A 1-minute exercise to help you stop procrastinating

How to stop procrastinating and write: with this easy, 1 minute exercise you can overcome procrastination, stop struggling to start writing, and finally just start writing without stopping.


It’s like carrying a goat on your shoulders. Have you ever seen someone sling a full-grown goat over their shoulders?

(Maybe not, but let’s use our imaginations here.)

It weighs them down and pushes their head toward the ground and makes them generally wish it weren’t there.

That’s how I think of big projects I’m procrastinating on. Everything’s going dandy and then—bam—I remember I have to write something big tomorrow or finally face editing a tricky section of a proposal. It’s a bummer. Not because I don’t like the work of writing and editing (I love it), but because the anticipation makes me anxious, and every time I wonder if I’ll be able to actually do that writing and editing and do it well.

Instead, I’m tempted to distract myself with the easy stuff: emails, phone calls, contracts, and whatever else is less intimidating. And that goat of a project keeps weighing me down subconsciously, bleating to be done and generally stressing me out with how difficult it seems.

All procrastination is fear

Steven Pressfield calls this burden “resistance” in The War of Art. It’s resistance to start the difficult work. Elizabeth Gilbert said “All procrastination is fear” in Big Magic, and I don’t think I’ve ever underlined a sentence in a book so many times. We’ve all felt it, and every writer I’ve ever worked with has struggled with it at one time or another.

But what are we really afraid of? I’ve heard every fear you can think of from writers and bloggers, and here’s just a little sampling from the cornucopia:

Fear of not being able to stay focused. Fear of giving up and escaping to something easy instead. Fear of never finishing that book. Fear of it not selling. Fear of no one caring. Fear of having lost the magic that allowed us to write last time. Fear of being untalented. (But talent is a myth, and here’s why.)

Essentially, fear of it being hard—really, really hard.

But over the years, I’ve learned a few techniques from my authors and from plain ol’ trial and error that has taken the wind out of my procrastination sails. Now, I feel anxious if I procrastinate at all, and I try to do the hardest things first thing in the morning, when I can.

easy stop procrastinating writing

How can we stop procrastinating and finally write?

The key is realizing this: procrastination is not real. All those thoughts that race through our minds when we’re trying to wheedle our way out of writing are just thoughts. They are not reality. They are not who we are. They are not what’s happening in this moment now.

They are a story we are telling ourselves, a story no one can hear but us. And the way to hear, understand, and edit the stories we tell ourselves, just as we do with a piece of writing, is to practice mindfulness.

I think of mindfulness and writing as two sides of the same coin: one helps us fully live our own story from moment to moment, the other helps us live the stories of others. Both require a good amount of focus; both build compassion and empathy; both are a practice; both can kick your butt they are so hard.

Luckily, I work with authors who are much wiser than me, and so I wanted to share with you today a 1-minute practice I learned recently from my author, Jillian Pransky, which can help writers breathe through the fear and keep working on their manuscripts and books.

Jillian shares a remarkable program in her book, Deep Listening, which is just out from Rodale, called the Calm Body, Clear Mind, Open Heart program. She’s taught it all over the world for over 25 years, and you should see the devotion her students have for her. Her work is soaked in the magic of life-changingness—that light people get when they’re talking about something that changed a deep part of them.

Deep listening jillian pransky cover

The book is full of stories, reflections, practices, prompts, and mini-resets that are perfect for yogis but would also help any writer feel a little more brave and a little less anxious about their writing. But here’s one easy practice that I think will especially help writers overcome procrastination and the fear that whispers behind it.

This practice takes just 1 minute, and you can use it when you’re about to sit down to work or in moments where you feel resistance and procrastination rising. Go ahead and give it a try now! Read it through once, then close your eyes, do the practice, and see how you feel after.

A 1-minute exercise to help you stop procrastinating and start writing

Excerpted from Deep Listening by Jillian Pransky.

Instant Pause and Reset: Label and Let It Be

Pause to instantly reset your attention several times a day. Take a moment to notice the activity in your mind and body. Notice if you are “somewhere else,” doing “something else.” And draw yourself back into the present.

