My, how things have changed since we were last in touch.
I hope you are managing to get everything you need for yourself and for your family members.
Although it's only a few short days since we were placed in lockdown, it feels like a lifetime, doesn't it? And yet, at the same time, the hours in each day fly by.
I don't know about you, but I've found it difficult to concentrate and my usual comfort in reading has been halted as I've been unable to focus.
But, knowing how much I need to lose myself in the other world of a good book, I've been using various techniques to get back 'in the zone'. You might like to try them too...
First there was a children's book! I particularly enjoy middle grade books, those aimed at 8-10-year-olds, because I find they can be relied upon to deliver great characterisation, good plot, short chapters and a lively pace - so I can recommend 'The Guggenheim Mystery' by Robin Stevens and you can look up other titles here.
Then I turned to non-fiction. I'd sourced an out-of-print memoir by Sally Magnusson in anticipation of her now-cancelled visit next month. It proved a real tonic, so if you are able to get a secondhand copy, of 'Family Life', I heartily recommend it. Formed from the columns she used to write in a newspaper, the book charts her experiences as a mother of five young children in easy to read, short chapters, providing a welcome reminder of ordinary life, in a very sociable household - and it's very, very funny. Take a look at other escapist non-fiction titles here.
Of course I've also had to read this month's book group books - I haven't yet embarked on my BBC Radio Suffolk title, 'The Binding' (though will be doing so this week, and I hope you might join me in the conversation on 6 April - I'll include some questions to ponder in next week's newsletter). But I read the Browsers book group book, 'The Great Level', a few weeks ago, so I'm up to date on that and will be able to facilitate our discussion tomorrow night!
And here's the plan...
While I know that we're all adapting to the opportunities available through technology in terms of various video links, we'll start off keeping things simple with a text discussion this time. So no cameras!
Curl up with your laptop, tablet or phone, pour yourself a glass of wine or a cup of coffee and click on this link to go to the discussion page.
Here you'll find a few themes to ponder about the book. You can write your comments in the form provided straightaway, or you can wait until we go 'live' tomorrow at 8pm. Then we'll be able to converse with each other in the form of an email chat, imagining ourselves sitting together as we might have been in the bookshop.
I know we won't be able to see each other on this occasion, and it'll be quieter, but at least we can keep in touch, and we can explore the way forward week by week.
Do please get involved if you can. It will be lovely to know you're there so, even if you don't have much to say about the book, just a simple like/didn't like, or a hello, will suffice!
And, because it will take more time for us to receive next month's book, I'll give you the title now, rather than a big reveal tomorrow night.
I've found it difficult to choose something which might hit the right mark in these challenging times but, after huge deliberation, I've found a book that is widely available and has won various prizes and great acclaim. I'm halfway through it already - I only started it yesterday afternoon - and with my current progress in reading, that's some endorsement, I hope you agree.
The book is 'Lost Children Archive' by Valeria Luiselli.
Please do order it from Browsers if you can. Give the shop a ring 01394 388890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and pay over the phone with your bank card, then Martin and Anna will arrange to mail it to you, hopefully within the week.
Also, because things are changing day by day, I will now be offering two e-newsletters each week.
This weekly, Sunday night, e-newsletter will continue, giving you my reviews and recommendations, and details about the book groups and any other activities. Let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to see. Please spread the word in encouraging anyone who might find the news, reviews and recommendations interesting. You can send them this link.
There will also be a midweek update relating specifically to Browsers in Woodbridge with details of new titles which have come into stock, as well as news of deliveries and ordering procedures. Follow this link to subscribe now to be sure of receiving the first newsletter on Wednesday.
And for something completely different - have you seen that this week the National Theatre has announced a programme of live productions to be streamed via YouTube?
For the next two months, every Thursday evening at 7pm, you can watch National Theatre Live stage productions such as 'One Man Two Guvnors', 'Jane Eyre', 'Treasure Island' and 'Twelfth Night'.
The productions were all previously screened in cinemas globally as a part of National Theatre Live but now we can watch them at home. After each Thursday screening the plays will be available to watch on demand for seven days before the next performance is released. There will also be interactive content with Q&A and conversations with cast members. It's a brilliant initiative and you can find out more here.
Thank you for reading. Stay safe and well.