November 20, 2007 -- Tuesday afternoon

While browsing through Chinatown for mushroom powder--the secret to great vegetarian gravy--I passed by a hair salon and did a double take. Someone reading. And, not standard hair salon glamour magazine fare. A book.

It was James Patterson's Double Cross. She's a big fan and has read nearly all of his books.

Her favorite book, though, is not one of his. It's The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink. The Reader gets its title from the actions of a man, recording himself reading books for an illiterate woman in prison. Years before, when he was fifteen and she was thirty-six they fell in love, were separated and, when he is in law school he observes a trial and sees her. She is a war criminal. It's one of Oprah's book picks.