November 28, 2016, Monday evening -- Reading Arnaldur Indridason

In the Financial District
He is reading Strange Shores, by Arnaldur Indridason. He got it in one of the free libraries that look like birdhouses.

Something good he read recently was The Instructions, by Adam Levin. His favorite author is Mikhail Bulgakov. He's read almost everything Bulgakov has written. A couple that stand out are Heart of a Dog, Master and Margarita, and a biography of Molière.

Read More...

Happy Thanksgiving

I was visiting my family for the holiday and although readers were everywhere, especially in the airports, I was too worn out and consumed with my own life to contemplate talking to a stranger about what they were reading. I learned that catching up with relatives, watching magpies, and stirring a custard over a double boiler for an hour can be exhausting.
Late Saturday night I was on my way home, my flight was delayed, and I was hoping it wouldn't be delayed even more. I was pacing up and down concourses in the airport trying to stay awake, frustrated that the wireless at the airport was too finicky to let me upload a new library book to my Overdrive account, when one of my favorite people sent me a link to an article entitled The Need to Read, by Will Schwalbe. Even reading the title of buoyed me up, even though I couldn't read the article in its entirety because I don't subscribe to the Wall Street Journal. The following afternoon I realized that if you do a search for the article instead of following the link, you don't need to be a subscriber. Check it out, and check back for a reader next week. Happy Thanksgiving!

Read More...

November 16, 2016, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading Ursula K. Le Guin

In the Mission District
She is reading The Unreal and the Real, by Ursula K. Le Guin.
One of her favorite books is A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole.

Read More...

November 10, 2016, Thursday afternoon -- Reading author unknown

At a BART station
She is reading a religious pamphlet she just picked up. She mostly reads nonfiction books about medicine. She's a doctor. When she was in her second year of medical school one of her professors told her that if she becomes a doctor she will be a student all the time, and it turned out to be true. Before she went to medical school, she enjoyed reading Alexandre Dumas, Mark Twain, Louisa May Alcott, and the four most famous Chinese novels, which when she said this, I was confused, by what she meant, but I've looked it up online and I think she was referring to these novels, which I found on Wikipedia.

Read More...

October 29, 2016, Saturday afternoon -- Reading Toni Morrison

In downtown San Francisco
He is reading Sula, by Toni Morrison for an African Studies class in school. His favorite book is Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger. Something good he read recently was Things Fall Apart, by Chinua Achebe. He also read all of the Harry Potter books over the summer, which he said kept him busy. He would read the book, then watch the movie after each book.

Read More...

October 25, 2016, Tuesday afternoon -- Reading Edward Deming Andrews

On Market Street
He is reading The People Called Shakers, by Edward Deming Andrews. He bought it on South Van Ness for 75 cents after all of his belongings were stolen the night before.

His favorite book is The Sands of Time, by Sidney Sheldon. It's an adventure romance about nuns who flee a Spanish convent when it is raided by the Spanish army. He started reading it when he was in San Quentin, and didn't finish. He said the superstition is, if you don't finish a book you start in prison, you'll be back. He did finish it later, and not in prison, impelled to keep reading not by superstition, but because it was a good book.

Read More...

October 17, 2016, Monday evening -- Reading Kaplan

At a donut shop

He is reading Kaplan SSAT & ISEE: For Private and Independent School Admission, while waiting for his tutee. His favorite author is Shel Silverstein, whom he first read in grade school.

Read More...

October 15, 2016, Saturday morning -- Reading Catherine Marshall and Maricela Oliva

In the Mission District
This is a photo from the publisher's website
He is reading Leadership for Social Justice: Making Revolutions in Education, by Catherine Marshall and Maricela Oliva.

Usually I remember to take a photo of the cover of the book. This time I forgot. I think it was the ear buds. I always feel a conscious that I'm interrupting someone who is wearing earbuds, and want to make the conversation as short as possible.  I did ask him if he had a favorite book or a favorite author, but he hesitated before answering, and then explained that he didn't want to give an answer without taking time to think about it. Most people are initially stumped when I ask them this question, and some give an answer, but it's always a tense moment. It's a big question they aren't expecting. I wonder, how many of the people who are able to give me an answer think of a different answer after we finish talking.

Read More...

October 1, 2016, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Tina Fey

In the Mission District on a sunny morning

He is reading Bossy Pants, by Tina Fey. He started reading it while keeping company the person who is having the sidewalk sale. Something good he's read recently is Chrissie Hynde's autobiography, Reckless: My Life as a Pretender. The woman who was having the sale said something good she's read is Eat Like You Care: An Examination of the Morality of Eating Animals, by Gary L. Francione.

Read More...

September 21, 2016, Wednesday morning -- Reading Toni Morrison

In the Financial District


She is reading Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison, for an English class.


Read More...

September 22, 2016, Thursday evening -- Reading Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

Even after 10 years of photographing readers, I continue to be impressed by people coordinated enough to read while walking.

On Mission Street
He is reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.. He's reading it because he gives talks on leadership.

