July 28, 2022 - Thursday afternoon -- Reading Thomas E. Wartenberg

In Rockridge, a neighborhood in Oakland, enjoying a coffee on a sidewalk

He is reading Existentialism: A Beginner's Guide, by Thomas E. Wartenberg. 

He started reading it a few weeks ago, finished, and is now reading it a second time, and will probably read it a third, too. 

This blog is a meditation on a book actually being read...and this book, to be read 3 times in a row is rare, I think.

When I asked him if he had a favorite book, or something he recommends, he said Ways of Seeing, by John Berger. He said it was revolutionary at the time. It's about how people see art. Here's a Wikipedia link about it. It was first a TV series, and then a book.

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July 6, 2022, Wednesday afternoon - Reading Aqiyl Aniys

Walking towards Daly City BART Station

He is reading Alkaline Plant Based Diet: Reversing Disease and Saving the Planet with an Alkaline Plant Based Diet. He recently became a pescatarian after learning about what the animals we eat are fed.

I asked him what his favorite book is and what he had been reading recently and he didn't know what to tell me. He had a car accident and had a brain injury and has some memory problems. He said he liked to read books about our lives. 

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June 21, 2022, Tuesday afternoon -- Reading J. Leigh Brown

At my aunt and uncle's house after a delicious lunch, my mom is reading Inside the String: A Sam the Seeker Novel, by J. Leigh Brown, which was written by our neighbor's sister. 

I am visiting my family in Montana right now.


My mom is very excited about this book. ....though because I want to read it, too, I asked her not to tell me too much or she'll ruin the suspense. It is set in Montana and the description on Amazon begins with "Deep inside the Rocky Mountain wilderness uncertainty looms. When trespassers terrorize the natural surroundings, ethereal vigilantes respond."

I asked my mom what else she's been reading recently. In addition to books on irises (which she reads almost constantly when she's not gardening) and the Bible, which is her favorite book, the last fiction book she read was called Angels Fall, by Nora Roberts, a mystery which takes place in a small town in Wyoming about a potential murder. 

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May 5, 2022, Thursday evening -- Reading Kristin Neff, Ph.D.

On a calm, warmish evening in Oakland, California


She is reading Fierce Self-Compassion, by Kristin Neff, Ph.D. She had read the author's previous book and liked it better. 

When I asked her about her favorite book, she said Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time, a collection of essays by Teju Cole, a Nigerian author. She said the writing is gorgeous and the book is about race and the complexity of the current moment. 

I'm trying to remember our conversation and get everything right, but I think she said that in the book one of the things he writes about is visiting places, such as the US/Mexico border and it is by physically being there, that by going to these places, he can really feel in his body what the situation is, to really understand it. 

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November 17, 2021, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading Jiang Zongfan

I spotted this reader on my way to the university and was thrilled that not only did I have enough time to talk to her and not be late for class, but also that she said yes! In the past few weeks since I have been actively looking for readers to talk to again, I have been turned down three times. It felt so nice to get a yes. She even took her mask off for me for the photo. 


The book is Apocalpyse 1: Signal of Doomsday, by Jiang Zongfan.  In Chinese, if I wrote it out correctly, it is 末世訊號 天啟. She said the book is about high school students....and of course, the Apocalypse.

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October 29, 2021, Friday afternoon

In Da'an Forest Park, a stone's throw from a pond, on a pleasantly cloudy day, reading a publication about the social responsibilities of a university that is not far from the Taipei zoo. 

Taipei, Taiwan

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October 16, 2021, Saturday afternoon - Reading Virginia Woolf and Kyoko Fukuchi

They picked books that had ocean themes to take to the beach. Hers is set in Japan around a fish market and his is set in Scottland...different seas, but the water they look out upon when they glance up from the page is all connected.

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October 10, 2021, Sunday evening

In New Taipei City, Taiwan

At the 7-11 en route to the canal I like to walk along, I spotted this reader. 
A few days ago my Taiwanese friend, whose name is also Sonia !!!, helped me make a card that I could show readers explaining my project. This was the first person I showed the card to. I am interested in seeing how readers in Taiwan will respond to my project. This reader was totally fine with being photographed, which felt great.



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March 7, 2021, Sunday afternoon

In Taichung on the grounds of the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts. I photographed these readers months ago and, because I was busy with work and other things. They were so nice and spoke English to me. Don't ask me what the translated titles of the books are, though....



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October, 23, 2020, Friday afternoon -- Reading a book in Chinese

New Taipei City, Taiwan



I have been in Taiwan since the end of August. I see lots of people reading books everywhere. On my walk to school I saw this reader and kept walking because I don't speak Chinese yet....but then I realized that if I want to continue posting for my blog I would eventually have to start talking to people again. My blog is about my meditation on the importance of books, and how much readers appreciate them and this man, having his lunch and reading, seemingly in a serene moment of a busy day, touched me, so I turned around and went back and see if the reader spoke English. He spoke English enough for me to get permission to post his picture on my blog, but I couldn't understand what his book was about. 

