounds of Wisconsin.” Birmingham will discuss the mounds, which date back 15,000 to 20,000 years, from 12:15 to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Wisconsin Historical Museum, 30 N. Carroll St. A $3 donation is suggested. For more information, go to go.madison.com/indian-mounds, call 264-6555 or email [email protected].

Dog park meeting

The Brittingham Dog Park, 326 S. Broom St., is being redesigned to make it more usable and inviting and to better reflect the aesthetics of Downtown Madison. The project will be discussed at the first of two public input and informational meetings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Capitol Lakes Retirement Community Grand Hall, 333 W. Main St. For more information, go to go.madison.com/dog-park or contact Sarah Lerner at 266-4711 or [email protected]. For more, see the story on Page B1.

Plans for Pinney Library

Preliminary plans for the new Pinney Library will be unveiled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the current Pinney Library, 204 Cottage Grove Road. For more, see the story on Page B1.

How a Food Instagram Turned Into a Dream Job

I was that girl on your study abroad program who was not only taking pictures of everything she ate, but who was also stopping to get the perfect shot of the sunset or the street performers. You name it, I was documenting it. And a few years ago, I decided to put all those photos to good use. I started the @jqlouise Instagram account and https://jqlouise.com as a creative outlet to explore my interest in photography and travel writing. And little did I know that by the time I was 24, I would have my first book deal.

My hobby quickly turned into an obsession. Only a few weeks in, I found myself staying up ’til 1 or waking up at 5 to edit photos and write blog posts. And I loved doing it. Looking back, it’s clear that the obsession was actually a passion. Taking pictures of cityscapes, beaches and plates of food, was adding a whole other dimension to my life.

As brands and restaurants began to reach out to me, I realized that I was doing something right and that I might be able to turn this passion into something more. I even began to wonder if this could become an actual paying job.

As I worked on my writing and photography, I found more and more opportunities. I’ve done pieces on the Food Network Snapchat, I’ve reviewed a restaurant on TV, and Thrillist even called me a “travel expert.” But just the fact that people have actually begun to pay me for my words and my pictures, is a dream come true. I’ve worked with the Ritz Carlton, W Hotels, and so many more of my favorite brands all over the world.

People ask me all the time: how’d you build up your following or how did you land that project? I always say the same thing — consistency. There is no trick, like any career, “becoming a writer” or “becoming a photographer” doesn’t happen overnight. I work at it every day (every hour actually, trust me I’m on Instagram a lot). Like Samuel Goldwyn said, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Opportunities will find you; you just have to be ready for them.

When I was a little girl, I used to write down ideas on the school bus ride home. I literally had a notebook filled with ideas for poems, novels, articles, tv shows, and movies. And somewhere along the way, through high school and college, I forgot about those dreams. I went on to get a degree in business and thought I wanted to make it in the finance world or the tech world. But that itch to travel was always there and any chance I got I went somewhere new — even if it was just that new place that opened up down the street.

But thanks to Instagram and a little perseverance, I resurrected those childhood dreams of becoming a writer. While I never could have guessed that the path to finding my calling would involve daily doses of cropping, editing, captioning, liking, and commenting, I am so grateful that I found my passion and I get to work on it every day.

Last year, when I was 24 years old, I got my first book deal for a food guide called Boston Food Crawls. Last summer was the summer of restaurants. Writing and shooting the photography for a food guide is a huge project (who knew?)! I visited about 120 restaurants and took over 80,000 photos all over Boston. From Southie to Eastie to the North End, there I was, camera in hand.

The book has been both the most challenging and rewarding project I have ever worked on. Days spent literally running around town to dozens of restaurants and nights filled with editing and writing are exhausting. But I love it.

A day where I wake up and have to go to one restaurant per hour for 10 hours may sound like a cakewalk, but trust me it’s not. Between tasting, shooting, taking notes, interviewing the chef, and staying on schedule, it’s anything but a vacation. But trust me, I’m not complaining. I crave the work, it energizes me — the way no job ever has. I definitely made a dent in my 10,000 hours in 2017.