  • Pause and sense where your body meets the ground. Soften excess squinting and gripping in your face, neck, and shoulders. Let yourself land completely.
  • Notice what is going on in your mind and body right now. Label whatever you find…are you planning, worrying, sleepy, sad, happy. Maybe your body is achy, tight, or energized. It doesn’t matter what you find, you are just taking a moment to notice how you are and to label it and let it be.
  • Kindly bring your attention to your next three breaths and mentally chant for the length of your inhale, “I am” and for the duration of your exhale, “here now.” I am, here now.
  • Pause at the end of your third breath and notice your body and how you are meeting support. Open your awareness fully to the immediate space around you.
  • Welcome yourself into the moment just as you are. Slowly continue into your next activity.

Whew. I hope that helped you relax and face your writing with less tension and anxiety.

How to stick with it and stop procrastinating for good

If you found this exercise helpful, try bookmarking this page with a catchy tag like “Do this before writing.” I can’t ever seem to implement new practices unless I have them front-and-center with a “do this when/if/before” type of tag, and my computer is littered with documents like “Start here before writing a post” “Check this before submitting a proposal” etc.

So, in case your brain is as porous and forgetful as mine us, tuck this practice someplace safe and visible so you have a refuge next time the urge to procrastinate rises. And I hope it’ll help you put down that heavy goat of fear and procrastination so you can walk tall into the work that matters.

And if you want to learn more about Jillian’s practices, read more about Deep Listening:

“World-renowned restorative yoga teacher Jillian Pransky came to the practice of yoga to heal herself. For much of her life, she subscribed to a relentless work hard/play hard mentality, burying parts of herself beneath the pursuit of busy-ness and accomplishment. It wasn’t until a devastating personal loss and health crisis thrust her into suffocating anxiety that she stopped racing around. As she began to pause and examine her actions and emotions, she found herself able to unlock deeply seated tension in her mind and body. Since then, Pransky has been devoted to studying and teaching mindfulness practices, deep relaxation, and compassionate listening.

In Deep Listening, Pransky presents her signature Calm Body, Clear Mind, Open Heart program―a 10-step journey of self-exploration that she’s taught around the world. Derived from the techniques that healed her, the practice of Deep Listening invites you to pay close attention to your body, mind, and heart. You’re taught how to tune inward and relax into a state of openness, ease, and clarity. This is the new frontier in integrative wellness―mindfulness designed for healing.

Pransky doesn’t ask you to ‘be your best self,’ or ‘do more!’ She asks you to ‘be here’ and ‘do less.’ She guides you gently through the stages of Deep Listening, from being present and noticing your tension to welcoming what you discover with softness and compassion. She integrates tools like guided meditations, journaling prompts, and restorative yoga poses to help you regard yourself with kindness and curiosity. Immersing yourself in the practice of Deep Listening will allow you to nurture your own well-being.”

To find more practices for relaxation and centering, order a copy of Deep Listening on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or from your favorite local bookstore!

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Class I’m Excited About This Week

literary agent books blog

Guys, Food Blogger Pro is open again! I know a lot of you signed up during the last enrollment period, and I hope you’ve been enjoying all the class material and videos as much as I’ve been.

In case you’re not familiar with Food Blogger Pro, it is one of only two classes I’ll recommend for bloggers. It’s, by far, the best way to learn how to start and grow a blog, even if you blog about things other than food. I feel so strongly about it for a few reasons:

  1. Lindsay and Bjork of Pinch of Yum are at the top of the blogging world, and they make as much as $30,000+ per month on their blog, with millions of page views per month. Because I work in publishing, I’m always highly skeptical of people who tout themselves as experts but don’t have the numbers to prove it. But I also think when you find someone who is clearly one of the best and is willing to teach you everything they know, you have to jump on it. I did–I’ve been a member of FBP for 3+ months, and I feel so much better about blogging knowing I have the huge FBP archive and community at my fingertips. It’s been so much more fun to blog now that I feel less in the dark about how to do it!
  2. I actually think it’s a ridiculously good deal. I work with or know a lot of experts who sell their Everything-I-Know classes for hundreds or even thousands of dollars, so at $29 a month, FBP feels like a steal. (I mean, I spend more on dog treats for Pepper. And my ROI is a big fat zero on those.)
  3. A lot of the very best bloggers, who have now become bestselling authors, went through Food Blogger Pro. It’s a class and community that I admire because it shows you how to build a site and spread your work with integrity–after all, you don’t want to learn how to grow a blog from the shouty, annoying types on the internet. To me, FBP provides a clear North Star-like guide to making this blog better for you all, instead of forcing me to sift through weird or flash-in-the-pan advice that pops up on Pinterest or Google.

