As bare as a birch in winter…

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

I like to share interesting pieces of figurative language I encounter in my reading. I write today with a simile from Clive Thompson…

I discovered journalist and writer Clive Thompson when a colleague forwarded to me a video in which he spoke. (Thompson was addressing the urgent question: which is the best implement for writing — a pencil or a keyboard.)

Then, I discovered I had one of his books on my shelves. It was Smarter Than You Think. I read it, belatedly, and discovered it to be an intelligent and thoughtful reflection on the ways in which technology has helped us. It even became one of the three best non-fiction books I’ve read so far this year.

The book also contained a piece of figurative language — a simile — that really resonated with me. Here it is, as short as it is elegant:

Quite often my mind was bare as a birch in winter. 

If you haven’t spent any time in a birch forest, it might not strike you the same way. But the vacant, almost lifeless ambience of such a place — where you feel as though you’re standing in the midst of a collection of telephone poles rather than trees — aptly captures the feeling of bareness or emptiness.


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