Sedate lady running 20-26 Jan 2020 #amrunning #running

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A short one this week as I’ve come down with a damned cold, thus missing the lovely Bernice’s 50th parkrun, a trip to the Running Show and a run in the Malvern Hills. Grr.

Monday – A recovery run with Claire, feeling very creaky after my 15 miles yesterday! We just ran to Swanshurst Park and back … but the park was looking lovely.

Although this looks limpid and lovely it was really cold and also icy underfoot: we had to cross from side to side of the roads and hop up onto a grassy verge to run safely at one point there and back!

3.5 miles, 12:53 mins per mile. 11,585 steps.

Tuesday – My birthday! I had a lovely long walk with Louise in the daytime, just wandering in the park, saying hello to all the dogs, etc. Went out with Matthew in the evening to a new Lebanese place for dinner.

EDITED TO ADD: My goodness, I can’t believe I left this bit out. Got home from the meal to find something odd on the floor. I do have a habit of leaving my damp trainers under the radiator in the hall. Which ones did Mizz Willa Kitten choose to sever the lace of? Would it be the bashed-up walking trainers, the end-of-life pair with over 400 miles in or the pretty well brand-new ones??

2020_21

12,983 steps

Wednesday – My friend who has RA has also had a bad spell with sciatica, and has been pretty well housebound. She had a physio appointment at the hospital nearish to me today, and they were less than forthcoming about the arrangements available for her to get from the hospital entrance to the dept. Although a phone call offered more hope, I decided I wanted to be around in case she needed help either walking or being pushed in a wheelchair. The bus there is a bit unreliable, so I decided to run (except I ran into our late neighbour’s son and got some info about the buyers of his house, then had to hop on a bus there anyway). Ran onto the university campus (next door to the hospital and as an alumna and ex-staff (twice) I feel I am entitled to go there! to use the loo  and got a message that a chair and a man to push it had been provided (hooray) so had a quick look round the renovated campus (my old workplace knocked down) and was pleased to see a favourite statue was still there.

Barbara Hepworth's Ancestor II in front of the new libraryI then ran home, which is pretty well all uphill, as hard as I could, as I’ve been trying to work harder runs into my schedule once a week. Quite a hard push but with some walking up the worst hills so was pleased with my average time. I was also quite tired; I’d been feeling like I was coming down with something a couple of times this week. That’s because I WAS!

0.58 mi, 11:11 mins per mile / 4 mi, 12:00 mins per mile. 11,275 miles

Thursday – Went for a lovely dog walk with Claire and Kaci in the morning, then went out with the girls to make up the miles I missed not running all the way down to the hospital yesterday. We met up on the corner and there were six of us, which is a large group of Sedate Ladies these days. Some of us peeled off to just get a lower total, some did 5 miles. Photos by Trudie, shared with permission.

Runners in the dark

Mary Ellen, Liz, Caroline, Tracie, Tara, Trudie

Reflective leggings

Trudie has on the dot leggings a few of us have; Tracie and I are modelling one leg each of our new Decathlon Kalenji ones, very bright!

4 miles, 13:30 mins per mile. 16,244 miles.

And that was it – cold came on Thursday night. I am careful not to run when sick and I am not up to running. Did some squats Fri and squats and lunges Sat and will try to do the same today. At least I have room to miss a long or hard run (the Malverns run was going to be 9 or 10) as long as I can get better soon. I’ve just asked for cover for my club volunteering duties for Tuesday and hope I’ll be OK to support our 5k and Beyonders (the new batch!) on Thursday. Yes, am keeping hydrated and taking extra zinc. Pretty sure I helped this come to me by skimping on sleep and fruit and veg groups, though: a lesson there!

However …

Saturday – I need to give a shout out to two brave and strong ladies. Bernice (who I did Race to the Stones with, while she had a herniated disc!!) has seen all sorts of professionals, been given the all-clear to start running again, and did her 50th parkrun at Cannon Hill with some of her friends from where she lives now and a good few of our Sedate Ladies. And Tracie, who was also there, went way outside of her comfort zone on her long run and managed beautifully. Well done, both!

weekly-run-down-final-300x300Weekly total 12.1 miles. Total this year 77 miles (at this point I am saying goodbye to my 2020 km plan for the year!). Total weekly steps unclear.

The Weekly Run Down is run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Kim’s weekly wrap is here and Deborah’s is here.