But enough from me, you can read more about the class and sign up for Food Blogger Pro here! And if it feels like a fit for you, you can use my promo code to get 10% off a yearly membership or $3 off the monthly membership.

(If you do decide to try FBP, would you consider using the links above? It provides a small commission to fund the hours of work we put into c&b. Hope to see you inside Food Blogger Pro–if you join, say hi!)


What I’m Reading This Week

5-Minute Meditation With Mindfulness Expert Jillian Pransky (Forbes): If you’d like to go deeper right now, try this beautiful 5-minute video meditation with Jillian. It’s the instant breath of fresh air your mind needs!

How Information Overload Robs Us of Our Creativity: What the Scientific Research Shows (Josh Jones on Open Culture): Scientific proof that we need to wash and wring out our brains every once in awhile if we’re going to be creative.

The 6 Things Always on Your Writer’s To-Do List (Rachel Geisel): “As writers, we write and we read. And at a basic level, this is all you really need. But you don’t have to be writing 24/7 to be involved in your writing life, and you shouldn’t try to.”

The Angsty Relationships Between Writing and Sales (Andi Cumbo-Floyd on JaneFriedman.com): “…it’s really okay to promote your own work, even if people tell you it’s not. You are proud of what you write, teach, provide. Put it out in the world. Let your flowers rise up toward the sun.” Amen.

Radhika Jones, Vanity Fair’s Surprise Choice, Is Ready to Go (Sydney Ember for The New York Times): And in industry moves, the Editorial Director of the books department at the Times is heading over to Vanity Fair.


What We’re Eating This Week

Because last week was such a garbage fire of busy, this week I’m trying this new thing called eat like a normal person and actually cook at home, you lazy sack. The Yelp reviews for dinner at our house this week would be a solid 4 stars–we’re not the best, but hey, we could be worse.

Sunday: Ropa Vieja, made from a recipe given to us by a friend from an old Cuban cookbook. This alone dragged our dinner table Yelp rating up by at least 1/2 a star.

Monday: “We’re trying to be healthy”: a phrase I say dozens of times per week, usually while eating salad bathed in ranch dressing and feeling delusionally virtuous. We made the Teriyaki Chicken Cauliflower Bowls from SkinnyTaste: Fast and Slow, and they were a huge hit, maybe because I added wasabi mayo dressing, extra teriyaki sauce, and 2 glasses of wine as a side to the recipe. But hey, the book still says 236 calories per serving, so I’m going with that.

Tuesday: Glorious, cheesy pasta: Brussels Sprouts and Three-Cheese Pasta Bake from Smitten Kitchen Every Day. Because we were healthy yesterday, you know?

Wednesday: My lovely author Robyn’s White Chicken Chili recipe, which I’m doggedly trying to teach Jarrett to make and he’s doggedly flattering that “I make it best.” Stand-off continues; war looms.

Thursday: I’m running two book auctions this week, so Thursday will be beautiful, effortless takeout. Pizza or Chinese? That’s the only decision my brain can handle after the frenzy of an auction.

Friday: The most basic ground beef tacos, because hey, we’re a 4 star joint, not a 5-star one. Deal with it.

Cheers!

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Are you a homebody? These cute & free bookmarks are for you!

These cute & free printable fall bookmarks are perfect for cozy fall book reading–download the free printable bookmark PDF here!


I squirmed and shifted in my seat. I pulled my elbows in closer to fit the 18 inches of personal space allotted to me. I turtled into my scarf and brought my book closer to my face. I thought really, really hard about what Eleanor’s apartment looked like and how really, really nice it would be to be there instead of here.

That’s the only way to survive a plane flight, isn’t it?

Especially if you’re in a tiny discount airline seat. Especially if you’re so cold you might put on every piece of clothing inside your one included personal item. Especially if the person next to you is an armrest hog and a chatterer. (Ugh, isn’t that the worst combination?

