13 thoughts on taking the rainbow bookshelf plunge.


Last week, I found myself standing face to face with four empty bookshelves, and I had absolutely no idea where to begin.

Until I did.

It looks like this.

I found loading this bookshelf to be as cathartic as a good burst of angry cleaning. I so enjoyed arranging and re-arranging, adding and taking out again, shuffling them to get the colors right, and musing all the way:

1. A blank slate can be paralyzing, but it can also be liberating. (Why not give those rainbow bookshelves you’ve always swooned over a try?)


2. Prepare for serendipity. Under the new system, my red copy of Pride and Prejudice goes first.

3. But prepare for some very strange encounters…


Nietzsche and Emily Freeman sit side by side. Huh.

4. … and a lot of culling. I moved too many books I don’t even like to our new house. Why, why, why?

5. Related: if you have stacks of boxes labeled “basement books” because you don’t like them enough to keep them upstairs, are they really worth keeping?


Growing Strong Daughters next to The Happiness Project. I like it. 

6. If a book gives you the heebie jeebies, get rid of it—even if it is a classic. (Goodbye A Clockwork Orange, Heart of Darkness, A Separate Peace.)

7. Unless it belongs to your husband. Don’t get rid of your husband’s books without asking him, even if you’re sure he doesn’t want them anymore. (You’ll be surprised at what he wants to keep.)


Krakauer’s Into Thin Air sandwiched between two Hemingway novels is oddly perfect. 

8. If you have two copies of a book, keep the prettier one.

9. But multiples are perfectly fine. I’m keeping my duplicate copies of Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Winnie the Pooh, thank you very much.


10. You’ll find an overwhelming amount of white books.

11. But many more purple books than you expected.


12. You could never arrange your office like this, but it’s beautiful in the living room. Can you live with it?

13. Time will tell.


The living room is coming together—finally!

 P.S. Other people’s bookshelves, and a peek at my own old bookshelves.

My take on 3 summer blockbusters

I’ve had my eye on these new releases for months, and I’m sure many of you have, too.

Here’s the lowdown on three of summer’s hot new releases.


by JoJo Moyes

Release date: July 1

One Plus OneI’ve been eagerly awaiting Moyes’s latest because I loved her previous books The Girl You Left Behind and Me Before You.

It was almost what I expected: an entertaining novel that won’t win any prizes for great literature, but is nevertheless un-put-down-able. But the plot was unlike Moyes’s previous works, focusing on a single mom, her weird kids, and a geeky tech guy.

Of note: blogging ends up playing a small but significant role. I’ve gotta admit I liked that part.

I listened to this book on Audible, which I really enjoyed. The story is told from four different points of view, with different voices for each. (New Audible customers can listen to it for free.)


by Liane Moriarty

Release date: July 29

Big-Little-LiesEver since I read—and loved—What Alice Forgot, my expectations for Moriarty’s novels have been alarmingly high.

Her latest focuses on three Aussie moms who have children in the same kindergarten class. We know from the prologue that the book culminates with a murder at the school’s trivia night fundraiser; what we don’t know is who, or how.

At first, I was bewildered by the tone and format. I enjoyed it much more once I realized it was quite similar to Baz Luhrman’s awesomely ridiculous screwball ’80s movie Strictly Ballroom.

Don’t read Big Little Lies straight. (Oh, calamity. That’s a mistake.) Read it as satire, and you just might enjoy it.

But if you’ve never read a Liane Moriarty novel, start with What Alice Forgot.


by Rainbow Rowell

Release date: July 8, 2014

LandlineIt’s possible Landline is a helpless victim of my high expectations, but I didn’t love it. It’s aimed at adults, but reads like young YA. The voice feels immature, and all wrong for the storyline. The discrepancy is jarring.

The “landline” of the title is a magical yellow rotary phone that can call the past. I’m perfectly willing to roll with a fantastical plot line if the story is good, but I need some good material to work with.

There is some good writing here, and a sweet backstory here, which draws attention to why people make the choices they do, and how relationships drift over time.

If you’re really curious, I don’t think you’ll feel like you totally wasted a few hours of your life by giving Landline a try. But prepare to be underwhelmed.

Have you read any of these yet? Are you planning on it? I’d love to hear your thoughts in comments. 

P.S. Today’s the last day of Audible’s big kid’s sale, with 250+ audiobooks on sale for $3.99 or less. Check out the sale here, and my 40 favorite audiobooks for kids here.

(I just bought The Wizard of Oz narrated by Anne Hathaway, and a bunch of Beverly Cleary books narrated by Neil Patrick Harris and Stockard Channing. I’ll buy more before the day is out because we have a road trip coming up!)

Is Kindle Unlimited worth it? (Oh, I’ve got thoughts.)

Is Kindle Unlimited worth it? | Modern Mrs Darcy

Last week, Amazon unveiled Kindle Unlimited, a new service that gives subscribers access to 600,000 titles for a little less than ten bucks a month.

I’ve gotta admit: I’m intrigued by Amazon’s simple, hassle-free concept (which is obviously a competitor to Oyster, a service I’m likewise intrigued by but haven’t actually tried, yet). Pay one low fee, access one huge library.

But the question is, of all the titles on my massive To Be Read list, how many of those are actually available through Kindle Unlimited?  

