Summer Reading in San Francisco

The SF Downhill
The SF Downhill

As Summer draws to a close here in the Northern Hemisphere I’m taking stock of my summer reading. I can’t remember the last Summer when I had time to read for pleasure instead of doing homework, renovating a house, learning more Selenium or writing a paper and practicing for a conference presentation. Being so industrious in my off time has made for a great blog, but without getting out there and living life, there’s not much to write about. Thus, I took a blog-cation and caught up on some reading instead.


While half of my blog-cation has been summer reading, I’ve also been getting to know my new home of San Francisco, California.  This has involved adventures such as screaming at the top of my lungs while driving up or down the incredibly steep hills, catching the wrong bus and deciding my new journey is better anyway, hearing a mix of Brazilian, Mexican and Chinese in a one-block radius in the Mission and learning how to shuck my own oysters.


This post is a wild ride through some of the things I’ve seen in San Francisco matched with the books on my Summer reading list.


Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser


Marie Antoinette
How about some Gingerbread, y’all?


This is a book that I began reading over 2 years ago and finally picked up again this Summer. It fits in with the collection of women’s biographies I keep and was the inspiration for one of my favorite movie adaptations and soundtracks of all time (Thank you very much Ms. Coppola!)


Aside from the events themselves being interesting, the writing is phenomenal and the research…OMG…THE RESEARCH!!! Excuse me while I take my master’s thesis and go jump back into the research kiddie pool! The balance between the macrocosm of world events and the microcosm of Marie Antoinette’s daily existence made me feel like I was there.


Catching Fire and Mockingjay(Books 2 and 3 in the Hunger Games Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins

This BART station doubles as a bunker


Catching Fire and Mockingjay(Books 2 and 3 in the Hunger Games Trilogy) by Suzanne Collins
There are many reasons why I love the Hunger Games Trilogy.  While romance is part of what’s going on in this series, it’s more of a sub-plot.  The heroine, Katniss Everdeen, is faced with some very tough choices, all with trade offs.


The author of these books specializes in writing about children and war which shows in the way the characters, many of them children handle some pretty heavy situations.  The best YA fiction stands on it’s own outside of the genre, and Hunger Games certainly does that.  Also, if you liked Hunger Games, I recommend Glass by Ellen Hopkins.


Orbiting the Giant Hairball by Gordon Mackenzie

blast off
Blast off next to the Bay Bridge!

If you find yourself describing your job as soul-killing, the opposite of creative or undignified, this book will shine a light on how to restore at least some of what you have lost. The author, Gordon Mackenzie worked for Hallmark Greeting Cards for years which is why format of the book is so interesting. The book itself is card shaped and the the pages are filled with illustrations and craziness. There is no digital version of this book for a reason.


Spook Country by William Gibson


Spook Country
My SF swimming hideaway


As part of living out my professional credo, I’ve been experimenting with creative writing. This includes some literary analysis and reading fiction that has thematic commonality with my own writing. Since most of my writing has a heavy slant towards software and technology (surprise!), I’ve been reading William Gibson very closely.


I must have read the first chapter of Spook Country 3 or 4 times because a good first chapter is supposedly a microcosm of a novel.  What’s crazy is how similar some of the characters are to people I know in real life.  People with more gadgets than underwear who are always traveling and may or may not have a permanent place of residence…I know a few of those.


Summer might be winding down up top on planet Earth, but there are plenty of folks who are just beginning to welcome the warm weather back to the Southern Hemisphere.  As for me, it’s back to writing and blogging although it is highly likely I will sneak off to read Elisabeth Hendrickson’s new book Explore It!