October 26, 2014, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Michel Houellebecq

At the top of Bernal Hill
He is reading The Elementary Particles, by the French author, Michel Houellebecq, translated into English by Frank Wynne.  He picked this book up because he read in a New York Times article that the writer of Mad Men, Matthew Weiner, said that Houellebecq was his favorite contemporary author. 

One of his own favorite authors is the Norwegian author Karl Ove Knausgård, who was recommended by a friend.  Knausgård has written 6 biographical novels about his life.  He said the author's life isn't really that interesting, but what makes the books good is the poetic language.  He also said that Knausgård is controversial in Norway because he writes about his friends and family and doesn't change names.
Coincidentally, back in August, I photographed a Brazilian fashion designer reading the very same book (in the original French -- Les Particules élémentaires) in Paris last summer, also sitting on a wooden bench with a great view.  Here's the link.

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October 22, 2014, Wednesday morning -- Reading Armistead Maupin

Early morning on the BART platform

She is reading Tales of the City, by Armistead Maupin (my flash washed out the picture).  It's the San Francisco Public Library's One City One Book book for 2014, but that's not why she's reading it.  The reason is that she was reading a collection of essays by Joan Didion which mentioned San Francisco, and as a result, she remembered that she had this book (about San Francisco) on her shelf.

One of the best books she's read lately has been Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen. 



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October 16, 2014, Thursday afternoon -- Reading Sherman Alexie

Outside of Tartine in the Mission District
She is reading The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie.  She usually doesn't have time to read, but is on vacation, visiting from Denver.

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October 12, 2014, Sunday afternoon -- Reading a book edited by Daniel Handler

At a bar on 20th Street
She is reading The Best American Non-Required Reading, edited by Daniel Handler.  She just bought the book at its release at a Litquake event at Z-Space nearby.  The selections in the book, she said, are chosen by high school students at 826 Valencia, an after-school tutoring program.

Her favorite book right now is called Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard.  She picked it up because she'd just moved to Toronto from Iceland and wanted to immerse her self in the natural world.  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek has lots of descriptions of nature, she said.  It's set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia in the 1970s. 

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October 12, 2014, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Rebecca Solnit

On a sunny afternoon in Dolores Park
He's reading The Faraway Nearby, by local author Rebecca Solnit.  He's read three of her books and really enjoys her writing.  Her best he thinks is Field Guide to Getting Lost.  It's the kind of book, he said, that gives you chills.

Recently he's been reading books by Colum McCann.  He randomly picked up Let the Great World Spin, by McCann, at Modern Times and then went on to read Dancer, also by McCann.  Both books, he said, have the same organizational structure, but Dancer, about Rudolph Nureyev is better.   He explained the structure as a collection of fictional narratives woven together around a historical figure/event in a way that is both respectful and relevant. Let the Great World Spin was set around Philippe Petit, who tight rope walked across the twin towers in 1974.

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October 12, 2014, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Haruki Murakami

On a sunny afternoon in Dolores Park
She is reading 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami.  It's the first Murakami novel she's read.  Right now she's also reading Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn, a thriller that just got made into a movie.

One of her favorite books is Object of Beauty, a novel by the comedian/actor/playwright, Steve Martin, which she likes because she's an artist.  She likes doing portraits of people.

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Reading an unknown author


From the base of the "French Kiss" statue by Paul Day at King's Cross Station in London.

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October 3, 2014, Friday afternoon (but not my time zone), Reading Tolstoy

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September 26, 2014, Friday afternoon -- Reading Paule Marshall

Walking down 16th Street on a sunny day
He is reading The Chosen Place, The Timeless People, by Paule Marshall.  He is reading it because it is the favorite book of a Black Studies critic who he respects.  (I don't remember the name of the critic -- I didn't have my pen handy.) 

His own favorite book is In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, by Fred Moten. 

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September 25, 2014, Thursday afternoon -- Reading Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Enjoying the sunshine
She is reading Americanah, by the Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.  She learned about it from a Goodreads friend.  It's about a young woman who leaves Nigeria to go to the university in the United States and is confronted with the idea of race for the first time.

Something else good that she's read lately (that she learned about from Real Simple magazine) is a book called Sum It Up: A Thousand and Ninety-Eight Victories, a Couple of Irrelevant Losses, and a Life in Perspective, by Pat Summit with Sally Jenkins, an autobiographical novel about a women's basketball coach who has won more NCAA games than anyone else, who gets early-onset Alzheimer's disease.

Before these two books, she said she was reading a lot of Grisham because her life was hectic and his books provided a total release. 

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1901 -- Reading an unknown author

In a painting at the Tate Britain
She is reading an unknown book, by an unknown author, with her sister at her side.  The painting's name is "Sisters."  The reader's name is Edith Brignall.  A year after this was painted she married the man who painted the picture -- Ralph Peacock. 

I am posting this picture now because I saw it over the summer and liked it, and didn't have a chance to post it then.  It always makes me happy to find reading portrayed in art.