Boston Food Crawls launches this spring and I can’t wait to share all the culinary delights my dear old Boston has to offer. It truly was a labor of love. Ask anyone; I have been giving restaurant recommendations since I could talk. And Boston is such a vibrant city, with a rich food scene. I am so excited that I get to share that with all of you.

2017 was a crazy ride. But that little girl writing ideas in her notebook would be proud of me and just thinking about that makes me smile. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store, but one thing I can guarantee is that I’ll still be the one snapping pictures of my food.

Related: What It’s Really Like to be a YouTuber in College

Star Wars actress Ashley Eckstein’s It’s Your Universe book: Read an excerpt

As the voice of Jedi padawan Ahsoka Tano on the animated The Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels shows, Ashley Eckstein inspired young girls to believe they too could wield a lightsaber and battle the dark side.

As the founder of the Her Universe fashion line, she inspired women and girls in our galaxy to flaunt their geekdom with style, pride, and playfulness.

Now Eckstein is putting her galaxy-shaping philosophy down on the page with the new book It’s Your Universe, which is part autobiography, telling her own story of being a little girl who longed for the stars and stardom, and part inspirational guide.

Now, Entertainment Weekly presents a cover reveal and excerpt from the illustration-heavy book, which will be released May 8. And we’re also featuring a gallery of Eckstein’s latest Black Panther and Disney Princess clothing for kids.

At a time when some male fans are trying to put up a “No Girls Allowed” sign on Star Wars fandom, Eckstein’s book reminds young female fans that they don’t need anyone’s permission.

“I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and my dad worked for Disney, so we went to Disney World all the time,” Eckstein tells EW. “My mom and I, our favorite song was ‘When You Wish Upon a Star,’ so she always encouraged me to make a wish, and make a dream.”

But they also emphasized the hard work involved in fulfilling such dreams, which is another element of her book. ”

They said, okay, all of those wishes that you’ve been making upon all of those stars, now you have to do it,” Eckstein said. “You have to take action. You have to work hard to actually be it, and to do it. Those dreams and those wishes aren’t just going to fall in your lap.”

Sci-fi and fantasy gives people an escape, and allows kids to expand their own imaginations, but it also makes them dream bigger and aspire for more. It gives kids … hope.

“It’s an inspiration to say, ‘No, I’m never going to be Ahsoka Tano in a galaxy far, far away. Like, literally be a Togruta alien,’” Eckstein says. “‘But I could be a real-life version of Ahsoka.’ And actually it was Ahsoka who inspired me to create Her Universe. I did think, ‘What would Ahsoka do?” Ahsoka would stand up for the female fanbase and offer them more.”

For the longest time, she says, female fans were expected “to be happy with a men’s size small T-shirt because women would not buy merchandise meant for them.”

She decided to fuse her love of skirts and dresses with Star Wars, and quickly expanded to Marvel and other genre. “We can be geeks, and we can look cute while doing it,” Eckstein says.

Here’s the excerpt from It’s Your Universe. And check the gallery here for images from Her Universe’s new Black Panther and Disney Princess-inspired active wear.

Disney Electronic Content

Disney Electronic Content

Disney Electronic Content

Disney Electronic Content

‘Behold the Dreamers’ is Linn Area Reads selection

A book about immigration, the financial crisis and the American dream is the Linn Area Reads selection for 2018.

“Behold the Dreamers” is Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel, published in 2016. It tells the story of Cameroonian immigrants Jende and Neni Jonga as their lives intersect with a wealthy New York family during the 2008 financial crisis. It won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Blue Metropolis Words to Change Award and was an Oprah’s Book Club selection, among other honors.

Linn Area Reads encourages residents to all read one book as a community, followed by public events such as book discussions.

“It’s a story about immigration and the American dream, something we think many people are talking about today. It’s a great book to have a discussion around,” said Cedar Rapids Public Library Community Relations Manager Amber Mussman. “The goal as always is to start a community discussion.”

