9 things I learned in July

9 things I learned in July

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

1. That voice in my ears should have sounded familiar.

I have a few favorite audiobook narrators I keep an eye out for—among them Davina Porter, George Newbern, Adam Verner, Jim Dale, and Juliet Stevenson. I’ve listened to tons of classics narrated by Juliet Stevenson.

Well, this month my family watched Bend It Like Beckham, which I haven’t seen for at least ten years. I thought Keira Knightley’s mum looked familiar, but it took me nearly two hours for me to recall I knew her as Mr. Elton’s wife from this edition of Emma. When I looked her up on IMDB, I discovered she also read audiobooks, and I’ve spent dozens of hours listening to her voice.

2. Audrey Niffenneger is one talented lady.

More Jane Austen connections: when I posted the above photo on Instagram, I received 127 questions about where to find this edition of Sense and Sensibility. So I flipped open the cover to find the ISBN, and discovered the cover art was by the author of The Time Traveler’s Wife! I had no idea.

3. Search for pretty editions by ISBN.

I actually learned this years ago, but I’m sharing because this tip may bring some beautiful books into your life. If you want to get your hands on a particular edition but can’t find it online, search by ISBN. (This is how I’ve tracked down every beautiful edition of Anne of Green Gables I own, and many more titles, besides.)

You can even use this tip to search down international editions of beautiful books on sites like Book Depository. You’re welcome.

4. If you’re not paying, you’re the product.

Recently we’ve had problems with MMD subscribers not getting their emails, even though everything seems to be working as it should. We finally tracked down a common thread through many readers’ issues: they’d all used Unroll.Me recently. When customers use Unroll.Me, the emails those customers receive aren’t deleted—that data is captured and sold for competitive analysis.

This is a common practice in the industry—so common, my husband was surprised I didn’t know (and particularly, that I didn’t know about the Lyft/Uber furor from last year). He explained that they’re not charging you, but they ARE making money off you—in the form of your data. Huh.

5. Castle of Water is hitting the big screen.

Film rights have been sold, a search for a director is underway, the book lovers rejoiced. This book was a sleeper favorite of 2017 to be a movie. Listen to me recommend it on What Should I Read Next?.

6. You can check out a “human book.”

At some Canadian librarians you can check out A HUMAN. This is a way for people to connect and converse with individuals they may not otherwise interact with. You can “borrow” someone whose career, identity, life experience, nationality, background, you name it, is different from your own. Check out this great list of examples.  (Thanks to reader Roxanna for emailing me this tip!)

7. I’ve been pronouncing Mary Kubica and Lisa Scottoline’s names wrong my entire life.

It’s Mary Koo-BEE-kah and Lisa Scott-oh-LEAN-ee. Please don’t ask how badly I got it wrong. (Related: half the people on the beach this summer were reading Lisa Scottoline, but I never have. What am I missing out on, and where should I begin with her work?)

8. Trader Joe’s will hold items for you.

I’ve become a wee bit houseplant-obsessed over the past year, and have been wanting to add an adorable little pilea to my collection. They’re hard to find, and crazy expensive. ($40 for a little bitty plant, IF you can find them.)

But them a friend told me that she’d found one at Trader Joe’s, of all places. I rushed over to grab my own, but too late—the only one left was ON HOLD for another customer. I had no idea! My cashier offered to put one on hold for me, in case more came in. “We put things on hold all the time,” she said. “Call us anytime and tell us what you’re looking for!” (This is in the Louisville store—if it’s different in your market, please tell us in comments.)

(I have my pilea now, and it’s adorable. I also learn they propagate themselves so I can get pileas in the hands of everyone I know, eventually.)

9. Don’t toss those cauliflower leaves.

We eat a ton of cauliflower around here—though mostly in the winter—and we always compost the leaves. But this month I’ve learned that you can roast or grill them. I haven’t tried it yet but it’s totally happening.

What did YOU learn in July? 

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38 comments | Comment


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  1. elizabeth says:

    I recently heard Jodi Picoult introduce herself and realized I had been pronouncing her name wrong all these years: It’s “Pee-koh”, not “Pik-olt.”

  2. Rebecca Evers says:

    Over the years I have read many of Lisa Scottoline’s books. If you are fond of mysteries with strong women leads. There are excellent. I found a chronological list of them on Amazon. @https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_13/130-6211734-9196728?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lisa+scottoline+books+rosato+and+dinunzio+in+order&sprefix=lisa+Scottoli%2Caps%2C177

  3. Vicki setzer says:

    Something I learned from your post 1. I want to read the book you mentioned “Castle if Water” especially if they are making a movie . 2. Pilea plant is also called a Chinese money plant , love them may have to go buy one for myself . I love your blog!

  4. Susan says:

    I second Lisa Scottolines books been reading her for years. I really loved last years book “Exposed”. I gave it 5 stars and I am very stingy with my stars. Also I liked her stand along book last year “Damaged” it was very good also. I hope you end up liking her!

