(drawing of David Moritz by Vanessa Waring)
David Moritz is a long time resident of Bolinas. In fact he has lived here for about 42 years now. He started laying brick and doing stonework and other masonry at the age of 13 and later at 18 became a journeyman in the International Brotherhood of Bricklayers, Masons, and Plasterers. He has traveled the world extensively and his skills have served him well.
What are you reading now? What’s in your pile of books? Do you read one book at a time or several?
I usually read many at once. But sometimes if a book grabs me, I’ll read it all at once, even if it means staying up all night. On the pile of books beside me right now, I’m looking at a stack: Ethiopia & Djibouti (Lonely Planet), The End of the End of the Earth (Johnathan Franzen), Travels with Herodotus (Ryszard Kapuscinski), My Brief History (Stephen Hawking), and Mama’s Last Hug (Frans de Waal).
On my Ipad, I have: Arguably (Christopher Hitchens), Between Summer’s Longing and Winter’s End (Leif Persson), and Notes on A Foreign Country: An American Abroad in A Post-American World. (Suzy Hansen).
I also have many more books just lying around the house that I pick up now and then for a short read. I usually have a crime novel or two that I switch to for entertainment, a guilty pleasure.
Do you prefer to read paper or ebooks, audio?
I prefer holding a physical book but I also read off my iPad especially when traveling.
How do you find the books you want to read?
I find them several ways, from browsing in the library, book reviews, suggestions from friends, and from our book club.
Do you have a favorite genre? Are there any genres that you never read?
I guess that I enjoy most genres; especially historical fiction, straight history (non-fiction) and travel books connected to history or current situations. I also read a lot of mysteries, especially Scandinavian, like for instance, The Princess of Burundi (Kjell Eriksson). I stay away from the violent ones though. I generally don’t read magic realism or science fiction although in the past I have read a few classics in those genres.
What was your reading experience as a child? Did you grow up with a lot of books around? Did you have a favorite book?
I’ve always been a voracious reader from a young age. My Dad had a library from his youth with some classics and lots of travel and adventure books. Most of all I loved reading National Geographic Magazine which my grandfather gave me a subscription to for Christmas. I covered the walls of my room that I shared with my brother, with maps that came with the issues.
Were there any books that made a big impression on you in your life, especially your younger years?
In my teens, I was very impressed by The Good Soldier Svejk (Jaroslav Hasek) and All Quiet on the Western Front (Erich Maria Remarque). I knew after reading them that I would never join anyone’s army. The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac also made a big impression as did the poem Howl by Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s A Coney Island of the Mind.
What books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
I’d say, gardening books, like Carrots Love Tomatoes: Secrets of Companion Planting for Successful Gardening (Louise Riotte).
Is there a famous author that you ever wanted to meet? Maybe back in time?
I would have loved to travel with Ryszard Kapuscinski. When I was in college in Germany I was a big fan of Barbara Tuchman. Of course back in ancient times, I would have loved to spend time with Herodotus, Hadrian (Roman Emperor) and also Lucretius.
What’s the last good book you recommended to a friend?
What do you plan to read next? Do you plan?
Right now, I’m reading lots of books on Ethiopia as I plan to travel there soon. Otherwise it’s helter- skelter.
Is there a book that you always meant to read but still haven’t? Any highly rated books that you thought were over rated?
I always meant to read Marcel Proust but except for his 35 Questions, it was tough slogging. Most so-deemed great books seem over rated but I blame that on myself. I have a friend in New York City who writes book reviews and is an editor. He sees much more than I do and is both more critical and more complimentary than I am. I especially find the New York Times highly rated books over-rated; for example Lincoln in the Bardo (George Saunders) and Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance). However as I read mainly for pleasure, it could all be a matter of interest, training and experience.
Do you ever re-read?
I rarely re-read books as there are so many waiting to be read. I do re-read book club books and find topics to discuss and am struck more by the use of language and it’s beauty in the second reading.
Do you have a collection of books at home? Where?
Yes, I have a library and far too many books.
What kinds of characters are you drawn to?
I am drawn to strong women with a biting sense of humor. I like soulful, eclectic characters with an edge. I’m not into nationalism or macho heroes.
When and where do you like to read? Describe your ideal reading experience.
Nothing beats reading in front of an open fire on the chilly, rainy evening.
Reading takes one into minds you may never meet. It exposes you to ideas, experiences, and histories that broaden and sharpen your mind. Pure pleasure is high on my list of reasons.