This year, Linn Area Reads is expanding for the first time beyond the Cedar Rapids, Marion and Hiawatha libraries to include all libraries in Linn County. The different libraries, as well as partner bookstores Barnes & Noble and Next Page Books, will be able to create events that make sense for them, Mussman said. Programming is online at metrolibrarynetwork.or/linnareareads. More programming may be added in the future, and people can also check with their local libraries for updates.

Here is the current list of upcoming Linn Area Reads programs:

Taming a Bear Market, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13, Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion. Financial experts from the Strellner Agency Group will unpack the 2008 financial collapse and share what can be done to protect oneself from future recessions.

Community book discussion of “Behold the Dreamers”, 6 p.m. Feb. 21, Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion.


Plunder: The Crime of Our Time documentary screening, 6 p.m. Feb. 22, Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion. Exposing the forces responsible for the loss of trillions of dollars, millions of jobs, massive foreclosures and the disappearance of retirement funds, “Plunder: The Crime of Our Time” investigates the unregulated fraud and theft that led to the market’s collapse in fall 2008. Filmmaker Danny Schechter, Emmy Award-winning former ABC News and CNN producer, explores the epidemic of subprime mortgages, predatory lending, insurance scams, and high-risk hedge funds to illustrate the connection between the housing market and the economic collapse that followed.

Community book discussion of “Behold the Dreamers”, 7 p.m. Feb. 26, Lisbon Public Library, 101 E. Main St., Lisbon.

Community Cultural Celebration and Expo, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 3, Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. Join the Cedar Rapids Public Library and the Cedar Rapids Civil Rights Commission as organizations and groups from across the area celebrate the diversity and culture of the community.

Reality Bites: Immigrants and Refugees, 6 to 8 p.m. March 7, April 4 and May 2, 6-8 p.m., Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids. This is a workshop-style class, with short videos and films, collective conversations and group exercises around the theme of Immigrants and Refugees. Be prepared to share in a civil and safe environment. In the first session participants learn, then discuss in the second and finally share. All are welcome.

Community book discussion of “Behold the Dreamers”, 2 p.m. March 12, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 333 Collins Road NE, Cedar Rapids

West African Art, 7 p.m. March 13, Marion Public Library, 1095 Sixth Ave., Marion. Vero Smith, Assistant Curator at the University of Iowa Museum of Art, will present on the West African Art collection.

Community book discussion of “Behold the Dreamers”, 1 p.m. March 21, Coggon Public Library, 216 E. Main St., Coggon

l Comments: (319) 398-8339; [email protected]

Dave Eggers tells true story of dogged man’s triumph | Book Blog

“The Monk of Mokha” is a real-life story of the American Dream by way of Yemen, with a stop at the Hills Brothers coffee logo.

Readers will cheer for Mokhtar Alkhanshali, the subject of Dave Eggers’ most recent book, a biography. A U.S. citizen born in 1988, Mokhtar grew up with six siblings in San Francisco’s troubled Tenderloin district, which “taught you to think quick, talk fast. You had to listen and assimilate.” Mokhtar shrugged off school, preferring wily self-study.

Mokhtar’s first after-school job at a Banana Republic store taught him how to dress and carry himself so that he was “trusted and wanted around.” This led to better retail positions, more access, higher paychecks. But “there was no precedent and there was no money” for college. Called “mister” and “sir” around town, “he went back home, to sleep on the top bunk of a two bunk set in his family’s one-bedroom apartment,” Eggers writes.

Mokhtar takes classes, gets involved in local politics, sells cars, and borrows money to buy a laptop. But at 25 years old, bursting with ambition, he’s working as a doorman at a luxury high rise.

A friend texts “pick a direction for your life.” She suggests that “across the street there’s a statue of a Yemeni dude drinking a big cup of coffee.” Maybe that Hills Brothers logo from 1906 is a sign. Mokhtar directs his scattered energies toward one thing: a coffee importing business.

Mokhtar learns that coffee originated in Yemen. “Rogue adventurers” moved the crop around the globe, stealing coffee cherries and seedlings, starting in the 1500s. This included an emissary of Brazil seducing the French colonial governor’s wife, who “provided him with a bouquet of flowers, inside of which she’d hidden enough coffee cherries to start a farm of his own.”

