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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10 inspirational quotes that will make you curl up with a book tonight (+ free book art print)

Famous inspirational quotes about books, reading, and knowledge and a free printable Kathleen Norris quote art print.


I woke up one morning last week and did. not. want. to. write. Not one email; not one proposal; not one sentence. I wanted to roll over, reach for a book on my nightstand, and burrow into the covers for a day of reading.

Maybe it’s that fall hibernation was kicking in, but it was just one of those days. You know those days when all you want is your warm, soft, pillowy bed and a great book to escape into? Or maybe you want to curl on the couch with ten or twenty blankets, a bowl of slow cooker chili, and that book you’ve been dying to read?

I hear ya.

good book at the end of a long day kathleen norris quote art print

But here’s the thing: fall is such a busy season in the publishing world (only a few good weeks left for submissions!), so early morning reading is out. And after a long day of work, I’m usually too drained by the time I get into bed to reach for my nightstand stack of books to read.

The solution? Reading Night.

(Doesn’t that just sound fun?!)

Reading Night is a pact between you and whoever you live with—husbands, roommates, toddlers, unemployed dogs named Pepper—to throw your cares to the wind for a night and do nothing but read. Anyone can declare a Reading Night whenever they need it. It’s kind of like a pause button on life–it slows and hushes the house for just a few hours on an otherwise insane-o week.

Here’s what you do:

Cancel or reschedule all your plans or appointments (it’s okay to be this person every once in awhile); pop something stupid-easy in the slow cooker or oven (might I recommend this or this?); collect blankets, pillows, and other nesting apparatus; park yourself on the couch with a book and a bowl of something stewy. Repeat for the rest of the night, until you feel better about the day and all of life.

But I get it–pressing pause to read a book all night is not always easy.

I know how hard it is  to extract ourselves from our everyday pressures for even one night. Some nights, I try to relax, but all I can think about is the 1,000 things I should be doing and how I can’t waste another minute not getting started.

But a Reading Night is something families, marriages, kids, you need. That’s because it’s not only about books. It’s about a few precious hours of quiet, without screens, without to-dos, where we can remember that, as C.S. Lewis said, “we are not alone.”

So to celebrate how good it feels to come home to a book and to a Reading Night, I created this free book art print with the Kathleen Norris quote: “Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.”

good book at the end of a long day kathleen norris quote art print

Click here to download this free book quote art print!

And if you need more inspiration to let go and pause a little tonight, here are 10 quotes that will remind you just how good a Reading Night can be. I hope these 10 quotes by famous writers will help you unplug and escape into the magic of a book for a night, or at least into your pillowy bed for a few extra minutes. 🙂

10 Inspirational Quotes by Famous Writers About Books and Reading

good book at the end of a long day kathleen norris quote art print

“Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.” – Kathleen Norris

“In the case of good books the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” – Mortimer J. Adler

“We read to know that we are not alone.” – C.S. Lewis

“We read in bed because reading is halfway between life and dreaming.” – Anna Quindlen

“Between the pages of a book is a lovely place to be.” – Unknown

“A book is proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan

“Where I am, if I’ve got a book with me, I have a place I can go and be happy.” – J.K. Rowling

“Of all things, I liked books best.” – Nikola Tesla

“I do not read for I have renounced life. I read because one life is just not enough for me.” – Abbas Al-Akkad

“Eating and reading are two pleasures that combine admirably.” – C.S. Lewis

(By the way, you can also download this C.S. Lewis quote on reading and eating as a free printable art print here!)

Want more bookish printables and reminders to slow down and read? Get them all in for free by signing up for access to The Library here!

You’ll find:

Cozy Printable Fall Bookmarks with John Green Quote (free printable)
Get Lost in a Book” Desktop & Mobile Wallpaper (free download)
“I have always imagined paradise to be a kind of library” Jorge Luis Borges Quote Art Print (free printable)


What I’m Reading This Week

How to Develop a Book Concept that Has Bestseller Potential (Chad R. Allen): I see writers and bloggers struggle with this all the time–they’re not, as Chad puts it, “acknowledging the gap.” Here’s how to really understand what readers want.

How To Be a Know-It-All (Kathryn Schulz for The New Yorker): My favorite read of the week (maybe month?). I’ll just leave this here: “They appeal to us because the world is vast and strange, because everywhere we look, from the firefly flashing in the darkness to Auden’s elegy for Yeats, there is something to provoke our curiosity, some sliver of existence that we want to understand. Not everyone longs to be a polymath, but everyone who does is a philomath—someone who loves knowledge qua knowledge, who finds it moving, joyful, comforting, fun, startling, awe-inspiring.”

11 of the Most Instagrammable Book Shops in the World (Charlotte Ahlin for Bustle): Pretty bookshops are my drug. And now I’ll have to follow every one of these accounts. (FYI, you can also follow me here if you want more book eye candy!)

How to Rock NaNoWriMo This November (Kristen Kieffer of Well-Storied): Are you doing the National Novel Writing Month challenge this year? I’ve heard it’s fuuuuunnnn. If so, start with Kristen’s easy tips to make it more enjoyable + productive!

Book Publishers Go Back to Basics (Zeke Turner for The Wall Street Journal): Print books are back? Print books are back! Put down the screen and pick one up tonight.


What We’re Eating This Week

Jarrett, Pepper, and I zipped down to Richmond for a day or two for a few work things, so this week has been completely confusing. Here’s what I think happened:

Monday: Well, since Richmond was named one of the Top 5 Food Cities by Garden & Gun, we had to try every single place mentioned in the article, right? Rappahannock was Sunday dinner; Sally Bell’s was Monday lunch; Saison was Monday dinner; Wheelbarrow Me Out of This Town was the theme.

Tuesday: Just kidding. Time for fried chicken and mac and cheese at Mama J’s! Yolo, guys, yolo.

Wednesday: Yolo = now I have a stomach ache. How cool am I. Penitence salad for dinner, it is. (But with extra salami, of course).

Thursday: Chicken and Veggie Curry, so at least we ate one normal, homemade thing this week.

Friday: Old-school lasagna for dinner! Friday, I love you.

Cheers!

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