Saturday, December 17, 2016

My Reading is San Franciscan Too

In the “Books” section of the Sunday San Francisco Chronicle, there are Best Sellers lists that include “Hardcover Fiction Bay Area” and “Hardcover Fiction National.” I have frequently noticed that the two lists are somewhat different, although obviously with plenty of overlap. I have also noticed that my own reading tracks more with the San Francisco list than with the national list. On 12/11/16, for example, the S.F. list of ten books included three that I had read (“Swing Time,” “Commonwealth,” and “Today Will be Different,” the first two of which I have recently posted about here), whereas I had read none of the novels on the national list. If this just happened once or twice, I would think it was coincidental, but there is a distinct pattern. What does it mean (if anything)? Most obviously, it seems I am in tune with the local book culture. In addition, I and other San Francisco readers apparently tend more toward literary fiction and less toward the more traditional bestseller fare (although, again, of course there is much overlap, and much divergence among individuals; also, as I have written about before, my own reading is not always "literary"). In this aspect, we are perhaps in tune with other large cities, and university cities, with vibrant literary scenes (many resident authors, many independent bookstores, frequent book festivals and author readings, etc.). I hesitate to post this entry, because I am well aware that it may sound self-congratulatory as well as “San Francisco-congratulatory,” and perhaps it is. But I am, in fact, happy and even proud to live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, for many reasons, one of which is its literary culture and its support of its bookstores, authors, and literary events. Such stores and institutions are both supported by, and in turn support, a literary culture and more reading, not only locally but nationally.
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