I was on a discount airline flight like that last week on our way to Ann Arbor, and it made me think long and hard about how good I have it at home. (I shared an inside peek at my reading nook recently, if you missed it!)

reading nook mistakes

I travel a lot for work and non-work, which is hilarious because I’m such a homebody. I’ve always found it supremely comical that Jarrett and I were long-distance for 5 years and that now I travel nearly every other week for work. Because if you’ve seen me, you know I’m the least graceful traveler on every plane, train, or automobile.

If there’s something to complain about (and when is there not?!) I. Am. On. It. (First of all, it’s too cold in here; second of all, I’m really thirsty; third of all…)

Are you a homebody, too?

If so, I have some hard news for you: there’s no way to see the world (and the world is great!) unless you get into a tin can hurtling through time and space every once in a while.

But, there are little things you can do to make the whole experience a bit cozier and less get-me-off-this-damn-thing-before-I-scream-y. (Now there’s an adjective for ya.)

First, figure out what comforts you during rough moments. For me, it’s yoga pants, extra warm socks, 10 or so layers of clothing, a scarf to hide in, a book to escape into, a jacket to drape like a blanket, and the largest damn cup of coffee they can legally sell me. (I wasn’t kidding about that high maintenance thing.)

Maybe you like those things, too? And want to have a reminder of them with you no matter what tiny little crevice of the world you’re reading in?

You, reader, need a cozy fall bookmark.

free printable fall bookmarks

I designed this bookmark last year to celebrate the arrival of all things cozy and fall, and this year I wanted to redesign it to make it a bit fresher and brighter.

This free printable bookmark is the perfect way to mark your spot between sips of cider, or to remind you to pack up your cozy essentials before you hit the road with your reading.

So if you love books + blankets + hot coffee + warm socks as much as I do (and I know you do!) then head on over to The Library and download this free printable bookmark.

I loaded this fall bookmark up with all the cozy fall essentials you’ll need, as well as one of my favorite John Green quotes:

“Reading forces you to be quiet in a world that no longer makes place for that.” — John Green

 

This printable bookmark is also perfect if you ever find yourself in a spot with chatterers (ahem…) and want a little bit of quiet in your world. When you stick it out of your book just so, that loud person in 22B will have a subtle reminder that “Shh…I’m reading.” And it’s okay if the loud person in 22B is your husband. He needs to pipe down every once in a while, too.

I hope this fall themed bookmark helps you get lost in a book while surrounded by your favorite cozy things, no matter how tight your next airline seat might be!

free printable fall bookmarks

Click here to download this free printable bookmark!

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What I’m Reading This Week

Smitten Kitchen’s Deb Perelman Talks Food Blogging and New Cookbook (Shay Spence for People): Stonesong’s own Deb Perelman had a lovely print feature in People this week! My favorite quote? “Though Perelman sacrifices counter space in the tiny apartment in the big city, the minimalist lifestyle fits with her brand of simplified cooking. ‘My feeling is if it’s too crowded in here, it’s not because the apartment is too small, it’s because we have too much stuff,’ she says. ‘We’re not living fancy, but I get to work for myself and raise a family in the city I love. I’m so thankful because I feel like I have a really good life.’

How Creative Subheadings Can Make or Break Your Content (Erika Fitzgerald for The Write Life): Maybe you’re tinkering with a subhead for an article; maybe you’re deciding on a subtitle for your book; maybe you want to throw up your hands and burn it all down. Well, put down the flamethrower and read this first. Subheads are extremely important, and it’s worth taking a deep breath and getting them right.

Blogger Gets Cookbook Deal With 1-Sentence Email (Dianne Jacob): An interesting piece on how trend-driven cookbooks come about…worth reading if you’ve ever been approached by a small or medium sized publisher and want to know what it might be like!

Great Writers on the Letters of the Alphabet (Maria Popova of Brain Pickings): Oo, I love this. An ode to each letter of the alphabet with drawings by David Hockney and micro-essays by Susan Sontag, Seamus Heaney, Martin Amis, John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Erica Jong, Kazuo Ishiguro, and others. What’s lovelier than that?


What We’re Eating This Week

Oh, I give up. Do you ever hit 6 pm and think that? I never, ever do because I work on cookbooks and always cook out of them. (Narrator: she didn’t.) But let’s play a game called Fantasy Dinner Theater where I talk about all the things I want to cook and eat, and then you tell me how delusional I am. Okay? Let’s go!