Coffee has “quite possibly the most complex journey from farm to consumption of any foodstuff known to humankind.” There’s also tasting; a Q grader is “something akin to what a sommelier is to wine, a grand master is to chess,” Eggers writes.

When Mokhtar travels to Yemen to sample and buy beans, it’s 2014. The country is unstable, but in just a few months “it was as if some almost-unknown militia from near the Oregon border swept down and took over Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, all without any significant resistance.” A major airport shuts down, then roads flood with checkpoints manned by children with guns.

Although this section of the book is especially perilous, the entirety of “The Monk of Mokha” — Mokhtar Alkhanshali’s life — reads like a harrowing adventure story. Readers will hold their breath for the charming, brilliant child of the Tenderloin. They will want Mokhtar to get the job, secure the funding, pass the Q grader test. They’ll want him to find his way to Yemen, then desperately want him to make it safely home to San Francisco, high-grade beans in tow.

Eggers interviewed Mokhtar over three years and hundreds of hours. The book is a wonder: dense with details, yet light and often funny (in Mokhtar’s first euphoric moment at a Yemeni coffee farm, he embarrassingly mistakes an olive tree for the beloved coffee plant he’s been studying).

Among Eggers’ long list of award-winning work are his own memoir (“A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius”) and dystopian fiction (“The Circle”). But a decade ago Eggers wrote both a novelization of the life of Sudanese refugee Valentino Achak Deng (“What Is the What”) and an extensively researched biography of what happened to Syrian-American Abdulrahman Zeitoun during Hurricane Katrina (“Zeitoun”).

These men, like Mokhtar Alkhanshali, triumphed against unimaginable poverty and violence.

In his introduction, the author calls his newest subject one of the “U.S. citizens who maintain strong ties to the countries of their ancestors and who, through entrepreneurial zeal and dogged labor, create indispensable bridges between the developed and developing worlds, between nations that produce and those that consume. And how these bridgemakers exquisitely and bravely embody this nation’s reason for being, a place of radical opportunity and ceaseless welcome.”

Eggers has an urgent message about resilience and a new American Dream, and his literary skills make it easy to hear.

Holly Silva is a St. Louis editor.

4FRNT’s Children’s Book Inspires a Young Reader

WORDS BY: Camryn Reddick, age 9

‘Will You Believe In Me,’ written by Matt Sterbenz, founder of 4FRNT, is a story about a boy that started skiing when he was only 4 years old. He loved nothing more than to ski. The boy’s name was Matt. As Matt grew older, he and his friends did something called freeskiing–spinning on slopes and flying up half pipes.

When Matt grew up he wanted his work to help people who loved to ski. So he decided to start a company to make skis in new ways. That company was going to be called 4FRNT. One day a skier came in named David. David was a talented skier and he loved flying up steep “U” shaped half pipes. David knew he could win a contest so he just needed the right skis. David wanted Matt to maybe make his skis and asked, “Will you believe in me?” Matt believed in David, so he made his skis.

The day came to test David’s skis in the contest. However, when David started his first run, his ski broke in half! Even though the ski that Matt made broke, he still believed in David.

So they went back to the shop and made him another pair of skis, and they would make them even better! For the next contest, David went off to Aspen, Colorado, for the X Games. Instead, Matt watched David from a computer. David was in a booth and people were giving him “high fives.”

With the skis that they had designed won the big contest! David kept winning big events. Matt started getting calls from people all over the world who were interested in his skis. Matt’s dream came true. People were enjoying the sport he loved.

Soon David was so good on his skis he got to join the Olympic USA team! As Matt was watching another one of David’s contests, he whispered: “I believe in you, David.” So dreams came true for both of them because David won an Olympic gold medal in skiing halfpipes.

I liked this book because Matt shows friendship and happiness with David, and David shows the same. It just makes me smile!

I am similar to Matt because I love to ski and help others. What I liked about Matt and David is that they never gave up even if they had to make more skis for David. Also, it is so nice of Matt to stop his time of “freeskiing” and help David.

