A weekly newsletter that's not entirely boring.
Welcome to my first actual newsletter. Though I have many in development ideas for more long-form written content, I thought it would be fun (and not narcissistic whatsoever 😎) to release a new weekly newsletter every Sunday with the things that caught my eye in the past week that I hope you will find interesting 🤔, useful 🧹or inspiring. 💡
The added benefit is that, as tool of accountability for myself, I’d provide periodic updates on a novel that I am writing. Over a decade ago I had this idea for a book and the idea never seemed to go away, it festered and grew in my mind. And so, just after Christmas I went for a hunt through my attic for my original notes. I’d put them away a long time ago because the book never had an ending. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there was an actual lightbulb moment 💡 and the ending came to me. I’m now spending a lot of time world building and fleshing out my plot and sub-plots. This is a bit of a passion project now and frankly, I don’t really have a clue what I’m doing, I thought it would be fun to also update you on my creative process as I fumble through. Don’t expect a manuscript for a very long time though!
Watch this video 🎥
Ever since I read the book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k” I’ve been slightly obsessed with Mark Manson and, contrary to popular belief, it’s not because of his incredible hair. I’m sure you’ve read the book, or at the very least seen a few stray copies laying around, reserving sun loungers around a pool in an all-inclusive resort. I think it’s safe to say that both Mark Manson and James Clear, who wrote the modern bible “Atomic Habits” have both managed to give the self-help industry quite the boost. For good reason too, both books are excellent. But for me, where Manson really shines is on YouTube. (I’d rather not talk about the film, If you’ve seen it, you’ll know).
His YouTube channel has the simple, but effective tag-line, “Life Advice That Doesn’t Suck” and to cut a long story short, it does exactly what it says on the tin. His recent video talks about the subject of love and relationships and the simple fact that you can be with someone for 50 years, but you’re not always going to ‘like’ that person and also that ultimately it’s not ‘Love’ that keeps a relationship going.
Why am I recommending this?
Well, in 10 days from the publication of this newsletter I’ll be in Las Vegas walking down the aisle (to the music from Star Wars) getting married to my partner of 12 years. He and are literally opposites. But we have similar values and not a day goes by they we are not laughing. He’s my soul mate - but ‘death do us part’ is a bloody long time and of course I’m having all those thoughts that most men have a couple of weeks before they get married. It’s fine. The night before I’m going to find a decent cigar bar with lots of bourbon 🥃 and chat to the locals, all of whom are probably in the cigar lounge hiding from their wives. I’ll post some updates from Vegas 😎 next week. Anyway, check out the video - it’s excellent!
Books I’m reading 📚
I am currently reading two books; one fiction and one non-fiction. When I finish reading them I’ll let you know what I thought, but fair warning; I’m not the fastest reader in the world. But here’s my impressions so far;
The Count of Monte Cristo
I have wanted to read this book for years, and following my departure from social media, more on that shortly, I set myself a mission. To read it in under 100 days. which is a minimum of 12 pages each day. If you don’t know the story of The Count of Monte Cristo then…err... Actually, I don’t have a response to that.
It’s a classic novel that was serialised in France in the 1840s - I think it was 8 parts? - It tells the story of a young man who is wrongfully imprisoned and his escape from prison and his revenge. I’m about 200 pages into the 1200-page epic and I’m just going to put this out there. This book is OUTSTANDING.
Sometimes you watch a film or read a book or look at a painting that has been labelled ‘Masterpiece’ (A term that I am quite guilty of overusing). But when you see a true masterpiece, you just know. (Like falling in love). I remember seeing ‘Casablanca’ for the first time and remember, quite clearly thinking ‘Now I get it’. I’m reading the modern translation from Robin Buss, published by Penguin, and the same thought immediately comes to mind; ‘I get it.’ The modern translation also makes the book itself very accessible. The book has always intimated me. I mean it’s bigger than an actual house brick. But it is simple an incredible read. I’m astonished at how good it is, (so far).
