What’s Inside: the songs of Waitress the Musical

One of the things we teach on the undergraduate Creative Writing module at Cardiff University is that, to be a writer, you should read far and wide. You should soak up the words of others, digest them, and begin again.

Something that doesn’t always come up in the conversation, however, is the fact that the words don’t have to be printed, and that there are other ways for writing to reach us.

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Book Review: The Shapeless Unease

I didn’t have any expectations when I opened The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping, by Samantha Harvey. I had not previously read any of her novels. I simply heard Harvey talking about the book on a podcast (available here if you’re interested) and decided that I would give it a go. The book, described by the London Review as a ‘philosophical memoir’, revolves around the author’s struggle with insomnia, which began suddenly and lasted over a year. It is about many other things – a ‘startingly insightful exploration of memory, writing and influence, death and grief, and the will to survive’, according to the book jacket – but insomnia is the central motif.

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Why I shouldn’t read (for hours) before bed

When I was ten or eleven years old, if we were going on holiday, I would pack a book for each day we were planning to spend away from the house. We were going away for ten days? I packed ten books. I spent hours absorbed in fictional stories, and it was hard work getting me to take a break. I wanted to stay with the book, to finish it in one sitting if I could.

Nowadays, although I’m still a fast reader, I don’t have this kind of time to devote to reading (adulthood, eh?). I read less, and my reading patterns have become erratic; I spend a day or two with a book, stop halfway, come back to it a week later. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, as was the case recently with The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

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