August 21, 2014, Thursday morning -- Reading Anne Mischakoff Heiles

At a bus stop in the Tenderloin

She is reading Mischa Mischakoff: Journeys of a Concertmaster, by his daughter, Anne Mischakoff Heiles.  Mischa Mischakoff was an accomplished first-violinist who immigrated to the U.S. from Ukraine.  The book has interviews from his family members and his students.  

She is reading this because she loves music (she plays the viola) and the history of it.  She said that the reason the U.S. is a good place to study music is a good part due to accomplished musicians who came here from Eastern Europe at the time of the Russian Revolution and again in the 1980's when travel bans were lifted after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Before this, she was reading a murder mystery novel set in Alaska, by Dana Stabenow, who is an Alaskan native.  Although she was enjoying the book, she put it down to read Mischa Mischakoff.


August 17, 2014, Sunday night -- Reading Lily Burana

On Valencia street, waiting for her boyfriend after working at the new(ish) chocolate shop next door to the bookstore
She's reading Strip City: A Stripper's Farewell Journey Across America, by Lily Burana, which she found in the free bin at the bookstore.  The book is autobiographical and is about a woman, who used to strip in the past, who, upon getting engaged, does a road trip across the U.S., stripping, before settling down and getting married.

Her favorite authors are Laurell K. Hamilton and Anne Rice.  She loves anything in the Southern Gothic genre.


August 16, 2014, Saturday morning -- Reading Anna Gavalda

Outside a coffee shop in the Mission District (back in San Francisco!!)
She's reading Je L'aimais (I loved him), a novel by Anna Gavalda.  Her sister (who is French) gave it to her.  She's French herself and, though she's been living here for 23 years, she still loves to read in French (of course : ) ).

Sometimes she picks up the books she finds on the street and starts reading them.  If they are good she continues, though doesn't hold herself to finishing what she finds.  There are so many good books to read, she said.  One of her favorite authors is Haruki Murakami. 


August 11, 2014, Monday afternoon -- Reading Brandon Sanderson

Standing in line at the Natural History Museum, between the haunches of a Diplodocus (in London, where I was on vacation, though I'm back in San Francisco now)
 She's reading The Well of Ascension, by Brandon Sanderson.  It's the second book in a series that she's really enjoying.  She's at the museum for her paleontology class.  The lines were so long (we waited over an hour before even getting into the building), that she (and her professor, who is the smiling woman in the hat) are an hour late.  The rest of the class is already inside the exhibit.


August 8, 2014, Saturday afternoon -- Reading Stephen Grosz

On the banks of the Regent's Canal (in London, where I was on vacation -- I'm back in San Francisco now)
She's reading The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves, by Stephen Grosz.  It was supposed to be for reading on a 10-day trip to Egypt she's going on tomorrow, but she couldn't wait.  Also on her reading list for vacation is Children of Men, a science fiction book by P. D. James. 

Her favorite book is Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge A Radical History of Plants, Drugs, and Human Evolution, by Terence McKenna.


August 7, 2014, Thursday evening -- Reading Richard Russo

Waiting at the metro exit at the Place de la République in the 10th Arrondissement (in Paris, where I was on vacation -- I'm back in San Francisco now)
She is reading Mohawk, by Richard Russo.  Her favorite book, which she wrote down on a corner of my Paris map, is Ne tirez pas sur l'oiseau moqueur.  She couldn't remember the author and I said I'd try to find it on line.  The English title, which I looked up on line after getting home, is To Kill a Mocking Bird, by Harper Lee.  If my French was any better I guess I could have figured that out.  It was a very short conversation because just as I was approaching her, the person she was waiting for was also approaching her (he was kind enough to let me talk to her first) and right after she wrote the title of her favorite book for me, the person I was waiting for arrived.


August 7, 2014, Thursday afternoon -- Reading Milan Kundera

Staying out of the rain at a cafe in the 12th Arrondissement (in Paris, where I was on vacation -- I'm back in San Francisco now)
He is reading The Joke, in English, by Milan Kundera.  He is British, but had been living in the Czech Republic for a few years and had never gotten around to reading one of the country's notable authors, so he decided it was time. (He's also lived in San Francisco.)

