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.

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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!

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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.


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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. 

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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.

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Sometime between 1888 and 1889, Reading author unknown

While I was in New York at the end of May, I visited the Met and saw this portrait of a reader, painted by the gentleman in the straw hat. The reader, according to the plaque on the wall, is Marie Ginoux, the proprietress of the Café du Gare in Arles.
The plaque doesn't tell the title of her book, but from the expression on her face, my guess is that it caused her to think about something in her own life. What I like best about reading is that it's a conversation between the reader and writer (I'm not sure who said that first). It looks like, in the moment van Gogh chose to capture, Marie Ginoux is having her say.

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July 9, 2016, Saturday afternoon -- Reading James Patterson and Mark Sullivan

In downtown, Markleeville, California
She is reading The Games (Private), a novel by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan, while watching the Death Ride -- a 100+ mile bicycle ride up to 5 mountain passes. Her husband is participating in the race, and she's enjoying a day in the sun with her book. She's already read a few books on her vacation so far, and exchanges them in her condo book exchange.

James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell are her favorite authors. She's a chef and does not read about food on vacation.

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July 3, 2016, Sunday afternoon -- Reading John Leppelman

In the Mission District
He is reading Blood on the Risers: An Airborne Soldier's Thirty-five Months in Vietnam, by John Leppelman. He said that it's a good book and everything that he's read so far is true, and he knows this because he was a medic in Vietnam. Usually, he says, 1/3 of a book is true, 1/3 of a book is false, and 1/3 is not important. A professor at Marquette University told him this and he's found it to be accurate.

Television, he said, is less true. He prefers radio to TV. He grew up in the Virgin Islands listening to The BBC and CBC (British Broadcasting and Canadian Broadcasting) and will never watch TV because of the propaganda.

He enjoys reading about science, philosophy, mysticism, the occult, and anything but European literature.

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June 22, 2016, Wednesday evening -- Reading Benjamin Alire Sáenz

In the Mission District, walking to the BART station
He is reading Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz. It's a young adult novel. He said he picked it up because he was looking for a distraction and young adult novels are the best for that. It won the Stonewall Book Award in 2013.

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June 19, 2016, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Emmanuel Carrère and Siobhan Dowd

In Dolores Park on a warm and sunny day
They are visiting from France and brought their library books with them.
The reader on the left is reading Le Royaume, by Emmanuel Carrère, her favorite author. The book is about the early days of Christianity.
The reader on the right is reading Sans Un Cri, by the British author, Siobhan Dowd. It's a young adult novel about an Irish teenager.

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June 10, 2016, Friday afternoon -- Reading Cormac McCarthy

In the Mission District, waiting for his bus
He is reading All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy. He picked it up because he liked the title.
Some of his favorite authors are Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, and John Steinbeck.

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May 30, 2016, Monday afternoon -- Reading Siddhartha Mukherjee

In Times Square, New York City 
(I was there for a friend's wedding.)
She is reading The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, by Siddhartha Mukherjee. She's reading it because she is interested in biology and the author teaches at Columbia where she went to college. 

Her favorite author is Jon Krakauer, and her favorite book of his is Into Thin Air

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May 22, 2016, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Robert T. Kiyosaki

On the BART platform
He is reading Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Robert T. Kiyosaki. It was recommended by his uncle.
Right now he's studying pharmacy - he wants to make enough money so he doesn't have to think about money. He is also working as a model. His favorite book is American Psycho, by Bret Easton Ellis.

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May 11, 2016, Wednesday evening -- Reading Christopher Cook

In Dolores Park

He is reading Diet for a Dead Planet, by the San Francisco author, Christopher Cook.
The book is good, he said, but we're doomed. His favorite book is Dune, by Frank Herbert. He's read it a few times.

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May 5, 2016, Thursday morning -- Reading Philip Yenawine

In the Mission District

He is reading How to Look at Modern Art, by Philip Yenawine. He said he's giving it the first hundred pages. So far it's good. He found it on the street and will probably leave it on BART.

One of his favorite authors is Douglas Adams, who he discovered when he was about 12, but that's not what got him into reading in the first place. He really liked the Choose Your Own Adventure books when he was younger.

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April 30, 2016, Saturday night -- Reading Michael Herr

Walking down Mission Street
He is reading Dispatches, by Michael Herr. It's about the author's experiences being a corespondent in Vietnam during the war. He picked up Dispatches because he was in the middle of Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace and needed a break, and it was recommended by Michiko Kakutani, the chief book critic at the New York Times, who he follows on Twitter.

Something else good he's read recently is The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History, by Elizabeth Kolbert. If he had to pick a favorite book, it would be The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

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April 23, 2016, Saturday afternoon -- Reading Alysia Abbot

In the Mission District
She is reading Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father, by Alysia Abbott. It's about a girl whose mother dies when she is two and she moves to San Francisco with her father who is bisexual and becomes a member of the amazing cultural scene that San Francisco was in the 70s and 80s. This book was recommended to her by a friend.

Her favorite author is Rebecca Solnit. The first book of Solnit's that she read was The Faraway Nearby. Then she read Wanderlust:A History of Walking and A Field Guide to Getting Lost.

Something else good she's read recently is Between You & Me, by Mary Norris.

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April 16, 2016, Saturday evening -- Reading the American Heritage Dictionary

In the Mission District

He is reading the American Heritage Dictionary. Why? He's trying to figure out how long it takes for chicken eggs to hatch. Also, showing me another page with a diagram of a rose, he said he wants to know how long it takes for a flower to bloom. He estimates 1 - 2 months for a flower and 2 weeks for chicken eggs.

I asked him if he has a favorite book or author and he said no, that he just likes to read the dictionary. (He had two more dictionaries at his feet.) It seemed that he was doing more than reading, though, that he was using the dictionary as a jumping off point for inspiration. Like any book, a dictionary can be a conversation between the author and the reader, if you're creative.

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April 1, 2016, Friday afternoon -- Reading C.S. Lewis

In the Mission District

She is reading The Silver Chair, the 6th book in The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. I was excited to see her reading this because two weeks ago, when I was at the Asilomar Conference Center, I found The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the 1st book in the series, on a bookshelf in the lounge room, and read it again for the first time as an adult. He is really a brilliant story teller.

I asked her, What's your favorite book? and she was suspicious. Why do you want to know? she asked me. No one has ever asked me that before. Like with my other interviews with readers, I had already explained that I have a blog where I post my pictures, so her question was, really, why would the readers of my blog want to know. I didn't really have an answer to that, except that, by association, this blog can help readers know what books "travel together." If I like ____, I might also like ____ because this reader likes both. In the end, she didn't have an answer about her favorite book, but said that this, the one she was holding, was really good.


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March 31, 2016, Thursday afternoon -- Reading Kevin Trudeau

On a sunny Thursday afternoon

She is reading More Natural "Cures" Revealed: Previously Censored Brand Name Products that Cure Disease. She told me that natural doctors have been murdered, possibly by pharmaceutical industry. This is not why she's reading this book though. She's just interested in natural medicine.

Her favorite book - she says she has many and it's hard to say which one, but possibly Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt.

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