7 things I learned in May

7 things I learned in May

Taking Emily Freeman’s lead to share a handful of things I learned this month, from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow.

1. Paperback originals are a trend.

Very, very early this month I went to my local indie to pick up my copy of The Jane Austen Project, so I could read it very, very quickly to determine if it was Summer Reading Guide material. (It was.)

I had ordered it through the store, sight unseen, so when the bookseller passed it across the counter I was seeing it for the first time. Straight to paperback, huh? I asked, and the bookseller commented that paperback originals were trending. (So much so, that I marked in the Summer Reading Guide which titles were paperback originals.)

We debated why. Was it because of the expense, or the ease of dropping a paperback into your summer beach bag? We don’t know what publishers are thinking, but we know it’s a thing.

2. Amelie the movie is now Amelie the musical

Will and I are headed to NYC this month, so I was delighted to discover that the hit 2002 French film is now a Broadway musical, starring Philippa Soo (who you may know as Eliza Schuyler Hamilton).

Such a great idea, right? (Unfortunately, the reviews are less than enthusiastic, so we’re going to see Waitress instead, for Will’s first-ever Broadway show and my first in twenty years.)

3. You really can fix wood furniture with mayonnaise. 

Earlier this month, my daughter spilled (capsized?) a nearly-full bottle of nail polish remover all over her bathroom vanity, made of a beautiful dark wood. The wood was no match for the nail polish remover. It was instantly covered with ugly white splotches.

Google wasn’t very helpful about my specific problem, but I remembered a trick my grandmother used to use to get water stains off her dining room table. My cousins and I would spend the night sometimes, and we’d often forget to use coasters for our icy drinks, leaving ugly white rings on her good table.

To her credit, she didn’t freak. Instead, she’d calmly grab the Hellman’s from the fridge and slather it on the stains. When she wiped it away the table would look good as new.

Water and nail polish remover didn’t seem to have much in common, but the vanity looked dreadful and I had nothing to lose. So I tried it—and it worked.  (Phew!)

4. Lavender comes in tree form, and it is adorable.

Evidence pictured above. Thank you, Costco.

5. Born in the U.S.A. is a protest song.

I’ve never been much of a Springsteen fan, but this month I listened to his newish memoir Born to Run after you all recommended it over and over—not as an excellent Springsteen memoir, but as a great example of the genre. I was curious, of course.

I quickly realized I knew very little about the man or the music, and the backstories about some of his most popular songs and albums were fascinating, like Born in the U.S.A. I’d never been able to make out for than a few lines of the lyrics, and I had no idea it was a Vietnam protest song.

My favorite parts of the book—one of 11 juicy memoirs I shared last week—were when he talks about what it takes to make great music, for him, his band, or any other musicians. It was great on audio—he reads his own work here—but this is the part where I wish I’d read the print version, because I’d love to quote what he said about some musicians having a knack for sounding interesting. So fascinating—I think I listened to that section three times, but while driving, and without a pen, alas!

6. Audiobooks don’t count towards bestseller lists. 

Real talk: I thought I knew a lot about how publishing works, but I didn’t know how much I didn’t know. I have a book coming out in few months, and I have learned so much recently about how pre-orders work, audiobooks are recorded and distributed, advanced review copies are commissioned, printing timelines are established, and a lot more.

Just as one example, this month I learned that audiobooks don’t count towards bestseller lists. This isn’t something I had ever even thought about before. And I don’t think this is good, or bad, that audiobook purchases don’t count. It just is.

I’ll tell you more about my book soon, but for now know this: it’s called Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything, it’s coming September 19, I’m recording the audiobook (but not till later this summer, because that’s how it works), and we’ll have a sweet pre-order incentive for you (because I’ve learned how much those matter!).

7. Phone messages can eat a surprising amount of data.

For over a year I’ve gotten pesky notifications on my phone that say YOU’RE OUT OF STORAGE, and I’ve done my best to listen to my podcasts promptly and delete the bad photos to avoid it.

But then Will came home from work one day with a surprising tidbit: check my messages, because he’d heard at the office that text messaging eats a surprisingly large amount of data on many iPhones.

My first thought was how? Texts are tiny! But I did some diagnostics and, sure enough, he was right—and the real culprit wasn’t the texts, but the many, many photos I’d sent and received via text and iMessage. I freed up tons of data when I deleted the hundreds of offending (and mostly-meaningless) photos.

(Here’s how to tell if you might have the same issue, and here’s how I quickly deleted a whole bunch of photos.)

What did you learn in May? Tell us all about it in comments!

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53 comments

  1. Lisa V. says:

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy Waitress in NYC, but can I also recommend Come From Away? I saw it last month and LOVED it. The set is spare but perfect, the musicians were right on stage the whole time, the ensemble cast is incredibly talented and play multiple parts with nearly imperceptible costume changes right before your eyes. It was so fun and the music and story have stayed with me.

  2. Beka says:

    Anne – I have no idea if anyone else has mentioned this or not, or if you were using audible when you listened to it, but audible let’s you “bookmark” a limited recording of a section that you like and will play it back for you and let you share it! Just a thought to keep in mind next time you’re really wanting to remember a quote 🙂

  3. Johanna says:

    The storage hack was so helpful. It’s silly how long I will deal with an “out of storage” message and not google a solution. So silly. Anyway, reading it on your blog and implementing the solution has now brought me so much happiness (and extra storage :)! Thank you.

  4. KG says:

    I really hope paperback originals become a thing – I think it would go a long way toward helping the industry. I’m constantly struggling with wanting to support brick and mortar stores yet working within my budget. I never buy hardbacks unless I absolutely cannot wait for a book — my TBR pile is so high that I often don’t even read hardbacks I buy before they’re released in paperback anyway, so I never feel I can justify spending double the price on a book I’ll not read until it’s out in a cheaper version anyway. I’d be much more likely to buy new books more often if they’re released in paperback at the outset.

  5. Christina says:

    I’ve been so so frustrated by iPhone storage notifications lately, too! I, too, just learned about those pesky photos in text messages!! I’ve been keeping up with deleting them more regularly now. Why do I need to keep it all??

  6. Jennifer N. says:

    I’ve wondered about the paperback originals, too. But I’ve got to say, I’m a fan! I do prefer to read paperbacks because they’re just easier to maneuver, easier to take with you, and they’re much less expensive. (It is so, so painful to buy a hardcover new release from my local indie store at $30 a pop!)

    I’m definitely going to try the mayo trick. My dining room table could use some love (admittedly far more than a jar of mayo can provide) but anything to make it look better will help. Do you think the mayo will deter the cats from climbing all over it? They’re claws are so scratchy!

  7. Katie says:

    I’m surprised Amelie got such negative reviews. I saw the original run of Amelie here in Berkeley, CA at the Berkeley Rep and it got fantastic reviews. It had Samantha Barks in the title role. I wonder if they changed it? I personally loved it!

  8. Sara says:

    Thank you Anne! I just deleted 250 pics from my text thread with my husband. The storage thing has been such an issue and I always thought it was my camera and have tried to keep up on that but it obviously was also my texts. So much more room for my podcasts now 🙂

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