Reading Ahead: Fieldwork highlights – Erica

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During the fieldwork cycle, we write quick summaries of each interview session and send these immediately to our clients so they can start to circulate stories. At this point in the process we strive to stay descriptive; our goal is just to get stories about the people we’re meeting out to the extended team (us, our direct clients, and their stakeholders).

Erica (not her real name) is 28 and lives by herself in an apartment in San Francisco. She described growing up without a lot of money but in a house where there were “walls of bookshelves.” When she and her Mom had free days, they would visit different libraries, and Erica still remembers physical details from some of these places.

She had been planning to open a cookbook store, until the recent economic slump. She’s working now as an office manager at a software startup and regrouping.

Erica talked about buying certain books just because she likes them as objects: “I love books. I almost like books more than reading.”


She says that lately she’s really been noticing how “the computer lifestyle has seeped in so deeply,” which she feels is making her attention span shorter. She says that on the computer, “everything is fast,” and that books are a way to “unplug” and slow down.

Erica has different types of books for different weather, moods, and reading situations. On public transit, she reads books that can be easily stopped and started; something she says is difficult to do with complex works.

In the clip below, Erica talks about how she organizes her bookshelf by feeling:


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