Monday: On Monday, we’ll enjoy a fine roast duck with mashed potatoes (with all the butter and all the cream, of course), plus perfectly charred Brussels sprouts in a duck fat vinaigrette.

Tuesday: I’ll finally cook a vintage recipe from The New York Times Cookbook. Probably something with aspic, which I’ll flawlessly execute and also miraculously transform into something people want to eat.

Wednesday: I’ll take a break from excellence and order Peter Chang’s, and I won’t even ask them to make it less spicy because I’m very sophisticated like that.

Thursday: Thursday feels like a day for soufflé, yes? I’ll pop a few soufflés in after work, throw together a vegetable gratin, and we’ll sit down to eat a steaming hot and perfectly balanced meal at 6:30 on the dot.

Friday: I take it easy with a make your own pizza station with dough I hand-kneaded at 6 in the morning, mozzarella I fresh-pulled right after that, sauce made with tomatoes from my imaginary garden, and 10-12 perfectly chopped complementary toppings in 10-12 little bowls, which I won’t even complain about washing.

Saturday: Fantasy Dinner Theater is cancelled after a short and and record-settingly unsuccessful run, and now we’re back to our regular programming of panic and laziness. Enjoy the show.

Cheers!

4 unexpected ways to make your book a perennial bestseller

The 4 best takeaways and a book review of Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work That Lasts by Ryan Holiday–plus a free downloadable PDF art print to inspire you to become a perennial seller!


“That book has taken on a life of its own.”

I blinked at this—what did that mean? It was 2009, and I was working at a Big 5 publisher in New York.  I had asked one of the senior editors about a backlist book that was still selling and selling, even after 10 years.

The book was a perennial seller for the publishing house. It had built momentous word-of-mouth and now needed almost no help from the author or publisher to keep it selling steadily.  You can recognize these books because they wave you down with numbers: “2 million copies sold,” “now published in 15 countries!”

how to write a perennial seller book 1

What I wanted to know was exactly how that book had become a perennial bestseller. Was it the author’s platform? Was it the idea? Had they marketed the heck out of it?

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An inside look at my blissful reading nook + how to make your own (free art print!)

Avoid these 3 common reading nook mistakes when styling a blissful and cozy DIY reading nook for adults.


Here’s how Monday used to look for me when I was an editor at a NYC publisher: sit at a cubicle, wheel my chair into the corner, put my head down, and try to edit a manuscript while my cubemate played music, a publicist pitched on the phone, a TV blared Good Morning America, and editors chitchatted at each other’s doors a whole three inches from me.

Sounds stressful, right?

Well, here’s how Monday looks for me now that I’m a literary agent: wake up, make coffee, settle into my reading armchair, expertly arrange pillows and blankets, and edit a proposal, respond to emails, or do whatever else is on the docket for that day.

Ahhh. Blissful. Just thinking about it makes me breathe deep. It is SO much more peaceful and productive.

reading nook mistakes

Of course, that’s not every Monday. A lot of the time I’m in New York, working in a busy, open-concept office, or I’m booked with calls and working at my desk, or I’m working from Swing’s, the best coffee shop on the planet. (Hot take, I know.)

Maybe you’re lucky enough to work from home on occasion. Or maybe you come home craving peace and quiet to read or write. Either way, you know what a huge difference it makes to have a reading nook that’s blissful. Blissful the way a great yoga class can be—you breathe deeper in it; you sink into it; you feel that you’re in the universe of a single task.

But, here’s the thing: it’s not easy to create a blissful reading nook. Trust me, I’ve made every mistake and failed at styling many of the reading nooks I’ve had. I’ve gone through 7 iterations of a reading nook over the past 7 years, and it wasn’t until the past year that my reading nook started to feel just right.

So I know all the common mistakes people make when styling reading nooks, because I learned them the hard way. And since I don’t want you to have to learn the hard way, here are the mistakes you should watch for when styling your reading nook:

The 3 most common mistakes in reading nooks:

1. There are too many books in your reading nook.

I know, I know. You want to hit me for saying this. But seriously: a reading nook is for reading, not for being stared down by all the books you haven’t read yet. I’ve tried reading nooks packed with bookshelves and reading nooks with no books, and I’ve finally settled on a happy in-between.

