7 things I learned in July

7 things I learned in July

1. Hummingbird feeders actually work.

I didn’t even know we had hummingbirds in our area until we moved into our current house two years ago. We saw them regularly in the backyard the first year, but hardly saw any the next.

I mentioned this to my sister-in-law when she was visiting, and she told me they’d had good luck with an inexpensive hummingbird feeder. So I found one (on Amazon, for $9!) and sure enough, it works!

I’ve spotted a hummingbird every other day or so since I hung it up … but I’d love to see more. Any tips?

2. Facebook isn’t so bad.

Will and I were in Chicago earlier this month, and we met up with old friends for dinner. One of these friends posted a photo of the four of us to her Facebook page, and tagged us as being in Chicago.

Later that night I got a text from another old friend who happened to be in Chicago for the weekend. She’d been the photo that placed Will and I in Chicago, and because of Facebook we got to meet up for coffee in a city neither of us lived in.

I hardly ever use Facebook for my personal stuff—I actually have a Chrome extension that prevents my wall from loading so I’m not tempted to spend too much time scrolling through my feed. But I was very grateful that it made a fun reunion possible.

tieks on the tracks

3. I consistently have good conversations with strangers because of my shoes.

Some of my friends with curly hair say that they connect with fellow curly girls everywhere, and friends who own niche athletic equipment say strangers everywhere approach them to talk about their shoes, or their bike.

As for me, I consistently have good conversations with strangers because of my shoes. I’ve never been the one to initiate the conversation before, but I was at a professional event this month and spotted a woman wearing what I thought were taupe Tieks, which is a color I’ve been thinking about ordering to replace a busted pair (long story, will share at some point) but I really wanted to see them in person, and not on the internet.

So I asked her … and fifteen minutes later she’d told me all about her three book clubs, and I’d gotten her email address so she could be a guest on What Should I Read Next. Score one for the shoes.

4. Sparkling water on tap is a thing.

When we were in Chicago we went to two restaurants that had sparkling water on tap. For free! I had no idea this was a thing but I love it.

The first was Rick Bayless’s XOCO. The second was Goddess and the Baker, a little café near on Wabash near the Art Institute that a friend had recommended. First we went for lunch, but the breakfast menu looked so good that we decided to come back the next morning.

When I thanked my friend for the recommendation later, I confessed that we had gone twice. I felt a little silly about it—we were in a big city with countless offerings, after all. But she told me that she went twice when she was there earlier in the summer!

The Modern Mrs Darcy minimalist summer reading guide (and Summer Reading Book Club!)

5. Chris Cleave is writing a sequel to Everyone Brave Is Forgiven.

I absolutely loved this book: it was one of my top 5 picks for the summer, and the title we just finished reading together for the Summer Reading Club.

We’ve been having live webinars to discuss each Summer Reading Club pick, and for this book, the author joined us to talk about it live. Chris Cleave was incredible. But he really made everyone’s day when he casually mentioned that he was currently working on a sequel. I wasn’t sure if he was joking at first (dry British humor and all that), but he was completely serious, and even though we’ll probably have to wait a few years—it took him 3 1/2 years to write Everyone Brave—it’s on the way.

6. Danielle Steel is the fourth bestselling author of all time.

In last week’s episode of What Should I Read Next, I interviewed Adam Verner, who literally reads for a living. He’s a professional audiobook narrator, and he gave us a fascinating peek behind the scenes of the industry.

During our conversation he mentioned that he was currently reading his first Danielle Steel novel, because he’d been cast to narrate her next new release, slated for the fall. I wasn’t sure how a man who spent his free time reading serious literary fiction would feel about reading a romance novel, but he said he was excited, specifically because she’s the fourth bestselling author of all time.

I had no idea, and later plunged down the rabbit hole of bestselling authors, series, and titles. (Because I know you’re wondering: the top three bestsellers are William Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and Barbara Cartland.)

7. It is a crazy small world. 

Adam and I talked a little off the record before I interviewed in for the podcast. Long story short: his wife and my husband were resident assistants at the same school, in the same dorm, fifteen years ago.


What did YOU learn in July?

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  1. Sandra says:

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy and look forward to your blog posts. You are now my “go to” source to find books to read and I refer back to your posts on Stitch Fix from time to time for guidance. Thanks for all of the interesting information. I am currently reading Tolstoy and the Purple Chair and listening to The Heart Goes Last (a very bizarre story).

  2. Jacquie says:

    I actually just got my taupe tieks (random!) and I think you should go for it. I was needing a neutral and I am too fair for the chestnut color and the camel color seemed too yellow. The taupe looks great!

  3. Molly says:

    I downloaded a sample of Everyone Brave is Forgiven and read it this month. That book is now on my TBR list. This is one of those titles that keeps popping its head up in unexpected places like it is calling out to me. This month I learned that just because a book looks like fluff and sounds like fluff it may be a lot more substantive. I’m reading Barefoot by Elin Hilderbrand.

  4. Pamela says:

    I learned that watching hummingbirds at the feeder right outside my bedroom window is a lot like watching tiny fairies sweep into my life, give a little wink, and put their drinking pipe into the little feeder hole provided and drink with abandon and gratefulness. I learned that these fairies know we’re watching, and they’ll hover close to the window and give a wave.

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