This week’s recommendations

  • Book: The Night Watch, Sergei Lukyanenko. An urban fantasy that has restored my faith in the genre. Very Russian — melancholy, self-reflective, intelligently and subtly written — and very good. Lukyanenko takes Russian folklore and breaths new, modern life to it in a set of three interconnecting stories that have a fresh take on the concepts of good and evil.
  • Podcast: Writing Excuses. This 15 minutes long podcast is all the inspiration I need lately to get my ass into a chair and write. What more do you need? (They need a new, more modern website, but the podcast is great, trust me).
  • Tea: it’s been too hot and I’ve been too lazy to drink much of it now, except the occasional cup of Fortnum and Mason’s Assam Superb in the morning. A fabulous Assam, but still too expensive to wholeheartedly recommend.
  • Also: finally saw Wonder Woman and loved it. A fresh, nuanced take on a superhero movie that doesn’t apologize for having a female lead.

Jaffa street view
Old Jaffa record store baking in the sun

 

Advertisements
This week’s recommendations

This week’s recommendations

Podcast: Cortex, with Myke Hurley and CGP Grey. A two guys talking about their work process, their workflows, the tools they use, and their respective businesses in a surprisingly entertaining way. Worth listening to from the beginning, but you can also dive in to the latest episode.

Book: A Horse Walks into a Bar, by David Grossman. Grossman is my favourite Israeli author, and one of my favourite authors in general. A Horse Walks into a Bar just won the Man Booker award, but it is something of a tough read. If that doesn’t appeal to you, try some of his more optimistic books, Someone to Run With (a great YA novel for teenagers and up, and a beautiful love story in and of itself), and the Zig Zag Kid (a magical realism novel that is also suited for practically all ages).

Tea: Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Dragon Well Tea From Hangzhou, which is a sweet and refreshing Dragon Well (green) tea that is incredibly affordable for the quality you get. Put a few leaves in a glass tumbler and top-up with hot (but not boiling) water for an all day treat.

And also: Reminding myself not to take old fools to heart. They too shall pass.

 

 

This week’s recommendations

Top 5 pens

In the recent Pen Addict Podcast, Brad and Myke discussed their top 5 pens, and that made me think about my top 5 pens. Do I even have a top 5? I never actually ranked my pens until now — I just use them.

After a bit of thought, I came up with this list of my favourite five pens. These are all perfect for long writing sessions, but they’re not necessarily the best for begninners, or for showing off your handwriting, so take that into consideration before you purchase any of these:

P1000012

Nakaya Cigar Piccolo Negoro Kise Hon Kataji black/red with elastic flexible medium rhodium nib — that’s quite a mouthful for a relatively small pen. This pen was made to order for me, and I had to wait quite a while and pay quite a bit for it, but it was totally worth it. The nib is a dream, and like no other nib that I own — it’s springy. It isn’t a wet noodle by any stretch, but shows a good amount of line variation, is very comfortable to write with, and is super easy to clean. The most beautiful pen that I own, in a very understated way, it’s the best all-rounder in this list.

P1000014

Parker 51 — I have quite a collection of these vintage classics, and I have yet to be disappointed with one. They somehow manage to make my handwriting really good looking, and they are fun to write with (though a bit of a pain to clean). Not the prettiest of pens, but I love their sleek looks, and they are workhorses.

P1000013

Franklin Cristoff Model 66 Stabilis Antique Glass with a 1.1 stub converted to an eyedropper pen — this pen is gorgeous, comfortable for long term writing, helps show off ink (both because you can see it sloshing around and since it lays down a significant line), and makes even the simplist handwriting look great without going overboard in terms of line thickness. It’s also super simple to clean out (though beware of staining inks), and the nib is a stunner, especially for a steel nib.

P1000016

Ti Arto with a Uni-ball UMR-85N refill— this has now become my daily journaling pen, and although it isn’t a fountain pen it is comfortable for long writing sessions, mainly because it has a relatively thick barrel and is relatively light for a machined pen. It writes well on all types of paper, including Moleskines, is relatively cheap, and accepts a dizzing array of refills. This is a pen that I don’t mind slipping into my pocket or tossing into my bag — it’s built to last and can take the punishment.

P1000015

Lamy 2000 Fine — this pen is not without faults, as the little metal prongs that hold the cap in place can get in the way of your grip, and my old 2000 is cracking in several places (ugly-fixed with superglue), but I still love it. The gold nib allows for just enough line variation to make it perfect for both writing and sketching, and the capacity is just fantastic. I’m also a big fan of its understated looks, but if you’re looking for something with more zing, this may not be the pen for you. I also bought another one, in extra-fine (after my old 2000 started cracking), and I have to say that its nib isn’t as good as my old 2K. So I’d recommend it, but only if you’re willing to tune it (either yourself, or take it to a nibsmith), if necessary.

These are my workhorses, and at any given time at least two or three of these are in use. Experimenting with pens in nice, but when you’re working on writing a novel or have a good chunk of writing to do, the snazzy wet noodles and music nibs give way to more dependable choices that are also always a joy to use.

Top 5 pens

This week’s recommendations

Podcast: The Daily, by the New York Times. A 20 minute daily podcast that doesn’t sum up the news of the day, but instead gives interesting insights into a few top stories. There’s a very good reason that this podcast has become so popular even though it’s so relatively new.

Book: If you’re looking for an easy summer read, try M.C. Beaton‘s Hamish Macbeth or Agatha Raisin mystery novels. They’re dirt cheap, even in dead tree format, short, not too trashy, not too violent — the beach books.

Tea: if you haven’t watched this delightful YouTube TED Ed video by Shunan Teng, I highly recommend that you do. It briefly goes through the history of tea: youtu.be/LaLvVc1sS20

And also: Monument Valley 2 is out and it’s as awesome as the first one was. Really taking my time to enjoy it.

IMG_1092

Summer is here. Get thee to the beach.

This week’s recommendations