  5. Christy says:

    I always look forward to your “favorite links” and “things you learned”. I’ve read and enjoyed so many books I might never have heard of if not for you. Thank you!

  6. Janean says:

    $40 for that tiny little plant?! AND you can propagate it?! If I were you (or a money seeking teenager), I’d get a side hustle going with that situation! (Yes, Trader Joe’s, hold 20 of those plants, please, and some cookie butter while you’re at it), make plant babies, set up an ad hoc plant stand in the front yard, enlist cute young kids to draw in other crazy plant people and then ???

    • Robin in New Jersey says:

      In June, I bought 3 at the Country Living Fair for $2.99 each, came home and planted them in pots on my deck. Someone told me they won’t make new plants unless they are in the ground in well drained soil. We shall see…

    • Lee says:

      I could never get a side hustle going with the cookie butter, because it would all be gone before I had a chance. What is it about that stuff?

  7. Mary says:

    I learned (via the I’d Rather Be Reading launch team) that each time I visit a new bookstore I should look for a book with pretty cover as my “souvenir”. We recently visited Parnassus in Nashville and I found a lovely copy of Sense & Sensibility (not the cover shown in your post, though) to add to my collection.

    I love all of the advice fellow readers (and YOU) provide!

    • Kathryn Hemstead says:

      I do like this idea. When I was in Parnassus books in the spring I bought a signed copy of This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett.

  8. Kristen says:

    Thank you for the pilea tip. I called my local Trader Joe’s today and asked if they had any pilea in stock. They are expecting a delivery on Saturday and I was able to put one on hold. I purchased a Fiddle Leaf Fig from IKEA a month ago for $20. It is doing well and has several new leaves. If you live near an IKEA you can check the website to see what plants are available at your local store.

  9. Kathryn Hemstead says:

    Anne, please tell of other plants you have or would like to have.

    I just bought on Amazon a string of pearls succulent which I love. The next succulent I would like is a baby necklace succulent.
    I wish there was a Trader Joe’s here. I have the pilea plant on my watch list. Amazon has them but I would wait until fall to order it.
    I love you list of favorites. I always learn something new.

  10. Sara says:

    You can cook lots of leaves and flowers; poor folks do it all the time. For instance my peas are about done pea-ing due to heat and lack of water. I can sauté leaves in butter like kale. Pretty good. Watch for bugs.

  11. Rebecka says:

    I have learned that you are the one to trust when it comes to book recommendations. Yes, that one might be a bit obvious but I’m new here! 🙂
    I’ve also learned that cauliflower probably is my favourite vegetable to eat with hummus. So yummy! I haven’t tried the leaves with hummus, but if I don’t like it, I’ll definitely try roasting them.

  12. Terry says:

    Love your idea of a souvenir book! I recently bought a copy of Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton at the New York public library to celebrate seeing the play there. How about Annie Proulx? (Proo) learned that while reading her wonderful Barkskins. ?

  13. Karen G says:

    My favorite of Lisa Scottoline’s (I was pronouncing wrong.) are Save Me and Every 15 Minutes. Not sure you will enjoy, they are suspense/thrillers. Her books usually make me reassess my life.

  14. Ruth says:

    I always enjoy your links and ‘what I learned’ lists – and this one was especially fun. Juliet Stevenson is a favorite actress of mine and while I don’t often listen to books I have no doubt that her voice is wonderful for that. A less well-known movie of hers that I highly recommend is “Truly, Madly, Deeply”.

  15. I learnt that you could underplant your roses with strawberries to encourage beneficial insects and reduce disease and when your roses and strawberries are flourishing you can make the perfect combination of strawberry and rose petal jam!

  16. Nicky says:

    I agree with other commenters – I really love the “Rosato & DiNunzio” series – my Dad and I enjoyed reading them together. Her more recent books are a bit different and remind me more of Jodi Piccoult – I enjoyed them as well but they are very different than the Rosato books.

  17. Nicholette says:

    So this is the first time in a while I’ve read the comments section. And I have to ask – Anne is always saying how she is a plant person now because of the internet; have there always been this many plant comments when they are mentioned?? Also I’m killing myself trying to remember the name of that leaf that’s so trendy that has a whole day for itself on Mondays on Instagram.

  18. Cindy DeChellis says:

    I have followed MMD for awhile now and love your posts. I’m also a huge fan of ‘The Week’ magazine. In the Consumer section there is always a ‘Best web destinations’ and this week (August 3, 2018) it’s for joining a book club. I was thrilled to see ModernMrsDarcy.com as one of the best but I already knew that.

  19. You’re spot on re: data collection!! It never ceases to amaze how shocked people are that their loyalty programs are just data collection powerhouses – “how dare Target use my personal information!”. Did they honestly think they were getting all the benefits for “free”? I don’t have all that many qualms about it, because I think there are ways to game the system and share your data in ways that work *for* you… you’ve just got to be a bit savvy about it 😉

  20. Maureen says:

    You have a wonderful blog and I get many books I want to read from your recommendations. Thank you. Also, so excited to read that Castle of Water will be turned into a movie….that was a great book!

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