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Fahrenheit V13

Fahrenheit V13: Dawn Ray’d Vocalist Simon Barr Digs into His Extensive Book Collection

In this Fahrenheit V13, Simon Barr, vocalist with Liverpudlian black metal band Dawn Ray’d digs into his extensive book collection for us.

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Dawn Ray'd Press Photo

Citing influences as genre-diverse as Chumbawumba, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Propagandhi, Lankum, and Crass, Liverpudlian black metal band, Dawn Ray’d recently released their third album, To Know The Light (available through Prosthetic Records).

To Know The Light is a departure from their previous albums. Although still overtly political, the lyrics take on a more personal slant than before. Lyrically, To Know The Light traces the band’s journey through anarcho-nihilism, from anger to despair, to a radical acceptance of the darkness all around us, settling on a new understanding of liberation and joy. Whilst much of the thematic content is rooted in rage and resistance, there are also elements of positivity to be found throughout.

The man behind this thought-provoking work is Simon Barr, a man who has been surrounded by books for the majority of his life. In the latest of our series Fahrenheit V13, V13 sat down and chatted with Dawn Ray’d’s well-read frontman about the books that inspire him, his favourite writers and his ideal reading set-up.

How important were books and reading in your family growing up? Did you share that same level of enthusiasm, or did you differ from them on that?

Simon Barr: “My mum was an English Literature teacher, so books were a big part of my childhood, I didn’t have a choice, really! I loved Lord Of The Rings, The Chronicles Of Narnia, The Dark Is Rising by Susan Cooper, loads of fantasy stuff.”

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? What’s your preferred genre?

“Honestly, I prefer non-fiction. Modernist poetry is my favourite genre, I suppose, but I also have always loved fantasy.

“I’m reading Mordew by Alex Pheby at the moment. He builds these really gross, filthy, amazingly detailed worlds; I’m really enjoying that at the moment. I recently finished the Broken Earth Trilogy by NK Jamesin as well, which is another really well-thought-out universe.

“I do read quite a bit of political theory, I guess, almost exclusively anarchist stuff, but I feel like that’s more from a sense of need or duty rather than enjoyment!”

Who are your favourite writers?

John Burnside’s poetry is my favourite thing to read ever, the way he connects you to the landscape, he slows you down, forces you to look carefully at every detail around you, I always feel like all his poems are set during that magical part of dusk where everything feels more profound. The Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds is the best description of love and heartbreak ever, I cried so many times for so many different reasons reading it. William Golding, specifically The Inheritors and Pincher Martin too. When it comes to political stuff, Errico Malatesta, no debate.”

What book have you been meaning to read? How long have you been meaning to do that?

“I bought Devil House by John Darnielle about 6 months ago and haven’t even opened it yet. I love the Mountain Goats too, I think I want to give it my full attention but never find the right time! I’m a third of the way through The Music Of Time by John Burnside. It’s his history of poetry, it is pretty dense and academic, I haven’t made any progress on it in at least 2 years, and I should probably admit to myself that I’m not smart enough for it! I went to Whitby last year and bought Dracula on a whim, and if I’m honest with myself, I’m never going to read it…”

What’s a book that you think everyone should be required to read from cover to cover throughout their time in school?

Anarchism and Other Essays by Emma Goldman probably, she was writing a hundred years ago, about how marriage is an invention of the church and state to control women; she talked about the importance of reproductive rights and so many other issues that people would massively benefit from today, especially young people. You don’t have to live the life capitalism sets out for you. Take some time to work out exactly who you want to be, who and how you want to love, and what makes you truly happy. It’s crazy that 100 years on, so many of her ideas are still so controversial.

“I also loved The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren, there’s a line about doing difficult, brave things; “There are certain things you just have to do; otherwise you’re not a human being, just a piece of dirt”, and I think of that all the time, especially when I’m afraid to do the right thing in life.”

What is the book that has made the most impact on you as a person?

“I don’t think I could choose one book; honestly, I think different things influence you at different points in your life, things come along at just the right moment sometimes, but you always want to be moving forward and continuing that development, I think.

