one million minutes will pass soon enough

‘How long does it take to get to the sun?’ Jenna asked, catching me off guard with the question. The workday had ended, but we were stuck in the office because a book I was supposed to approve for printing had run into a snag, and Jenna always went home later than almost everyone because she had to wait for her fiancé to pick her up. 

I gave the only answer I had off the top of my head. ‘Around eight minutes at the speed of light, but I kind of doubt that’s what you wanted to know.’ 

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all creatures great and small

The discussion about favourite authors (the ones we read, not the ones we worked with) came up in a conversation once, while we were driving back from lunch. It was the radio’s fault, probably; it was talking about the Big Bad Wolf book sale. 

‘I like James Herriot,’ said Jenna, when Mei asked who hers was. 

I drew a complete blank at the name. ‘I don’t think I know him, sorry.’

Disbelief radiated from both the passenger side and the back seat. I wasn’t sure whether it was because he was a very popular author, or it was because I was disabusing their notion that I was very well-read. I concentrated on the road instead. 

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fifty shades of ridiculous, more like

Despite all the years I worked in publishing, I didn’t really meet that many readers. Sure, we talked about things we were working on, often in exhaustive technical detail, but there wasn’t really much discussion about books and reading in general. Once in a while, though, something really ridiculous would come up.

It was a team lunch, and there were the usual complaints about authors and schedulers and typesetters and marketing people and what-have-yous. Somehow, EL James got dragged into it. ‘It’s not like you have to be good to be published,’ scoffed Prema as I tried to flag down a waiter. ‘Just look at that Fifty Shades book.’

‘Has anyone actually read that book?’ I wondered, looking around the crowded restaurant. Too many people and too much noise; you could barely hear what the person across the table was saying. ‘Why do we keep bashing it?’

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classics: not my cup of tea

‘I was trying to get through this book my sister had, something by Henry James, but it had so many long-winded sentences,’ said Mei while we were waiting for take-out. Pizza, this time, for someone’s farewell party. We could have had them delivered, but there were extra discounts for self-pickups. ‘What was it called … I’ve forgotten.’

The Domino’s outlet we went to was cold and mostly empty. It didn’t have WiFi. One wall had quotes written all over it and one of the more rambling quotes had reminded Mei of the book. ‘The Wings of the Dove?’ I suggested, keying in James’s name into Goodreads on my phone to see what I could find. Mei didn’t even have a smartphone. I usually held back from using mine when I was out with her.

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