I would recommend this book to all my friends that ski and even the ones that don’t, because I feel like they need to have the courage to do whatever they want when they grow up and to stay focused on their dreams. The lessons that I learned from this story are to never give up; anything is possible, and people can do amazing things if they work together and believe in one another.

A good night’s sleep can be a key feature in your dream home

Sending midnight emails from the comfort of bed used to be the ultimate status symbol. Now, science and society are tending to agree that it’s the ultimate drag.

The home design world is starting to tune in, with developers and architects approaching a good night’s sleep as a challenge worth solving. It’s a nascent awareness that follows a shift across other industries, moving away from relentless technology and stress, toward a calmer way.

IPhones have that “do not disturb” setting. Companies are adding nap rooms. Schools are pushing start times later.

“Sleep, like clean air, increasingly has the potential to be the new luxury good,” said Rachel Gutter, the chief product officer of the International Well Building Institute, which offers a health and wellness building standard modeled after LEED environmental ratings. “We are increasingly cognizant of how our homes and our offices directly contribute to our health and well being.”

Last year, the Nobel Prize in medicine, given for research on circadian rhythms, renewed the spotlight on the link between sleep and health, and Arianna Huffington’s new book, “The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night at a Time,” brought the message of sleep’s importance to a mass audience. People are more interested than ever in sleep, she said in an interview.

“The level of receptiveness is skyrocketing,” Huffington wrote in an email. “I can see a clear difference from when I first started writing the book and telling people about it compared with now. These days, people are much more aware of the science about how important sleep is — and how could they not be; it’s everywhere in the media — but what they want to talk about now is less the ‘why’ than the ‘how.’ ”

Gutter said that while sleep-optimized homes are still a rarity, a focus on how design can support sleep is starting to take root, “particularly in higher-end housing and particularly in urban areas” where quality sleep is threatened by light and noise.

Between high-tech solutions, such as light bulbs that promote alertness in the day and rest at night, and more primal ones, such as moving the bedroom or sometimes the whole house away from busy streets and into nature, the various approaches to sleep-friendly housing say one thing: “A good night’s sleep is one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves and our families,” Gutter said.

The Lakehouse, a luxury waterfront condominium tower in Denver slated to open in 2019, where condos are priced from half a million to more than $3 million, treats quality sleep as one of many health and wellness perks — including strategically placed elevators that nudge people to take the stairs, organic gardens cultivated by residents and a “harvest room,” where people can wash their fruits and veggies while mingling.

Blackout shades in bedrooms and dimmable LED lights are standard, said Brian Levitt, president and co-founder of Nava Real Estate Development. The project, which has set out to be Colorado’s first Well-certified project, also has sound attenuation that exceeds code and air filtration “that might help the sleep for occupants with asthma or other environmental sensitivities.” Circadian lighting and an extra air filter are optional.

Levitt, in his late 40s, started valuing sleep when it became scarce: after he had kids. He soon began to wonder: What sleep sustaining features can he add to his projects?

“You start to think about — well, people live in these buildings. A third of their life they’re sleeping,” he said.

Levitt doesn’t expect people to spend more for wellness amenities, but he thinks his own investment should pay off in terms of reputation and resident satisfaction.

“They’re just going to have a better experience in their home. How do you capitalize that?” The long view: If, over time, it is proven that living in a healthy space, walking more and sleeping more can add years to someone’s life, “the economic value of our buildings will be exponentially increased.”

On California’s Monterey Peninsula, Nick Jekogian said he hopes his nature- and mindfulness-themed community will entice overworked, Type A tech heads from Silicon Valley to unwind — after spending $5 million for a lot of approximately 20 acres and several million more to build on it.

“I think that the ability to disconnect, and using nature to do that, is going to be of huge value in people being able to sleep better,” he said.

While other luxury developments tout their curated art collections or pet spas, the first feature Jekogian mentioned in an interview was the land’s centuries-old oak trees.

Jekogian named the community Walden Monterey, inspired by his experience camping on the property and by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, which praises early rising.

“Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures,” Thoreau wrote there.

Jekogian described his sleep as “phenomenal” in Monterey and terrible in New York. “I personally know that keeping my phone next to me at night when I’m in New York City is probably one of the worst things I can do for my sleep,” he said.

