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Extra: Book Bloggers’ Visit

Danielle’s blog was among the first book blogs I read on a regular basis. When she informed me of her San Francisco visit with her sister, I couldn’t wait to meet them. I’m glad “Fogust” (foggy August) didn’t diminish their pleasure to sightsee. By the time I met Danielle and Vicki at their wonderful studio rental in the Castro, they had tread through Muir Wood, wine-tasted in Napa Valley, had dim-sum in Financial District, and picked up a few books from City Lights Books.

Mindful that seafood was not their priority and they craved ethnic flavor, I made a reservation for three at Limón Rotisserie, a Peruvian restaurant that specializes in tapas. Over sangria we chatted and had delicious dishes like Lomito saltado, strips of sirloin marinated in vinegar, soy sauce and spices, then stir fried with red onions, parsley and tomatoes; pollo a la brasa, truffle macaroni and cheese, empanadas, and yuca fries.

The evening concluded with a visit to Dog Eared Books—where most new NYRB classics are half off. The sale table also featured works by James Baldwin, Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, and many others. That meant more shopping for Danielle, who actually brought a luggage a size bigger than her sister’s. It was a wonderful evening and I felt like I have known them for a good time. We exchanged anecdotes about life in Omaha and San Francisco. Friends, good food and books–what more can you ask for!

Book Bloggers’ Visit, with Pictures

Dim sum (small Chinese plates) was one thing we would do for sure when Steph first e-mailed me about their upcoming trip to San Francisco. Nashville has three Chinese restaurants but only one serves dim sums. On Sunday, I took Steph and Tony, and my friend Rick to Great Eastern in Chinatown for a sumptuous meal of dim sum. Most locals will tell you that the best dim sums are in the suburbs, Great Eastern, just a stone’s throw from their hotel, is a better bargain in the heart of Chinatown with comfortable seats and sans screaming children running berserk. Steph and Tony left the ordering to me, which, on top of the usual fares of har gau and siu mai, include steamed rice noodle cakes, water chestnut cakes, steamed custard bun, pork bun, and pan-fried rice noodles in a special XO sauce (which was worth the 20-minute wait).

Green Apple Books in the Richmond was our next stop. The atmosphere of neighborhood bookstore—its creaky floor, stuffed ceiling-to-floor shelves and the great bargains on new books gripped Steph and Tony as soon as we walked into the main store. Like almost any indies here, Green Apple has a character and neighborhood relevant. While Tony took pictures around the store, Steph would ask him whether she should buy this book and make inquiry of her inventory at home. The Steph who claimed “I have no self-control” totally surfaces at the exciting selection of Green Apple especially the international/foreign literature.

Steph ponders at her pile of loots. Paul Auster, Virginia Woolf, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Yiyun Li, and more!

At the realization that they are only  allowed two carry-on pieces, they decided to buy and ship home the whole pile that Steph is seen pondering at in the picture, plus another bag full of books from the annex next door. Tony also got himself a Green Apple t-shirt with a propos message “So many books, so little time.”

Steph, Tony, and I posing in front of the heavily discounted new books at Green Apple.

Readers browsing. How could you ever have enough time for all these books?

It was almost three hours later when we finished browsing the A to Z used fiction at the annex. Just the fiction only. Then we were off to one of the hidden spots that was not Twin Peaks but where you could see a panoramic view of the city.

Too bad bloggers on boozes were not captured in pictures. But it was so much fun to have met Steph and Tony and to show them my secrets of the city. I hope they enjoyed their trip in San Francisco and can’t wait to see them again, in Nashville and Toronto.

