The joy of reading

I’ve always enjoyed reading, ever since I was young when I wished I lived in America and went to ‘Sweet Valley High’. However, it was only usually during holidays that I would devour a pile of novels as quickly as possible. This year, my New Year’s Resolution was to try to read 25 books in the year. Now I know for some proper bookworms, this probably doesn’t sound a lot, but for me, one book every two weeks or so seemed like an ambitious target. I was fuelled on in part by my new commute, which resulted in me sitting on the bus for over an hour most days. I’d had enough of gazing out of the window and felt frustrated with using this time to keep checking emails before and after my working day.

The impact of my New Year’s Resolution has been much greater than I imagined. It’s early November and I have now almost finished with my 24th book of the year. I’ve nearly always got a book in my bag. I don’t read on every single bus journey, sometimes I’m just too tired, but on the vast majority, you will find me engrossed in my latest literary choice. I now look forward to my bus journeys rather than seeing it as a chore. I’ve also noticed that it seems to be helping my day-to-day stress levels. It’s proving a nicer way to start and end the day and allows me to turn-off my work brain as I head home for the evening. I’m sure I sleep better too when I read as I go to sleep. A recent article in The Simple Things magazine, explains that reading can become a form of mindfulness – I most definitely agree!

Beyond these great personal benefits, I’m also enjoying the wider impact of books. I’ve hardly read anything on my Kindle this year; the good old paperback is my medium of choice. I enjoy receiving other people’s recommendations and passing books on to others who I think will enjoy them. My mom and I have been drip-feeding each other with books throughout the year. I’m talking about books with friends and colleagues much more, and finding new, common interests this way. I’ve always enjoyed a riffle through charity shop bookshelves and can now do this without any guilt, knowing I probably will get around to reading the book I’m about to buy, rather than it ending up on my bookshelf, unread for years. I look forward to buying and reading even more books next year! I’ve kept a note of the books I’ve read this year, but next year my plan is to write a proper review of each one.

For those interested, this year I have read:

  1. The Versions of Use by Laura Barnett
  2. The Leopard by Jo Nesbo
  3. The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
  4. Dissolution by C J Sansom
  5. Rupture by Ragnar Jonasson
  6. The Buried Giant by Kazou Ishiguro
  7. The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain
  8. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  9. My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
  10. The Hidden Light of Objects by Mai Al-Nakib
  11. This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
  12. The Summer Book by Tove Jansson
  13. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin
  14. The Blackhouse by Peter May
  15. A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman
  16. After You’d Gone by Maggie O’Farrell
  17. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood
  18. The Dry by Jane Harper
  19. Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  20. I’m Travelling Alone by Smaual Bjork
  21. The Marmaid and the Drunks by Ben Richards
  22. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
  23. The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen
  24. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres

When I was glad I was five minutes early

I’m regularly travelling for work these days and can certainly notice that the more I travel, the less anxious I feel about missing connections or being delayed etc. However, on Friday I was glad that I’ve not become too relaxed, and left work a little earlier than required to get to the airport. I had decided to take the tram. I have my Ridacard so the tram is free all the way to the airport (as in many cities, paying passengers have to pay a premium to take the whole route to the airport). As it was approaching rush hour, I thought the tram would be a safe option because it doesn’t have too many points where it can get stuck in traffic. It’s also super easy when you are dragging a suitcase along behind you. However, Friday’s trip wasn’t the most user friendly. Here follows my (slightly long winded) account of the journey.


Design Matters at the Bus Stop

Customer experience is being increasingly considered by transport operators. There are many elements that need to come together for a journey to be an excellent experience. Here’s my own observation of where a design decision is having unintended negative impacts on bus travel.


Three taxis in one week

I am not usually a big user of taxis, but because of this week’s work commitments I’ve needed to travel early in the morning and late at night on a few occasions so I’ve opted to use taxis. However, these weren’t just any taxis, they were Gett taxis. I decided to document my experience of using Gett.


Nesta Article on Innovation in Transport

Nice little article on the Nesta Blog about the key trends which are beginning to transform the transportation sector.

The integration of new technology and the concepts of ‘mobility’ will push innovation in the sector

It’s an exciting time to be working in this sector are trying to work out how we can get the greatest benefits out of this period of change.


When do people say ‘Hello’

I was recently out for a walk on a lovely beach not far from Edinburgh. There were plenty of people out walking their dogs or playing with their kids. Not a single person said ‘hello’ to anyone else, even as they were passing.

At the end of the beach, the sand ended and a path lead us away from the shore. The narrow path cut through some bushes and across grassy land. Suddenly everyone started to say ‘hello’ to one another.

It was really noticeable to me. I guess it was something about the increased level of proximity. On the path the space was shared and people had to acknowledge one another.

It started off on interesting conversation between my mom and me about how public space is changing because so many people aren’t really ‘present’ in public space when they are off in their own virtual worlds (aided by smartphones). However, I’ll leave that for another post!


Choosing how to pay

Prior to becoming self-employed I worked for a company who kindly included a bus pass (Edinburgh’s Ridacard) as one of our employment benefits. I certainly appreciated it at the time, but only realised quite how great a benefit it was once I had to give it up. Becoming self-employed meant I would be working from home for the vast majority of the time, and would only need to travel to the occasional meeting. There was no sense in having a monthly pass, but I quickly missed it.

After the bus pass, there were two main options available to me:

  1. Good old cash – pop £1.50 into the farebox and away you go, or
  2. Download the mobile ticketing app, where you purchase at least £10 worth of tickets which you then redeem as you need them by activating it in the app and showing your smart phone’s screen to the driver.

I began to notice what these options meant for my experience.

Researched by Others

Understanding the Role of Values

This week I attended a fantastic summit organised by the 2050 Scottish Youth Climate Group. One of the workshops I attended was focused on behaviour change models. During the workshop we only had time to concentrate on one of the models – DEFRA’s 4Es. However, I have since done a little reading around some of the other models mentioned by the presenter. One in particular has really caught my attention. It is the Common Cause model which you can read more about at: 

Researched by Others

Does Gamification Work?

I’ve just read a great article by Brian Cugelman from AlterSpark on the ingredients of Gamification and its role in promoting health behaviours. I’ve heard a lot of hype about the potential for gamification, which it is easy to get swept up in. This article helps to break down what gamification really is and when it should be used.


Being ‘green’

There have been a few green-related happenings this week that have prompted me to write this post. Firstly, the five pence charge for plastic bags has begun in Scotland. Secondly, on a more personal note, we’ve taken delivery of our new smaller wheelie bin and instructions for the updated recycling programme here in Edinburgh.