 

Book review – Vybarr Cregan-Reid – “Footnotes: How Running Makes us Human” @RunBookshelfFB #amreading

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Oopsadaisy – I’ve been reading a lot but not managing to keep up with my reviews. I’ve been doing an older book, a new book and an e-book in order to make space for Christmas incomings and then not have too many of them to fit on the shelf when it’s time. Of course, I also just had my birthday, with MORE lovely books (hooray! Dean Street Press and Persephone plus other wish list delights for the win – a post on those coming soon as I think there may be one more to come). And, um, I may have come by a couple of others in the meantime.

Anyway, this was at LAST the last book from that huge Foyles book token haul I had in May 2018. So behind on my reading, but that’s the fault of doing the one old one, one new one, which does also have its advantages.

Vybarr Cregan-Reid – “Footnotes: How Running Makes us Human”

(22 May 2018)

Quite a dense running book which looks at different aspects of why running is good for us, taking in neuroscience, physiology and psychology and visiting researchers and labs, sometimes offering himself up as the subject of the research. You get bits of his life as he goes out on runs and contemplates various aspects – he’s a literature professor so there’s more literary stuff than you might perhaps expect, including some stuff about the Lake District poets and Thomas Hardy. He’s partly a barefoot runner (but not full-time and experiences some issues with that) and spends time on that topic, and it’s always interesting to read his descriptions when the shoes come off on his runs. He has some quite funny experiences getting more weather than he bargained for in the Lake District when trying to emulate the walking feats of the poets, and some frustrating times but also fun doing some mild trespassing.

He seems honest about his personality and failings, for example how he’s good at doing things but not so good at not doing things. He also explores matters that are outside his comfort zone, which is admirable, spending time and effort finding out why some people enjoy going to the gym, even if it’s not for him. I also enjoyed his narrative of his slightly accidental marathon (on the roads, while he obviously prefers running in wilder places) and this rang a bell:

‘Pain is temporary, failure lasts forever’, the wankers will tell you. No! Pain is not necessary for success, a  healthy relationship with failure is. (p. 270)

So quite a dense book which looks in depth at how running can enhance our humanity, with some interesting runs and recognisable features. An interesting read.


Two incomings that are not birthday or Christmas related. Diana Pullein-Thompson’s “I Wanted a Pony” was her first solo effort, and Jane Badger Books has reissued it with the original illustrations. When Jane shared this on Facebook, I just had to order it.

My friend Mary Ellen (of running posts fame) has just finished Lara Maiklem’s “Mudlarking” which is all about the things the author has found on the muddy banks of the Thames at low tide. She thought I would like to borrow it and indeed I would!

What’s lovely about both of these is the illustration. Here’s the endpapers of “Mudlarking” along with one of the attractive line drawings in “I Wanted a Pony”

I’m currently finishing off Blind Dave Heeley’s “From Light to Dark” which is his very good and entertaining autobiography. Still to review is Jess Phillips’ “Truth to Power” and I have finished the excellent “Learning Languages in Early Modern England” by John Gallagher, which I am reviewing for Shiny New Books. I think next up will be “Fresh from the Country” by Miss Read, one of Dean Street Press’s new Furrowed Middlebrow books which they sent me in e-format to review but my best friend Emma sent me in print format for my birthday (hooray!). What a great start to the year this month has been so far!

 

Sedate lady running 13-19 Jan 2020 #amrunning #running

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A bit of a funny week this week in that I slightly hurt my foot but sorted it out quickly and the thing I hurt it doing really helped me later in the week – so I dropped two days of my RED January 10,000 steps a day, but made them up during the week.

Monday – I did a recovery run with Claire, our normal four-mile canal route. She had done 10 miles the day before, me 14, so we took it nice and gently. As I left the house to meet her I found some lovely post through the door – my pretty medal from my 12 Day Marathon and a thank you card. The participants raised over £3,000 for two local charities to the organiser, Carly, and I was so proud to take part. The medal has 12 Day Marathon around the inner ring, which you can’t quite see on the photo.

4 miles, 12:40 mins per mile. 10,030 steps

Tuesday – Had a lovely walk with my friend Louise, she did Pokemon gaming as we walked round the park, then nipping in and out of the shops rounded up my steps.

11,288 steps

Wednesday – Yoga with Dave in the morning, nice to be back in the routine of it though I was pretty creaky! In the afternoon I went for a walk to pick up some steps and ended up chasing a lovely sunset into the park and getting very muddy feet running across the grass for another picture! Then in the evening it was Track, which I haven’t been to for ages. Literally over a year.