Steph & Tony Investigate San Francisco

I just sent Steph and Tony of Steph & Tony Investigate back to their hotel after spending the day with them in the city. We started off with a dim sum brunch in Chinatown, followed by a pilgrimage to the book mecca—Green Apple Books in the Richmond, where they picked up two bags of goodies. Then we hit one of the hidden spots where you can see the city’s skyline. Then they suggested, if I’m not tired of them yet (of course not!), we could go grab dinner together—so we did at Home and had burgers over cocktails. Steph and Tony are the first book bloggers I met here in the Unted States. We had so much fun chatting about books, literature and fiction—and what we like and why we don’t like what most readers like!.  What fun! It looks like Steph and I are the only ones who aren’t thrilled about Room (Emma Donoghue). I’m very excited to have met the book bloggers who share similar tastes in reading and show them around my city. I hope they enjoy the rest of they stay, as they’ll venture out to Golden Gate Bridge and have a fancy meal at La Folie. I’ll post some pictures and I’m sure Steph & Tony will have a full report replete with pictures when they get back. Thank you guys for the great company and for extending your warm welcome to Nashville in the future.

Book Tag: Seven Random Book Facts

Melody tagged me for a book meme.
The rules are:
* Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
* Share seven random and/or weird book facts about yourself.
* Tag seven random people at the end of your post, and include links to their blogs.
* Let each person know that they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I stop by the bookstore everyday. Despite the potential danger of assault to my wallet, it’s been a habit to drop by one of the few bookstores on the way home from work. I make mental note of what’s on the new book table and incorporate selected titles on my list.

2. I always finish a book. Regardless of how poor-written, how disorganized, how boring, and how uncaptivating a book is, I always manage to finish it. I might skim through the book and call it a day. Fortunately my book radar has been quite perspicacious that most of the books don’t earn the one-way ticket to the garbage bin.

3. I do not like movie tie-in covers. This is such an outrageous encroachment of the film companies! A book is a literary concoction and a movie is, just a movie! Why should the publisher adopts movie poster as the book jacket and not the other way around?

4. Literature and fiction should be separate. My crazy snooty tirade on this subject was actually the founding post of the blog back on January 18, 2006. While literature is a subset of fiction (fictional works), bookstores should at least separate Dostoevsky from Sandra Brown or Danielle Steel. I think literature transforms and intensifies ordinary language to the extent that it deviates systematically from daily speech. One distinguishing factor between literature and popular fiction is the presence of literary devices.

5. I make an effort to read everyday. Even if it’s just one chapter, or three pages. Even if I’m sick in bed, I manage to summon a tad of energy to sit up and read. I keep track of my reading over time on my Moleskine journal. Today is my journal entry day since I finished Jane Eyre yesterday. Over coffee I scribbled my thoughts that will stitch together a review, then I started The Dogs of Babel, courtesy of Literary Feline, and read fifty pages.

6. I have a vacation pile. Part of the reason why I’m always frantically buying books is that I keep an eye for books that would be perfect for vacation. While I maintain to read classics on vacation, I include a few comfort reads that make me laugh and that pass time. Hands off this pile until I’m flying.

7. I’m a late boomer in terms of reading. This year has marked some of my firsts: first ARC read (didn’t even know what ARC stands for), first audio book (The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society), and first TLC Book Tour, first Booking Through Thursday entry. I especially thank you all for your thoughtful comments on my BTT posts which have turned into full editorial essays.

So, am I quirky?

Spread Some Good Karma

After a busy weekend of grading papers and engagements, I have to catch up on my blog reading and comment moderating. I apologize if I haven’t attended to all your comments. Marie from The Boston Bibliophile, Karen from Scobberlotch and The Literate Housewife have crowned this blog an award. Thank you so much for honoring A Guy’s Moleskine Notebook and I suppose it’s good karma to spread the karma. I’m flattered that I have received from book bloggers whose opinions on books I respect and rely on.

So, here’s the fine print:
1) Add the logo of the award to your blog
2) Add a link to the person who awarded it to you
3) Nominate at least 7 other blogs
4) Add links to those blogs on your blog
5) Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs!

