Weekend Reading

Reading Two Books 1971 Postcard, William Wegman

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Your Bookshop Needs You

It can be quite depressing reading bookselling blogs and discovering that yet another favorite bookshop has gone out of business. Like most people, I have succumbed to the convenience of ebooks and buy fewer print copies these days. Although I still make an effort to purchase most of my reading materials in old fashioned paper formats, when I am traveling I usually just bring one print book and load-up my reading apps with digital reading material. Now more than ever, it’s important for all of us to make an extra effort to buy print books from local independent bookshops.


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Literature Is An Invention


Sara Nicholson

Literature is an invention; it was
Written by men to praise war.
Economy is tragic; the economy

Comedy. What the heart feigns
The mind rehearses, circles
A river on the map, as if to say

Voilà! Now the non-linear
Has maneuvered the rational
Into position, and may rest.”

So we rewrite the old sayings—
That art achieves through effort
Ease; or that metaphor has

No prerequisite, like calling light
The data windows encrypt
And actually meaning it, right

Now, for example, to set down
Pen to paper, voice to verse
And claim that art itself is wholly

Suffix to experience, unheard
But not unheard-of. A universe
Gracelessly flashing forth.

*   *   *

Sara Nicholson is the author of What the Lyric Is (2016) and The Living Method (2014), both from the Song Cave, as well as a chapbook of stories, Mortal Tales (2018), from the Catenary Press.

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From New Zealand With Love

I’m currently in the middle of trip planning for a three week visit to New Zealand, so I have been reading lots of local media and blogs. In the process, I stumbled upon this heartwarming story about the generosity of the people and libraries of Auckland.

Thousands of books have been donated by more than 50 Auckland Council libraries among the hundreds of other items given by generous New Zealanders including bikes, laptops and more to help launch Tonga’s first public library. It’s the brainchild of South Auckland couple Kahoa and Brendan Corbett, who for the past year have been packing up donated goods almost every month to be shipped to Kolovai, the village where the library is located.

Children with books in Tonga

While it may be a surprise for some that Tonga has never had a proper public library before, the little South Pacific kingdom is full of avid readers and has a 99 percent literacy rate. There have been other community venues open to the public with resources and various donated books but the Kolovai library is said to be the first to operate with a cataloged library system, allowing books to be issued and loaned out to members of the public – a system set up with the help of Auckland libraries in New Zealand.


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Writing Is Hard Work


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Every Man Dies Alone

Until ten years ago Hans Fallada was a forgotten German novelist who had a moderately successful career until the rise of the Nazis. When he died in a sanatorium in 1947, Fallada was struggling with a long term addiction to opiates and alcohol, and was barely making a living as a freelance writer. Fallada died of heart failure just weeks before the release of his masterwork Every Man Dies Alone. This haunting novel is about a German couple who defy the Nazi regime by distributing anti-Hitler postcards around Berlin .The fictional husband and wife were based on real-life working-class Berliners Otto and Elise Hampel who were executed for circulating anti-Nazi flyers.

Fallada, and his greatest book, were virtually unknown outside of Germany until the American publisher Melville House released an English language edition in 2009. It is a moving story of resistance to tyranny that has added resonance in this era of resurgent Fascism and authoritarian government. But, it is also a moving story of parental love and sacrifice in the face of grief and loss.

If you haven’t discovered Hans Fallada, this ten year anniversary is a good time to seek out his books beginning with Every Man Dies Alone.

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Bugging Out

This summer the media in North America has been crawling with stories about bedbug infestations. The creepy little buggers have been making the news for turning up every where from the New York Times headquarters in Manhattan to tangerine Mussolini’s Doral Resort in Miami. It can give one the heebie-geebies just thinking out it. Last week I made the mistake of checking into a New York City hotel without doing due diligence on the potential for bedbug infestation. This time I lucked out, but it’s always safer to check online for reported problems prior to booking accommodations in the United States.

There are some quick and generally effective ways to find out if your hotel has had reports of bedbugs. Along with a simple Google search for any hotel that you are considering, there are some helpful websites that track infestations reported by actual travelers. Two reliable options are The Bedbug Registry and Bedbug Reports:

The Bedbug Registry

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Launched in 2006, The Bedbug Registry is the go-to bedbug database, with 20,000 reports covering 12,000 locations in the U.S. and Canada. The up-to-date reports are listed on their homepage, but you can search for reported sightings based on hotel name and address.

They site also has city maps of New York, San Francisco, Chicago, LA, Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver that show where bedbugs have been found by visitors.



BedbugReports.com began posting reports back in 2010. It has a good database of hotels in the U.S., and a smaller database for Canadian reports. Searching is straightforward – chose a state, then a city, and you’ll be offered a list of hotels that have had bedbug sightings.They also provide helpful information about bedbugs, including how to examine your hotel room for the critters and how to de-bug yourself if you bring them home with you.

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Paris: Word on the Street

h/t Philipe Bouvier


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It’s That Day Again

“The National Buy a Book Day Foundation’s primary activity is educating the American people on the importance of books to our culture and community by encouraging citizens to go to any bookstore on September 7th of each year, which we hope to establish as National Buy a Book Day, and buy a book. By buying a book, as a community, every year on the same day, we come together in support of books, booksellers, authors, and publishers alike. This is the exclusive goal of the organization, and it is funded entirely from public and corporate donations.”

Young African woman buying books at a bookstore.


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Why Islandia

I was recently asked (again) why I still encourage folks to visit Iceland even in this era of overtourism. I could reiterate all of the reasons to go, but this amazing short film by Moscow-based videographer Vadim Sherbakov explains it better than I ever could.

“Islandia — is a Latin name for Iceland and relative to the old language since this film portraits primordial and rough nature of Iceland. For the short duration of the film, you will be transported to a place that easily could be a million years ago. From unbelievable landscapes and vast valleys to painting-like terrain and majestic waterfalls and lakes – this film shows the unparalleled beauty of Iceland and its unearthly glory.”


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