“My partner bought a book by Peter Kropotkin called In French And Russian Prisons on a whim, we were young and had been talking about all these different radical ideas, but it was before we had discovered anarchism. It just laid out in really understandable terms why prisons exist, why they don’t work, and why we should abolish them. It was another year or so before I would discover anarchism properly, but I think that opened me up to the idea of questioning a lot of the things you are told and being able to think more critically about things.

“Another big moment was reading Four Quartets by TS Elliot, all of a sudden, I realized that poetry was something normal people like me could relate to, it isn’t some lofty academic exercise but a way to see the beauty in the world, understand your own emotions and try and find new ways to describe your own life.

“Recently, during the pandemic, I read Desert and Blessed Is The Flame which was my introduction to Anarcho-nihilism, which really helped me cope with the world collapsing around us, the ecological predictions you see that make your blood run cold, the horrors of war… Those two books continue to help me find happiness and joy in a horrifically bleak world!”

Dawn Ray’d ‘To Know The Light’ Album Artwork

Dawn Ray’d ‘To Know The Light’ Album Artwork

What’s the best part of reading for you? What’s your ideal reading setup?

“I have this complicated set up with reading, if I’m reading poetry it’s often because I hope it will inspire me to write songs for Dawn Ray’d, I think as a musician, you are never really off the clock! So yeah I have this odd extractive relationship with it, it’s not work, but it’s definitely not pure relaxation.

“That said, filling your head with the writings of the best poets in the world, then using that to try and express your own thoughts into a song is an insanely satisfying and cathartic experience. Sat in a chair by the fire at my house with a black coffee on a Sunday is a pretty ideal setup.”

What was the best reading – or book-related present you ever received?

“I got a bookmark with the TS Elliot quote “Only through time, time is conquered”, which I love, I’m not going to paraphrase that as it is so perfectly succinct already, but that gets me through the dark moments.

“I also got a birthday card with another TS Elliot quote “At the still point, there the dance is.” That is my all-time favorite quote ever. The future and the past hurtle away from us in opposite directions, the still point is the present, the only time we can actually ever experience, but that is where everything happens; it is where all the true beauty and joy is. That poem from Four Quartets has helped me totally reframe how I try to view the world. It is the most beautiful line ever written, I think.”

I have an unhealthy obsession with bad horror movies, the song Wanted Dead Or Alive and crap British game shows. I do this not because of the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll lifestyle it affords me but more because it gives me an excuse to listen to bands that sound like hippos mating.

Fahrenheit V13

Fahrenheit V13: Red Cain Guitarist Sam Ridout Discusses the Impact Reading Has Had on His Life

Red Cain guitarist Sam Ridout joins us for a Fahrenheit V13 interview about the significant impact reading has had on his life.

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Red Cain

When it’s time for a new Red Cain album, you know you’re going to get something a little extra special compared to other acts of similar nature. That’s what you get with their new concept record, NÄE’BLISS. Released this past June, the album delves deep into the progressive metallers’ love of art and literature. The album is based on the Wheel of Time fantasy novel series. Authored by the highly celebrated Robert Jordan, the series debuted in 1990 and came to span 14 volumes. It also spurred a television series that premiered in 2021, produced by Amazon Prime Video.

The Wheel of Time series has been particularly influential for both Red Cain singer Evgeniy (Jack) Zayarny and guitarist Sam Ridout. Zayarny is an author himself in his native Russia, and Ridout reads dozens of books every year. Ridout is also extremely involved in news and geopolitics. His interest in books and current events is really what drives him as an artist. It energizes his interest in his work and has become a great source of motivation and musical inspiration.

With his bevy of interests in reading and learning, there is perhaps no better candidate than Ridout for our Fahrenheit V13 series. Today, Red Cain’s Ridout joins us to discuss the books that have impacted him the most, the influence of reading on his childhood, his favourite writers, and more.

What was the most memorable book from your childhood?