His favorite books are by Irish authors: The Third Policeman, by Brian O'Nolan, and Samuel Beckett's trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable.


August 7, 2014, Thursday afternoon -- Reading Chantal Thomas

Enjoying the late afternoon of a rainy day (in Paris, where I was on vacation - I'm back in San Francisco now)

She is reading Comment Supporter Sa Liberté (How to Support One's Freedom ?), by the French author, Chantal Thomas.  It's a philosophical book about personal freedom.  She had read an article in which the book was mentioned and was interested and decided to read more on the topic. 

Her favorite book is Les frères Karamazov (The Brothers Karamazov), by Dostoyevsky.


August 7, 2014, Thursday afternoon -- Reading Michel Houellebecq

Waiting to hand off a key on the Rue de Rivoli in the 4th Arrondissement (in Paris, where I was on vacation) (I got back to SF on Aug 13)
He's reading Les Particules élémentaires (The Elementary Particles), a novel by the contemporary French author, Michel Houellebecq.  He's Brazilian and has come to France because he's a fashion designer.  Right now he works for a company designing children's clothing.  

His favorite book is Don Quixote, which was the first "real" book he read as a child.  The French classics authors he likes reading (in French) are Stendhal and Voltaire.  The Brazilian author he likes reading (in Portuguese) is Clarice Lispector.  And, he also really admires Marguerite Yourcenar, who was a Belgian author and the first woman author to be admitted to the French academy in 1980.   


August 6, 2014, Wednesday morning -- Reading a book published by Auzou

At a cafe, having breakfast (in Cannes, where I was on vacation -- I'm back in San Francisco now)
They are reading Les Animaux de Compagnie (The Pets), a book in which you can press buttons and listen for what sounds the animals make.  This is currently his favorite book.

She likes reading novels, from all different nationalities.  One that came to her mind was the American author, Douglas Kennedy. 


August 2, 2014, Saturday evening -- Reading Margaret Mitchell

Overlooking the Mediterranean (in Cannes, where I was on vacation -- today I get back to San Francsico)
He's reading Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell.

In high school (in Bahrain, a country off the coast of Saudi Arabia) they read "the classics," including Wuthering Heights, Lord of the Flies, The Great Gatsby, Anna Karenina, and this one.  Now that he has more time, he's re-reading some of them.

His favorite book is Anna Karenina.  He sympathized with the characters.  He'd always thought that if two people loved each other, there wouldn't be any problems.  The problems, he thought came from one-sided love.  However, in Anna Karenina, this was not the case.


July 31, 2014, Thursday morning -- Reading Marc Beaugé and Olivier Lafay

Taking a break from paddle ball (in Cannes, France, where I'm on vacation)
They are reading Coaching Sport, by Marc Beaugé and Méthode de musculation : 110 exercices sans matériel, by Olivier Lafay.   I'm not sure who enjoyed our conversation more -- them or me, or their friends (see the gentleman in the background).   At first, when I approached them, the answer was, no, you can't take our picture because our wives don't know we're here, and then they changed their minds.  They're from Grenoble, in the southeast of France, where the cheese is so good, which is why they have bellies now and are reading about how to lose them.  At least I think that's what they said, my French continues to be mediocre.  


July 31, 2014, Thursday morning -- Reading Tom Sharpe and Haruki Murakami

Enjoying the morning sunshine (in Cannes, France, where I'm on vacation)
--> She is reading Le gang des megeres inaprivoisees (in English, I think the novel is The Gropes), by the British author, Tom Sharpe.  She chose it because it fits the description of books she likes -- funny and eccentric.  Her favorite authors are Marcel Proust and Haruki Murakami.  He is reading Danse, Danse, Danse (Dance, Dance, Dance), by Murakami, because he likes Murakami books.  He also likes other Japanese authors, as well, including Soseki, Mishima, and Inoue, and he really likes Guy de Montpassant and Charles Dickens, too.


