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

Read More

How a book taught me how to travel better

We’re baaack! After two whole weeks in Greece–completely disconnected, fully honeymooning, and gloriously eating–we’re back to our daily routines and our screens. It’s a little weird to go from full days of being out in “the real world” (aka, not online) to spending 8+ hours a day staring at these little boxes we call computers, but it has also felt so, so good to be productive and have a sense of purpose again. Turns out, I’m one of those travelers that needs some useful work to do in between the gyro-inhaling and beach-sprawling.

I don’t know how I got so lucky, but it turned out that my author Jaime Kurtz’s book, The Happy Traveler: Unpacking the Secrets of Better Vacations, published just in time for this big, glorious, and very long vacation we had planned for ourselves. So even though I was thousands of miles away, I got to spend long hours on the beach listening to her wise voice tell me exactly how I could squeeze every last drop of goodness out of our honeymoon.

secrets to better travel

As I wrote about here, Jaime pitched me her book idea at the Writer’s Digest Conference, and I immediately said, “I NEED that book!” That’s the same reaction I got from every editor I later pitched the idea to, and the same reaction I get from nearly every person I tell about it. I honestly don’t know how I spent my whole life traveling without this book!

To give you a sense of how the pitching process works, here’s an excerpt from the pitch letter I sent, along with the proposal, to editors:

Read More

10 book art prints to inspire you to read more

Jarrett and I watched The Little Prince last week, and I am smitten. Why had no one told me how cute this movie was when it first came out?!

I loved every bit of it: the gorgeous paper cut-out animation, the thoughtfully done adaptation and expansion of the storyline, the themes of finding adventure and wonder in books. The movie did a great job of keeping the ethereal and delicate tone of the book yet overlaying the struggles of modern life: how the cult of productivity and busyness has made for less spontaneous and unscheduled childhoods (and adulthoods!).

It made me feel like a little kid again–it’s that same happy, giddy feeling you get when you read a great book. So, in honor of The Little Prince, the start of spring, and the very cutest Google doodle (did you catch it on Monday?), I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite reading illustrations and art prints.

Reading and book art prints

I have a whole board of reading and book art prints on Pinterest, and sometimes I just open them up to smile and remember what it is that I love so much in books. (Follow me there, if you want more!)

10 Reading Art Prints to Remind You to Believe in Books

Reading and book art prints

(Source: Simini Blocker)

Reading and book art prints 7

(Source: Doodlemum)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: unknown)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: unknown)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: part of a WPA series)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: Monica Castanys)

   Reading and book art prints 5

(Source: Book/Shop)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: Book Geek Confessions)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: Sarah Wilkins)

Reading and book art prints

(Source: unknown)


What I’m Reading This Week

Stop Focusing on Follower Count: 5 Better Approaches for Improving Social Media Use (Andrea Dunlop on JaneFriedman.com): This is such great advice–I see follower count trip up so many authors, yet it just isn’t an accurate predictor of the success of your book. Instead, focus on these 5 goals to stay motivated as you grow your author platform.

Writing the review in advance (Seth Godin): “The last click someone clicks before they buy something isn’t the moment they made up their mind. … We lay clues. That’s what it takes to change the culture and to cause action. The thing we make matters (a lot). But the breadcrumbs leading up to that thing, the conversations we hear, the experiences that are shared, the shadow we cast–we start doing that days, months and years before.”

The business of posting recipes online (Dreena Burton of Plant-Powered Kitchen): There isn’t a blogger out there who hasn’t had to work through this same emotional mire of seeing their work copied without credit, so it’s great to see a blogger discuss this so openly and yet so positively.

5 Scientifically Verified Reasons You’ll Hate Yourself if You Stop Writing (Chad Allen): “So much of winning at the writing game can be summarized succinctly in the immemorial words of Dory in Finding Nemo: Just keep swimming.”

How I Won 12 Book Awards for My Memoir (Judith Newton on Dianne Jacob’s blog):  Memoir can be a tough category to break-out in, so start here if you’re looking for ways to build buzz for your work!

10 Empowering Writer’s Retreats for Women (Ellen Turner on The Write Life): Feeling a little blah or overwhelmed in your writing life? Sounds like you need a retreat!


What We’re Eating This Week

What’s for dinner? Why, I thought you’d never ask!

Monday: Grilled shrimp greek salads, because Monday.

Tuesday: Chicken fajitas, made with a recipe by my author Robyn of Add a Pinch (Have you preordered her gorgeous book yet? It’s a weeknight lifesaver!)

Wednesday: Spaghetti with salumi and endives, adapted from Back Pocket Pasta by Colu Henry. Lordy, I love that book.

Thursday: The notes in my phone say: “Asian slow-cooked beef and mushrooms with rice and broccoli and snow peas.” AKA throw everything in the fridge in a pot, cover in sauce, cook, and serve over rice. #fancy

Friday: Last weekend Jarrett and I went to this fabulous event at the Museum of American History about the women behind America’s first cookbooks, and they demoed chicken croquettes and tomato butter sauce from The Virginia Housewife by Mary Randolph. All I had to hear was “add a stick of butter to the tomato sauce” and, boom, it was added to the meal plan. I’m powerful like that. (But actually, please say a little prayer for me in executing these–I’m cooking them as a birthday dinner for my mother-in-law and want them not to be, as Mary Randolph would put it, intolerable.)

Cheers!