Tara and Matt picked me up, so I couldn’t escape. I took my new spikes with me – I bought them last spring when I thought I might need to do a very heavy cross-country session in training for the ultra, then didn’t need them, but they’re suitable for track, too. When we got there I tried to put them on then panicked and stayed in my road shoes.

Paul was our coach – he’s brilliant, so inclusive, making things work for a group of people from really speedy chaps to me. We had a warm up concentrating on pawing the ground away behind us as the foot landed. We did cruise intervals which was 1200 m at 5k pace (I didn’t know what my 5k pace was and went out a bit fast) which “are to improve your lactate threshold” and then an 800 m at fastest endurance (not sprint) pace which “improves your Vo2 max”. Then I dared to put on the spikes and did 400 m randomly – I did like the way they felt steadier on the sometimes slippy track and also made me pick my feet up and land on my mid-foot. We then had four x  400 m repeats so 400 m fast then 100 m recovery which “are just anaerobic speedwork” – my left foot which is my shorter leg side and the side that is prone to tendonitis and my ankles started to ache so I pulled up then and swapped to road shoes for the stretching at the end.

I know a lot of people do track and wear spikes but I was proud of myself for going out of my comfort zone, and it felt OK, although as I mentioned, I stopped when it got uncomfortable physically. Lots of clubmates and friends advised and reassured me beforehand and at the session and once again I am so glad to have these people around me.

2.1 miles, 10:26 mins per mile 13,008 steps

Thursday – Unfortunately the arch of my “bad” foot was quite sore today. It’s OK when it’s the arch protesting, I worry when it’s the ball (that foot has always been slightly turned onto the outside, as I got to about 31 before having my leg length disparity corrected with a raise, and so the bones are squashed together and if the tendons get inflamed it’s very painful). I visited my friend Ali but got two buses there and back rather than risking running or walking to her. It is FINE to not do my RED January challenge if it’s going to hurt me – I did 50 squats and 100 arm movements with weights (20 bicep curls etc) so kept moving.

2,494 steps

Friday – Foot was feeling a lot better and I did Clare yoga then had a bit of a walk later on to the hairdressers, and did 60 squats, 10 of them single-leg. All good!

3,461 steps

Saturday – I was all set to go to Oaklands parkrun to marshal – in fact I was over half way there on the bus – when I found it had been cancelled due to ice, as many local parkruns were. Came home and Matthew and I went for a walk along the 4 mile canal route I run so often. It was lovely to show him the boatyard and the wood, and we also went off the path and explored the small nature reserve – saw a heron and an egret (you can just see them in this picture) and I wished I’d brought my good camera. Of course, the path in the first wood was flooded again, and the pond here was rather larger than I think it usually is. Foot felt fine – hooray!

12,859 steps

Sunday – I felt confident enough of my foot to start off on my long run and then we had news and experience that the pavements were REALLY icy. Not the kind of ice my US blogging friends are having, where yaktrax and nanospikes are of assistance, but a thin layer of sometimes black ice over the pavements and roads. Ugh. But we persisted and it was OK, though I had a couple of “slide and expletive” moments.

Not the best selfie in the world and someone didn’t get the memo about ear-warmers! Liz, Tracie, Trudie, Mary Ellen and Tara.

Mary Ellen, Trudie and I set off from my road, then met Tara part way down. When we got to Acocks Green we met Tracie, got this awful photo and then Mary Ellen and Trudie set off home again as they had commitments. Tara, Tracie and I carried on around a route that Tracie had devised taking in areas of Olton and down to Solihull (including a comfort stop in the rather posh Tudor Grange leisure centre) and back to the central area. Tracie got to 9 miles and went home (well done!) then I left Tara, who had done over 11 miles very strongly, in the no 11 bus stop and then got 5 bus stops on before she overtook me!

It was OK getting home on my own (this is where Trudie ran me in last time) and although I felt a bit rubbish in my last mile and was muttering darkly to myself that I was too unfit to do this stuff, it turned out that that was because my last two miles were done in just over 12 mins and 11:30 mins, the latter being my half marathon PB pace. This was mainly because I was thinking about what Paul had been telling us on Wednesday, so I was running more efficiently. Hooray!

 

I got a personal record on Swanshurst Lane in my last but one mile, a road I run up a lot, so I was tired but pleased. Withnin a moment of finishing typing this, my pizza will be coming out of the oven …

15.1 miles, 13:35 mins per mile. 33,196 steps

weekly-run-down-final-300x300Weekly total 21.2 miles. Total this year 64.9 miles. Total weekly steps 86,336.