He feels “less anxious” when he dozes on the still undeveloped land. “When you sleep near a 200-year-old tree, it puts today’s rapid-fire news into perspective. It’s meaningless,” he said.

This ties into Huffington’s “number one tip” for creating a sleep-friendly environment: charge your phone anywhere but in the bedroom.

“Our phones are repositories of everything we need to put away to allow us to sleep — our to-do lists, our in-boxes, our anxieties. So putting your phone to bed outside your bedroom as a regular part of your bedtime ritual makes you more likely to wake up as fully charged as your phone,” said Huffington.

Susan Redline, a senior physician with the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said avoiding artificial light at night is essential. Camping — or a setting that mimics camping, with natural light and natural darkness — is a great way to get “better quality and longer sleep.”

“Our clock is very much aligned with sunset and sunrise, and artificial light can disturb the normal rhythms of that clock,” she said.

Her advice: Create a “sleep sanctuary” with no gadgets, no lights, no reminders of the day’s hassles. The room should whisper, “This is your time to regenerate. This is your time to relax. This is your time to heal,” Redline said.

Michael Breus, a board-certified sleep doctor based in Los Angeles, shared his two essential tips: Make your bed and clean your bedroom to make it feel welcoming. Slightly pricier, but still accessible for many, is investing in better pillows, biological light bulbs, an updated mattress or a mattress topper.

For bigger budgets, he recommends insulating walls for sound and temperature and considering the cardinal direction the bedroom’s windows are facing.

With a blank slate, Breus’s sleep-optimized bedroom would be high tech, yet atavistic: On the top floor, at the back of a house built on a quiet piece of land, with at least two outside walls, to minimize sounds from inside. Blackout curtains would run on a timer, opening about an hour before his wake-up time. If he has to get out of bed at night, sensors by the bed would feel his feet swinging out and light a dim pathway to the bathroom — dim, to prevent melatonin disruption.

It would have French doors overlooking a serene body of water and a small meditation space where he could calm down before bed.

A few years ago, Stuart Narofsky, an architect in Long Island City, created a dream bedroom for clients he now considers close friends.

“I love my husband. My husband is my soulmate. He’s a great guy. But he snores,” is how Bonnie Greenfield, 59, described the situation.

She more or less put up with it for years, sometimes asking her husband, Tod, a co-owner of Martin Greenfield Clothiers, a menswear company, to use a spare bedroom. But one morning, riding the train into New York City and feeling drained again, “a light went off in my head.” What if they slept together, but apart? Could architecture solve what nose strips and years of elbows in the ribs had not?

For the poured concrete, sustainable house the Greenfields moved into in 2012, Narofsky created a “snoring room” for Tod, up a flight a stairs from the master bedroom. With four exterior walls, in the home’s highest point, it “wound up being almost like a tree house,” Narofsky said.

The “snoring room” was an architectural fix for a problem that, doctors say, deserves medical attention to rule out serious health conditions, including sleep apnea. But for the Greenfields, their creative custom bedroom beat alternatives such as a sleep study or surgery.

Now Bonnie sleeps well — so well that she has the pep to launch a women’s classic clothing line.

“If you do not have enough sleep, you are cranky and angry and you have no patience. It is so important to sleep,” she said.

Jennifer Luce, principal of Luce et Studio, in San Diego, recently designed a “sleep pavilion” and custom bed for a pair of clients who wanted a bedroom that would help them wind down. In some ways, it is unconventional. The approximately 500-square-foot room is a standalone building in the garden.

“It will be the only place they sleep,” Luce said. “It will become a ritual, to leave the house, and to leave the daily world, and enter this really special place.”

Another feature: metal slat screens around the building are timed to move automatically based on the hour and time of year, darkening the room at night and brightening it in the morning.

An inspiration comes from 18th century follies, which were eye-pleasing spaces used for leisure.

Luce said she had been thinking architecture and empathy when she started the project: “How does space honor and react to human tendencies, human emotions, human ways of life? And certainly, one of those is sleep.”