All the books I’m reading this week were picked up in different cities, and each happens to be tied to a different season of the year as well as a distinct stage of my life after undergrad.
1.) The day I came across Transgender History was the last I had to myself in Philadelphia, before I moved away from the city near the end of the summer. I had spent the afternoon with a friend idling about the Italian Market of Bella Vista, one of South Philly’s northernmost neighborhoods. On our way to Center City for drinks, we made a detour and stopped at a nonprofit bookstore, where I picked this up along with a novel by Susan Sontag. I wish I had enjoyed this book as much as that night, which ended on the South Street bridge.
2.) While spending a weekend in Detroit several years ago, I bought a used copy of Baldwin’s collected essays when I visited John K. King Books, one of the Midwest’s largest bookstores. For most of college, the book sat in a crate in my closet as a half-remembered reminder of how little I read at all in spite of studying English. But I made an effort to reconnect with what I cared about this spring, and in March I sped through four of the volume’s five essay collections during walks around my campus’s western outskirts. This week I’ll finish the fifth.
3.) I found Men We Reaped in Ann Arbor on a late January morning, when the weather was unusually warm and slush didn’t make the city pathways unwalkable. I began taking short walks in the morning earlier in the month as a way to clear my mind before the start of day; that Saturday I wandered so far north that I stumbled upon a bookstore I’d forgotten existed, though I’d once often went there. I would return to that store to browse many times over the course of the winter as a kind of ritual, but this was my first visit.
How did you come across the books you’re currently reading? When did you first find out about them, and what made you want to read them?