You don’t have to be a politician to lie when asked “What are you reading right now?” (my lie answer: Born To Run, while truth is “still struggling through last month’s Elle magazine”) which is why my eyes rolled when sent a release by the PR agency repping the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library promising insights into what our Mayoral candidates are reading right now*. But today, when that same PR agency promised a list of “books our mayoral hopefuls just can’t finish!” I got more interested. Who doesn’t like a list of failures?

Jeff Adachi, John Avalos, David Chiu, Bevan Dufty, Tony Hall, Dennis Herrera, Joanna Rees, Phil Ting, and Leland Yee agreed to spill their literary impossibilities with The Reader’s Review , a blog managed by the Friends. Ed Lee and Michela Alioto-Pier were unable to participate, TRR reports, which is too bad! (Insert Book of Ed Lee joke here.)

The candidates’ responses run the gamut: from John Avalos, who admits that he never got past the first page of Finnegan’s Wake (people who claim otherwise always seem suspect to me), to super-achiever Joanna Rees, who says “I have finished every single book I tried,” making everyone else in the world feel inadequate.

On the spiritual tip, Tony Hall says he’s never made it all the way through the Bible, but makes the Collier-brothersesque admission that there’s probably “twenty other books on my nightstand I need to get to.” Jeff Adachi says that though it’s “the thinnest book I have,” he’s never been able to make it through kinda creepy metaphysical text The Secret. Guess Adachi won’t be relying on “manifesting” to win this election.

You can read a linkable list of all the participants’ failures (except the unfailing Rees) here, or hear it from the horses’ mouths in the charming video above.

Hold on to your butts: tomorrow, the TRR promises, participating candidates will be asked “what is your favorite branch library and why?” Here’s hoping Rees says “all of them.”

*the Ex, apparently less cynical that I, did no such eye-rolling

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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