Better at English

Better at English

037 – Daily Rituals 2 – Real English Conversations

February 27, 2017

Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from In this episode of Real English Conversations, you'll hear part 2 of my conversation with Kyla. We're discussing a book that we both really liked. It's called Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey.

The book describes the daily routines and habits of 161 creative people, people like writers, painters, musicians, philosophers, and scientists. Now, while I love the book, I don't recommend it for English learners at lower levels. This is because it has a lot of quotations from sources that are very old, and some of that language is very difficult. But if you are an upper-intermediate to advanced learner of English who needs to read English literature from different periods, it might be a great place to start. The chapters are very short — sometimes only a half a page. That means you can have the satisfaction of finishing a chapter without having to spend too much time. And it's easier to do deep language analysis and study if the text is not too long.

Right this conversation you'll hear a lot of American English idiomatic expressions and a bit of slang. There are also many examples of a politeness strategy called "hedging." Remember, this was the first time Kyla and I ever spoke, so we were being careful not to be too direct. Listen particularly for language like "kind of," "sort of," and "I think." Hedges like these keep us from sounding to direct or firm in our opinions.

As always, you can find the full transcript, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at

OK, here comes the conversation!

Kyla: Well, I was just going to say, that book came out of blog posts, didn't it? Like, was he blogging? [note: you can find the original blog here]

Lori: I believe the story is, he's – he's a...he's actually a published author; quite a prolific author, I think, in– in, like, magazines and things like that. And he did have this blog that, I guess, started out just as some kind of personal interest.

Kyla: Right.

Lori: And then someone got in touch with him saying, "Hey, do you...this would make a really cool book," and so he did the extra work too to turn it into a book. And I'm glad he did because it's really fascinating.

Kyla: Yeah. [laughs]

Lori: [laughs] Really interesting.

Kyla: It is —

Lori: Um...

Kyla: Well, it's — oh, you go ahead.

Lori: No, no. Go ahead.

Kyla: I was– I was just going to say, it actually kind of makes me really..."Why wasn't I a writer?! It seems like they have it so easy!" [laughs]

Lori: [laughs] Is that based on– on reading about the habits of writers in the books or the book, I'm —

Kyla: Yes. Yeah, exactly. That – by the end of it, it was just like, yeah.

Lori: That's funny you had that reaction because I actually thought that writing seemed really, really freaking hard.

Kyla: Oh, yeah. [laughs]

Lori: [laughs] Like, really hard. I guess, some of the things that– that struck me that all the things that the writers do to try to make it easier on themselves, like, I really [laughs] — one thing, I can't remember which person it was, but there was someone who was, like, totally taking Benzedrine which is, I guess, apparently, Adderall.

Kyla: Right. [laughs]

Lori: And after reading that passage, I was like, "Hey man! I want to get me some of that stuff! [laughs] How can I...that's my problem too! I can't focus. I can't concentrate. Like, sign me up!" [laughs] And coffee, as well. I was surprised at how many people really depended on stimulants like coffee.

Kyla: Yeah. And it seems like, every, like,