Outside the covers

What I’ve been reading lately besides books

A weekly roundup of long reads you won’t find between the covers of a book.

📰 Nina Martyris serves up a variety of ways that the world’s most popular beverage has made its presence known in fiction in When Tea Reaches Its Boiling Point in Fiction, So Too May the Story. It’s hardly surprising, then, that it’s not just tea drinkers who are addicted to the seductions of hot tea — writers are, too. Across tea-drinking cultures, in China, England, India, Russia, Egypt or the U.S., writers have milked hot tea for all its worth to add a splash of narrative panache to comic or erotic scenes or to build mood, momentum and character. (via NPR’s The Salt)

📰 This one hits home. When I first read Noreen Malone’s The Case — Please Hear Me Out — Against the Em Dash , I got a little defensive. I am an enthusiastic supporter of em dashes, as you’ll know if you’ve read much of this blog. I know the convoluted Unicode to conjure them on a computer running Windows (ALT+0151). I know how to achieve the same mark with much less effort on a Mac (Option+Shift+-). They are useful little marks, more visually appealing and less formal than parentheses. But in the interest of presenting all sides of a contentious issue, I’ll let you read Ms. Malone’s treatise and make up your own minds. (via Slate’s The Good Word)

📰 Living in the rural Midwest as I do, I read and hear a lot about the shrinking small towns in Iowa and the rest of the heartland. Everyone can see the problem, but no one has yet come up with a viable solution. As I learned while reading ‘This Is All We Can Afford’: Shrinking Lives in the English Countryside, England is facing much the same problem. The compelling story by Ceylan Yaginsu is illustrated with achingly poignant photos by Laetitia Vancon. (via The New York Times)