The Essays of Virginia Woolf, Vol. 1: 1904-1912

VW started writing journalism (mostly book reviews) in 1904 at age 22 after her father died, determined to make a living by her pen and becoming more and more confident in her writing skills. This volume of early essays collects the work she published in the Times Literary Supplement, Guardian, Speaker, Cornhill, and the Academy. Essays that stand out are on Jane Carlyle, Boswell, Henry James, George Gissing, her father (Leslie Stephen), Charles Lamb, Charlotte Brontë, Jane Austen, Richard Hakluyt, and scores of obscure women writers.

The best quote I got from this applies to several books that I read and think would be better off as articles: “The ordinary reader… will doubt whether this vagrant air is potent enough to steep three-hundred-and-fifty-odd pages in its fragrance. A magazine article or a sonnet were the proper vessel for such sweetness.”

A Streetcar to Subduction and Other Plate Tectonic Trips by Public Transport in San Francisco

This booklet was put together for attendees of the 1979 American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in San Francisco, a guide to seven trips in the area where you could hop on a streetcar (or BART) and check out some amazing rocks.  After a quick recap of plate tectonic theory, subduction explanation, and overview of rock types (serpentine, sandstone, shale, chert, basalt, gabbro), he dives into the various MUNI lines and trips around the city. Trip 1 takes you from Billy Goat Hill in the Mission (basalt, chert, and greywacke exposed) to Corona Heights to the New Mint outcrop (“This is probably the most beautiful and informative outcrop of serpentine in San Francisco”). Trip 2 is all about Fort Mason; Trip 3 dips into Baker Beach and Fort Point. Trip 4 was some crazy long bus ride around the city, to McLaren Park, Glen Canyon, Candlestick Hill, etc. The rest of the trips are outside the city in Marin, Angel Island, Hayward.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer

I’m not one for true crime books but Michelle McNamara’s work was exceptionally well-written, meticulously detailed, and powerful. It’s also a bit eerie to consume alongside real world news of his arrest (Joseph James DeAngelo, former police officer who’s now 72 years old) this April near Sacramento. He tallied over 10 murders and nearly 50 rapes, leaving communities across California terrified in the 1970s and 1980s. He left DNA at the crime scenes, but went underground for decades until his DNA matched one of his relatives who was innocently searching for his own ancestry via one of the ubiquitous sites that now tells you in minute details everything you’d want to know about your heritage. I hope they got him.