To me, I want a reading nook to feel blissful and serene above all, so only a few books within reach is perfect. You can either spaciously arrange books on a small bookshelf along with other decorative items, or lean a few books on a ledge, or even stack them on a side table in your reading nook.

The rest of your books can live happily in larger bookshelves throughout the house (we keep ours near the front door), but now your reading nook will always be the one corner of your house that feels peaceful and calm.

2. You don’t have a comfortable enough spot to sit in your reading nook.

I could probably write 1,000 words right now about my feelings on armchairs but because that is painfully boring and I wouldn’t even want to read it, I’ll tell you this: you need an armchair that, above all, can hold you comfortably, in various stretched-out positions for oh, 8-hour, reading sessions.

A reading nook is not the place for high-backed armchairs. A reading nook is not the place for cushioned benches with no back support. (I know, I love these closets-turned-reading-nooks, too, but how comfortable do they really look?)

When it comes to reading nook couches and armchairs, the deeper, plusher, and larger, the better. And if you really want to give yourself space to stretch out with a book, add an ottoman to your reading nook. Now we’re entering chaise lounge territory but without the need to commit to always putting your legs up. Bliss.

3. Your reading nook has too much clutter.

Have you heard that people are anti-clutter these days? (Ha ha.) I represented this decluttering book and this organizing book, and they have made a world of difference in my life. I used to have no darn idea how people made the houses in magazines look so good, but now I get it: they have less stuff, and what they have is artfully tucked away.

Decluttering is the hardest thing to do when we have books, posters, tctochkes, and other literary ephemera that completely fit the reading nook theme. But experiment a little: if you take away 3 things from your reading nook, does it feel calmer and quieter?

After all, we’re in our reading nook to read or write, not stare at our Fahrenheit 451 posters and collection of bookstore totes. Think of it like creating a blank canvas, where your mind can wander and daydream. A reading nook should be one of the few places in the world where you’re not assaulted by stimulus from every direction and where you can actually breathe deeply, think clearly, and focus on just one thing at a time.

Do you have other advice on styling a reading nook I might have forgotten? I’d love to hear it in the comments!

After I spent the past 7 years styling, restyling, making mistakes, starting over, and hauling my reading nook through many moves, I’ve finally gotten it to look like the blissful reading nook of my dreams.

So what does my reading nook look like?

When we first moved in to our apartment, I immediately knew I’d put my reading armchair under the big windows in the living room. But it took me a few months of mistakes and false starts to get the other pieces of furniture right.

I started by digging through my Dream Home board on Pinterest (you can follow me here, by the way!) and trying to pick out the common elements in the reading nooks I liked. Here are some of the inspiration images I used:

reading nook mistakes

reading nook mistakes reading nook mistakes

From those, I figured out a few things I like in a reading nook:

  1. white couches
  2. soft textures
  3. plants
  4. lots of light
  5. botanical prints
  6. reading lamps

I had a few of those things already, so when we moved in, I pulled them together in the most light-filled corner of our living room and ended up with this reading nook:

reading nook mistakes

IMG_3057

IMG_3056 IMG_3055

Yes, half of the plants are fake and half are real. I do what I can do, you know?

reading nook mistakes

Excuse me, that is MY reading nook. Get out of there, Jarrett.

My reading nook is now my favorite corner of our apartment, and it’s where I spend most of my time. It’s my style, exactly, and even though some of my friends laugh at me for loving neutrals and whites so much, it’s what feels blissful and clean and happy to me.

Here’s a breakdown of how the look came together along with similar sources you might like to try for your own reading nook:

Reading-nook-mistake-mood-board

1. bookshelf | 2. rug | 3. mug | 4. plants | 5. blanket | 6. side table | 7. botanical print | 8. reading lamp | 9. armchair | 10. pillow | 11. ottoman | 12. galvanized plant pot

I did a lot of the shopping for this reading nook mood board on Arhaus—one of Jarrett’s cousins was a design consultant there for years, which is how I discovered their stuff. Maybe I’m late to the game on this, but I didn’t realize until a few years ago that Arhaus is one of the few furniture companies that doesn’t use endangered wood from rain forests. That makes me happy, since (thanks to The Joy of Less), I do worry about how sustainable the furniture we buy is.

