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. 


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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.


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.


March 1, 2020, Sunday afternoon --Reading Alice Bag and a report from the Congressional Budge Office

At Dolores Park on a beautiful sunny day, still no rain the day after the driest February since 1864....I guess we really need the moisture, but it was really nice to have a sunny day in the park
He is reading Violence Girl: East L.A. Rage to Hollywood Stage, a Chicana Punk Story, by Alice Bag. He picked it up at Dogeared Books, because he's into that kind of music. Recently he read and enjoyed Drown, a short story collection by the Dominican-American author, Junot Díaz. 

She is reading Effects of a Carbon Tax on the Economy and the Environment, a report by the Congressional Budget Office. She has to write a review about it for a class she's taking. The report, she feels, is not for the layperson. As a college student she finds the reading difficult. She thinks that because the information is so important, the writing should be more accessible. The message is basically this: the world is going to keep going downhill unless we make changes. Recently she read, and really liked, Solo, Solita: Crossing Borders with Youth Refugees from Central America, edited by Steven Meyers and Jonathan Freedman, and White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, by Robin Diangelo. 


March 1, 2020, Sunday afternoon -- Reading a book edited by Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Wesley Thomas, and Sabine Lang

At Dolores Park on an amazingly sunny day
He is reading Two-Spirit People: Native American Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Spirituality, edited by  Sue-Ellen Jacobs, Wesley Thomas, and Sabine Lang. He is giving a presentation at a festival and is reading this to prepare. The festival is the Weaving Spirts Festival, which explores diversity in Native People and as their website says, "decolonizing sexuality, performance, and language."

One of his favorite authors is Marlon Riggs, who was a poet, an educator, a filmmaker, and a gay rights activist.


February 22, 2020, Saturday afternoon -- Reading Koushun Takami

In Japantown Center, where he just bought this book
He is reading Battle Royale, by Koushun Takami. He was supposed to have finished reading it in the 8th grade for a project, but only got half way through. Now he's a freshman and he's determined to finish it. The book has about 650 pages.

He doesn't have a favorite author, but does like J.K. Rowling and Rick Riordan, who he said writes stories for teens about Greek mythology.

Lately he's been reading a lot of mangas, like the Tokyo Ghoul series by Sui Ishida and My Hero Academia, by Kōhei Horikoshi.

After he finishes Battle Royale he's planning to read Animal Farm, by George Orwell, which his younger brother recommended.


February 14, 2020, Friday morning -- Reading David Quammen

In the Castro neighborhood

She is reading Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, by David Quammen. She started reading it even before the Coronavirus hit the news. She's a biology student.

Her favorite author - this question stumped her for a moment and then she decided Gabriel García Márquez.

Something good she read recently was The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. She read it in Spanish and it was the first book that she's ever read entirely in Spanish.


February 10, 2020, Monday morning -- Reading Brené Brown

At a coffee shop in the Financial District

Reading Dare to Lead, by  Brené Brown. She saw it at a friend's house and is borrowing it for a week. She said that the author says that leading is like putting vulnerability and courage hand in hand.
Her favorite author is Ernest Hemingway because he captures humanness in a profound way. She loves The Old Man and the Sea.


January 23, 2020, Thursday evening -- Reading Rex Stout

At a pizza place in the Mission District

He is reading Death of a Dude, by Rex Stout, which is part of the Nero Wolfe series, which he's addicted to. It's about a big, grouchy, housebound detective and the narrator, Archie Goodwin, who does the detective's leg work. He said that Archie Goodwin reminds him of Ishmael in Moby Dick.

When I asked him if he had a favorite author he said it's kind of like asking who's your favorite jazz musician. You can't just name one. He said he's usually reading 4 books at once. He has over 3,000 books and is going on a "book fast."

I told him I was reading The Overstory, by Richard Powers, which is about trees, and he told me that he really enjoyed it, could tell me what parts are fictional and what parts are true, then showed me his tattoo of a tree on his calf that he got after discovering that his son and daughter each had a tree tattoo and wanted one, too...to join the family tree (his pun, not mine).


January 20, 2020, Sunday afternoon -- Reading Lindy West

At a picnic table outside a grocery store on a day that is arguably too cold to be reading outside...unless you have the right book.
She is reading Shrill, by Lindy West. She saw her show on Hulu and then got the book. One of her favorite books is Slouching Towards Bethlehem, by Joan Didion. She mentioned another book that she had also read recently, but I didn't write it down right and when I googled "long title, written only one book, Sasha Kauer" I didn't get any results.
Note to the reader: If you see this blog post, would you let me know where I went wrong?


December 10, 2019, Tuesday evening -- Reading Jean Chatzky

At a cafe in the Mission District
He is reading Money Rules, by Jean Chatzky. He got it from his credit union.
He enjoys reading fantasy and science fiction. He likes Tolkien, Lovecraft, Stephen King, Frank Herbert, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Allen Poe.


November 19, 2019, Tuesday evening -- Reading Jon Fosse

At a laundromat in the Mission District

He is reading Melancholy, by Jon Fosse. It was such a long time ago that I took this picture that I can no longer find my notes about our conversation.