Sam Ridout: “It’s very hard to say, but I’ll go with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When I was very young, the Harry Potter series kickstarted my love for books. I pre-ordered the last one as soon as I could and remember waiting anxiously for it to arrive on my doorstep. Surely, it arrived right at midnight on its release day, and I began to read it immediately. I spent my next few days doing nothing but read it.

“However, on the last few pages, I forced myself to only read one page at a time so I could extend my time with the characters. Even though I felt that the series came to a satisfying end, I was a little sad it was over.”

How important were books and reading in your family growing up? Did you share that same level of enthusiasm, or did you differ from them on that?

“Reading was always encouraged in my household. My dad would always read to me as a young child, but when I developed my own reading ability I started competing with him over how fast we could finish our books. This led to many fun discussions between us.

“However, I got a computer in junior high, which sent me on an extended sabbatical from reading. It got to the point where it was super challenging for me to get through a single book! In college, I rediscovered my passion for reading and am proud to say that I finish more books per year than the rest of my immediate family combined.”

What is the book that has made the most impact on you as a person?

Lord of the Rings, without a doubt. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan also greatly impacted me; we even just wrote an entire album about it. Tolkien’s work resonates with me the most for many reasons. It touches on many themes that will continue to be relevant forever, such as innocence vs. enlightenment, man’s relation to nature, heroism, and many more.”

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? What’s your preferred genre?

“When I was in university, I preferred non-fiction because I thought it had much more to teach than fiction. As I’ve grown older, though, I find I learn more from fiction. Although, I do love a well-written history book.”

Who are your favourite writers?

“JRR Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Stephen King, Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, John Gwynne, George RR Martin, Neil Gaiman, Robin Hobb, Steven Erikson, Joe Abercrombie, Terry Pratchett, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Harper Lee, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, and many more.”

Red Cain ‘Nae Bliss’ album artwork

Red Cain ‘Nae Bliss’ album artwork

What book have you been meaning to read? How long have you been meaning to get to it?

“I’ve been wanting to read the book The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu. It is originally in Mandarin, so I’ll have to read a translation. People have told me it’s one of the most profound science fiction books of the 21st century, which has sparked my curiosity. It’s been on my to-read list for a year, but I’m coming around to it soon.”

What book do lots of other people enjoy that you just can’t stand?

“I tried to read Moby Dick and just could not get into it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I couldn’t stand it, and it’s definitely well-written. But I just don’t think I’m a big fan of stories where they are on a boat the entire time. Still, I might give it another go since everyone seems to sing its praises to the heavens.”

How often do you find or make time to read? Do you prefer paperback, hardcover, or eBook?

“I read every day when I get a moment. It might not even be for that long, but I feel disappointed in myself if I don’t make any progress during the day. I’m mainly a paperback reader because hardcovers are more expensive, and I prefer reading from paper than from a screen.”

Red Cain in 2023, photo by Zak Kelly

Red Cain in 2023, photo by Zak Kelly

Graphic novels and comics have enjoyed mainstream crossover thanks in no small part to the cinematic universes of Marvel and DC. Do you enjoy graphic novels or comics? Are any particular titles that stand out as favourites?

“I love a good graphic novel! My favourites have always been Watchmen by Alan Moore, although I actually think the movie improved the ending. The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman is also really good.”

Most people seem to have a cookbook that was either passed down or gifted that has stood the test of time and remains a fixture in their collection. Do you have such a book? How did you come by it?

“This answer is going to be quite boring, but in my family, it is The Joy of Cooking. It’s a very common one, but it has stood the test of time, in my opinion.”

What’s the longest book you’ve ever read? Did you enjoy it despite its length?

“At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, I decided to finally pick up the uncut version of Stephen King’s The Stand, and I really enjoyed it! Maybe it’s just that reading a book about a pandemic (albeit one less deadly than coronavirus) was timely. I actually think the length did the story a service in this case because you really get to know and love the characters, and upon completing it, it felt like I had just completed an epic adventure.”

What’s a book that you think everyone should be required to read from cover to cover throughout their time in school?

