So I’ve finally finished building all of the beds, about 14 months after we took on the plot. Here’s how it looked back then, by the way. Currently there are loads of seeds doing what seeds do, fruit bushes developing nicely, potatoes beginning to surface, and onions roaring away (well, where pheasants haven’t rooted them up out of curiousity). It’s been a much more gentle pace to the start of the growing year, so I’ve enjoyed the strike-force of robins that scour the earth for worms, the sparrow-hawk that scour the hedgerows for robins, and the field mouse that scampers along the hedgerow doing who-knows what. And the skylark song filling the air.
It’s been a while since I’ve highlighted some literary links that have caught my eye recently. First up, there’s a big decline in male readers:
McNab, who served in the SAS before turning bestselling author with Bravo Two Zero, was responding to a new study for the Reading Agency conducted by by OnePoll, which found that 63% of men admit they don’t read as much as they think they should. Almost 30% of men went so far as to admit to researchers that they hadn’t really picked up a book since they were forced to read at school.
Not to take anything away from the point, but I remember from my time as a bookseller over a decade ago that the lack of male readers was a big concern even then. I’m not sure anything has changed, or that things are even worse. I mean, could consider myself one of the 63% that wished they could read more – my reading pile is getting obscene.
In response to this, the Telegraph publishes 10 books to get men reading. A curious collection, at best. As a former bookseller, I’d shove them into the crime and thriller section as a good place to start – largely because many of those books are designed specifically to engage and keep the pages turning. That’s ideal for people who don’t read much.
Speaking of which, world’s best-selling author James Patterson spills the beans on how to write an unputdownable story.
Finally, Juliet McKenna has some thoughtful things to say over at the Guardian about the literary potential of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Three drams of note this month (one of which is to avoid). The first is from Springbank, one of the very first distilleries I ever visited. The second is an indie bottling from Cadenhead, of a distillery I’d never tried before. Finally, the latest iteration of the Black Bottle blend is very disappointing – even at a low price.
This is pretty interesting. Grad student Aaron Mickelson has created a whole load of design ideas with the aim to reduce packaging waste.