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2020: a year in reading

2020: a year in reading by Ruth Dawkins

Despite everything that happened in 2020 – or perhaps even because of everything that happened – I’ve managed to keep up a pretty good pace of reading this year.

There’s still a week or so left in the year, but to date I’ve read 107 books. Ten less than last year, but still not bad.

The split was 48 fiction, 48 non-fiction, 8 poetry and 3 mixed anthologies. Three of them were audiobooks, and four of them were e-books that I was sent as a volunteer reader for the Highland Book Prize. The rest were hardcopy, sourced from a combination of new and second hand bookshops, op shops, loans from friends, and free little libraries.

Additionally, I started three books that I didn’t finish – but I tend not to name and shame when that happens, because reading is such a personal thing. Message me if you really want to know…

I thought I’d share my favourite fiction and non-fiction reads, along with a couple of poetry recommendations, in case you’re looking for some reading inspiration over the holidays. (Or perhaps a last-minute Christmas present!) Continue reading “2020: a year in reading”

Copywriting, Writing

Huon Valley Council: Stories from the Valley

Sailboats on the Huon River in the Huon Valley

Earlier in the year, I shared a couple of posts with you that I’d written for Huon Valley Council’s new website.

I cut down on my freelance writing work a lot over the winter, while I focused on family and caring duties (more on that over on my personal blog DorkyMum), but I’ve really enjoyed being back at my desk during November and December and one of the jobs I’ve been enjoying has been writing more Huon Valley blog posts.

We normally just visit the Huon as a day trip, and if I’m honest we usually don’t get any further than a slice of pie and a flight of cider at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed, but all the research I’ve done for these posts has made me realise what a great long weekend or extended break you could have down the Valley and Far South. It seems like an especially good place for families, with plenty to do and see. Continue reading “Huon Valley Council: Stories from the Valley”

Feature Writing, Writing

Guardian Feature: Tasmanian road trips

Road trip through Tasmania

After many months of Tasmania’s borders remaining closed to the other Australian states and territories, we are now starting to open up. Last Friday was the latest step in this gradual relaxing of restrictions, when we started to welcome back travellers from New South Wales. I’m afraid our friends in Victoria will have to wait just a few weeks more, although we can’t wait to see them soon too! Continue reading “Guardian Feature: Tasmanian road trips”

Copywriting, Feature Writing, freelance life, Writing

Spring in Tasmania

cherry blossom with blue sky in the background to illustrate a post about Spring in Tasmania

Tomorrow – the first of September – marks the beginning of spring in Tasmania. I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to some warmer, brighter days. 

Winter was a weird one this year – but then, hasn’t everything been weird this year!? There were individual days that seemed to last forever, and weeks that seemed to be over before they’d even started. Continue reading “Spring in Tasmania”

Copywriting

CSIRO ECOS blog: sustainable agriculture

Photograph of a wheat field with a combine harvester in the background.

The latest edition of CSIRO’s ECOS was published this week, and I’m really happy to have a couple of pieces included in it, both of which were commissioned by the Agriculture and Food division.

This edition of ECOS is all about building a resilient future. Continue reading “CSIRO ECOS blog: sustainable agriculture”

Copywriting, Writing

CSIRO ECOS blog: Oil and Gas Infrastructure

An offshore oil platform seen from shore

I’m really pleased to share another post that I’ve written for CSIRO.

Like the Future Seas 2030 post that I wrote last month, this was a piece of writing commissioned by the Oceans and Atmosphere Division. It even involved speaking to one of the same researchers – 2020 Tasmanian Australian of the Year Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas. Continue reading “CSIRO ECOS blog: Oil and Gas Infrastructure”

Copywriting, Writing

CSIRO ECOS blog: Future Seas 2030

A close up image of waves in the ocean

If you follow any of my social media channels you’ll know that I absolutely love the ocean. I was born on a small island in Scotland, and now live on a small island in Australia. I’m never happier than when I’m surrounded by water.

I was thrilled a few weeks ago to receive a commission from CSIRO’s Oceans and Atmosphere division to write a piece for the ECOS blog on the Future Seas 2030 initiative. Continue reading “CSIRO ECOS blog: Future Seas 2030”

Copywriting

Stories from the Huon

A screenshot of the Huon Valley website

Huon Valley Council have launched a fantastic new website recently that is packed with information about the area. The Huon is one of our favourite spots in Tasmania, it’s absolutely beautiful, but between the terrible bush fires last year and the huge drop in tourism because of COVID19 restrictions this year, the area has been doing it pretty tough. Continue reading “Stories from the Huon”

Reading

12 great reads… that have nothing to do with COVID19

A flatlay image of a desk with the caption '12 great reads that have nothing to do with COVID19'

I’ll start this blog post in the same way that I have started almost every email in recent weeks: “How are you going? I hope you’re keeping well in these strange days.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it essential at the moment to take time away from the news cycle. Although it’s important to stay up date with what’s happening, it’s all too easy to get sucked into endless scrolling of updated figures and bad news stories from around the world – and that’s not good for anyone’s wellbeing!

There have been days during the lockdown when I’ve really enjoyed getting stuck into a good book. But there have been other days when I’ve only had the attention span for essays and features. I’ve been keeping track of the best ones so that I can share them with you.

I hope some of these keep you engaged and entertained. Continue reading “12 great reads… that have nothing to do with COVID19”

Reading

Reading as self-care

a blue book on wooden table with the text 'reading as self-care: what to read when the world feels overwhelming'

I’ve been meaning for months to write a blog post about the benefits of reading as self-care. For obvious reasons, now seems as good a time as any.

Reading has always been my go-to activity.

Worried about something and need to know more about it? Read a book.

Worried about something and need to distract myself from it? Read a book.

Need to shut out the white noise of the world and remind myself how to focus on one thing at a time? Read a book.

Heaps of time to kill – at home, in a waiting room, while travelling? Read a book.

It has been clear from watching the stress levels rise across my social media feeds and in-person communities over the last few weeks that not everyone has tuned in to the life-changing magic of books yet.

That’s reasonable. We are living in exceptional times – for those working in frontline jobs, on casual contracts, or as freelancers, there are financial pressures that accompany the COVID-19 pandemic that can’t just be wished away. For those personally affected by the virus, there are even more pressing things to think about.

But for every one of us, for our own wellbeing and mental health, it’s important to have a way of taking the occasional break from the strangeness of it all – from the pressure, the panic, and the 24-hour news cycle. Books are one of the most accessible ways of doing that. Continue reading “Reading as self-care”