How Covid made libraries nicer

The maternal side of my family has always contained inveterate users of the public library.

Every two weeks, you gathered up your books and returned them, and then took out some more… this routine was as cast in stone as cleaning your teeth. (And the treatment of library books was as strictly observed).

I remember with pleasure our visits to the library when I was a child, and the excitement of bringing home a new pile of books. And trips with my sister (10 years younger than me) where we would choose her books together, and then read them together.
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Four email newsletters worth trying

My 17-year-old son doesn’t understand how people can possibly spend large portions of their day reading and answering email.

As far as I can tell, he deals with the issue by magisterially ignoring all email sent to him.

For the rest of us, the inbox is a place where we seem to spend a lot of time. I have systems to make email easier, and I regularly cull emails that I don’t ever read, or that I don’t need.
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Why I love poetry (and how you can too)

Dealing with email can be a daily organisational chore – but it can also bring joy.

In my daily emails, in among the serious stuff about the state of journalism and the endless promotional emails from Clicks (no matter how many times I unsubscribe, they find a way to send me more), is the Poem of the Day from the Poetry Foundation.

I don’t remember now when I first came across the Poetry Foundation, but I am grateful I did. Their website says they are “an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture”. The foundation, which publishes Poetry magazine, is based in Chicago so its emails hit my South African email box in the late afternoon, and I often only read the poem a day later. But this is the one email I always open, and always read – even when I have no idea what the poem is about (which happens quite often). Continue reading

Books I Have Been Reading – April 2018

Bill Bryson book with beer in the background

Bill Bryson and a beer, while waiting for a flight at the airport. Picture: Renee Moodie

I have been banging on about the importance of reading for the last two weeks, and thought it might be useful to list the books that I have been reading myself, over the last month or so. I try to read as much as possible, but sometimes life gets in the way.

Still, here’s what’s been keeping me busy:

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain

Much-loved travel writer Bill Bryson revisits Great Britain, going to a variety of villages and cities as he reflects on how the nation has changed since he wrote Notes from a Small Island. He is funny as always, but older and crabbier. And some of the things he has to say about Britain made me feel a little sad.

Where did I lay my hands on it? My mother had it on six-week loan from her local library and loaned it to me because it was a Bryson that had somehow escaped my notice till now. Continue reading