The Republic by Plato, because it forms the foundation for so many ideas in today’s world. A lot of philosophy is derivative of what was in it and it reads much easier than books by many of the other famous philosophers. When a book continues to be relevant a couple of thousand years after it was published, then it’s worth reading, in my opinion.”

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Alternative/Rock

Fahrenheit V13: Austin Greaves of Horseshoes Shares How Books Shape His Music and Life

Frontman of DC rock band Horseshoes, Austin Greaves, sits down to chat about how books impact his music and life in our latest Fahrenheit V13.

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Austin Greaves (aka Horseshoes), photo courtesy of Austin Greaves

Indie-rocker Horseshoes is known for his authentic storytelling and compelling lyrics that accompany his alternative-rock soundscapes. It’s entirely possible that his lyrical prowess comes from his love for words and literature.

The recent work of Horseshoes – “Say What You Mean” – exhibits this storytelling component as the person narrating is initially frustrated that somebody isn’t being upfront about who they really are. In an attempt to understand this person, the narrator puts himself at risk of getting hurt. The main character wonders if this person hasn’t developed a sense of self, and therefore doesn’t know what they want. The lyrics reflect an unexpected ending to the song when the confused narrator admits that he has difficulty understanding others because of his own narcissistic consumption with himself.

The man behind the band – Austin Greaves – sat down with V13 to chat all things books – books he loves, books that shaped his childhood, and more about why books are important in his everyday life. Continue reading for the newest installation of Fahrenheit V13!

Cover art for "Say What You Mean" by Horseshoes.

Cover art for “Say What You Mean” by Horseshoes.

What was the most memorable book from your childhood?

Austin Greaves: “Honestly, Harry Potter. Easy answer. I was dyslexic and couldn’t really read until after I started heavy tutoring in the third grade. I attribute Harry Potter to curing my dyslexia. I went from being repulsed by books to staying up all night reading. Waiting eagerly for the Prisoner of Azkaban to drop.”

How important were books and reading in your family growing up? Did you share that same level of enthusiasm, or did you differ from them on that?

“Yah, people in my family were pretty big readers. My dad loved historical fiction, My sister – fantasy, my mom – poetry. Early on, I remember going on vacations and feeling like the odd man out because they would all be reading which I thought was unbearable at the time (because of my dyslexia). I would get pretty stir crazy. It wasn’t until after college that I became a big reader.”

Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? What’s your preferred genre?

“I go back and forth. Generally, I like fiction, but right now I’m reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain which I’m pretty into. Big Anthony Bourdain fan.”

Who are your favorite writers?

“Pretty tough question, but Ben Lerner, Donna Tartt, Sally Rooney, Jonathan Franzen, Ottessa Moshfegh, Hanya Yanagihara to name a few. Hemingway and Fitzgerald.”

What is the book that has made the most impact on you as a person?

“The War of Art by Steven Pressfield has definitely been pretty impactful as of late. It has helped guide me as a musician to try and embrace the spiritual aspects of making art. Trying to not let your ego interfere with the art that you are channeling. Just allowing it to flow out and trying your best to nurture it into existence. Putting in time and not allowing resistance to overcome/paralyze you.”

How often do you find or make time to read? Are you paperback, hardcover, or ebook?

“Something physical for sure – paperback or hardcover if it’s first edition. I generally ready every morning for 10-20 minutes as I ease into the day. Then, sometimes at night as I’m going to sleep, and if I’m really into the book sporadically throughout the day.”

Austin Greaves reading a favorite book. Photo by Austin Greaves.

Austin Greaves reading a favorite book. Photo by Austin Greaves.

How many books do you own? Any titles or editions you’re particularly fond of?

“I own a bunch of books but I’ve been considering committing myself more to minimalism and donating them. I think that I have been unconsciously collecting books because I don’t want to let go and forget about them, but I recently started a Goodreads account where I keep track of all the books electronically. They are definitely cool decoratively though so I don’t know, maybe I’ll change my mind.”

Have you ready any musical biographies? If so, any favorites?

“Patti Smith’s Just Kids for sure is my favorite. I don’t even really like her music but the book is awesome.”