His favorite book is The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho, because it's about the journey. I asked him if life's journey is a part of his talks and he said yes. He told me that part of his own personal journey has been standing still when faced with adversity. Sometimes it's about just not taking a step backwards.

Read More...

September 11, 2016, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Robert Bly

At a taqueria in the Mission District
He is reading Iron John: A book about Men, by Robert Bly. His girlfriend is a therapist and counselor and he is interested in gender identity. The book uses mythology to talk about toxic masculinity in our society, how boys today lack of role models, and how our society has lost traditions to teach boys how to be men.

His current favorite writer is Anne Carson, an award winning Canadian translator, poet, and essayist, who has a background in the classics.


Read More...

September 6, 2016, Tuesday afternoon -- Reading Bruce Tremper

At China Beach on a day warm enough to go swimming
He is reading Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, by Bruce Tremper. He reads a lot of books about snow safety.

One of his favorite books is The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien, about what the soldiers carried with them in Vietnam. He said he usually does not like reading books with lists, but this book wasn't just a book of lists. It talked about the soldiers' whole lives.

Read More...

Happy Labor Day! - no post today

Read More...

August 24, 2016, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading Maggie Nelson

In the Mission District on a sunny afternoon, until Karl the fog creeps over the hill....
She is on vacation here, from Austria, and is reading The Argonauts, by Maggie Nelson, in English -- not her native language. Is it difficult? I asked and she said yes, but still called it pleasure reading.

She's taking a break from reading sociology texts in German for a Ph.D.  Her dissertation is about inequality in education in Europe.

While on vacation she first she tried reading Middlesex, but a friend recommended this -- an award-winning memoir of essays about being queer, non-binary, and starting a family -- and now she's almost finished and is ready to declare it her favorite book.

Read More...

August 21, 2016, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Kevin Fedarko

On a sunny afternoon in Union Square
He is reading The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon, by Kevin Fedarko. This is his second time reading it. He's a whitewater kayaker and has been down the Colorado River before....but not as fast.

Since it was his second time reading it, I asked him if it was his favorite book and he said no. His favorite books change all the time. Something good he's read recently was The Passenger, a novel by Lisa Lutz, about a woman on the run who needs to constantly change her identity.

Read More...

May 26, 2016, Thursday Morning -- Reading Renise Charles

I usually post pictures of other people reading, and I usually post pictures of people reading books (because I respect the commitment of taking a huge chunk of time to appreciate another person's writing), but I'm breaking both rules with this picture below. This is me reading a 5-minute story that I found at Cafe Zoetrope in San Francisco.
Cafe Zoetrope installed a story machine that was inspired by the ones in France, on train platforms, where you can print out a story that will take you the length of your wait to read.

This is a 5-minute story by Renise Charles and, after false starting once because one of my seat partners arrived, it took me exactly 5 minutes to read. Sometimes you just need a little something before take off before delving into the real entertainment (for me this flight it was the audio version of Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett.)
Thanks, Heather Bourbeau, for the heads up about the story machine!

Read More...

August 5, 2016, Friday afternoon -- Reading D. H. Lawrence

At a sandwich shop in the Mission District

She is reading Women in Love, by D. H. Lawrence. She saw it at a bookstore, picked it up, started reading, and bought it. She's never read D. H. Lawrence before.

Her favorite book is The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas.


Read More...

July 26, 2016, Tuesday evening -- Reading Alfie Kulzick

In the Mission District, at Amnesia, a bar that used to be called Chatterbox

She is reading Chatterbox: Biography of a Bar, San Francisco 1986-1990, by Alfie Kulzick. The bartender gave it to her to read. It's full of outrageous band photos with even more outrageous band names. I don't remember them. You'll have to go and check the book out yourself if you want to know. 

These days she's been reading short stories, most recently Nine Stories, by J.D. Salinger.

The picture of the bear, woman, and fish behind her is by Michael Garlington. The bartender gave me a card and I searched for it online, and discovered that Michael Garlington, and his team, was responsible for the Totem of Confessions, my favorite piece of artwork that I saw at Burning Man in 2015. 

Read More...

No reader this week

Sometimes I ask people if I can photograph them reading and they say no. On Thursday night it happened at a restaurant in West Portal, where a woman eating soup and wearing sunglasses was reading a library book in the rays of the setting sun.

Sometimes I see a book, but there is no one reading it. This morning it was a paperback Sci Fi novel face down, with its pages spread in lieu of a bookmark, on the blanket of a homeless person sleeping next to Trader Joe's, but I didn't have time to linger, and hope they started reading again when they woke up.

Sometimes I wait until Friday or Saturday to start looking for readers to photograph and, in my normal day-to-day life, there is no one with a book. This afternoon I saw a man next to the Science parklet on Valencia Street bent over his cell phone, but I didn't know if it was a book, or something else that he was engaged with.

When I started this blog almost 10 years ago people didn't read books on cell phones. They had cell phones, but they weren't filled with enough distractions, or books, to make a physical book an unnecessary thing to carry.

What I'm trying to say is that it has gotten harder to wait until the last minute to come up with a blog post.

Read More...