November 18, 2014, Tuesday afternoon -- Reading George R. R. Martin

At the BART station
She is reading A Storm of Swords, the third book in the Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin.  She hasn't watched the TV series yet, but said she might after she finished the series.

One of her favorite books is East of Eden, by John Steinbeck.  She likes it for the humanity.  There's a character, she said, who wants to commit suicide, but doesn't because someone tells him to pretend he's happy instead.  She thought that was good advice.  Other authors she likes include Margaret Atwood and Kurt Vonnegut.

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November 13, 2014, Thursday afternoon -- Reading James Horn

At the 24th Street BART station, getting ready to play some Woodie Guthrie, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan
He is reading Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, by James Horn.  He's always been interested in Roanoke and learned through the website Archeology News that there was a new book out that looks at the genes of local contemporary people to determine if the people of Roanoke were absorbed into the Croatan tribe.

He said he goes through phases of reading -- A Jack London phase, a Jane Austen phase.  One of his favorite Jack London books is The Valley of the Moon, which takes place in Oakland and Napa.  Persuasion was his favorite of Jane Austen's books.   I asked him if he would be reading more books about Roanoke and he said he didn't think so - this is the latest book on the topic, and he wouldn't want to read anything less current, but he might read about Jamestown next.
He tries to play at the 24th Street station on Thursdays and the 16th Street Station on Fridays.

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November 5, 2014, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading a book edited by Manuel Pumarega

At Librería Donceles, the pop up Spanish bookstore on 20th street
She is browsing through the shelves and reading Frases Celebres de Hombres Celebres, (Famous Phrases by Famous Men) edited by Manuel Pumarega. 

Something good she's read lately was from a series called Drawing Room Confessions, by Mousse Publications, which she picked up in a gallery in Oslo.  The series has interviews of people who are interviewed from 3 different perspectives.  For example, the book she read was about the artist, Luis Camnitzer, as interviewed by two 17-year old girls, an artist, and the former mayor of Bogotá .  On the cover of the books in the series is a photograph of an actor who the person interviewed would like to be played by if a movie was made about their life.
Librería Donceles is a project by Pablo Helguera, and hosted by Kadist here in San Francisco.  On their website (here's a link),  Helguera's idea of "double removal," is described -- that the the donated books in the shop, "await new lives, new meanings, through the possession of a new owner." 

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November 2, 2014, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Natalie Angier

Selling his friend's artwork on 19th and Valencia
He is reading The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science, by Natalie Angier.  It was recommended by his ex-girlfriend.  He was looking for a pop sci book that would give a more complete picture than the other pop sci books he was reading -- Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation, by Michael Pollan, and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal, by Mary Roach.  He is interested in reading about science, but doesn't like to read text books.

One of his favorite books is Blood Meridian, by Cormac McCarthy, which he just read.  He also really liked Danny, the Champion of the World, a children's book by Roald Dahl. 

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November 2, 2014, Sunday afternoon -- Reading T.J. English

In Dolores Park, reading next to the reader I posted about on Monday, and enjoying the last few hours of his trip before returning home to Sydney, Australia
He is reading Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish American Gangster, by T. J. English.   It's about the Irish American mob.  He really likes the true crime genre.

His favorite book is Marching Powder: A True Story of Friendship, Cocaine, and South America's Strangest Jail, by Rusty Young, about an Englishman who is a drug runner and gets stuck in a Bolivian jail.  When the author was backpacking in South America he took a tour of a prison and met the person who he would write the book about.  He wound up bribing a guard to let him stay, and share a cell with the drug trafficker, so he could continue to interview him and learn about life in prison.

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November 2, 2014, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Juan Pablo Villalobos

Enjoying the sunny weather in Dolores Park

 She is reading Down the Rabbit Hole, by the Mexican author, Juan Pablo Villalobos.  It's about a child whose father is a drug baron.  She found it at Green Apple books, on their sale table at the front of the store.  She said that her rule about buying books is that if she reads the first page and wants to read further, than she gets the book. 

One of her favorite books is Jitterbug Perfume, by Tom Robbins.  She read it 16 years ago and she won't read it again because she's afraid that if she does, it will have lost its luster.  She is unwilling to test the theory that a good book stands up over time.  She also liked Skinny Legs and All by the same author.  She likes Tom Robbins because his is absurdist without being too absurd.

Another author she really likes is the French author, film maker/director, David Foenkinos.  She likes his books for his narrative voice.
The third arm in the picture, the one that does not belong to her, belongs to the person she was reading with.  On Wednesday I'll post about him. 

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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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