July 26, 2014, Saturday morning -- Reading Tove Jansson

At the farmers' market (in Tampere, Finland, where I'm on vacation)
She's reading Kesakirja, in Finnish, by Tove Jansson.  The title means Summer Stories.  She's Japanese, and doesn't speak Finnish as her first language, so she's been working on this book since June. The author is very beloved in Finland, and known for a children's book series about big white creatures called Moomins.

Her favorite Japanese author is Haruki Murakami (who I love, too).  She's in Finland to learn how to play a Finnish folk instrument that is similar to a harp, though originally came here to study the architecture of Alvar Aalto. 
While she's reading, she's selling her handmade earrings and woven cloths.  There were so many wonderful things at the market, including buckets of blue berries, cloud berries, cherries, gooseberries, and currants.   


July 25, 2014, Friday evening -- Reading Evelyn Anthony

Enjoying the 8:30 p.m. sunshine (in Tampere, Finland, where I'm on vacation)

He's reading, in Finnish, Kohtaaminen Firenzessa, by the British author, Evelyn Anthony.  In English, the book is called The Malajpiga Exit.  "It's about Italy, I think," he said, and explained that he'd only just begun.  He's reading it because when his grandfather passed away, he left 10 boxes of books.  He now is on the last box, with about 10 books (of about 200 or 300) left to go.  "Pretty stupid..." he said about reading the books, but I disagreed with him.

The best book within the boxes was by Alexandre Dumas, though he forgets which one, though it wasn't The Three Musketeers.  The best Finnish author, he said, when I asked, is Aleksis Kivi. 


July 22, 2014, Tuesday afternoon -- Reading William E. Blundell

Sitting on the front stoop (in Amsterdam, where I'm on vacation)
He's reading The Art ad Craft of Feature Writing: Based on the Wall Street Journal Guide, by William E. Blundell.  He's a copy editor and also does feature writing. 

His favorite authors include J.D. Salinger, William Wordsworth, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, especially The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


July 22, 2014, Tuesday afternoon -- Reading Linda Fairstein

Enjoying the sun and selling his art (in Amsterdam, where I'm on vacation)
He's reading Vražedný žár (Killer Heat) by the American author, Linda Fairstein.  In Slovakian, her name on the books spine is Fairsteinova.  He said that in Slovakian the ova suffix means woman

His favorite author is Dan Brown.


July 22, 2014, Tuesday afternoon -- Reading Massih Hutak

At a cafe over a canal (in Amsterdam, where I'm on vacation)
The cafe is not far from the university she attended (which is in the building of the original Dutch East India Company!!!)  She used to come here with school friends.

She's reading (in Dutch, because she's from the Netherlands...) Toen God Nog In Ons Gelofde, or in English, When God Still Believed in Us, by Massih Hutak.  It's a novella, written by a friend of a friend.  She started it at the cafe that morning and she's been engrossed in it all day.  She finished just a few minutes after we finished talking.  (I love books that can be read in a single day.  The last one I read was Heart of a Dog, by Bulgakov.)

Her favorite book is a book of short stories by the Dutch author, Tommy Wieringa, called Reisverhalen, or, in English, Travel Stories.  In one story, a woman's husband dies and she decides to spend the rest of her life on a luxury cruise ship.   The stories, she said, are surreal. 


July 19, 2014, Saturday morning -- Reading Richard Stengel

Enjoying the morning sunshine (in Brussels, where I'm on vacation)
She's reading Les chemins de Nelson Mandela – 15 leçons de vie, d’amour et de courage, or in the original English, Mandela's Way: Fifteen Lessons on Life, Love and Courage.  The day before (July 18th) was Mandela's birthday.

She enjoys reading books about science, medicine, and novels, especially those by Danielle Steele and Harlan Coben.  


July 16, 2014, Wednesday afternoon -- Reading about Islamic laws

In the heat of the afternoon, with no shade (in Antwerp, Belgium, where I'm on vacation)
He is reading about the Islamic laws on, among other topics, Ramadan, which he is now observing.   He told me how Muslims should not spend the money for pilgrimages if they should instead be spending the money on taking care of their parents or on other obligations.  He was happy to tell me about the pillars of Islam.  I was happy to listen until the heat got to be too much for me...and I was not even the one observing Ramadan.