March 5, Wednesday evening -- Reading Jeannette Walls

At Urban Cellars in Noe Valley, where they have the best marquee sign in town. On one side it'll say, like, around New Years, CHAMPAGNE FOR YOUR REAL FRIENDS and on the other side, which you look at after you've had a chance to think about it, REAL PAIN FOR YOUR SHAM FRIENDS. The other week it was, ANYONE WHO LIVES WITHIN THEIR MEANS .... SUFFERS FROM A SERIOUS LACK OF IMAGINATION. Today it was, on the first side, LOVE IS GRAND. The other side is at the end of this post.Reading The Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls. He said it was great--it's a memoir and it makes you think. While we were talking, Antonia Blue, publisher of the late Kitchen Sink magazine walked into the store. She had great things to say about The Glass Castle, too.

And, a guy who was in for a second bottle of Marissou Pinot Noir (it was so good last night he wanted another), --great wine for $10--said his favorite books were 1)Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi 2)The Glory of the Times, by Lawrence Ritter and 3)Farewell to Arms, by Hemingway, but if really pressed it'd be, Glory of their Times, which is about a guy in the 1960s traveling around the country interviewing men who played major league baseball at the turn of the century. The baseball players would travel around from town to town on a wagon train, getting paid peanuts for major league baseball.

But, back to the reader--he's reading this book for a class he's taking at City College. He's excited to get back to reading now that he's back in school. This is his first semester. Eight years ago he moved to Southern California from Mexico and stopped reading, but before that, he used to read books late into the night--Gabriel García Márquez, Juan Rulfo, Isabel Allende, Carlos Cuauhtémoc Sánchez, who, he said, is often criticized for being a moralist.

He said the high school he went to in Mexico was different than high schools here. Students weren't told what literature to read, they read what they wanted to read. It's in college literature classes that you're assigned literature.

Not too long ago he read The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. Up next is, he said, looking through the drawers behind the counter for a book his friend left--The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini.

When he was a kid he liked the Marvel comics. There were comics, he said, by Mexican publishers, but he liked Superman and Spiderman.

On the other side of the marquee, following LOVE IS GRAND, -- DIVORCE IS TWO GRAND. Ha! The sentiment didn't stick with me long after I left the store. I was mulling it over until, just a few blocks away, walking down the hill on Dolores Street between 24th and 23rd Street, I saw, back lit by the San Francisco skyline and the glow of the headlights from passing cars, someone using the grassy palm tree lined median as a driving range. I thought, this is great. If you can read in a liquor store, you can golf in a median. Reading, though, I think, is probably more versatile. You might try to golf during your morning BART commute, but you'd probably hit somebody with your club.


aliqot said...

So many books I haven't heard of, so little time to read them all!


LN said...

I have just randomly found your blog, and I love it! What a great idea you had. I've already added it to my favorites!
Keep up the good work!

Vicki Fourie said...

You should read "To Kill A Mockingbird"...I read it recently and liked it! It was very controversial for me, being South African.

I like your blog! Very original and fresh.

Please view my blog, please? I'm an aspiring writer (I started writing my first book yesterday). One day I hope that you will be reading my book...ha ha.


tristan said...

congratulations on a great blog with a worthy subject. i'm new to blogging, but old to reading. i've never thought of SanFran as anything but literary. (try living in Texas...)

please take a look at this novel. it's different from anything out there because parts are left out for the reader to insert their own experiences. i call it an "un-story."

i need someone outside Texas to read it and let me know what they think.

thanks, tristan

again "big props" to sonya.

marelle said...

Hey there! :) I came upon your site while surfing the net. I think it's quite an interesting topic for a blog. I'm a bookworm too however I'm not located in San Francisco but in Manila, Philippines. This blog gives me ideas on what interesting books to read.

keep it up. :)

Anonymous said...

Keep posting/reading :)

Sonya said...

Vicki, I loved To Kill A Mockingbird, though I would love to read it again (and again) many people tell me it's their favorite book of all time. thanks for your blog site. I'll check it out!

Dear Tristan, Yes, I am SO lucky to be living in literary San Francisco. But, there are readers everywhere.... I'm a little swamped in my reading right now (impending book clubs), but will look at it when I have time. Maybe someone else online who sees this blog could read it, too?

What do people read on the train/bus/while waiting for things in the Philippines?

Thanks for your comments!

Ms. Bassette said...

