What kind of reader are you? (survey!)

I have something a little fun and different for us today!

Every night after we’ve cooked and cleaned up dinner, Jarrett and I turn to each other and say “Sooo…should we read tonight? Or watch TV?”

That’s how exciting we are.

But really: those are about the only two leisure activities we like after a long day of work, and each one has about a 50/50 shot of winning out, based on how brain-tired we feel from the workday. But it got me to thinking: people fit reading into their days in such different ways!

I know a lot of people who read for a few minutes on their morning commutes, or can only squeeze in 30 minutes during a lunch break, or who rely on audiobooks to keep them up with their to-be-read lists. But everyone I know wishes they could read more.

So I thought it would be fun to do a little survey called “What kind of reader are you?”

what kind of reader are you

Click here to take the survey!

You can tell me all about what books you’re reading, what challenges you’re facing in your reading life, what genres or categories you most love to read, and more! I’d love to hear all about you. The survey is 7 very brief, mostly multiple-choice questions, so it shouldn’t take longer than 3 minutes to complete.

At the end of the survey, you’ll also find a box for telling me anything else you’d like me to know about you–anything from what you’re working on, what your writing struggles are, or what you’d like me to write about next. I take personal requests very seriously, so if there’s something you want me to talk about specifically on the blog, now’s your chance to get all those questions answered!

And since there’s nothing more fun than talking about books, I’ll share the results next week, so you can see how you stack up against the other readers in our little community!

The survey will be open until this Monday, July 24th at 5 EST and will close after that.

I can’t wait to hear from you and share the insights with you all next week!

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What I’m Reading This Week:

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead (James Clear): I recently discovered James Clear’s site and have been really enjoying his writing on habits and learning systems. James wrote the equivalent of two books in one year (!!), and he did it by setting up systems, inspired by this Wall Street Journal article he read by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. Success comes down to committing to the process, and if you need a little reminder of that, here’s a free printable art print I created to remind you that you can’t rush something you want to last forever.

you can't rush something you want to last forever quote printable

Best Books of 2017 (So Far) (Book Riot): Maybe you need something new to read right now? Here are the best books from the first half of this year–browse away!

Rebecca Solnit on a Childhood of Reading and Wandering (Literary Hub) “There are ecological reasons to question how books are made out of trees but metaphysical reasons to rejoice in the linkage between forests and libraries, here in this public library, in the town I grew up in, with the fiber from tens of thousands of trees rolled out into paper, printed and then bound into books, stacked up in rows on the shelves that fill this place and make narrow corridors for readers to travel through, a labyrinth of words that is also an invitation to wander inside the texts.”

3 Ways to an Acquisition Editor’s Heart (Chad R. Allen): These 3 things are also what I look for in potential authors. This is a great piece for any writer climbing up the mountain toward publication.

A Taste for Books (Monte Burke in Garden & Gun): Rick Ellis has a stunning collection of vintage cookbooks socked away in his gorgeous New York City loft, and this piece takes you through the highlights of his Southern cookbooks. I get a little giddy reading articles like these (cookbooks! everywhere!) and especially loved the shoutout to my old favorite, The Virginia Housewife.


What We’re Eating This Week:

It’s hot out; we’ve been gone every weekend (camping, beach, etc.); and the fanciness factor in our kitchen is at an all-time low. And yet, I just can’t stop scratching that itch to meal plan and cook something that sounds like something (i.e., not hot dogs) every night. What is wrong with me? Next week, I swear to eat hot dogs for dinner one night, and not even with any fancy toppings, either. It is the summer after all, and I need a break.

Monday: Jarrett picked the One-Pot Shells with Broccoli recipe from SkinnyTaste: Fast and Slow, and I added sautéed chicken to it because I like complicating things. (It was good!)

Tuesday: We could have chosen one vegetable curry recipe to make, but after a long day of stretching your brain and making decisions, isn’t it so much more fun to compile multiple recipes and ideas and substitutions until you have one FrankenCurry and no thoughts at all left in your brain? Tuesday, you won.

Wednesday: Out! Beautiful, beautiful restaurant food.

