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.
Continue reading

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.

And yet, email can be a source of good reading, and of inspiration and knowledge.

I recently wrote a post about staying abreast of the latest trends in journalism. One of the steps I recommended was to subscribe to email newsletters – they bring the latest news to you, instead of you spending time seeking out what you need to know. I generally subscribe to any newsletter that looks interesting. I then read it and decide whether it stays or goes. Over time, my interests might change, and then my newsletter subscriptions change too.

Here, then, is a list of the newsletters that I actually read at the moment and find valuable, both as a journalist and a private individual.

Naked Data

Naked Data comes out every Friday and is co-written by Jason Norwood-Young and Adam Oxford. It covers the global South and tends towards data and coding, but it always has links to stories and projects that are interesting or ground-breaking, or both. For journalists of all kinds, it is a weekly prod in the direction of new trends and a resource specifically for people working in data visualisation. Also – it’s funny.

One man and his blog

Adam Tinworth writes a range of newsletters, and I subscribe to all of them (except the one about the ospreys, though I have been tempted). He offers a wide take on journalism trends, social media, newsletters and business models for the journalism profession. Articles he links to are preceded by his own take on the issue, which is always sensible and thought-provoking. I’ve given up many of the journalism newsletters that I used to subscribe to in favour of Tinworth’s missives.

Bloomberg City Lab

Not journalism related. A look at issues of urban planning, climate change and related matters. There’s always something worth reading – even though I hit the Bloomberg article limit quite early in any given month.

The Ruffian

I think I was pointed to the Ruffian by Adam Tinworth. These newsletters are a collection of links to interesting things Ian Leslie found on the Internet, or to his own writing – accompanied by thoughtful summaries. I have never been disappointed by following a link from one of his newsletters, and use them in my own social media sharing.

Contact me if you would like to chat about how I can help with all your organisational or communication needs (coaching, editing, writing, social media). And you can subscribe to my own newsletter here.

Main image: Stephen Phillips – on Unsplash

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