What’s the best part of reading for you? What’s your ideal reading setup?

“Best part of reading is getting totally lost in a book and entering into a different world. Getting out of my own head thoroughly and into a deep reading hypnotic trance. To do this I generally need to be in a pretty relaxing environment and commit to just putting my phone away for a bit.”

Photo of Austin Greaves (aka Horseshoes) by Nancy Breslin.

Photo of Austin Greaves (aka Horseshoes) by Nancy Breslin.

Which book series do you think deserves a proper screen adaptation? Who would you want to play the main characters? Which artists would do the soundtracks?

“I would love if the Cohen Brothers adapted Lonesome Dove and Streets of Laredo by Larry McMurtry. I know there was a TV adaptation some time ago, but we need the story refreshed into an epic western movie or TV show.”

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Fahrenheit V13

Fahrenheit V13: Karmic Neighborhood’s Armand Ruby Dives into His Fave Authors, Books, and More

Armand Ruby of the musical duo Karmic Neighborhood shares his passion for books, authors, and reading in our latest Fahrenheit V13 interview.

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Musicians who help create Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Karmic Neighborhood.

Even while releasing new music alongside writing and producing a feature film, Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood makes time for his passions… one of which is reading.

Karmic Neighborhood, the duo of Armand and his musical partner Julian Colbeck has an innate love of storytelling. Their newest releases, including “I Learned To Forgive,” “Everybody Needs To Love,” “Where Do I Go Now,” and most recently, “That’s Me,” are pieces from the story of their upcoming feature film Equinox The Musical, which tells the tale of two homeless young lovers who discover that forgiveness, gratitude, and love can be the keys to navigating life’s most challenging circumstances.

Two lifelong musicians in their 60s who met by chance when they moved to the same neighbourhood on the central California coast, Armand and Julian, have taken very different paths to the present moment. Julian began his career as a London-based keyboardist and is an accomplished, lifelong music industry veteran, while Armand worked professionally as an environmental scientist in the U.S. and stayed involved in music as a part-time musician and songwriter. Armand and Julian formed a strong bond through their shared passion for music and their painful yet hopeful life experiences of surviving cancer. The two rhythmic alt-pop collaborators found inspiration within the harmony of their respective life journeys and a mutual interest in musical innovation.

In the latest of our Fahrenheit V13 series, V13 sat down and chatted with Armand Ruby about the books he loves, his favourite authors, preferred reading habits, and more.

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Armand Ruby.

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Armand Ruby.

What book has made the most impact on you as a person?

Armand Ruby: “Such a tough question…so I decided the top three would be Man As Symphony of the Creative Word, a compilation of lectures by Rudolf Steiner, Be Here Now by Ram Dass, and Gaia by James Lovelock.

“If I have to pick one…I guess it is Be Here Now. Reading that book in my early 20s acted as a ‘trim tab’ (nod to Buckminster Fuller) to redirect my life’s course in a direction that allowed for the real, legitimate possibility of a plausible spiritual reality. This came at an important time during my recovery from a Catholic upbringing, averting my turning towards an Ayn-Randian materialism. [There are more juicy bits to that story, best left for another time.]

“Then I recalled that about 10 years ago, I put together a list of the ten books that have most impacted my life. So I looked at it again just now, and it turns out my thinking is substantially the same now as then. The older list has (to my mind) interesting breadth – but interestingly, just one work of fiction* (and no Atlas Shrugged!) among them:

1) Man As Symphony of the Creative Word – Rudolf Steiner
2) Be Here Now – Ram Dass
3) I Don’t Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression – Terrence Real
4) Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth – James Lovelock
5) Spiritual Midwifery – Ina May Gaskin
6) The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test – Tom Wolfe
7) To Kill A Mockingbird – Harper Lee
8) Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl
9) The Story of My Experiments with Truth – Mohandas K. Gandhi
10) Silent Spring – Rachel Carson

*which is interesting because, as you’ll see in my next answer, my favorite writers are all fiction writers!”

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Armand Ruby.

