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Drawing People Into Reading by Allison Symes

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Image Credit:  Mainly via Book Brush using Pixabay photos. One image from me. I remember years ago being at a Book Fair when someone walked past, looked at my table and said loudly to their friend, “I don’t like books”.  I so wanted to say “what are you doing here then” but judged it best not to! But it did throw up an attitude problem which worried me.  Why is it, in some circles, considered a good thing to boast about not reading? What are they hoping to achieve?    I know reading has never been “cool”. I was the typical girly swot at school. Always had my head in a book but I’ve never seen that as a problem. (I always associated myself with Velma from the cartoon series Scooby Doo rather than Daphne, and with Jo March from Little Women rather than, say, Meg March. I’ve always had a soft spot for the girls with glasses and the ones who love to write. Can’t imagine why that is - possibly the fact I am still a girl, albeit an older one now, with glasses who loves to write may have so

Cities, towns and villages, by Elizabeth Kay

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I may as well say it straight out: I hate cities. I hate the press of people, the lack of greenery, the rubbish, the exhaust fumes, the blank faces. But you can’t travel these days (or is it those days?) without encountering our huge conurbations. It’s reckoned that for millennia the average size of human communities was one hundred and fifty people. You knew everyone, and they knew you. Outsiders stood out immediately. But now? Cities can be absolutely enormous. Granted, there is some beautiful architecture, which wouldn’t be feasible for only a few hundred people, but there’s a lot of really awful stuff too. Shanghai China was a shock. We travelled by bullet train from Xi’an (population over 8 million) to Chengdu (population over 16 million), past various other enormous cities, their modern skyscrapers clustered together like children’s building bricks. All the new cities are built to the same plan, although they all look very different as the designs are imaginative and many-colou

I Can't Imagine! ~ Maressa Mortimer

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What do you think? What do you see? Last Saturday was a thrilling day for me. I was off to London, by myself, to meet lots of other Christian writers. It involved getting up at an unholy hour, after getting to bed late. I was trying to sort out hubby and kids for the following day, to make sure they’d all survive. So by six in the morning, I was safely installed on a comfortable coach, on my way to London. I was too restless to listen to an audiobook, listening to music instead. I kept dozing off, but when I woke up, the landscape was intriguing. I could see faint outlines of undulating hills, shrouded in mist. You could see the mist reaching out with long fingers, wrapping itself around a treetop that had been almost visible just before. I took several pictures, knowing it wouldn’t look like anything on my phone afterwards. There would be lorries, blurry cars and the hills would not stand out. I spotted some car headlights, tucked between two hills, no road in sight. Why? Who woul

Beware of Gifts Bearing Grease--by Reb MacRath

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You've gotta give it to the ancient Greeks. They pulled a sweetheart of a trick thousands of years ago, so sweet we still remember it. In fact, we have a phrase for it: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts . Gifts like a giant wooden horse given to a city...and rolled in with armed troops inside it. Troy fell because of that but the horse will live forever along with our awe of Greek cunning. What might happen, you might wonder, if the gift could be reversed--and a well-meant, beautifully wrapped gift arrived...and was received as bearing grease ? Grease in the sense that the gift is seen as smeared with ambition, deceit, and base pride. This actually happens too often. Because of the volume of spam and links meant to hack us not give us a thing, we've all grown jaded and suspicious. And few things set our teeth on edge like a slick trick from a half-witted writer. It could be someone you've just befriended on Facebook. Within minutes, you receive a gushing, greasy email: Dear Fr

Journey into the Unknown

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I’m a big fan of travel writing. There’s nothing I like better than to curl up with an intrepid individual as they scale icy mountains, trek across uncharted wastes and battle with hostile tribes. If you’ve never read him, I’d encourage you to look into the works of Eric Newby (personal favourites of mine being Love and War in the Apennines and A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush).   I myself am not a great traveller. I don’t like flying (lack of control, no leg room, hurtling through the air in a metal tube. Why would you?) and I prefer to get to know several places really well rather than going to lots of different destinations just once. I do love travelling on trains and last Saturday, I made the two-hour journey from rural East Suffolk to the throbbing depths of the capital for the 50 th Anniversary ACW Writers’ Day in Westminster. Dear readers, at no point did I whip out a set of crampons and scramble up an inhospitable slope. Nor did I have to don snowshoes and crunch my way over

A Walk in the Park by Misha Herwin

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  Yesterday I joined a writing walk in our local park. It’s something I’d never done before and had no idea of how it would work. So much, no doubt, would depend on the weather and in that we were lucky. The sun shone, the day was warm, almost too warm for the scarf, winter coat and Docs I was wearing. Wrapped up against the possibility of any change in temperature, I’ve been caught out too often by the changeable British climate, I set off a little later than I had hoped and got to the meeting place to find that no one was there. For a moment I was tempted to go back home, it’s only a five minute walk, and I could spend the rest of the day working in the garden or even doing some writing. A glimpse through the black iron gate showed the group already in session so in I went. Sue, the group leader, explained how the morning would work. For ten minutes we would walk around the park, on our own, or in groups, looking for and noting down, anything yellow. Then we would come back s

Russians | A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders | Karen Kao

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  A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders Let me confess: I haven’t read many Russians. The big novels, yes, but few of the classic short stories. It feels like time to correct that omission with A Swim in a Pond in the Rain (In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading and Life) by George Saunders. The four 19th century Russians–Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Gogol–deliver on the promises Saunders makes in his subtitle. They teach us, by way of seven sample short stories, about omission, patterns and escalation. Or rather, Saunders does. I’ve never heard him speak, let alone attended one of his short story writing classes. But I like to think that reading A Swim in a Pond in the Rain comes a close second for writers and readers of Russians and everyone else. For readers For Saunders, writing begins with reading. The Russians were not the first authors he discovered. The Russians are the ones against whom he still measures his own wo