I spent the previous weekend at the beautiful town of Hay-on-Wye attending the annual Hay Festival. Despite the mud (and it was everywhere!), it was a fabulous weekend filled with books, interesting discussions, and an intimate mini-concert by Sandi Thom that we stumbled into almost by accident.
In celebration of a literary weekend, I give you a long-ish excerpt from Ian McEwan’s 2005 novel, Saturday–which is one of my personal favourites. (Not least because it’s set in Fitzrovia, where I lived for six years.)
At Hay we also got to listen to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. She’s an author who I evangelise regularly. I’ve recommended her to everyone looking for a read, and gifted her books to friends often. If you haven’t seen it yet, do watch her Ted Talk on the danger of a single story.
What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children. Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify.
As someone who grew up devouring Enid Blyton and dreaming of some day tasting macaroons, and treacle, the talk really resonated with me. (I was, clearly, super thrilled to be able to tell her that as well!)
Small inoculations : an interesting long read on little interventions undertaken in the University of Texas system, to reach kids who are in danger of dropping out, well before they get there. They examine incoming student profiles to identify a group that’s likely to struggle. They then provide small confidence boosting measures (literally, a 25-45 minute web presentation) which improved school performance, increasing the likelihood that these kids would graduate.
Using Google Search trends to examine what pregnant women want : Some interesting bits, but mostly just confirms what we already think–lots of rather typical pre-parental anxiety, some queries on conceiving sons, and questions on what’s safe to eat.
If, like me, you were frustrated by the last season of Gilmore Girls (after Amy Sherman-Palladino and her husband left), you might enjoy imagining a world where Rory & Jesse get back together. I liked the plot, but more than that I loved the way the author of this piece of fan-fiction captured the voice of the Gilmore Girls.
Personalised service, taken to another level: GrubStreet on the fastidiousness of service at Eleven Madison Park and how the maître d’ Justin Roller googles every guest.
If, for example, Roller discovers it’s a couple’s anniversary, he’ll then try to figure out which anniversary. If it’s a birthday, he’ll welcome a guest, as they walk in the door, with a “Happy Birthday.”
Other bits & bobs
On the difference between American and European (incl. UK) eggs. Interesting reading on regulation, how the UK has drastically lowered the risk of salmonella, and refrigeration.
Keynes for kids — this is absolutely beautiful
The Favourites List is a somewhat irregular (usually weekly) roundup of things I’ve enjoyed reading. Expect some fiction, long-form writing, travel, food, technology. I usually link to free content, but occasionally to items behind a paywall (because I think paying for quality content is awesome!).