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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52 comments | Comment


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  1. Johnna says:

    That’s interesting about the texts! I started deleting all my texts after I read them a few years ago. Now I know why I rarely get the “you have no more storage” notification!

    I learned that the book My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry (by the same author of A Man Called Ove) is translated! Didn’t know that until after I read it. It made a little more sense then. 😛

  2. Wow – I had no idea that audiobooks didn’t count towards bestseller lists! I *think* (because literally this is the first time I’ve considered this) all the formats of a specific book should be aggregated to determine that book’s place (or not) on the bestseller list. Do we really care that someone read a hardcover vs. a paperback vs. an e-book vs. listened to an audiobook? Bottom line is they consumed the same content, just in different ways, and that piece of contact is what is being judged.
    That being said, I can see a bit more how audiobooks are different than hardcover/paperback/ebook. Some books just don’t translate as well to audio as others.
    Super interesting – thanks for the tidbit!
    I also learned you need to do the same deletion process for your email (including sent mail and trash folders) as for text messages.

  3. F says:

    Things I’ve just learned?

    – VM use up so much space
    – Mayo can fix furniture
    – I can have lavender as a plant/tree in my house

    Never a dull moment! Love this blog.

  4. Brandyn says:

    My Mom has been getting those “Out of Storage” messages on her iPhone and iPad forever. I’m generally her technical help, but I use Android and haven’t been able to figure it out. Pretty sure that picture and video messages are the problem! Thanks!

    • Lisa Z says:

      Podcast subscriptions are my biggest issue on my iPhone. I’m not sure how to follow my favorite podcasts without them automatically downloading onto my phone. But when I have a memory issue, I just go to Settings>General>Storage&iCloud Usage>Manage Storage, and Podcasts is usually the top memory hog on the list. I then go in and edit them under that same tab, deleting all of the downloads at once.

      • Liza, I used to have the same problem.

        What I do is this – I subscribe to podcasts where I definitely listen to every single episode always. Like Happier.

        And then I just keep the others non-subscribed and download episodes as I’m ready to listen to them. I delete episodes as soon as they’re done and this seems to help.

  5. So now I finally know the title and topic of your book!! Congrats, Anne. I’ve been meaning to recommend the new book Insight: Why We’re Not as Self-Aware as We Think, and How Seeing Ourselves Clearly Helps Us Succeed at Work and in Life which I loved and is totally up your alley.

  6. AnneMarie says:

    That mayo trick is so cool! Grandma wisdom is fantastic.
    I’ve been learning many things this month, many of which pertain to house-buying, since my husband and I are buying our first house. It’s amazing to see all of the little things that go into this process!

  7. Shannon says:

    Where can I find where a book is listed as a “paperback original”? I checked several of the books on the SRG, but didn’t see it. 🙂 Could be me…
    CONGRATULATIONS on your book! Very exciting!

    • Anne says:

      Agree! I get almost all my books from the library, & am disappointed when I get a hardback copy. They are less portable & less convenient to read pretty much anywhere. I’m more likely to abandon a book if it’s hardback!

    • Laura says:

      I don’t like hardcover either! The feel of the book and the space it occupies on my shelf doesn’t work for me. It is more durable, but I’ll take paperback any day 🙂

  8. Kathryn Zeuthen says:

    Thank you for the tip about the iPhone message storage! I was overloaded and was glad to figure that out.

    Also, you will love Waitress!! It is so good. I just saw it in April and would see it again and again. They serve pie at intermission and pipe the smell of pie into the lobby. The music is wonderful. Have fun!

  9. Amy says:

    You can set your texts to automatically delete after 30 days (look in messages settings on an iPhone). Makes all the difference!

  10. Sarah says:

    I’m so excited that paperback originals are becoming a trend! My wallet and my patience cannot handle waiting longer for the paperback releases.