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September 21, 2014, Sunday evening -- Reading Jeff Guinn

At Sutton Cellars, a winery in Potrero Hill, in a moment between wine tasters coming in (my relatives and I really enjoyed our tasting -- I recommend....)
She's reading Manson:  The Life and Times of Charles Manson, by Jeff Guinn. She bought it in an airport in Texas because she'd just finished the book she was reading -- Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury. 

Her favorite book is East of Eden, by John Steinbeck. 

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September 11, 2014, Thursday morning -- Reading Melvin Burgess

Killing time, waiting for a business on Mission Street to open.  She wants to be the first one there when the doors open, so she doesn't have to stand in line.
She is reading Smack, a young adult novel by Melvin Burgess.  A friend was reading it and she asked if she could have it next.  The book is set in Bristol, England. Even though she's not from where the book is set, it reminds her of her life.  It's realistic.  She said it's an easy read and she's enjoying it.

In the past, she read a lot of William S. Burroughs, "the big drug guy."  She liked his writing because it felt unfiltered.  

Recently she's been reading John Saul, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Patricia Cornwell, and some romance authors including Danielle Steel.
 


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September 10, 2014, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading an anthology edited by Geraldine Brooks and Heidi Pitlor

On campus

She is reading the introduction by Geraldine Brooks of The Best American Short Stories 2011, for a creative writing class she is taking.  The professor wants the students to see how other writers were inspired. 

Her own favorite books are trilogies and series.  She loved The Millennium trilogy (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), by Stieg Larsson and also The Lord of the Rings, by JRR Tolkein; and the Harry Potter books, by JK Rowling.  She likes the fairytale/fantasy element.

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September 3, 2014, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading Георгий Бореев

At a laundromat in the Mission District
He is reading, in Russian (he's from a town that's a 17 mile train ride east of Moscow) Инопланетные цивилизации Атлантиды, by Георгий Бореев (in English, Alien Civilizations of Atlantis, by George Boreas). His favorite author is Robert Monroe, who wrote Ultimate Journey, Far Journeys, and Journeys Out of the Body, which are about having out of body experiences.  Another author he likes is Michael Newton, who write about hypnosis and the states between our reincarnations.

He likes to read about the metaphysical and tried to explain to me how vibrations make out of body experiences possible. 

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August 28, 2014, Thursday afternoon -- Reading Daina Graziunas and Jim Starlin

Enjoying a sunny day in Dolores Park
He is reading Predators, by Daina Graziunas and Jim Starlin.  He said that he likes to read everything, Danielle Steele, everything.  He's originally from Cuba - he moved here in 1993.  He used to read in Spanish, but now he always reads in English.

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August 26, 2014, Tuesday afternoon -- Reading Michael Sorkin

On a sunny day in the Mission District
He is reading Twenty Minutes in Manhattan, a collection of essays by the architectural critic Michael Sorkin.  His favorite book in this area All Over the Map, by the same author, which is also a collection of essays with the theme of the building of the new World Trade Center in New York.  He studied Urban Planning, so this is interesting from that point of view, though he is mostly focused on transportation.  He is one of the writers for the transportation blog, http://sf.streetsblog.org/ . 

His favorite book, right now, is Ties that Bind: Familial Homophobia and Its Consequences, by Sarah Schulman.  He said that he doesn't always agree with everything she says, but that it's really interesting from a anti-assimilationist/everyone doesn't need to be cut out from the same cookie cutter perspective. 

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August 21, 2014, Thursday morning -- Reading Anne Mischakoff Heiles

At a bus stop in the Tenderloin

She is reading Mischa Mischakoff: Journeys of a Concertmaster, by his daughter, Anne Mischakoff Heiles.  Mischa Mischakoff was an accomplished first-violinist who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine.  The book has interviews from his family members and his students.  

She is reading this because she loves music (she plays the viola) and the history of it.  She said that the reason the U.S. is a good place to study music is a good part due to accomplished musicians who came here from Eastern Europe at the time of the Russian Revolution and again in the 1980's when travel bans were lifted after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Before this, she was reading a murder mystery novel set in Alaska, by Dana Stabenow, who is an Alaskan native.  Although she was enjoying the book, she put it down to read Mischa Mischakoff.

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August 17, 2014, Sunday night -- Reading Lily Burana

On Valencia street, waiting for her boyfriend after working at the new(ish) chocolate shop next door to the bookstore
She's reading Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America, by Lily Burana, which she found in the free bin at the bookstore.  The book is autobiographical and is about a woman, who used to strip in the past, who, upon getting engaged, does a road trip across the U.S., stripping, before settling down and getting married.

Her favorite authors are Laurell K. Hamilton and Anne Rice.  She loves anything in the Southern Gothic genre.

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August 16, 2014, Saturday morning -- Reading Anna Gavalda

Outside a coffee shop in the Mission District (back in San Francisco!!)
She's reading Je L'aimais (I loved him), a novel by Anna Gavalda.  Her sister (who is French) gave it to her.  She's French herself and, though she's been living here for 23 years, she still loves to read in French (of course : ) ).

Sometimes she picks up the books she finds on the street and starts reading them.  If they are good she continues, though doesn't hold herself to finishing what she finds.  There are so many good books to read, she said.  One of her favorite authors is Haruki Murakami. 

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