But even though I’m picky, I’m not precious, and I want reading nook furniture that works hard for me. So I totally and completely love that this chair and ottoman are slipcovered (mine are similar to this ottoman and this armchair from Arhaus, which are both on sale!). And yes, I’ve spilled coffee on them. So many times. And I didn’t stress it one bit, because I knew the fabric was just one wash away from looking brand new again. But if you’re less willing to live fast and loose with white couches like I am, there are so many pretty and colorful living room pieces on the Arhaus site. I’m still thinking about this armchair. Isn’t there something cozy and literary about it?

I had so much fun creating this mood board that I realized: hey, it’d make a cute art print, too! So I turned all my favorite reading nook pieces into illustrations and created a free printable art print, which you can frame and hang in your own reading nook.

reading nook mistakes printable

Click here to download this free printable
reading nook art print!

You can use this print to pull together these same reading nook elements in your own style, or check out the links above if you want some of the same pieces I have! Either way, I hope it helps you create a reading nook that’s a tad better than a cubicle in a noisy office. 🙂

And I’d love to hear: What does your reading nook look like? Are there certain essentials I’m missing?

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What I’m Reading This Week

Moonshine Makes A Comeback in Virginia. And This Time, It’s Legal (C. Jarrett Dieterle for NPR’s The Salt): Brag alert! Jarrett wrote this excellent piece on Virginia moonshine for NPR, and I got to go stage mom on him and tag along as we visited distilleries, tasted moonshine, and edited the piece. Now Jarrett’s working on a post on the behind-the-scenes of the article, including what it’s like to be edited me (oh god, please let it be nice), so watch for that in the next few weeks.

10 Rules for Book Editors (Jonathan Karp, President of Simon & Schuster on Publisher’s Weekly): If you want to understand how to write a book, you need to understand what editor’s look for, and who better to give you that insight than a veteran book editor and the President of the Simon & Schuster imprint? And to continue your self-education, pick up the whole book where this excerpt was taken from: What Editors Do: The Art, Craft, and Business of Book Editing.

15 Riveting Books with Unreliable Narrators and Ambiguous Endings (Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy): If you love books that make you sort out what’s what the whole way through, get thee over to this list!

What To Read With Your Kids and Teens When the World is Terrible (Kristy Pasquariello for BookRiot): “When the world feels like a terrible place (and let’s face it, it’s pretty freaking terrible right now), I sometimes struggle to maintain perspective and positivity. …it got me thinking about how I could and should use children’s books to work through some of the many emotions evoked by the news.”

These three cookbooks went viral before the Internet existed — and they still hold up today (Charlotte Druckman for The Washington Post): Do you have one of these classic cookbooks?


What We’re Eating This Week

Yippee: plenty of things to cook and even a smidge of energy to do it. (Famous last words.)

Monday: Chicken Cordon Bleu Soup—a blinding desire to turn Chicken Cordon Bleu into soup hit me last week even though I haven’t had CCB in, oh, 10 years? The stomach wants what it wants.

Tuesday: Peanut Chicken and Cucumber Salad in Lettuce Wraps, loosely based off the recipe in this book. I will be carefully julienning my cucumber because I just do not believe in spiralizers. (Unpopular Opinions by Maria Ribas: A New Series.)

Wednesday: Spaghetti Carbonara with Garlicky Roast Cauliflower and Artichokes. I live and die by Mario Batali’s Carbonara recipe. Back away from me, you creamy carbonaras.

Thursday: Another utterly absurd craving: I spotted a bowl of simple Franks and Beans in someone’s else’s fridge last week and was filled with an unstoppable urge to make Elevated Franks and Beans” (Jarrett has already laughed at me for calling anything I make “Elevated,” and I have no defense.) So, yes, black beans with kielbasa will be happening, and we can call it Elevated Franks and Beans or Lazy Person’s Feijoada or A Very Cheap Dinner or just eat it and stop stressin’ about the title.

Friday: We’re off to a Halloween party, so candy for dinner! Or, you know, hot dogs. We’re wearing this embarrassing hot dog couple’s costume, and I desperately want to get this one for Pepper and then go out to eat at Haute Dogs because then how could they not give us free hot dogs for life?

Cheers!

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