The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements
The novel that that I am currently developing has a lot of complex themes and one of those these is that of revolution. So I’ve been reading academic studies and watching documentaries on the nature of revolutions, where they begin and the people who spark them. And they all have something in common, a shared belief, or shared values that become organised. Through my research I have discovered The True Believer, written by Eric Hoffer. This is, first and foremost, one of the most difficult books I have ever read. I have been rereading passages over and over and spending more time thinking about what I’ve been reading than any other book since I did my A-Levels. My kindle version has more highlights than it knows what to do with - actually it’s got to a point that the highlights have become meaningless. (Oops). This book is written as what seems to be a collection of thoughts (the clue is in the title) and the author argues that mass movements often attract people who are dissatisfied with their current situation and seeking a sense of belonging and purpose. He talks about leaders with charisma and the sort of people who are drawn to these mass movements - some of which begin as fringe groups. For me this is important, not just as research for the novel, but also my understanding of the world at large. What absolutely shook me is that this book, which could have been written with extreme relevance in 2022, was published in 1951.😳 And this is where my ‘Quote of the week’ comes from:
Quote of the Week 🗣️
A religious movement may develop into a social revolution or a nationalist movement; a social revolution, into militant nationalism or a religious movement; a nationalist movement into a social revolution or a religious movement.
YouTube Updates 📺
It’s been a few months since Glen, and I released a video on our YouTube channel. One of the challenges of building travel content is getting out into the world and actually travelling! However, we are embarking on our next trip, leaving in just a few days. Over the past few weeks we’ve been outlining the videos we’re going to be making as well as developing a detailed filming plan. Though we will be doing a guide to getting married in Las Vegas (aimed mainly at those who live in the UK) we’re keeping our actually wedding private, but we’ll be sharing the rest of the trip with everyone including vlogs, reviews and guides. We’re going to be in Las Vegas, Hawaii, cruising on Ovation of the Seas and spending some time in Vancouver. We’re also fly with BA Club World, so we’re excited to share that experience with our viewers!
You can subscribe to our YouTube Channel here – We’re working towards our first 1,000 subscribers so if you can help us with that milestone, that’ll be amazing! 😘
This is pretty cool. 🗺️
During my childhood, in the 1980s (best decade ever), I would to go to my Nan’s every Saturday afternoon. One of my favourite things to do when I was there was to flick through her old Atlases, this was before the internet and Google Maps ruined the romanticism of a large hardback atlas. I would spend hours poring over maps of the world and imagine the places that I could visit, and what the lives of people living the other side of the world must have been like. Thanks to the Internet Archive you can view the absolutely incredible David Rumsey Map Collection which has over 100,000 maps all digitised in high resolution. It’s incredible to see how the geography of the world has changed over the years. It’s an astonishing collection and you’ll lose a few hours exploring – Enjoy!
I quit social media (mostly) 🙌
Utilising Substack as a place to post a weekly newsletter seemed like a bit of a no-brainer. Particularly with the launch of “notes”- which is sort of a hybrid of Substack and Twitter. However, the issue with this is that discoverability is well, challenging at best on this platform. Substack seems to be heavily reliant on writers using other social networks, such as Twitter, to promote their newsletters. Which for me is a bit of a problem because, 65 Days ago, I sent my last tweet. Five days ago, I decided to deactivate my account altogether. Twitter had become for a long time now, quite toxic. I’d tried muting words for topics that I wanted to avoid; I’d tried to block accounts I didn’t want to see but that didn’t seem to work. The Twitter algorithm was feeding me so much negativity that it was affecting my mental health. At the same time, I couldn’t help myself from opening the app, afraid I might miss something. I was spending upwards of 20 hours a week on social media. That’s 1,040 hours a year. Ouch.
I’m not an airport, so I didn’t want to announce my departure. I have now gotten rid of twitter, Instagram and TikTok. The only social network I’m on is Facebook and that’s primarily to keep in touch with family. In the beginning I did feel like I was missing out, but after about 2 weeks that feeling went away. Instead of scrolling mindlessly I started reading journals, articles, researching my book and planning my upcoming wedding trip. Suddenly I have the gift of time. And productivity went up by a factor of “lots”. So, if you’re also finding that social media is making you miserable, or argumentative. Take a break. I really couldn’t recommend it enough.
Last, but by no means least 🔥
Thank you for taking the time to read this newsletter and I’d love it if you would share it with a friend or two; This weekly newsletter is a new endeavour and I’m going to make sure I put in the work to ensure that each week it’s a fun and entertaining and interesting read. However, if you have any feedback on the content, please let me know and I’ll be happy to reply to you personally. Have a great week, wherever you are in the world 🌍
This issue of AJG Weekly was originally published on Substack and has been moved to Ghost for archiving purposes
Links to any books and products mentioned in this newsletter have affiliate links and though this newsletter is not sponsored, if you make a purchase via these links, I’ll get a small commission. Which I will most likely spend on coffee and whiskey.