  11. Peggy says:

    Mayo…who would have known? Do you ever wonder what prompts people to try these things in the first place??
    I am beyond excited to read your book! As a fellow INFP and personality junkie, this is what I have been looking for!
    Love your blog, podcast, and Kindle recommendations. Keep up the great work!

  12. Cherri Porter says:

    I really dislike hard cover books. I can’t hold them in one hand, I can’t manipulate them, and they are hard to read in bed. I will often wait on books I want to read until the paperback comes out. However, in general, I prefer to read fiction digitally and non fiction in paperback so I can make notes.

  13. Grace says:

    I am a paperback lover. I get all the books I read from the library, so I have no choice, but I’m always excited when it’s in paperback and disappointed to see a heavy, hard to hold open, bulky hardcover. So I’m glad paperbacks are “in.”

    Also, that lavender tree is amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that. It must make your house smell divine.

    • KG says:

      I’ve recently started going back to my library rather than just buying books and I’m so ashamed that I ever stopped getting so many books through the library.

  14. Alana Hoar says:

    Thank you for the i phone storage tip! I followed your instructions and saved so much storage space!!

  15. Sandy T says:

    Thanks for the mayo reminder.
    Goodreads doesn’t count books listened to as books read so my yearly challenge will not look the same. ?

    • Sheryl Esau says:

      I couldn’t figure out how to keep track differently between reading a book and listening to a book on Goodreads, so I guess I’m doing something wrong. I’ve been listening to a lot this year so meeting my reading challenge early! Guess I need to look closer.

      • Sandy T says:

        You can create new shelves on Goodreads. I have made a few including books listened to and books currently listening to. As far as Goodreads is concerned I mark audio books as regular books and check both so I can remind myself what I’ve read and what I’ve listened to.

    • Goodreads does count the books you listen to. When you add the book as “currently reading”, you can choose the edition you’re using, and that’s when I select the audio version.

      But I see in other comments it’s also mentioned – I create a shelf for audible/ overdrive/ kindle/ physical (yes, a tiny bit OCD), and part of my end-of-month routine is to go through all the books read, and categorise them all accordingly. It makes the process of record-keeping really easy.

  16. Laura says:

    This post has inspired me to look back every month and write down 7 things I have learnt each month and use my bullet journal to do so. I am always researching new lists to add to it so this is a great one!

  17. That there is no really good book apps out in the market. I would need one where you can firstly fill in the book and author, then that if you have more of the same author it goes directly to that authors page so you later can search both on author and title. Bad explained but i think you understand. Regarding woodstains, cigarett ash also works. Lastly i am so happy to have a anti snoring mashine. As the month of may is full of pollen i can use the mask all day and not feel so bad it even has a pollenfilter

  18. Valerie says:

    My friend and I try to catch a show on Broadway once a month. We normally find great deals on tickets, cheap lunch which takes us out of Delaware for a few hours. We went to see Amelie in March. Not sure what the critics saw but I found it entertaining, fun and whimsical. Some of the plays we have seen we thought were fabulous but the critics don’t care for them. April, we went to see 2 of Broadways finest actors in War Paint. May, we saw Glenn Close in Sunset Blvd and June we have tickets to see Bandstand. Honestly, have some friends see Waitress they didn’t care for it. Love to know what you think of Waitress!

    • Laura says:

      I agree that you should just make your own mind up and not be influenced by reviews. Everyone has different opinions and likes/dislikes. I don’t read reviews mostvof the time as it might mean I miss out on something I might like, on the basis that someone else doesn’t!

  19. Lisa says:

    The iPhone storage tip is life-changing! Our family has an ongoing group text, and I hate to delete it. It’s like a family journal! However, using your tip, I was able to go in and delete all of the bitmojis associated with the texts. This freed up a lot of storage space while allowing me to keep the texts which are precious to me. Thanks for the tip! (And, as a fellow personality junkie, I can’t wait to read your book. Congratulations! )

  20. 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.

  21. 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 🙂

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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??

  25. 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!

  26. 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!

  27. 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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