The Weekly Run Down is run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Kim’s weekly wrap is here and Deborah’s is here.

 

Book review – Abi Daré – “The Girl with the Louding Voice” @abidare_author #LoudingVoice #NetGalley @HodderBooks

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This book has a lot of buzz around it and has already won awards from Red Magazine, the BBC and Stylist Magazine – for a first novel, that’s quite astounding. I came across it in my NetGalley emails and the author was also mentioned by my old university friend Julia Bell as one of her Birkbeck students, so even though I don’t read many books set in Africa, I just had to pick it up. And I’m very glad I did.

This is an exceptional and important novel that’s also unputdownable, the traumatic events it portrays in gritty detail balanced out by the delightful, resourceful and resilient heroine/narrator. Nigerian Adunni is the same age as the century, 14, when she’s sold in marriage by her father for what is effectively some goats, money and a telly. She has to get used to being a third wife, but draws comfort from her ability to make supportive friends. When tragedy hits, she’s forced to go on the run, only to be sold into domestic slavery. She only realises that’s what happens through her reading in the library of the house she works at – the gradual dawning of comprehension is so deftly handled.

Adunni’s late mother instilled in her a love and craving for education, and she wants so badly to be a teacher, but it seems impossible that she will ever get to return to her studies, the gulf between rich and poor, whether in a village or the capital, being too great to be able to raise yourself up even a little. She does have a sort of role model in the form of her employer, who started a fabric brand from scratch, and there are great and funny examples of her ruthless selling techniques, however she’s an unhappy and uneducated woman who is a role model in no other way.

It takes a disparate group of people who are different from Adunni and indeed ‘othered’ in Nigeria – this point is made subtly – a Ghanaian man who has a daughter her age, a woman who has lived in the UK and is having trouble fitting back into the wealthy society back in Nigeria and a Muslim driver – to help her raise herself up, little by little. Everything is plausible and difference is punished by society while being praised by the book – although when Tia goes through a barbaric local custom, her mother-in-law is forced to consider if her traditional ways are the best.

The book is written in an under-educated pidgin English which takes very little time to get into (like Girl, Woman, Other being in “poetry” it’s something you might worry about but the worry goes in an instant when you start reading): it’s easier to read than James Kelman, for example. A heart-breaking example comes when she considers her societal role to have children:

But I don’t want to born anything now. How will a girl like me born childrens? Why will I fill up the world with sad childrens that are not having a chance to go to school? Why make the world to be one big, sad, silent place because all the childrens are not having a voice?

I have seen one single criticism (on NetGalley) that the language used is not typical of Nigerian English with Yoruba as a first language; not something I feel qualified to have an opinion on, even though I have edited quite a few works by people with African Language 1s. The author is Nigerian, and the writing is inventive, appealing and gives an extra dimension to the novel, so I trust her on that, although I would like to know more about how she formed it, just out of interest. The language Adunni uses, trying to express herself (and there are some beautiful descriptions) adds to the heart-breaking nature of the story, but with bright flashes of hope. I found myself straining towards the end, hoping that against all the odds, something positive would happen in Adunni’s life.

I saw some clever parallels with “The Handmaid’s Tale” in Adunni’s search for what happened to her predecessor, Rebecca (another moment of intertextuality?) – using the same room, she finds tiny clues to Rebecca’s existence and seeks more information from the driver. I’m bursting to know whether that was intentional – but it must have been.

Adunni is such a great character, with her own agency where she can carve it out, proving to be a fearless haggler in the market and working hard to educate herself as well as accepting help from others. It’s a magnificent achievement of a book and is likely to be one of my books of the year.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for selecting me to read this book via NetGalley in return for an honest review. “The Girl with the Louding Voice” is published on 05 March 2020 and I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy.

Sedate lady running 06-12 Jan 2020 #amrunning #running

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A decent week although it was odd only running three times in the week. Two yoga classes done so back on that! And back to volunteering, too.

Monday – Went for a run with Claire and finally managed to sort out re-lacing my new shoes (I like to make a loop in the back two holes and thread my laces through to pull my feet back into the heel cups) and putting in the raise in the left, so could wear them. We went in the afternoon for various reasons, which did feel a bit odd, and it was very grey, so even the lovely park was looking exceptionally wintry!

When I got home I found I’d broken in my new(ish) Saucony Hurricane ISOs quite nicely (although they’re still very bright!)

I felt a lot better during and after today’s run, with less fatigue than yesterday’s 8-miler.

