What are your earliest memories of reading and books? I grew up in Quincy, California, and I think the first book I really read was from the Plumas County Library: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol. I was about in the fourth grade at the time. In the ninth grade we started to read Shakespeare’s plays and Edgar Allan Poe stories, but that was all under compulsion. I remember choosing for myself John P. Marquand’s Mr. Moto spy novel Stopover Tokyo, which I got hold of somehow, and really enjoyed. I didn’t know at the time that Marquand was also a “serious” novelist, who had won a Pulitzer for The Late George Apley. By my senior year the scandalous novel Peyton Place was out, and I know I read it, but seem to have repressed all memory of how I got it and whether I had to read it by flashlight.
Do you enjoy “actual” books? Ebooks? I read and enjoy both, but tend to prefer a physical book for non-fiction, which may have appendices I want to flip to, maps, photos, and the like, which are not too satisfactory on a Kindle.
What are you reading these days? I’ve been binge-reading the Detective Inspector Hillary Green series by Faith Martin. I just finished the ninth one and am stuck because numbers 10 and 11 are out of print. but due to be republished as e-books “soon” according to her new publisher. So I’m on to the latest Commissario Brunetti book by Donna Leon. I also have a bookmark in Thank You For Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman.
You are hosting a literary dinner party in your favorite Alameda restaurant. Which authors (alive, dead or imaginary) would you invite and why? I would invite Rex Stout, Samuel Pepys, Annie Proulx, Dashiell Hammett, Jane Austen, and Ursula K. LeGuin. Their life experiences and obvious articulateness would make for great conversation.
Tell us a bit about your personal involvement with the Friends of the Alameda Free Library. I really knew nothing about it until I was asked to join the board last summer by Jo Winzenread. Since then I’ve really enjoyed helping out at the Book Sale last autumn, the Live@The Library concerts, and the Lunar New Year event in February.
What are your hopes for the future of the Alameda Free Library? Just to see it continue to provide excellent service to the city, and particularly to help get kids hooked on reading.