As a (mostly) nighttime reader, books—sometimes four at at time—crowd my nightstand, but traveling has a way of trampolining routine. In September and October alone, my partner and I visited Pittsburgh, Grand Rapids, Central Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, and Honolulu. During these months, I found myself avoiding hardcovers because of 50-pound weight limits and my tendency to return with multiple titles. I opted for glossy magazines more than usual. I abandoned a nearly finished poetry collection at home because why carry two books? After landing back in the East Bay, here’s what my reading life has looked like.
INBOX (BOOKS ACQUIRED)
The Sum of Our Days: A Memoir
by Isabel Allende
A Denver souvenir, I found a signed first edition at Capitol Hill Books on my way back from marveling over the stained glass windows in the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. After reading The House of the Spirits, my fascination with Allende morphed into total obsession, and I can barely wait to discover more about her life and creative process, about the woman who said, “Write what should not be forgotten.”
Language of the Geckos and Other Stories by Gary Pak
Faced with a day of rain in Honolulu, we Lyfted to Na Mea Hawai‘i’s new location. I perused their books, touching every spine, pulling the titles that spoke to me off the shelf, reading my ceremonious first page. An old library book, students checked out Pak’s story collection five times from my former neighborhood’s school library between 2006 and 2008. Now, it’s mine, a sliver of home I can keep with me.
OUTBOX (BOOKS FINISHED)
by Layli Long Soldier
I’ve been indulging in this book for almost a year. Mostly because I don’t want it to end. Last month, I packed it in my Denver carry-on. 14-stories up, it adorned my temporary nightstand. At the gym, I read and reread “38” as my legs circled on elliptical pedals. During an unexpected visit to the Colorado State Capitol Building, the tour guide, in the rotunda decorated with presidential paintings, told us someone stole Abraham Lincoln’s portrait in the eighties. We looked at Lawrence Williams’ rendering of his original. I thought of “38.” On the first trek up to the dome, our group climbed 38 steps. Again, the poem. I bookmarked the moment.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
Wanting something light, I began this book on a red-eye flight to Chicago in July. With the new year approaching, I yearn to finish things. That and curiosity made me return to my childhood fave. I hoped to uncover what I loved about it. I think I’m in awe of how early I began investigating my obsessions: outsiders, grandmothers, religion. Or, I’m amazed at how long I’ve harbored these obsessions. Regardless, I understand why my approach to prayer is as relaxed as it is.
IN THE QUEUE (WHAT I’M READING NEXT)
What We Lose: A Novel
by Zinzi Clemmons
A birthday present from my partner, I’ve been scouting a chunk of time for a novel, aka waiting to stay home long enough to finish one. If my inklings are correct, this debut will engross my attention. Zinzi Clemmons, I’m ready to fall in love.
After my soul sister recommended the young-adult novel, I requested it at my library. Already on my TBR list because of all the positive noise, a trusted bibliophile’s praise made this title a high priority.