5.5 miles, 12:28 mins per mile. 11,319 steps

Tuesday – Met up with Louise for a lovely walk round the park and then walked to meet Matthew (he gets off the bus a good few steps early to get some exercise, both ways to and from work).

Liz and Matthew out night walking

10,471 steps

Wednesday – Back to the routine of Dave Yoga. Then did my errands up the high street in three trips to get my steps in.

11,220 steps

Thursday – I was waiting for a delivery but feeling too tired to do a morning or evening run in the dark and so risk falling through being tired. I ended up having an early breakfast and going out for a lovely run with Sara, meeting Sonya in the park and dropping each person off at their home before I headed home.

runners

Sara, Sonya and Liz, by Sara, with permission

I wore my RED January buff.

5.5 miles, 12:32 mins per mile. 14,295 steps

Friday – Went to Clare yoga – a very full class so it was packed quite tight but we all managed. In the afternoon I met up with my friend Gill for a coffee and to give her some cheese, then walked home the very long way (seeing Louise in the park again and walking home with her), then went and met Matthew again. Doing 10,000 steps every day rather than just getting an average over the week is pretty testing, but it’s good to do a challenge once in a while, right?

10,364 steps

Saturday – Went and helped at Oaklands parkrun in the morning – I was timekeeper, doing it the first time using the app on my phone, which worked really well (although I should have worn gloves with a hole / thin bit to operate your phone through as my hand got a bit cold and I was worried the phone would stop responding. I got a nice pic of the Swan Island on the way home – I have run through here on long runs and been round it on the bus many times and it shows off some of the less “pretty” views I have (which I still love).

Swan Island, Birmingham

Swan Island, Yardley, Birmingham from the bus. Oaklands Park is just behind the building on the left.

I came home after a lovely cuppa and chat with various friends, then in the afternoon went the very long way round to the cafe for a cafe date with Matthew, then finished my steps stomping up and down while doing my Learning Spanish app. The things we do!

10,111 steps

Sunday – Long run day and 14 on the schedule but I was ready to let myself off if I didn’t manage it as I’m pretty tired (not as bad as last week) and I sometimes have to have a few goes at 14/15 for no particular reason. I met Tara after a mile, and we ran down to Acocks Green to meet Tracie. Tracie had then devised a seven-mile route for us which was brilliant as I didn’t really know where I was and could just run along. We revisited the park we’d been to a few weeks ago and had a lovely time. I felt pretty strong, which was great as the last few long runs were quite hard and I was getting a bit worried about my ability to cope with them.

Tracie, Liz and Tara

Tracie, Liz and Tara, Acocks Green

Tara managed 9.5 miles brilliantly and just after we left Tracie, I put her on the bus home – she gave me a wave as she went past. I was just considering the final 3.5 to get done when I saw a vision in purple – it was Trudie, who had done sums and workings-out and predicted she would run into me just where she did. She’d come to run me home and although I’d been expecting to do it alone, it was superb to have her company. Hooray! We took a slightly wiggly way home and my last mile came in as my third-fastest of the day (I accidentally did an 11-minute mile on the way to meet Tara).

Photo taken on the second attempt by Trudie. On the first attempt, she pressed the button and the phone dropped down the back of the cabinet it was balanced on!!! Which is why we’re giggling.

I had a second breakfast, a shower and some snacks, then went to the volunteers’ tea laid on by running club. There was tea and cakes (including a cake baked by the club captain, Barbara, which I can eat – more hooray), a presentation on how volunteering started in club and a questionnaire to get our opinions on how it’s run. I had some good chats with people and it was lovely.

14 miles, 13:47 mins per mile. 31,378 steps as of 18:00

weekly-run-down-final-300x300Weekly total 25 miles. Total this year 43.6 miles. Total weekly steps 99,158.

The Weekly Run Down is run by two wonderful running women and joined by lots of other inspirational women. Kim’s weekly wrap is here and Deborah’s is here.

 

Book review – Robert Inman – “Captain Saturday” plus a #bookconfession when there really shouldn’t be one!

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Because, as we now know, I was unable to shoehorn my new Christmas acquisitions onto my TBR shelf, and also because I was horrified to see I haven’t really read any of my Christmas 2018 books, I decided to continue my sort-of policy of reading one of the oldest books then one of the newest ones, then a Kindle one. So I then picked the fattest one on the pile, because less to file away, and it was a really good one. Hooray! Have you read any of your Christmas books yet?

