I am *finally* reading If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, translated by Anne Carson. This is one of those books that I knew I’d love from the moment I heard about it. Fortunately, I haven’t been disappointed. Phelps Lake

Inspired by the title poem, and a recent trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, I sat down and wrote a poem of my own:

Long summer days

So many hours in the hot sun

Burning skin

Until refuge is taken in the shadow of a mountain

If not, winter

With its crisp icy beauty

Broken by the crunch of our feet in the snow

Cold puffs of hot breath

Anticipating your hands

Building a fire


Cover Spying

Place Jemaa el-Fnaa at night


As I mentioned in my May in Review post, I recently returned from a trip to Morocco. I’m nosy, so I tried to suss out what some of my fellow travelers were reading.

On the plane to Madrid, where connected to Marrakech, I saw one passenger with George R.R. Martin’s Clash of Kings. There were a few other people I saw with books, but I couldn’t easily spot the titles. Of course, I was reading The Narrative of Sojourner Truth on my nook, so I suppose I was thwarting other people’s cover spying plans, myself!

On the little puddle jumper plane to Marrakech the only cover I could 100% identify was Infidel by Aayn Hirsi Ali. I borrowed this from a friend in law school and flew through it. If you haven’t read it, do. It’s really, really good.

While in Morocco we took a bus to Essaouira, a town on the Atlantic coast. On the bus there was a man reading a German picture book to his son, and a guy in his late thirties reading The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson. Side note – I just finished watching the season 3 finale of Game of Thrones and apparently some scenes were filmed in the town. Neat!

On the return plane ride to Madrid, there was a pretty high concentration of readers. There was an English girl in a horse print skirt reading Agatha Christie’s Sad Cypress, a high school age boy with Auschwitz: A New History by Laurence Rees (I’m guessing a school assignment), a thirty something woman with Dan Brown’s Inferno, and a thirty something man with Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 100 Years of Solitude.

On the final leg of the journey, back to the US, there were people reading on the plane but I couldn’t catch any titles. There were some serious looking nonfiction books, though. I was rereading Tamora Pierce’s First Test and trying to ward off an anxiety attack. I’m not the world’s best flyer, and it was quite the ordeal getting to the airport on time. I just wanted to focus on an easy comfort read that would help me take my mind off my immediate surroundings. It certainly helped.

So I can’t be the only one who has to investigate the reading habits of those around me – right? 

Visiting Book Shops in SoCal (and a little giveaway)

Hello, readers! I spent much of last week in a whirlwind. First, I was in trial Monday through Wednesday. I left the office as soon as trial was over Wednesday and headed to the airport and jetted off to California for the 75th National Lawyers Guild Convention. Of course, I ended up getting sick somewhere in there, and I’m still feeling the effects, but hey, whatever.

Anyways, I knew that the convention would be super packed full of activities and panels and talking to people, so I only brought one book with me. Ha! I read the entire thing on the plane ride. Going to CA.  Not having anything to read on the plane was stressing me out – how would I make it through four more days without a book?

My California book haul

Well, Thursday morning I made my way from West Hollywood to Pasadena. On the way, I took a nice little walk over to sunset Boulevard and had an amazingly delicious iced coffee from Rockpaper Coffee. (Why doesn’t anyone near me sell cold brewed iced coffee?) While I sat there, I desperately was googling on my phone to find a bookstore near where I needed to pick up the Metro.

The best option was Larry Edmunds Cinema and Theatre Bookshop, over on Hollywood Boulevard. I started walking. Once I arrived, I spent the next half hour or so poking all around this little shop. It was small, and crammed full of books, but well organized, with high ceilings and lots of light that kept it from feeling oppressively cramped. It was full of biographies of movie stars, film theory, screenplays, and more. There was even a selection of paper doll books featuring classic Hollywood starlets. I bought two books, The Alcestiad, a play by Thorton Wilder, and Censored Hollywood, by Frank Miller.

When I got to the hotel, my room wasn’t ready, but they offered to let me check my bags. I did so, then went for a bit of a walk to get some lunch. Of course, I left my new books with my checked bags. But no worries! There were more bookstores to be visited!

I made my way towards Vroman’s, daydreaming and distractedly wondering how to pronounce it (V – Romans? Vvvvroman’s Just Roman’s, maybe with a silent V?), I noticed I was walking by a little hole in the wall place with a ton of old National Geographic magazines out front. Looking more closely, I realized it was a book store, with old neon in the window clearly telling me “Books, Books, Books.” And thus I found Cliff’s Books. It is one of those old school used book stores, cramped and creaky and maybe a little smelly, but super fun to explore. The guy at the front had to be Cliff – a little old white guy with a fun sense of humor, definitely a book lover. I bought Lakota Woman by Mary Crow Dog. He had a huge selection of books from old Hardy Boys to selections in Russian and large coffee table art books. Disorganized as it sometimes seemed, there were big, clear section markers to guide me along.

After I left, I realized I was only a couple blocks from Vroman’s. Walking in there was a completely different world than Cliff’s. It was like a Barnes and Noble, if BN was your neighborhood bookstore. Beautiful, clean, bright, with an attached cafe that sells a really good Italian soda (raspberry for me). It also felt a little…soulless. I was hating myself for liking it as much as I did, with all its silly displays of mass-produced carved Buddhas next to incense burners, across the aisle from a display of Moleskine notebooks. But it was so pretty! And everything was so neatly laid out and ready for you to find exactly what you came looking for! No wandering required. Which was kinda sad, actually.

Bookmarks from Vroman’s

I shouldn’t be so down on Vroman’s, though (especially since I really did like it). In today’s economy, I know bookstores have to diversify and sell other stuff. And honestly, I find a lot of the gift items in  bookstores are really nice – things that I’d love to give or receive as gifts. Clearly, book lovers have good taste 😉

While I was there, I picked up a copy of Rebecca, which I am supposed to be reading for the Back to the Classics challenge. They had one with a pretty cover, which is kinda important in this case because I need all the encouragement to read this that I can get. I was thinking I’d read it in October. Seems like a good time of the year for it.

I also picked up these two cute bookmarks. They were the winning designs from area school children. The “Blast off with a Good Book” is from K-3 grade winner Aaron Ky-Riesenbach, and the “Buzz into a Book” is from Andrea Linares, the 4-6 grade winner.

So, would you like a bookmark? Just tell me what you like in an independent bookstore, and which bookmark you’d prefer. Make sure to leave you leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. Good luck!

Cover Spying at the Airport.

I’m on my way to the National Lawyers Guild Convention, where not much reading or blogging will happen. That’s fine, though, because the panels look amazing, and I’ll be meeting up with some great friends.

In the meantime, I’m stuck on the plane. On the tarmac. Engines off.

Fortunately, I’m nosy, so I will fill up in on what books my fellow passengers are reading. Without further ado:

Man, 50s, suit, American flag pin. Finger Lickin’ Fifteen, Janet Evanovich.

Woman, 50s, blonde curls & glasses. When God Whispers Your Name, Max Lucado.

Woman, short blonde hair, early 20s, Chemerinsky’s Constitutional Law supplement. Joining me at Convention?

Male, early 20s, with friend, holding Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code in paperback.

Woman, dark curly hair, glasses, 50s. A Buddha in the Attic, Julie Otsuka.

Male, 30s, body builder type. The Ask, Laura Fredricks.

My choices, David Grossman’s To The End of the Land, an the November issue of Runner’s World, are pictured.