Sunday, May 31, 2015

Off We Go

We know summer is almost here when the papers (at least in the US) are filled with articles about books to read on the beach.  As if everyone would be spending days and hours in June, July and August relaxed with book in hand.  Lovely thought.

But often to get to that place where we can delve into a new book requires that we travel.  And again this year surveys are predicting record numbers of travelers.
For those of us who are lucky enough to love travel, airports in particular, (that’s me) this season can even stretch our patience.  But for those for whom flying is uncomfortable, even frightening, this may be your least favorite season.

According to some studies as much 40% of the population have some level of anxiety related to travel.  For some it’s so extreme they refuse to fly.

But not everyone can avoid flights entirely.  For those a Google search will lead to tips for coping.  You can request a seat up front to feel less of turbulence, turn on the air vent to keep air flowing on you, do/don’t drink alcohol, avoid caffeine and more.  Check out the NBC News “10 tips for the Fearful Traveler” ( or an article from Independent Traveler:

Even airlines try to help. Virgin Atlantic has a “Flying Without Fear” course (  British Air now offers in flight meditation program ( 

Even those of us who love to fly experience moments when we’d rather be elsewhere.  For me the best thing to do when a flight get bumpy (and scary) is immerse myself in that new book or game on my I-pad, dip into the potato chips which seem to offset the onset of motion sickness or talk with person next to me. 

How do you cope when you don’t love the flight?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I'd like a book to read

In the United States newspapers often post lists of books to read during summer holidays as though everyone will be able to take time to lie on a beach and read for hours.

For many getting that special book is as easy as heading to Amazon (, typing in the name of the book desired and clicking on a link and instantly the book arrives. For others, it’s a matter of finding a brick and mortar library, discovering when its open and heading to the nearest one.

Around the world it isn’t always that easy.  But thanks to dedicated people – librarians, artists, interested citizens,  special, unusual libraries serve people around the world.   According author Alex Johnson,  these hidden gems  are  “often mobile, creative and community driven.”  His new book Improbable Libraries: A Visual Journey to the World’s Most Unusual Libraries  highlights books being delivered to readers today by camel (Mongolia), elephants (Laos) and decades ago by horse drawn vehicles (US).

The book is filled with stunning photos that include a library for deaf children in  Burundi,  a refrigerator (library) in New Zealand and Ford Falcon in Argentina that looks like an ancient tank covered in books.  Even that is a library. 

For me the book is not just a statement about the continued interest and value of traditional printed books.  Rather, it also is a reminder of extraordinary work people do to contribute to the lives of their friends, neighbors, and strangers.  That the world still has bright spots no matter how dire the daily headlines.

What will you read this summer and where will you find it? 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

What Did You Mean/

Everyone speaks English.  English is the language of business.   Whether or not these expressions are accurate depends on where you are, what you’re doing.

But one thing is certain.  English isn’t an easy language.   Multiple words that sound the same have different spelling and different meanings.  These words puzzle native English speakers not just those for whom it is a second or third language. 

Did you mean to say something is permitted (allowed) or spoken out loud (aloud)?  Was it that you wished to say add to and improve (complement) or show admiration (compliment)?    

Click on this link to get a look at dozens and dozens of word pairs that won’t get corrected by spell check if you use one incorrectly.

Language – any language – can surprise or puzzle you.   That's certainly true for English.