Most of the authors we talk with about their own new works are eager readers themselves. Two of our recently profiled authors confessed to having multiple bookmarks in place at one time.

Rabih Alameddine, of San Francisco, after telling us all about his new novel, "An Unneccesary Woman," said he has three reading projects under way. While deep into John Milton's epic 17th-century poem "Paradise Lost," he is also enjoying young British novelist Helen Oyeyemi's just-published dark fairy tale-laced parable about race, identity and family secrets, "Boy, Snow, Bird" (Riverhead Books). And he is thoroughly intrigued by Italian author Claudio Magris' "Blindly," a novel spanning three centuries about an asylum inmate who thinks he's a 19th-century adventurer and former ruler of Iceland. "It's very confusing, which is important," Alameddine told interviewer Georgia Rowe. "It requires commitment, and it's a wonderful book."

Meanwhile, Natalie Baszile, author of "Queen Sugar," tells us she has four in the stack on her nightstand: Bich Mihn Nguyen's "Pioneer Girl," James McBride's "The Good Lord Bird," and two short-story collections by San Francisco writers, Tom Barbash's "Stay Up with Me" and Molly Antopol's "The UnAmericans."

-- Sue Gilmore, Staff

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