What’s Been On My Mind This Week

Question Mark

1. There was an interesting article in the Financial Times about how our brains respond to the written word, and what happens when we read digitally and on paper. The ‘print vs screen’ arguments are far too simplistic, it is claimed; it depends what we’re reading, when and why, and there is also a big difference between reading on a computer and on a dedicated e-reader.

2. David Sedaris is probably one of the funniest writers around, and this week he had a short piece published in the New Yorker about his addiction to the ‘Fitbit’, a device that measures how many steps you take a day.

3. Andrew Solomon not only writes great books, he also writes brilliant features. A few days ago I discovered this one in Food and Wine magazine (originally published in 2008), about a chef who had to have his tongue removed due to cancer, and what that meant for his sense of taste and how that affected the creation of dishes in his restaurant.

4. An amusing article in the Financial Times about chefs and their egos and the effect that is having on the food they plate up. It’s also interesting on the alleged differences between male and female chefs.

5. A friend alerted me to this feature in the New Statesman about the biggest myths regarding street-based sex workers.

6. A fascinating article on domestic violence in the New York Times here, in which the author argues that the high value our society places on the importance of two-parent families is a major inhibitor in preventing acts of violence in the home.

7. You would be surprised of course, if this regular post did not include an article or two on Hillary Clinton, and I would hate to disappoint you… So, the first article on Hillary is this review of her latest volume of memoir, Hard Choices, in the New Statesman, which is one of the more interesting reviews I’ve read.

8. The second Hillary-focused article for this week is this one in the Guardian, which looks at Clinton’s wealth and American issues of class and success.

9. There has been a lot of coverage in the press lately of Amazon’s dispute with Hachette, one of the world’s largest publishing conglomerates. There’s an interesting piece in the New York Times here on what this might mean for independent US booksellers.

10. There was a feature in the Economist this week about the declining rate of suicides in China, a country which, a few years ago, had the highest rate in the world.

11. I’m continuing to work my way through Stella Duffy‘s marvellous Saz Martin series of crime novels, and this week I read Beneath The Blonde, the third of the five books. In it there are flashbacks to one character’s childhood in 1970s New Zealand (where Duffy grew up), which I thought were particularly well done. I also read Diana Athill’s Instead of a Letter, the memoir she wrote at the age of 43, in which she asks herself, unmarried and childless, ‘What have I lived for?’ If you haven’t read any of Athill’s non-fiction, you really must.

12. This week I found myself listening again to Jill Jackson, a Scottish singer/songwriter who seems, sadly, to have stopped recording (her most recent album was Getaway Driver, released two years ago). I first came across her solo music (it took me a while to realise she started out as the lead singer of Scottish band Speedway, whom I also used to listen to) after seeing her supporting some other musicians in Scotland and in London. Her voice is incredible and I love her country-inspired music. Hopefully she will reappear soon…

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