Words, people, pages, and other discoveries.

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Read about the Plague? Now? Yes.

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks is a brilliant novel, at first so heart-wrenching and vivid in its account of a 17th-century bubonic-plague village in England, that it is tempting to close it and return …

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Lab Girl: a triumph

One of the best books I’ve read in years: Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. Jahren is a geochemist, geobiologist, and a brilliant writer. This autobiography weaves the life story of trees (among other green things) …

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Words have weight.

When I first worked for newspapers and the Associated Press in New England in the 1970s, there was an interlude when accepted style was: “Ms. Smith (who prefers that designation)…” I’ve since told many disbelieving …

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What I know about Swedish people.

It took months of isolation to do it, but I realized today that I actually miss wandering around IKEA, that behemoth store full of things you did not know you needed until you saw them. …

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Making art.

The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s, by Maggie Doherty (Knopf, 2020) is a deeply researched and well-written book about poets Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin, painter Barbara Swan, …

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Tough, smart, funny…and she loves horses, doesn’t she?

Julie Blacklow’s memoir, Fearless: Diary of a Badass Reporter will delight those who want to live vicariously – smack in the middle of the life of a strong writer and committed journalist who faced down …

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Sober and sheltered.

The closest thing to this pandemic weirdness I’ve experienced is my early sobriety. More than 30 years ago when I decided to step away from alcohol and drugs, I didn’t think about my abstinence as …

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Poll dancing: it’s clumsy

My faith in polls has never recovered from the Hillary-has-the-election-in-the-bag era, even though I tell myself that the Russians surely had plenty to do with that electoral debacle. But a Monmouth University poll described in …

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John Prine, equal parts humor and sadness.

John Prine is dead, leaving a legacy of music like none other. Rest in Peace, dear bard. Some of his best work, all in one place, thanks to Rolling Stone magazine:

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Finally, worrying is in style.

All my life I’ve been told that I worry too much. I don’t want to gloat, but it seems clear that my lifelong behavior, in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic has been proven to …

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Damning with fulsome praise.

It may be harsh to blame the victim, but it must be said: The word “fulsome” has only itself to blame for being misunderstood. It looks and sounds as if it means large, lavish, and …

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