Thursday: Okay, so there’s this fast casual chain in the DC area called CAVA, and they serve breakfast at only one of their spots nationwide: the Reagan Airport location. I had the egg and lentil bowl there last summer on my way to LA for BlogHer, and inexplicably, I was attacked this week by the most horrendous craving for THAT EXACT BREAKFAST. All I can think about is soft scrambled eggs and black lentils. Which means I shall spend tonight maniacally trying to recreate all 87 of CAVA’s bowl components, using this recipe as a guideline. I either have too much time on my hands or a complete lack of good judgment. Maybe both! Woo.

Friday: Chicken Fil-A on our way to the beach. My good judgment is redeemed.

Cheers!

 

6 books to read if you’re obsessed with ‘Hamilton’

 Do you read the same things as your husband or wife? Jarrett and I can both get into old classics like E.B. White, but most of the time, we’re reading on different ends of the nonfiction spectrum.

Jarrett reads what I call doorstoppers–1,000+ page books on historical figures and events. I can’t even find a comfortable way to position myself on the couch with one of those books. (On your back with the book resting on your chest? Leaning it against your legs? Asking Pepper to hold it for you?) It’s just too heavy, and it’s not all that interesting to me, either.

Instead, right now I’m dipping in and out of How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and The Inevitable by Kevin Kelly. Every last one of those is light-as-a-feather and perfect for hammock reading over the long Fourth of July weekend.

But if you’re looking for something a little more appropriate for Fourth of July, and you’re less of a wimp than I am, I’ll point you over to Jarrett, who has 6 of the best books to read if you’re obsessed with Hamilton and still can’t get Lin-Manuel Miranda’s lyrics out of your head, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen the musical.

Even if you haven’t seen Hamilton, these are still some great patriotic books to read for the 4th of July, as well as some of the best books about America’s founding fathers. And I don’t say that lightly–Jarrett does a lot of research before choosing which biography to read about each of America’s founding fathers, and he always picks one that’s widely considered both the best work and a single-volume, yet comprehensive, treatment of that founding father.

But enough from me. Here’s Jarrett with 6 patriotic books to read this 4th of July if you’re obsessed with Hamilton.

Best books if you love Hamilton

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The 3 most common mistakes on book covers

I know it sounds harsh, but there are a few mistakes on book covers that drive me up the wall. I adore book covers and never get tired of admiring them (and reaching out to feel the paper…) in bookstores, but every once in a while, I see a cover gone wrong.

So today let’s also talk about the ways book cover design can go awry, because I think we always have to edit out the bad before we can get to the good. (Can I get an amen from every writer who’s ever edited that terrible first draft?)

common mistakes on book covers

It’s a cold, hard truth of publishing that people judge a book by its cover. This is engraved on a tablet on a mountaintop somewhere in midtown Manhattan, where the other strictures of publishing are recorded, like, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s advance, and Thou shalt not order anything but a salad at an editor lunch, unless the other person does first, or you’re just really, really hungry and don’t care anymore. But yes, the cover is the first thing a reader will see of your work; it’s how they’ll judge your book; and it’s your most important marketing tool.

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The 5 best books for writers

Jarrett came home from work the other day waving a new book, which one of the editors at his office said was essential reading for writers. Excuse me, I said, but we have that book already, and I could have told you all about it if I had known you wanted more reading assignments.

(I’m always telling Jarrett, “You really should read this book—you’d like it!” when I finish a book. I think his backlog of books I really, really think he should read is really, really long and really, really ignored.)

I was in such a huff that someone had beat me to recommending On Writing Well that I pulled out my yellowing copy from the shelf and forced on him a dramatic reading of my favorite quotes as we ate dinner. (I’ve learned that the best place to trap someone is at the dinner table, and I think this is a free and fair trade for all the cooking I do.)

Anyway, as Jarrett sat rapt, or maybe bored, I told him all about how, at my first job as an editorial assistant at a NYC publisher, one of the executive editors had called me into her corner office, handed me a stack of 10 books about writing, and told me to start there, but that I could come back for more soon.

I had been working as a paralegal at a law firm beforehand, so I thought it was the coolest thing ever that I got to read books about writing instead of police reports. But 10 books is no small stack, and I didn’t know where to start.

best books for writers

So consider this my starter stack for you—these are the 5 books I’d most recommend to any writer, whether an aspiring writer, an established writer, or anyone who has to write or blog for a living. These are the best books for writers; the best books to teach you how to get published; the best books to make you feel less alone and hair-pull-y all the time.

Maybe others have beat me to recommending some of these books on writing to you, but I promise not to get huffy about it, and I hope you’ll still find one or two new gems here:

 

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