(Drawing of Linda Samuels by Vanessa Waring)
Linda Samuels, a 40 year Bolinas resident, has worn several hats in the Bolinas community, all fashioned to keep her at home: dish washer at Bolinas Stinson School, Bolinas Stinson Librarian, Executive Director of the Bolinas Museum and most recently, roving woman about town/free box aficionado. Her last job was her favorite. She commuted 4 days a week to the Headlands Center for the Arts where she was the Program Director. She is also the Trustee/ Director of the Kenneth J. Botto Photography Trust.
What are you reading now? What’s in your pile of books? Do you read one book at a time or several?
I read constantly and almost always contemporary fiction. Right now in my pile are: Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover; The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris; Welcome Home by Lucia Berlin; Unquiet by Linn Ullmann; Bookends: Collected Intros and Outros, by Michael Chabon and Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. Seeing this list, I realize that only half of them are fiction!
Are you a browser in the library or do you know in advance what you are looking for? Do you use the library catalog to pick specific books? How do you find what you want to read?
In the library, I love to browse the new books, the 7 day books and 3 day movies. I mostly read books that come from reviews that grab my interest in the New York Times and New Yorker. I then order them through the library catalog or spot them on the above mentioned shelves. I often order three times the amount that I can actually read. I get nervous if I’m not surrounded by many many books!
Do you like to read paper or ebooks? Audio books?
I prefer to read on paper, beginning each morning with two newspapers and three crosswords. I have only one paper magazine subscription left, The New Yorker. Paper for the usual reasons: like to touch it, hold it, and wander easily back and forth.
Do you have a favorite genre or any genres that you never read?
Lately, I’ve been drawn to fiction based on real stories. The two I enjoyed most were The Dakota Winters by Tom Barbash, based on John Lennon’s last days on earth and The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose as mentioned below. Another book that I liked in this category was The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, about the Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley.
What’s the last great book that you read and recommended to a friend?
My last favorite book by far was The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose. Set around Marina Abramovic’s 2010 75 day- long performance piece at the NY Museum of Modern Art, Rose peoples her story with characters that are living examples of the power of art to change lives. I’ve also recently loved and recommended The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner; Warlight by Michael Ondaatje; My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh; and Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday.
What was your reading experience like as a child? Did you grow up with a lot of books? Did you have a favorite?
As a child I read everything I could. My mother would take me to the Roslyn Library at the duck pond in Long Island NY and I would go shelf by shelf. I loved Stuart Little by E.B. White and The Borrowers by Mary Norton. Something about tiny people!
Were there any books that made a big impression on you in your life?
Books that have made the biggest impression on me, which I discovered in college, were all by Nabokov!! Pale Fire, Lolita, Ada! My first realization of language itself as art. Earlier, in high school we read Sartre, Camus, and then in 1958 discovered Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Coney Island of the Mind.
An impossible question! I can’t imagine a life without reading.