Bolinas Reads: December 2021

A monthly interview with Bolinas Library readers.

Annie Laufman grew up in a small house filled with books. She moved to Bolinas in 2019 with her husband Wiley, their two children, Wilmer & Jean, and their dog, Sawyer. Anne is a part-time editor and printer for the Hearsay News.  She is an avid reader and loves taking her children to the library.

What are you reading now? What’s in your pile of books?  Do you read one book at a time or several?

Right now I’m chipping away at Edward Abbey’s The Fool’s Progress: An Honest Novel and Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen, PhD. My “to read next” pile includes Donella MeadowsLimits to Growth, Hilary Leichter’s Temporary, and Tommy Orange’s There There. I started taking classes recently and have a lot of reading to do for school so I’m afraid my pile might have to wait a while.

I usually have multiple books going at a time; sometimes one type of book appeals to me more than another depending on my mood, time of day, etc. I’ve always been this way – I can remember at a pretty young age having a number of books shoved under my pillow and even back then thinking, “This is getting kind of ridiculous.”

Has the Pandemic period affected what you read?  

In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, Leanne Kriz started an antiracist book club. We met in person and on Zoom to discuss our selected reading. This book club really kept me going throughout the pandemic. Some of my favorite book club books include Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. Our very first meeting was on Peggy McIntosh’s article, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack; this reading was eye-opening for me and is still relevant 31 years after being written.

Do you like to read paper or eBooks? Audiobooks? DVDs?

I prefer paper to eBooks – I don’t develop the same friendship with an eBook – but I do appreciate the convenience of transporting and reading longer books in digital format (specifically I remember reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 on a tablet and feeling artificially buoyed by its slim format).

As a parent, my time for reading is limited. Sometimes I’ll listen to an audiobook while I’m driving or doing the dishes and I can fit more books into my life this way, but I have trouble absorbing the material while multitasking. One audiobook I particularly enjoyed was Sound Bath by Sara Auster.

Do you have a favorite genre? Any genres that you never read? Have your preferences changed through the years?

I don’t have a favorite genre, but if I absolutely had to choose, I would probably have to pick fiction. I also love memoirs. I have certainly gone through periods of preferring other genres – magical realism, graphic novels, mystery…they’re all appealing to me.

What was your reading experience as a child? Did you grow up with a lot of books?  A favorite book?

I feel so fortunate that my parents instilled a deep love of reading in me early on. My five siblings and I would read the newspaper together in the morning (especially on weekends, especially the Sunday comics), and my parents would read to us before bed every night. We made frequent trips to the library where we could pick as many books as we wanted, which was always a thrill.

Are there any children’s authors that you enjoy reading with your kids?

We all enjoy Nels Steinke, particularly Mr. Wolf’s Class series. Other authors we enjoy are William Steig and Robert Mc Closky. 

Were there any books that made a big impression on you in your life? Perhaps a book that has impacted your consciousness a bit? (Maybe something you read at an impressionable age, 20s?)

I read Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood my sophomore year of college and it deeply affected me; I was scared for a long time after I read this book. This “non-fiction novel” (the first of its kind!) recounting the Clutter family murders really sank into my consciousness – the events described really happened and Capote’s vivid descriptions made them feel all too real to me. I have since re-read it and thankfully wasn’t quite as frightened.

Is there a famous author that you ever wanted to meet?  Maybe back in time?

I would love to meet Joan Didion. She seems like a fascinating person and I’m a big fan!

What’s the last great book that you read and recommended to a friend?

Two Old Women by Velma Wallis. It’s a novel set in Alaska about (surprise!) two old women. I don’t want to give anything away so I’m just going to say it is a really wonderful book.

What books do you return to? Are there any books you like to re-read?

I don’t often re-read as I typically have a sizeable pile of books that I’m waiting to read for the first time. But I have re-read some of Paul Auster’s books (I really enjoyed his autobiography, Winter Journal) and also hope to return to Murakami at some point.)

Do you have a collection of books at home? If so, where do you keep them and do you re-read?

We have too many books to fit on the shelves! Lots of children’s books too. It is a goal to make more room for books so they can come out of their storage boxes. My husband and I both have a hard time letting go of books. And we own many books that neither of us have read (yet)!

When and where do you like to read? Describe your ideal reading experience.

I love reading to pass the time when I’m stuck somewhere – traveling, waiting at the doctor’s office, etc. Ideally reading can transport me, I can forget where I am and what’s going on around me.

Why read?

Books are portals. Books are companions. Books contain wisdom. Most problems in my life – I can find the answer in the right book.