Reading, Writing, and GIFs

The world is depressing. Let’s not talk about the plane that was shot down over Ukraine, or the Israel-Palestine conflict, or ISIS, or climate change. (those are all links to vox explainers I haven’t read, so beware maybe). Let’s instead talk about reading, writing, and gifs!

gif of an illustrated drone that looks vaguely plant like flying into view with an green egg, which it neatly drops into a nest with other eggs.

Read books. Read as many books as you want. Read as few books as you want. Read. And remember: “If someone reads fewer books than you do, it does not make them less intelligent than you. It does not even make them a worse reader. If someone reads different types of books than you do, it doesn’t make them a bad reader, either. It just means they are a different human being than you.

Read books. Read children’s books! Remember them forever. Because “There are lots of books we can enjoy or admire, books that make us think and grieve and rejoice. But even those don’t necessarily belong to us as readers. No book belongs to you like a book you read when you’re young.” Read Harold and the Purple Crayon as a young child. Read The 13 Clocks when you get a bit older. Read Ella Enchanted when you are older still. Read them all over again when you are older to remember what it was like.

gif of a world map being animated as though it is being woven in golden colors

Read because of Reading Rainbow! Realize Reading Rainbow is now a for-profit app on tablets. Question whether an app to teach reading is more effective than just reading. “It’s easy to measure a kid’s understanding of basic math concepts through games: solve an equation to get the frog to leap to the lily pad, and congratulations, you can add! But literacy requires not just a set of discrete skills—spelling, grammar—but also a kind of comprehension that is hard to measure with an app.

Read anyway. Read online. Read online so often that you want more from the medium. Explore interactive explanations of what you’re reading, explore it so far that you create and suggest alternatives. Have a dialogue with the text. Understand that not everyone can read online. Understand that even if they can read online, your fancy site may not even load.

Gif of illustrated keyboard keys appearing and being lettered

Write online. Write by hand. Feel privilege in the choice, because “only 40% of the world’s population has access to digital technology” so there is no discussion about the obsolescence of writing by hand or teaching handwriting in schools. Understand how digital technology has changed how literature is written, that “Writing with electronic devices has affected structure, research and editing. It has affected order and it has affected rhythm, from the tap-tap-swipe of a typewriter to the swipe-swipe-tap of tablet.

gif animation of a bright pink origami squid

Unplug. Read more. Read more books. Revel in the Amazonification of the book marketplace. Visit France. Realize there are bookstores everywhere. Wonder why, and learn they have fixed book prices by law. Be happy you now have a reason to like France. Realize other European countries have similar laws. Get excited. Visit Europe.

Really though, visit Europe. Abandon your newsletter for the next two weeks. Go to Germany. Hike some cliffs. Walk a lot. Pack a lot. Relax a lot. Elude jet lag. Leave your laptop at home. Bring four books. Hope you have enough books.

animated gif of brushstrokes overlapping to create the german flaag

Subscribe to other newsletters in the meantime to fill the void. Learn 5 intriguing things a day. Follow a newsletter that is currently on hiatus because you want to be surprised by its greatness when it returns. Learn about the Internet (and other things) from an Indian perspective. Get great longreads and an adorable giraffe illustration. Read up on the latest OSHA violations in the United States.

Go to Germany. Visit historical sites. Look at Hitler practicing his speeches. Revel in the raw humanity. Realize that evil people are people, not monsters. Wonder how you became who you are. Wonder how evil people become evil.

black and white photograph of hitler facing the camera with his left hand clenched in a fist near his left shoulder and his right hand gesturing away from his body with one finger pointed out and the others hanging limply.

Look at more gifs to quell the fear and existentialism.

animated gif of a cute seal grooving down an illustrated shoreline

Meet Daryl Alexsy, who lives in Berlin but is originally from Michigan. She animates her illustrations, does lots of pen and ink drawings, and makes prints too. All of these gifs are belong to her. Click through to the original sources. Listen to soul music. Make The Supremes Pandora your soundtrack today.

Say goodbye for a little while.