I would highlight the blogs that have seriously influenced what I have been reading this year:

The Bluestocking Society. Beautifully done and thoughtfully written. I always feel like walking into a bookstore with staff reviews that I can rely on and trust. Jessica’s blog certainly a pointer to what I’ll read next.

A Work in Progress. The title speaks the truth of a reader’s journey though books. Danielle’s reading taste is awfully (this is good) similar to mine. Her blog is among the very first that I read when I started book blogging.

Bookgirl’s Nightstand. I can never catch up with Iliana’s reading. She is a true booklover who also makes crafty journals. Her night-stand is my resource of women fiction and mystery.

Adventures in Reading. This blog is the latest addition to my blogroll. Articulate, thoughtful and precise, this blog always begins a book review with a pivotal quote from the book–the same format that I have adopted in my reviews as well.

Reading Matters. Whether she intends the title to be a pun or not, I find it very smart! A journalist who works in publishing, her reviews are just so hit-home to me. The recent discovery is another of my favorite! 326 reviews and going…

A Girl Walks into a Bookstore. Another one that I frequently watch for updates. Katherine has a ton of book reviews spanning all genres. She is also the gizmo for upcoming releases and new authors.

Shelf Life. Books are drug of her choice. Every once in a while I’ll discover that we have read something in common and are in for the same reading challenge. Her reading taste also mirrors mine.

A Striped Armchair. Eva loves Russian literature and reads Naguib Mahfouz. Nuff said!

Check these blogs out if you haven’t had a chance.

Oh My God! x 2 | Award & Sandy Lam 憶蓮 Live 08 San Diego

Two things simply make my day after a long stressful day in school. Jordan at Two-Legged Animal has granted me a Brilliante Weblog Award, which infuses this warm and fuzzy feeling. I’m flattered. Thanks Jordan. To continue the karma, I’ll pass on the award to my fellow blogger friends:

*Eva, of A Striped Armchair: She has always written such thoughtful reviews along with her favorite passages. We are kindred spirits in sharing common tastes in authors, like Mahfouz and Bulgakov.

*Katherine, of A Girl Walks into a Bookstore: She has published a plethora of insightful reviews. Reading her blog is like walking into a bookshop!

*Gentle Reader, of Shelf Life: She is another book blogger with whom I share common reading tastes—and she’s a fellow Californian too!
It’s easy to highlight my blogroll of book blogs, but the best thing about the award is highlighting bloggers and introducing more book blogs—making the connections. If you happen to read this, pass on the love and good karma!

Another big wow of my day is the news of Sandy Lam’s having a concert at the Harrah’s Rincon in San Diego this September! It’s been two years since her last concert in Lake Tahoe back in 2006. She’s the pop diva from Hong Kong. A gay icon. I remember saving up a week’s worth of allowance money to purchase her debut album in 1985, which was a cassette tape. Over the years she has released over 30 albums, many of which have introduced new music elements–hip-hop, street beats, and jazz–to the Hong Kong music scene. Some of her ballads tenderly lay claim to my emotions. Rumors have it that if you approach a guy in Hong Kong and ask whether he likes Sandy Lam, and if he says yes, the chance is he’s a homo! She’s a hybrid of Barbara Streisand, Beth Midler, Whitney Houston and Olivia Newton-John. Anyway I’m just so excited and am looking forward to this unexpected trip!

iPod Hotpicks
1. That’s My Goal – Shayne Ward
2. 富士山下 – 陳奕迅
3. 日子 (Live 07) – 林憶蓮
4. 哭 (Live 07) – 林憶蓮
5. The Best of Me – Sum 41
6. 都市心 (Live 07) – 林憶蓮
7. Give Me Some Love – James Blunt
8. All I Have to Do is Dream – The Everly Brothers
9. Touch Me Feel Me – 劉美君
10. 韻律泳 – 何韻詩
The top five songs were shuffled on a roll and I didn’t play anything other than those 5 for two days.
誰都只得那雙手 靠擁抱亦難任你擁有 要擁有必先懂失去怎接受…