I read the same book every night for years, its repetition becoming almost meditative even as it put others to sleep. This book? “Goodnight Moon”, of course, which I read to my children until it finally came out of our evening mix.
Are you a proofreader? If so, what’s in a book that keeps you coming back to it? For many, the act of re-reading is more enlightening than any initial reading, though there’s also something to be said for going back to a childhood favorite to try and recapture that feeling. Some books are just part of who we are.
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So when I contacted author and fellow Samantha Dunn, she didn’t hesitate to tell me about her choice. “I always think about horses,” Dunn said. “Books and horses.”
She has a precious copy of a novel that she thinks she has read at least eight times. “Black beauty. This is one of the most heartbreaking books about animals, and our responsibility to them exists,” she said before the line died down as she, I guess, thinks more books and horses.
As well as answering unsolicited questions about what she reads, writes and thinks — she also has ghosts on her mind, but that’s for another time — Dunn and I were discussing the magazine’s literary-themed edition. SCNG Premium she is working on. Called Bookish, it arrives in the Sunday 30 January newspaper.
In it, National Book Award-winning author Charles Yu shows off his bookshelves, writer Annabelle Gurwitch shares her favorite haunts, and there’s an article on Southern California’s literary hotspots.
There’s also a treat for book readers: the first look at our top 10 notable Southern California authors.
“We’re unveiling our top 10 standout books by Southern California authors who made an impact in 2021,” Dunn said. “I’m really excited about this because it’s specific to California authors.”
We think you’ll like it too. If you’d like to see Sam’s treasured copy of “Black Beauty,” scroll down, but first we have a Q&A with author and professor Myriam JA Chancy.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
Myriam JA Chancy on the author she reads the most
Myriam JA Chancy is the author of “What Storm What Thunder” and Hartley Burr Alexander Professor of Humanities at Scripps College Claremont Consortium. Here she shares what she reads, the book that makes her think and the works of James Baldwin.
Q. What are you reading now?
I am currently reading “Les Pépinières Barbares” by Héctor Tobar. My next reading will be “Velorio” by Xavier Navarro Aquino on Hurricane Maria.
Q. How do you choose what to read next?
There are authors who are always on my radar, especially if they are philosophers or literary critics. Most of my reading of fiction comes from recommendations, either by other writers who told me about a book they had a hard time reading or by a friend of theirs, or, increasingly, by social media posts or book clubs announcing their upcoming readings (although I’m not in any book clubs myself). If I see a recommended book multiple times, likewise, I tend to stick with it.
Q. Is there a book you dread reading?
“In Search of Lost Time” by Marcel Proust. I’ve wanted to read this book in the original for a very long time but its length is daunting.
Q. Is there a genre or type of book that you read the most — and what would you like to read more of?
I definitely lean towards fiction above all, although I like to read philosophy and cooking memoirs. I would probably like to read more poetry, but it’s a harder sell for me.
Q. Do you have a favorite book or books?
James Baldwin’s collective works are probably ones I return to again and again; I also teach a seminar on his works every few years, which gives me the chance to read them again. I have a couple of his latest books that I haven’t read yet and hopefully in the coming year.
Notable Literary Event
Subscribers should look for Bookish, SCNG’s premium magazine, which will be released on January 30. The issue includes Noteworthy, our first annual tribute to 10 local authors who made an impact in 2021. There will be a special Noteworthy edition of the SCNG Bookish virtual program on February 1. 4.