I decided to find out.

I’ve blogged extensively about summer reading here on MMD, and those titles made an obvious choice for my test sample. I hopped on Amazon and researched every book in the 2014 MMD summer reading guide (35 books), my personal summer reading list (14), my summer syllabus (10), and the books I want to read this summer that happen to be YA (11), for a total of 70 books. Not a bad sample.

Do you want to guess how many of these books are available in Kindle Unlimited?



5% of the books I want to read this summer are actually on Kindle Unlimited.

(For the curious, they are: The Giver, The Joy of X, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and The Main Dish.)

Is Kindle Unlimited worth it? | Modern Mrs Darcy

This isn’t to say there aren’t great books on Kindle Unlimited: there are plenty. I’ve noticed a huge overlap between Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Lending Library. Of the 27 great books I list here from the Kindle Lending Library, 26 of those are available on Kindle Unlimited. (Oddly, the only one missing from Kindle Unlimited is Guns, Germs, and Steel.)

And while there aren’t many books from big-name publishers available right now on Kindle Unlimited, there are exceptions: if you want to binge-read Harry Potter or The Hunger Games, you’ll find those titles here.

But a large selection isn’t necessarily the right one. If you have a carefully curated TBR list, you’re unlikely to make much progress on it using Kindle Unlimited. 

(Remember my own list: I was 4 for 70.)

For just $10 a month, and a 30-day free trial, it doesn’t hurt to give the service a try. But there are other ways to get great deals on ebooks.

Amazon steeply reduces prices on hot ebooks all the time. Check out the current deals here, and you’ll see that if you average 3 or 4 books a month, your $10 budget could buy plenty of good reading material for the same price as Kindle Unlimited. (Worth noting: of the 70 books on my summer reading lists, there are more on sale right now than there are in the whole Kindle Unlimited library.)

This is a brand-new service and I expect it to evolve. But for right now, it’s not worth it for me.

A few more questions I’ve gotten about the service:

How is Kindle Unlimited different from the Kindle Lending Library?

As far as I can tell, there’s a huge overlap between the two services. But to access the Lending Library, readers: 1. must be a member of Amazon Prime, 2. must have a Kindle, and 3. can only check out one book at a time. Kindle Unlimited readers can access ebooks from any device and don’t have to be Prime members.

What does Kindle Unlimited mean for authors? 

I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing the effect on authors will be very similar to that of the Kindle Lending Library, in which the author is paid a fee every time a reader borrows her book. For instance, my own book is in the Kindle Lending Library, and I receive a variable fee of about $2 every time it’s borrowed.

(Surprise! My book is also available in Kindle Unlimited. I didn’t know that until I was doing the research for this post.)

Can you check out more than one book at a time from Kindle Unlimited? 

I sure would like to know, because a key part of my Read All The Books strategy is to have multiple books going at one time. If you have experience with this, please let us know in comments.

UPDATE: you can check out up to ten books at a time with Kindle Unlimited.

Are you thinking you’ll give Kindle Unlimited a try? Have you already experimented with the service? We’d love to hear all about it in comments.  

Halfway through summer reading.

July twitterature

We’re roughly halfway through summer. If that means I should be roughly halfway through my summer reading, I’m in trouble. I just tallied up my books: I’m 3 for 10 on my summer syllabus and 7.5 for 14 on my summer reading list.

I’m only 3 for 11 on the books I want to read this summer that happen to be YA, but that might become 3 for 10: I’m seriously considering dropping We Were Liars. (Thoughts?)

Of course, I could have knocked more books off my lists if I’d actually stuck to my lists. But as you know, that’s not really my style. For better or worse.

My halfway summer reading update:

The Sea of Tranquility, Katja Millay

This novel from my YA summer reading list is one of the best books I’ve read in 2014. It’s well written and un-put-down-able. If you loved Eleanor and Park (on sale in the kindle store right now), you’ll love this one.

Lizzy and Jane, Katherine Reay

The names come from Jane Austen, but (thankfully) this isn’t fanfiction: in this novel, Lizzy is a driven NYC chef and stoic older sister Jane does social media in Seattle. This second novel from Reay doesn’t release until October: add it to your list, but in the meantime, read Dear Mr. Knightley (as of right now, still $3.99 for Kindle!), or anything by Katherine Center.

Maphead: Charting the Wide, Weird World of Geography Wonks, Ken Jennings

This nerdy nonfiction pick from my summer syllabus was highly recommended, and I can see why. Imagine A. J. Jacobs at the geography bee (or the National Archives, or geocaching). Fascinating and funny.

The Expats, Chris Pavone

I knocked out this thriller from my summer reading list in a day because I couldn’t wait to find out what happens next. I enjoyed this debut, but I expect his second novel, The Accident, to be even better.

The Thousand Dollar Tan Line (a Veronica Mars mystery), Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

Watch the series, see the movie, and then read this book, which picks up right where the movie left off. (Go enter to win a copy before midnight if you haven’t already.)

Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, Sherry Turkle

This selection from my summer syllabus was interesting, but not as interesting as I had hoped, and I wish I’d skipped the first section entirely. I finished it because I felt like I should, not because I wanted to.

What have you been reading lately?  

(Head here for more details on this crazy thing we call twitterature.)

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