little ones, motherhood, stray thoughts
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Birthday books 8

Half-term. A long weekend staying with my mum. A two-and-a-half year old who has just given up his daytime nap. A five year old who has brought home the class bear, Bertie, and his diary — over the holiday. An eight year old whose social life is now so developed that we either don’t see her all day, or we have an extra child with us all day & don’t see either of them. (Except at mealtimes, obviously.) Today, dark skies; furious showers of rain. Four children promised a picnic, who sat on a rug in the living room and picnicked there. I sat with them, leaning against the sofa, wondering why this felt like one of the most chilled out times of the holiday.

But, there are small moments, and I’m trying to use them. Sarah Manguso’s Ongoingness is on a shelf in the kitchen. Twice this week I’ve sat, coffee in hand, reading it. Thinking about each of its spare pages. Today I sat there while the boys listened to Roald Dahl reading Fantastic Mr Fox & T re-read a Famous Five. And in bed at night, my other diary book, Heidi Julavits’s The Folded Clock, which I’m also enjoying. I think it’s quite hard to listen to this & not want to read the book.


While we’re talking listening, here are a couple of other recommendations:

*   I finally started listening to Death, Sex & Money. I’d seen it recommended in so many places & now I’m evangelical. I’m also totally in love with Anna Sale: she has the most beautiful voice and asks the absolute best questions. She’s also not afraid of waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for an answer. I’m guessing if I was in the US, I’d know who more of the interviewees were, but not knowing doesn’t seem to matter in the least.

*  If you’re in the UK or can listen to BBC programmes, get yourself to The Invisible College — writing lessons from the dead. I’ve only listened to part 1, but it was brilliant. (via Anthony Wilson)

*  Finally, all of the Lit Up podcasts (see the Heidi Julavits one above) are great listening. They’re also potentially expensive listens, each leading me to want to instantly read the book just discussed. But I guess that’s how book talk should work. My only caveat, and I feel bad even saying this, is that it’s taken me about five episodes to not cringe when I hear Angela Ledgerwood & Emily Gould’s voices…both high pitched, breathy and weirdly similar considering one is Australian and the other American.


Above, some of the books that T received for her birthday. She’d read Harry Potter twice within a week & I think she’s got through them all now. There were more: Goodnight Mr Tom & The Wolves of Willoughby Chase among them. I’m not doing at all well at my resolution to keep up with her reading, but Charlotte Sometimes is definitely top of my list. I have such fond memories of it & I’d love to see how much I remember.

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