I almost decided to write a little post about needing a blog break for a week or so, but then I decided that maybe I wouldn’t. My spring break begins in just another few days, so maybe I can make it that far without having to go to such extreme measures. It’s just that last week was a particularly bad one. My mother became seriously ill, and while she’s doing well, I’m worried about her. This weekend I drove up to the Rochester area to visit my parents and help out a bit, and I was glad to help, but this is my first serious brush with my parents’ mortality, and I do not like it one bit. Not at all. But my mother is recovering and will soon be well again, so that’s good.
So instead of taking a blog break, I thought I’d cheer myself up by writing about some things I’m really enthusiastic about these days. Distraction can work wonderfully, can’t it? I spent part of my drive this weekend listening to podcasts, and I have to say I love them. A few months ago, I read this article from The New York Review of Books about all the excellent radio available these days, and I finally got myself over to iTunes to figure out how to download shows. Since then, I’ve heard tons of author interviews on shows like The Leonard Lopate Show and The Brian Lehrer Show both on WNYC, and Radio Open Source where the host talks to his guests for almost an hour. I just heard an amazing interview on this show with Andre Dubus III, whose book Townie I will be reading soon. I’ve also recently heard interviews with Jaimy Gordon, Rana Dasgupta, and Lydia Davis. Also Joseph O’Connor, Joyce Carol Oates, Aminatta Forna, Zadie Smith, Maxine Hong Kingston, Adam Gopnik, and Carlos Fuentes (most of this list comes from The Leonard Lopate Show). It’s so fun to learn a little bit about new books and authors this way.
I also listen to This American Life, where the stories are almost always fascinating, and Fresh Air, which I listen to whenever Terry Gross has interesting guests. Also Studio 360 now and then, and Radiolab. Some of these shows I listened to on the radio in the old fashioned way, but only when the timing was right, which was rare. Now I listen to them whenever I want, most often in the car on my way to work.
The downside to this is that I’ve stopped listening to audiobooks, which is what I used to do during my commute, when I wasn’t listening to music or the news. Commute time is turning out to be precious time, although I don’t want it to be any longer than it is. But there are more things to do with it than I realized. I may go back to audiobooks at some point, but for now, I’m too eager to keep up with my podcasts.
And on to another enthusiasm: have I mentioned how much I love Twitter? For a while I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to use it, but, no surprise, I’ve begun to follow mostly bookish people, whether it’s fellow bloggers, authors, booksellers, or publishers. It’s been so much fun to carry on conversations about books with bloggers, of whom there are too many to list, but you can see who I’m following here. Twitter is also a good source of information on new books from publishers. Their feeds are all about marketing, of course, but it’s marketing news I’d like to hear, and there are often interesting people behind the feeds.
And then there are authors who tweet. My favorite is Colson Whitehead, whose tweets are often hilarious. There’s also Margaret Atwood, Ian Rankin, and Sara Paretsky. Pepys is also on twitter, or at least someone posts bits from his diary now and then. Also, Rosanne Cash’s tweets are awesome; she tweeted about the Super Bowl and the Oscars in the style of Jane Austen, and the results were delightful. And then sometimes super fun things happen like when I tweeted about how much I liked Deb Olin Unferth’s book Revolution, and she tweeted me back saying thank you!
It’s just so much fun. It can be a time suck, but it’s a great way to get news, keep in touch with people and learn about new things. I use Facebook, but Twitter is much cooler.
Okay, that makes me feel better!