This is just a terrific way for me to add to my day. I have only commented on twice on any blogs, and one was yours last week.
I was the middle school teacher who asked about books for students. I still haven't had time (maybe never will) to go back through your blog so I don't know if you have done kids in the past, but thanks for doing them now. So neat and what a treat for me.
Today's, The Glass Castle, and then The Kite Runner are books I have in my classroom for better readers. The Glass Castle really is like Angela's Ashes and the second book by The Kite Runner is just as good as the first, A Thousand Suns. Thanks again for coming up with an incredible blog!

Honour said...

love your blog. brilliant. wouldn't it be great to contrast what people read in different cities too? i also think the search function to find out who else out there likes your favorites is a great idea ... keep up the great work ... it seems to make the world a smaller place :)

jag said...

I just read The Glass Castle a couple of weeks ago - what a great read! I went through it in a day. Certainly put my "problems" in a new perspective... :-)

Pace e bene,

TW said...

I'm enjoying your blog too; I just found it recently. It's nice to know that people still enjoy a good book; I've savored so many of them. I've given your URL to my more literate friends...I hope they check in on you!

davE said...

I've read both the Glass Castle and Persepolis. They were both enjoyable reads.

Wendy said...

I randomly found your blog, also--- I love it-- I may try to book mark it-- I teach reading in school, and I am always looking for new books to share with my students.

I noticed alot of traffic here so I thought you might be interested in getting paid for everyone who visits your web page: It is called pay per play--
good luck!

Annemarie said...

What an awesome blog! I love especially the pictures of kids reading. It give me hope! Keep it up!

Film Scholar said...

I love reading. I'm reading this book by Charles Barkley right now that's fantastic

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Mrs. B. Roth said...

People DO still read! Good, I thought maybe my 5 year old was gonna get made fun of ... we have a library instead of a front room and bookwormyness seems to be a genetic tendency. But as long as there are others ... reading classics and SciFi and such rather than watching American Idol ... well, a sigh of relief.

Anonymous said...

this post is hilarious!!!

and the glass castle is an incredible story and one of my favorite novels! i suggest it to anyone!

by the way, i love your blog, i actually mentioned it to some of my friends, and i've read every post =D

this is such a wonderful idea and i really think that people all over america should be doing it!!!

Cray and Bickford Family said...

Just read The Glass Castle recently and I loved it! Reminiscent of Running with Scissors (IMHO) but much more believable which, in turn, makes it a bit more sad.

I just reread The Poisonwood Bible - man, I love that book!

A. Stageman said...

Extremely interesting blog. I quite enjoy it.

Sonya said...

Thanks for your comments!

Ms. Bassette and Annemarie,
Check out 10/13/2006 for a child reading...she let me photograph her reading log, too. If you double click on it you can see it large enough to read.


Ms. Bassette said...

How could I not go on and read 10.13.06? And, just because of that (of you!), I have something new to tell my students. I love it--thanks to the teacher who told her! I copied it:

"When she chooses books to read she follows her teacher's rule of thumb: Read the first page (not the back cover--that'll give the book away) and if you like it and there are no more than five words you don't know, check it out."
I'm thinking that's pretty good advice for all of us!

I also went all through the month of Oct. in 06. There was one I have in my classroom, The Lovely Bones, and one I have at home but haven't read yet....a wagon in a road is on the cover... can't remember the title!
Thanks for helping me to teach today--it's appreciated!

Katie cat said...

The Glass Castle was a great book! what a great find!

marelle said...

Here in the Philippines, I seldom see people who read while in a public transportion, and if ever I see one, most likely, he or she is reading a bestseller such as Harry Potter book or a Dan Brown novel or Paulo Coelho's book.

I'm currently reading Murakami's Norwegian Wood. I already searched it in this blog, and I found out that a couple of people had read it too. :)

webbie said...

Greetings from Music City! I love your blog and am currently using it to find something for my book group to discuss in May. We met last nite to discuss A Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier.

Lovely book!

I've also recently read The Heat of the Moon by Sandra Parshall, an Agatha Award winner. I read The Glass Castle in December and am still disturbed by it.

I'm currently reading two "series" books that I like...Patricia Briggs series about a shape shifter names Mercy Thompson, and a cozy series by Cleo Coyle about a coffee shop proprietress in SoHo.

Love this blog, love to see so many readers out there!

Kasthu said...

My mom is reading the Glass Castle right now, and she loves it... I'm thinking about reading it to.

Anonymous said...

Excellent idea for a blog, I really enjoyed reading through it. Come catch me reading Voltaire sometime! I'll keep checking back to see what else people are reading, thanks for the great idea.