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Happy Easter

What a glorious weekend! I hope you've been able to enjoy the beautiful weather in the garden, beach or countryside! We've said it before, but it certainly lifts the spirits to have a bit of sunshine, and springtime is particularly special with all it promises for the year ahead.

We are certainly privileged to be able to enjoy a relaxing weekend when we listen to all that is happening around the world, and things certainly don't seem to be getting any better on many fronts. 

While my reading recommendations this week aren't particularly buoyant, they do speak into our current situation with some hope and positivity, I think, in keeping with the message of this Easter weekend.

For example, we may choose to ration our intake of news from the usual sources, but in 'We Are Bellingcat' we are encouraged to take better ownership of what information we receive, and are encouraged to interrogate it with authority and insight. It's very liberating and encouraging, I think.

And the children's book is all about having 'Too Much Stuff' - a great message for me this weekend as  I was forced to have a bit of a clear out, a spring clean!

Getting rid of things we don't need frees us up for new opportunities, not least some of the places we might go and people we might meet in the coming year.

Arts and literature festivals are in our diaries again and we begin next weekend with the INK Festival in Halesworth.

I have very happy memories of visiting The Cut arts centre and wandering from one studio to another to see a wonderful array of short plays on offer. After the two year gap, things are a little different this year - there are now stages all over the town! You can read more about it in my article here. Or take a look at the programme and book your ticket here. See you there?

But this month is flying by and it's time for a reminder of our forthcoming book group meeting. It's just a week away, so if you would like to come along to discuss 'Barcelona Dreaming' on Monday 25 April, please reply to this email and I'll send you the details.

Thank you for reading.

We are Bellingcat
by Eliot Higgins

The name Bellingcat has intrigued me for some time yet I've taken a while to get round to reading this book, which explains all. After just a few pages I found myself telling everyone about it.

As we get increasingly bewildered by the lies, fake news, algorythyms and the glut of information on the internet, this is the perfect antidote and it reads just like a thriller.

The author is the founder of a collective of self-taught internet sleuths who have been able to solve some of the biggest crimes of our time. Their findings have all been based on clues gained from the internet - social media postings, leaked databases, satellite maps. "Paradoxically in this age of online disinformation, facts are easier to come by than ever," he says.

Higgins worked from his kitchen table initially, frustrated at not having the career he wanted and dismayed at world events. He started surfing the internet to find answers to satisfy himself, interrogated the disinformation and investigated war crimes, and recorded what he learned in a blog.

In this book, he describes how he built his network of like-minded individuals and how they uncovered the truth behind the Skripal poisonings in Salisbury, the downing of Malaysian flight MH17 and the sourcing of weapons in the Syrian Civil War. Much of their work has been investigating Putin and the Assad regime.

The Bellingcat method is founded on transparency, he says. Its motto is 'Identify, Verify, Amplify'. They are not journalists, activists, computer scientists, researchers or criminal investigators, though they work in all those disciplines. The strength of this open-source investigation is in collaboration, he says. And he highlights how in many countries, "citizens are mobilising to fight disinformation and push back against the Counterfactual Community." It's fascinating, inspiring, liberating and vital.

For recommended non-fiction titles, take a look here.
Too Much Stuff
by Emily Gravett

Most of us could write our own story based on the title of this book, but it's a fun tale about the consequences of accumulating too much clutter, as seen through the life of a family of magpies from the award-winning author-illustrator Emily Gravett, aimed at readers under five years.

Meg and Ash are a pair of magpies building a nest for their eggs.

They start with the usual mud, sticks and grass, but as the nest takes shape, Meg and Ash think that it's not quite right. It needs something more. So they begin to collect things to add to the construction – clocks, mops, socks, a pram, even a car – it gets out of hand. How will they ever know that they have everything just so?

It's a lovely picture book with cheery, lively images of the birds and animals.

Read about more recommended children's books here.

Browsers Bookshop Book Group
at St John's Hall, Woodbridge

Monday 25 April 8pm 
talking about...

Barcelona Dreaming
by Rupert Thomson

Set on the eve of the financial crash of 2008, 'Barcelona Dreaming' is made up of three stories that are linked by time and place. It is 'a love letter to one of the world's most beautiful cities and a powerful and poignant fable in our uncertain times'. What will we make of it?

Buy your copy of the book from Browsers Bookshop and receive the book group discount. If you'd like to join the meeting, please reply to this email to receive all the details.
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