I continue with a book confession. I try not to buy books during the Christmas/birthday season, in case there’s a Terrible Clash (I came close one year when I was looking gleefully at a Mitford Sisters book in Waterstones, didn’t buy it just in case, then met up with my friends and unwrapped a copy). But there were extenuating circumstances, I promise!

Robert Inman – “Captain Saturday”

(25 December 2019, from Gill)

I loved his “Dairy Queen Days” (which I actually read in 2005 and reviewed on my LiveJournal, which I migrated to here: don’t go looking for a big review!) and put this one on my BookCrossing wishlist. I did actually have a go at my messy wishlists before Christmas and they’re now definitely combined and just on here. I was so pleased to unwrap it on Christmas Day and it was all I hoped for.

So we’re in small-city America – Raleigh, North Carolina – and Will (Wilbur) is the town’s most popular weatherman, secure in this job, with a stable marriage, even though he’s been flummoxed in the last few years by his wife’s sudden ambition and achievement in the world of real estate, and a good enough relationship with his son (a preppy student who never gets into a mess). Well, he’s secure until it all suddenly falls apart quite dramatically, and he learns that small actions can grow and have consequences. When his cousin comes to fetch him back to the old house, a Deep South decaying mansion complete with his other cousin who took her own responsibilities too seriously when she came into them plus an immense set of family archives, he finds he needs to work out who he is and how to repair those relationships. We then go back to see his past, and work over his marriage, too, sensitively done but also funny. I loved the modern-day parts where he had to reinvent his life and pretty well start from scratch again, and his lawyer is absolutely hilarious, changing his look and habits with every big new client, from tweedy anglophile to hard hat and checked shirt. A proper big, absorbing novel.

I also loved that it’s an ex-library copy, but not your standard one, weeded from the American Library in Angers, France!


And that book confession? I first read a Chetan Bhagat book when I came across “One Night @ the Call Centre” in 2006 (my review here and Matthew’s here) and really loved it. A while ago, I found lots of his novels in Kindle versions for not much money and treated myself. So this was not on my wishlist, and I came across it when picking up some books for my best friend Emma the week before last (all my posts since then have been review books) in Oxfam books and snapped it up. It’s the story of a cross-continents love affair and looks great. One off the Kindle TBR, too (right?).

I’m currently reading Abi Daré’s “The Girl With the Louding Voice”, a NetGalley win which is quite astounding. It’s the story of a young Nigerian woman sold as a wife to a much older man, escaping from him and making it to the capital. It’s a pretty grim story, but obviously an important one, and it’s written in a captivating slightly broken English (although I’ll have to read up about that as at least one reviewer has commented on it not sounding authentically Nigerian). Has anyone else read this? It’s not one for the breakfast table as quite grim, as I said, but fascinating and engaging. I’m also reading John Gallagher’s “Learning Languages in Early Modern England” to review for Shiny, and it’s fascinating. Lucky me!

Book review – Nir Eyal with Julie Li – “Indistractable” #Indistractable #NetGalley

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Subtitled “How to control your attention and choose your life”, it follows on from the author’s previous book, “Hooked” which was apparently taken up and followed by all the social media and gaming companies to get users to continue using their products, and teaches us basically how to get unhooked.

It’s clear that although there have always been distractions, both internal and external, and people worrying about how to concentrate on what they need to concentrate on (whether that’s work, their children or their partners), modern technology and especially our always-connected lives have made this worse and harder to deal with. Eyal aims to help us not to let our “attention and lives be controlled and coerced by others” and he has plenty of good, practical tips, once he’s established and convinced us that mind-set is always stronger than physical addiction (e.g. if we think we’re weak and have no self-control, we’ll make that true).

Tips include turning of push notifications, gamifying work and unexciting life admin, telling people in open-plan offices not to disturb you, bringing devices out of the bedroom and creating identity pacts (I am a vegetarian therefore I do not eat meat, as opposed to can’t). These are all key and are also all useful, however there’s nothing that radical here that you couldn’t think of for yourself. I’m aware here that that’s been said about my own self-help book, so I will say it’s useful to have all this stuff in one place, and I’m already the kind of person who plans her day out, so didn’t need the useful help with that aspect particularly. I did however ask not to be distracted the other day, so …

There was some slightly amusing stuff about helping his child to decide for themselves not to have their phone by them after 9pm – this seemed a little too perfect but maybe that’s really how they operate!

Useful if you need some help with distractions: maybe the book telling you precisely what to do will help you do it.


Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for making this available via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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