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The seven essays in this book, subtitled “In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading and Life,” are derived from the Russian literature class that George Saunders has taught for decades at Syracuse University, examining how fiction works and why it matters. Penguin Random House, Jan. 12

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Doug Doughty, who has covered sports in the Roanoke Valley since 1974, lists his top 25 college football recruits from Virginia for the unusual pandemic year.

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Even though distance learning largely takes place on a computer, it’s nice for kids to get some practice staying organized on paper. To keep track of homework assignments, due dates and even online classes, consider buying a small paper planner for your student. A pack of fine-tip colorful pens can also be a nice bonus.

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If your child is easily distracted or working in a room with other people — including other children attending school on different computers — then surrounding their front and side views with a trifold poster board can help them stay focused on class. They can even decorate the poster board with photos and drawings.

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Yoga is best done in the presence of an instructor, said part-time Chicago yoga instructor Whitney Katz. But that’s not always possible, even in in-person classes, she said: “Not being watched properly by a teacher has hurt me more than it’s helped me.”


The Lynchburg Police Department swore-in eleven new officers at the Miller Center on Thursday. The long-awaited ceremony marked the end of more than a half-year of rigorous instruction at the Central Virginia Criminal Justice Academy, which was briefly forced to shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic. Police officials hope the new officers will help ease the workload for a department short about 35 officers — or nearly a fifth of its ranks —  when the group completes field training later this year. 

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