“Life’s too short to spend time with books that you don’t love.”

Unless you’re reading for research and need to just power through to absorb information, I think it’s possible that life’s too short to spend time with books that you don’t love.

—Emily St. John Mandel in the New York Times Book Review

Kenny Rogers: “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em/ Know when to fold ’em.”

From a New York Times obit, by Bill Friskis-Warren, of singer Kenny Rogers:

Kenny Rogers, a prolific singer who played a major role in expanding the audience for country music in the 1970s and ’80s, died on Friday at his home in Sandy Springs, Ga. He was 81. . . .

Singing in a husky voice that exuded sincerity and warmth, Mr. Rogers sold well over 100 million records in a career that spanned seven decades. He had 21 No. 1 country hits, including two — “Lady,” written and produced by Lionel Richie, and “Islands in the Stream,” composed by the Bee Gees and performed with Dolly Parton — that reached No. 1 on the pop chart as well. . . .

Paul Farhi: “If someone walks into that White House briefing room with an infection, we’re all going home.”

From a Washington Post story by  media reporter Paul Farhi headlined A ‘strange and eerie time’ for White House reporters—and a risky one, too:

The White House beat is one of the most prominent assignments in journalism, and one of the most prestigious.

These days, it may be the most anxiety-provoking one, too.

Despite a new round of health precautions imposed on Monday, reporters working at the White House are operating in one of the few workplaces in America at which dozens of people remain in proximity and within a confined space—conditions ripe for spreading the coronavirus.

Dr. Anthony Fauci: “He has run through it all.”

From a Wall Street Journal story by Ben Cohen and Louise Radnofsky about Anthony Fauci, the most influential person in American public health:

Dr. Anthony Fauci has been running the same federal entity through some of the worst crises of the last half-century: AIDS, anthrax, swine flu, Ebola and, now, a coronavirus pandemic that has turned this infectious disease expert into the most influential person in American public health.

He’s also been running for almost the entire time.

If You’re Thinking of Writing a Novel, Here Are Ways to Start a Story

Great opening paragraphs of novels from ShortList:

The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)

You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. That book was made by Mr. Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly. There was things which he stretched, but mainly he told the truth. That is nothing. I never seen anybody but lied one time or another, without it was Aunt Polly, or the widow, or maybe Mary. Aunt Polly – Tom’s Aunt Polly, she is – and Mary, and the Widow Douglas is all told about in that book, which is mostly a true book, with some stretchers, as I said before.

“Fake news is not simply a political abstraction. It’s a real offense that harms real people.”

From a New York Times review by Jamie Poniewozik headlined Review: ‘After truth,’ the Deluge: An often-chilling survey of disinformation in America, this HBO documentary reclaims the real definition of “fake news.”

It is a fitting irony that the term “fake news” has become itself fraudulent, appropriated, by Donald Trump and his imitators, to dismiss legitimate reporting that they deem damaging, disrespectful or insufficiently flattering.

But before there was this fake news, there was real fake news, an ecosystem of rumors, conspiracy theories, frauds and hoax stories, some of which were deployed in 2016 to boost President Trump’s campaign. It’s this modern weapon that is the subject of HBO’s “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News,” a broad but darkly engrossing documentary that airs Thursday.

Writers and coffee: “Drink up and be restored.”

From an essay by Dinah Lenney on LitHub titled “The Deep Metaphysical Power of a Good Cup of Coffee”:

Sitting upstairs on the stove is this morning’s coffee, lukewarm, waiting for me to decide that I’m ready to drink it as is, or just a bit cooler once I add a little milk; see, I’m not above adding milk to my coffee, or drinking an afternoon glass at room temp. In fact (did you know? I did not), it turns out that one of the joys of an excellent cup of coffee is to savor the taste as it cools. What I always thought? The first sip is the best; doesn’t get better than this. It turns out if you’re patient (don’t gulp!), if you cultivate those taste buds—a cup of coffee will get better and better, different-er and different-er; the upshot being that the very best coffee really is “good to the last drop”—good! delicious!. . .

Writers’ Tips If You’re Working From Home

In the Guardian Weekly, author Brigid Delaney offers tips for writers working from home:

If there is one cohort uniquely prepared for both working from home and going into isolation–it is writers.

Writers with book deadlines or a passion project that must be written now usually have to go into lockdown to get the damn thing finished.

Do the hard things first

You may be at the mercy of others with your schedule–particularly if you work in a team, but if you can work independently–seize the day early.

Dave Barry: “So we were hunkered in our home and my daughter suggested that maybe we could do a jigsaw puzzle.”

From the Miami Herald:

By Dave Barry

There was a time when going to Target did not feel like a daring and dangerous mission. That time, of course, was long ago, by which I mean last week. The good old days!

It’s different now. Now we are hunkering in our homes and keeping our social distance. We are also trying not to panic, which is difficult because every 14 seconds some health authority reminds us that this thing is going to get worse before it gets better and we don’t really know WHEN it will get better so for now you need to use common sense and remain calm and not panic and just REMAIN CALM BECAUSE THERE IS NO REASON TO PANIC even though we have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN and …

A Prescription of Poetry: “More hospitals are turning to the power of the written word, and poetry in particular, to help patients heal.”

From a Wall Street Journal story by Sumathi Reddy titled “A Prescription of Poetry”:

Dr. Joshua Hauser approached the bedside of his patient, treatment in hand. But it wasn’t medicine he carried. It was a copy of a 19th-century poem titled “Invictus.”

It isn’t often that doctors do rounds with poetry. But Dr. Hauser, section chief of palliative care at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center, and colleagues are testing it as part of a pilot study. He entered Mr. Askew’s room. The patient had asked for “Invictus,” a dark poem by William Ernest Henley that he remembered from his past.