The ghost of David Berman

David Berman, the singer from Silver Jews and Purple Mountains, and one of my favourite songwriters, died this week.

I learned this within minutes of waking up on Thursday morning – from a music website, which I have been trying to read first thing as a replacement for the news, ironically to avoid negativity – and it absolutely floored me.

Nevertheless I got up, went to work, then went home early after realising I just could not keep my shit together. Instead I got on the emptiest carriage of the train, put “The Wild Kindness” on my headphones, and had a good cry.

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Everything I read in July

I finished five books this month: Want You Gone by Chris Brookmyre, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride, Normal People by Sally Rooney, The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, and A Case of Conscience by James Blish.

I loved one of these books, and am going to say mean things about another. But which is which? Also, does Satan make aliens to test our faith? Both of these questions will be answered, and more, in this month’s reading roundup. If I keep this up long enough, maybe publishers will send me stuff for free!

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Productivity culture is making me miserable

Productivity! Who doesn’t love it? Who doesn’t want that feeling of doing something useful, something valuable, something constructive? Bettering ourselves and driving the economy? It’s the dream, right?

The idea of getting more done at work is nothing new. But lately the entire concept of being more productive has become increasingly fetishised, to the point that it’s gone well beyond the 9-to-5 into some sort of aspirational lifestyle.

Lately I’m starting to realise just how much the Cult of Productivity has infiltrated my life. It spoils my free time, it controls my hobbies, and it’s even messing with my emotions. And I’m thoroughly sick of it.

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Charity shops are good for the planet, my wallet and my anxiety

A pile of clothes, including coats, tops and trousers

Last autumn I made a resolution to stop buying fast fashion. I’ve been making a conscious effort to reduce my carbon footprint – going vegan, switching to a renewable energy supplier, planning holidays that don’t involve flying – and it turns out fashion is a serious environmental offender. So it had to go.

The thing is, I really like clothes. I love the excitement of finding a new piece you love and planning what to wear with it for the first time. I love the comfort of old favourites that make you feel more like yourself when you put them on. I follow fashion channels on YouTube and lurk various subreddits. I’ll happily people-watch for ages if it means I get to see what they’re wearing.

So I wasn’t sure how I’d fare without the ease of the usual high street retailers or online shops. But I figured I’d give it a go and see how long I could last.

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Six favourite albums from 2019 (so far)

As if that title wasn’t disclaimer enough – no, I have not listened to every single album released this year. Shocking, I know. I still haven’t gotten around to the new Jamila Woods album yet, even though apparently everyone loves it, and I really liked HEAVN, and I could be listening it right now, but instead I’m writing this blog post. Sorry.

Anyway, here are six albums that have been the soundtrack to my 2019, or at least my January through June.

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