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Armand Ruby.

Who are your favourite writers?

“As opposed to my first answer, which reflects back through my several decades of reading, my favorite writers are those I’ve been reading in the past several years; this may well reflect a recency bias – but perhaps not. I dunno; it’s too much work to try to figure that out.

“At the very top of my list of favorite writers: Abraham Verghese. I think I may have cried when I finished reading Cutting for Stone, just because it was over. My daughter just gifted me his new book, The Covenant of Water, which I will dive into as soon as I finish the latest Edward Rutherford tome I’ve been reading (The Princes of Ireland) – which hopefully coincides with my wife finishing reading The Covenant of Water! I also read Verghese’s first book, My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story (non-fiction), in which I think he was finding his voice as a writer (he’s a medical doctor by profession).

“Second place: Leif Enger. In Virgil Wander, the writing is so delightfully delicious I felt nourished just by the reading; I found myself stopping to relish some phrases. Yum! [OK, I’ll stop!!] I also enjoyed his first novel, Peace Like a River.

“After that, it becomes nearly impossible to choose, so here is a splattering:

Jeanine Cummins. American Dirt opened my eyes – and heart – to the plight of Latin American refugees in devastatingly new ways. I particularly admire Cummins’ ability to tell someone else’s story artfully, passionately, personally. Cummins is a gringa but you’d never know it from the reading. The historical novelists – like Rutherford – are also adept at this, but American Dirt is exceptionally, powerfully personal. As a perpetually housed person who has written a stage play and now a screenplay based around a homeless shelter, I appreciate this talent.

William Kent Kruger: Where the Crawdads Sing and This Tender Land; compelling story-telling.

Aminatta Forna: I’ve only read Happiness, which is a wonderful blending of the mysteries of the human and animal (fox) realms.

Gregory David Roberts: Shantaram was a great and wild ride; hard to put down; a sprawling yet continually engaging novel. I am less a fan of the sequel, The Mountain Shadow.

Anthony Doerr: I’ve read only All the Light We Cannot See, but that’s enough to land him on this list.”

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Armand Ruby.

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Armand Ruby.

Which book series do you think deserves a proper screen adaptation? Who would you want to play the main characters? Which artists would do the soundtracks?

“Either Virgil Wander (Enger) or This Tender Land (Kruger) could make wonderful feature films for different reasons. Mark Ruffalo or Ethan Hawke or maybe Ben Affleck could make a character study of Virgil Wander. Lots of soundtrack possibilities for that, maybe including Ed Sheeran, Sara Bareilles, Karmic Neighborhood…”

This Tender Land is a story that should be told visually in my opinion; it would star newcomers as the Native American boys in an inhospitable world.”

What book do lots of other people enjoy that you just can’t stand?

“The Outlander series. I haven’t read much of it due to lack interest – and speaking of screen versions, I found the TV series to be awful, unwatchable.”

How often do you find or make time to read? Are you paperback, hardcover, or ebook?

“Nightly. Paperback and hardcover.”

Have you read any musical biographies? If so, any favorites?

“Perhaps surprisingly, this hasn’t been a significant literary interest, although I have a feeling I’m forgetting one or two I may have read in the dark and distant past. I did enjoy Jewel’s autobiography, and I have Bruce Springsteen’s in the queue. Not for its literary chops, but because I know the author and one of the other characters and found the book at times illuminating and amusing, I’ll mention Rolling with Rock Royalty by Brian Chatton.”

What’s the best part of reading for you? What’s your ideal reading setup?

“I particularly love two things, which can sometimes – but don’t necessarily – combine in the same book: losing myself in a story and learning about other places and peoples. I do love reading historical novels before traveling to the place I’m reading about. My ideal setup is in a chair in the shade with my feet up – but usually, I’m lying prone in bed.”

What was the most memorable book from your childhood?

“Earlier childhood: A Wrinkle in Time; later childhood: To Kill a Mockingbird

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Armand Ruby.

Armand Ruby of Karmic Neighborhood. Photo courtesy of Armand Ruby.

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