Sunday, August 18, 2013

Christina Hollis: Reading Ripples... URL: By Andrew Douglass (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsHTML
Walden Pond by Andrew Douglass
Isn't it funny how discovering a new book or author can have a knock-on effect? DD came back from university full of enthusiasm for a book she'd found in the library there. It was 'The Winter of Our Disconnect', which is the story of Susan Maushart's six-month project to live outside our increasingly "wired" existence. The copy I've just finished reading was published in 2006. That's only a few years ago, but it sometimes feels like ancient history. I suspect the use of mobiles and laptops (and now tablets) has grown exponentially since then.  

Susan Maushart took some of her inspiration from Henry David Thoreau's two year, two month, two day stay at Walden near Concord in Massachusetts. He separated himself from the hurly-burly of 19th century life in order to get back to a life more in tune with nature. These days, The Maushart family would have been hard put to find anywhere beyond the reach of Bluetooth.  Instead of moving to a cabin in the woods, they had a bonfire of the vanities - although for "bonfire" read "storage" and gave up all those little indulgences that have worked their way into our collective subconscious like strangler figs. Out went all the devices, and along with them Facebook, Skype and IM. I often wish I could get away from it all, but I'm not sure I could go cold turkey like that. Working online brings all the advantages of business life and commerce right into my Home Office. It's good to get back to writing on paper with a pencil sometimes, but I'd be lost without music to inspire me while I'm working! URL: Philip Halling [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsHTML
By Philip Halling
Finishing 'The Winter of Our Disconnect' made me want to add Thoreau's Walden to my teetering TBR pile. But first I'll be revisiting the work of H.E. Bates, one of my favourite English writers. In his non-fiction and fiction work, Bates shares Thoreau's keen eye for detail and feeling for nature. You can find out more about the work of H.E.Bates here.

So a single book recommendation from DD has taken me around the woods and waters of Walden and then back home through the country lanes of  England. Thoreau famously said: "An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day" and that's convinced me to drop my new habit of putting in the ear-buds when I go out for a run. I may not be able to give up technology completely, but it's a start!

An international journey courtesy of the written word, via reading on screen. That means it's all wrapped up in the technology that Thoreau shunned, and Maushart rejected, if only temporarily. 

What's the longest period of time you've managed recently, without technology? And how many times a day does your hand stray to your phone?

You can read Christina's blog at and see a complete list of her published books at


Mary Preston said...

When I visit my parents I am sans technology & since I don't have a mobile phone I'm okay with it. I do love my computer, but it's good to have a complete break.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Mary, thanks for commenting. There's no doubt that life without technology is a lot more restful. On the other hand, it's good to know that our teenagers can always get in touch with us if they suddenly find themselves miles from home without a lift, or cash, or both.
Hmm...bit of a mixed blessing, that one!

Pat Cochran said...

For our city, It was during Hurricane Ike
beginning on September 13, 2008. We were
extremely lucky in that we had water, gas,
and a telephone landline. Others were not
as well off. We were 13 days without the
internet, television, and lights. It was
another two weeks before cable and full
telephone services returned. It was the
best of times, (neighbor helping neighbor)
it was the worst of times.(total lack of
necessary items due to closed stores.)
BTW, June 1 was the beginning of the 2013
hurricane season!

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Pat - thanks for commenting. What an awful experience. As you say, crisis brings out the best in people, but often at a terrible cost. I hope this hurricane season passes you by, and that you never have to suffer anything as bad as that again.

Kaelee said...

Well I'm a computer junkie but that's about the only thing I'm tied to. I don't watch a lot of television and rarely have the radio on. I went quite a few days without the computer this summer as I was staying with my sister. I do have a cell phone but I use it only for talking with my husband when we are separated while shopping. The rest of the family has his cell phone number. I use the land line fairly often right now as I have to keep in touch with my recently widowed sister.

I love taking a walk in the morning.

Christina Hollis said...

Hi Kaelee, thanks for commenting. I'm glad you're keeping in close contact with your sister. One of the lovely things about family life is the fund of mutual support and love it provides, and it's only a call away.