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August 5, 2020, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading Geoff Dyer

 At the edge of the park

He is reading Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence, by Geoff Dyer. The book makes him happy. It's funny and it cheers him up. This is not his first time reading it.

Geoff Dyer is one of his favorite authors. He also likes Thomas Bernhard, Milan Kundera, Michel Houellebecq, and Vladimir Nabokov. 

He is Austrian and reads in Spanish, German, and English. When he reads in Spanish he reads slower than in English and German. Some of his favorite authors to read in Spanish are Roberto Bolaño and Jorge Luis Borges. 

He asked me why I started doing the blog and I told him that 14 years ago I was working on a novel that I never finished. He told him that this book he's reading right now -- Out of Sheer Rage -- is perfect for me, because it's about an author who wants to write something, but just moves and moves from one place to another, like Rome where it's too hot to write, and doesn't do it.

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August 2, 2020, Sunday evening -- Reading Apartamento

In a park I had never been to before (Covid lockdown has opened up so many new things in my world -- my friends and I were looking for a park that wouldn't be too busy to eat takeout in)


He is reading Apartamento, a Spanish design magazine, though he said that he usually reads books. One of his favorite authors is J.G. Ballard, who writes speculative fiction. His favorite books of J.G. Ballard are  The Drowned World, a post-apocalyptic novel, and Vermilion Sands, a short story collection. He said that the author is obsessed with suburbs. 

Something good he read recently was A More Beautiful Question, by Warren Berger. 

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July 31, 2020, Friday afternoon -- Reading Paolo Bacigalupi

On a warm afternoon

He is reading by Paolo Bacigulupi. It was recommended by a friend.

Something good he read recently was Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson.


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June 29, 2020, Monday afternoon -- Reading Michelle Obama

On a beautiful afternoon


She is reading Becoming, by Michelle Obama. She's really enjoying it. Recently she read Beach Read (the actual title) and said it was the opposite of good.

I am a little envious of her chair. I think I might read in the park if I had a chair like that.



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June 27, 2020, Saturday morning -- Reading Eduardo Galeano

At a Mexican restaurant in the Mission District - chips and salsa al fresco, and a book!

She is reading Voices of Time: A Life in Stories, by Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayan writer.

Some of her favorite authors are Carson McCullers, Joyce Carol Oates, and Isabel Allende.

She told me about a bookstore/café shop on 3rd Street called Word that I've never been to before. Their website says they're closed until July 17th, but it looks like a great place.
I used to love going to this restaurant because it's decorated so festively. It makes me happy seeing the chairs and tables on the street every time I walk past.

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May 9, 2020, Saturday morning -- Reading Carmen Maria Machado

Standing in a socially distanced line for the grocery store

He is reading Her Body and Other Parties, by Carmen Maria Machado. 

Off the top of his head his favorite author is Tom Robbins. 



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April 29, 2020, Wednesday morning -- Reading Torcuato Luca De Tena

Sitting outside a cafe

He is reading Los Renglones Torcidos de Dios, by Torcuato Luca De Tena. The title translates into God's Crooked Lines. It's about a detective in a mental hospital.

His favorite book is Marina, in Spanish, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.




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March 30, 2020, Monday morning -- Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates

I won't be interviewing readers while we are socially distancing.

I have taken a lot of pleasure in books during this time. Right now I am listening to the audio book The Water Dancer, by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It's a surrealist book set in the United States before the Civil War. It's a completely different world than the world we live in right now.

I listen while I walk around my neighborhood and cross and re-cross the street to maintain distance between walkers, joggers, cyclists, and homeless encampments. I feel fortunate to have shelter while we shelter in place, and plenty of soap and water to wash my hands with.

I also listen to my book while I walk up and down my backstops for exercise, so that I can be in good enough shape to walk up to the teachers room on the 10th floor when I return to work.

I wish you strength, health, and peace, and lots of good books.


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March 12, 2020, Thursday afternoon -- Reading Jay Kirk

At a cafe in the financial district

She is reading Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals, by Jay Kirk. The book is research for a horror story she is writing about a real human skull being found in a taxidermy exhibit at a museum.

Something good she read recently was the Sun Down Motel, a suspense novel by Simone St. James.

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March 7, 2020, Saturday evening -- Reading Tara Westover

In the window of a café
He is reading Educated: A Memoir, by Tara Westover. It was recommended by his family and he borrowed it from his roommate. He said it's good, and he's almost finished.

Something else he liked was The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers, by Ben Horowitz.

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