This is the first year I'm spending Christmas (and my birthday—Boxing Day baby!) in America, away from Mom, my family, and Yorkshire pudding. Which means the presents I send and receive this year need to be light enough to ship across the Atlantic without breaking the bank. Many of us have friends and family far away from where we live, but we still want our gifts to be thoughtful, personal, and come in lovely little packages. With that in mind, I've collected a number of gift ideas that are light on shipping but heavy on holiday cheer (as with last year's gift guide, I've tried to keep reasonable budgets in mind).
If Thanksgiving is a time for us to be grateful for what we have, Giving Tuesday and the gift-buying period is the perfect time to put that feeling into action. Books and literacy can change the world we live in for the better: children who are read to at home report higher abilities in math and writing; literacy rates are an important indicator of future earning potential; reading enjoyment has been reported as more important for children’s educational success than their family's socio-economic status. With that in mind, below are 10 charities devoted to getting books into the hands of those without the resources to obtain them as well as improving the literacy of children and adults worldwide.
Rabbi Marc Katz is that rare person who can go from teaching a room full of restless children to a room full of work-weary adults, speak passionately about the environment and feminism and then relate them to Torah passages, and lead a powerful sermon before telling you in detail where exactly you should go for pizza in Park Slope. Marc is the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, has published a number of articles, and his first book came out in September, The Heart of Loneliness: How Jewish Wisdom Can Help You Cope and Find Comfort. Here, Marc talks about what it's like to be a first-time author, the struggles of self-marketing, how loneliness seeps into all of our lives, and the ways in which we can reach out for ourselves and for others.
Now that wintery weather is starting to kick in (at least here in the Northeast), it's time to hibernate and start entering all those writing contests you've been putting off over the summer. If you would like a professional edit before you enter, please contact me for a 10% discount by referencing this blog post in your initial email.
Before I ever knew Paul, I read Ten Mile River and was so blown away by his writing, his intensity, his ability to look vulnerability in the eye and somehow leave the reader feeling stronger, that I knew I had to meet him. In person, Paul is one of the most warm-hearted individuals I have ever come across and I'm thrilled he agreed to be interviewed for Behind the Desk. His new book, When Friendship Followed Me Home, is out today (June 7), and is already being hailed as one of the best summer reads!
Kass Morgan has that special ability to make a splash wherever she goes, be it Brown and Oxford as an undergraduate and graduate, respectively, the New York publishing scene where she is an incredible editor at one of the top publishing houses, or the New York Times Best Seller List, which is where her first book, The 100, ended up whilst being turned into a hugely popular TV show by the same name. But Kass is more than just her accolades. She has a sharp wit, a passion for culture and coffee, and a fashion sense that makes you want to go out and buy hundreds of dresses. The fourth installment of The 100 series will be out in December, so catch up on the previous books if you haven't already!
I've done the math and it turns out that Jen is my oldest friend. We met when I moved to Saluda, North Carolina at the age of five, became pen pals when I returned to England at the age of eight (playlists on tape, yin yang necklaces, and lots of colorful ink were involved in these letters), and last year I attended her beautiful wedding back in Saluda. Jen is not only adventurous, smart, and kind-hearted, but she's also a champion of books and reading. Can there be a greater type of person on the planet?!
The previous post on writing contests can be found here, with a number of prizes still up for grabs (until April 30th). As before, these contests are primarily for unpublished writers and, if you would like a professional edit before you enter, please contact me for a 10% discount by referencing this blog post in your initial email.
Good luck to you all!