9 things I learned in September

9 things I learned in September

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

WHAT A MONTH. September is always a wild ride, but this September more than most—and I think I’ve asked my poor brain to stretch itself correspondingly more than most months. This is far from comprehensive, and not just because I left off the new questions I didn’t have answers for yet!

1. The New Orleans restaurant scene is BOOMING.

The city had 809 restaurants pre-Katrina, and now has a staggering 1541 (although that statistic, being two weeks old at this point, is probably already outdated!). I was there earlier this month for Read New Orleans, and it seemed every NOLA resident I bumped into quoted this exact statistic to me. I could only make it to four while I was there, so I have to go back, obviously.

2. Who put the “air” in airbnb.

I first heard of airbnb forever ago, but then Will asked if I knew where the “air” came from, and I realized I had no idea. Would you believe it’s from “air mattress”? Back in 2007, designers descended on San Francisco to attend a conference, but all the hotels were sold out. Two roommates saw an opportunity, rented out rooms in their apartment to conference guests, and provided them with air mattresses to sleep on. Who knew?

3. How some readers are getting the kindle version of Reading People for $2.99.

The short answer: the Kindle Matchbook program. Not every book qualifies, but thousands do, and Reading People is one of them. When you buy the print edition first, you can buy the Kindle edition for $2.99 or less.

If you don’t care about the print edition, the ebook editions aren’t too spendy right now: click here to buy it through Barnes and Noble, and here to get it on Amazon.

If you DO want the print edition, consider visiting a local bookstore to get your copy? (If you’re in St Louis or Louisville, there are signed copies right now at The Novel Neighbor in Webster Groves and the Barnes and Noble at The Paddock Shops.)

Related: some readers are asking how to get the beautiful edition with the pretty gold spine, because all they can find online is the paperback. (If you’re seeing the book in person, it’s obvious you’ve found what you’re looking for.) Readers, have no fear: the paperback really is that pretty.

4. When it comes to household management, I have no sense of time.

Two cases in point: Will took our favorite, much-used chef’s knife to the local cutlery place for sharpening while I was out of town earlier this month (bless him). We were sure we’d taken it in this past winter, but their records showed they hadn’t sharpened it in two and a half years. (That explains a lot.)

Our nonstick skillet has been cranky lately, because nonstick skillets don’t last. I thought we’d last replaced it about a year ago (which seemed reasonable for a family of six who uses it multiple times a day), but when I went to reorder, I saw we’d been using ours since 2014. (That also explains a lot.)

Psst—we are devotees of this T-Fal model, which we found through Cooks Illustrated, and we love it.

5. Tea is cuter than coffee. 

I’m a coffee girl, although we are entering the time of year when I’ll resume daily tea drinking for the first time since the chilly days of spring. But when it comes to adorable presentation, tea beats coffee by a mile. Photographic evidence above.

6. Sooo much about the publishing industry.

Between the New Orleans bookseller event and releasing my own book on September 19, I’ve learned SO MUCH, and I’m sure I won’t be able to stop myself from dropping tidbits in the months to come. But I did collect some of my biggest lessons in a special episode of What Should I Read Next. Listen to episode 97 wherever you get your podcasts, or right here on Modern Mrs Darcy.

7. Ryan Gosling was in Remember the Titans.

It’s football season, which means everybody around here starts hankering to watch classic football movies again. I haven’t seen this one in years, and this time one of the characters looked familiar but I couldn’t quite place him.

You guys, it was Ryan Gosling. And even more surprising—the Canadian actor was in a single episode of Road to Avonlea, based on the works of L. M. Montgomery, a series I watched again and again and again as a child.

8. The most popular reading personality is …

ESCAPIST. Because we discussed reading personalities at our live Novel Neighbor event this week, I dove into the records on our reading personality quiz that we released this summer. More than 20,000 people have taken the quiz, and I can see how many people sorted themselves into each personality type. The escapists, who believe reading should be FUN above all else, won by a mile. The explorers (that’s my type) were runner-ups.

If you haven’t yet, click here to take the quiz and discover your reading personality.

9. People really, really love Parks and Rec.

In last month’s What I Learned, I mentioned that Will and I were watching Park and Rec, and you all lost your minds. There are usually 20 or less comments on a What I Learned post but there are 87(!!) on last month’s, they’re almost all about Parks and Rec, and they all say WATCH IT! (We are, but slowly—we’re in late season 2 but are still waiting for Rob Lowe to show up …)

What did YOU learn in September?

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39 comments | Comment


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  1. Ann says:

    One of my favorite parks and rec episodes is the flu, having two of my favorite lines in the series. One of those is rob lowe’s. I hope you guys love it.

  2. Dave and I are also watching Parks & Rec—it makes me laugh out loud and get tears in my eyes on the regular. I LOVE it.

    Also… shortly after ‘Remember the Titans’ came out, we were on a weekend getaway to Los Angeles… eating breakfast at the Mel’s Diner on Sunset Blvd… there was a blond guy in a nearby booth who looked familiar… HOLDING A FOOTBALL. It was Ryan Gosling. I mean, so cheesy to be holding the football, but also maybe genius? And he was so young (and so were we!).

    • Valerie says:

      I, too, a man the English Major and am proud of it. When I was in college for medicine, I kept saying, I should have been a lit major. I also learned how to download audio books with Audible, I have an iphone not an easy thing to do. I also learned there are so many more books out there that I didn’t know about, since finding MMD!

  3. Susan says:

    I only watched Remember the Titans because it was filmed where I went to college. I’m not a big tech user – I still have a flip phone – but I made big friends with my GPS when we moved to a new town this month.

  4. Katie says:

    Do you have a cast iron skillet in your life? It has almost completely replaced our non-stick pan. The only reason I use the non-stick every once in a while is because it’s so big – and sometimes I just need the extra room.

    • Anne says:

      I do! We have a Lodge that I love and use all the time. But I do love morning eggs in the nonstick, and sautéed spinach which we make multipe times a cook. Plus the kids are learning to cook and they love the safety net of the nonstick finish.

  5. Beth says:

    Three things:
    1. I loved Road to Avonlea growing up too! I’ve been collecting all the seasons so I can watch them with my kids. One left until my collection is complete.
    2. You are SO CLOSE to Rob Lowe if you’re at the end of season 2.
    3. If you want another mind-blowing Ryan Gosling throwback, check out this clip from The New Mickey Mouse Club – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEgGWHtVIhQ – skip to 1:30 for Gosling, or enjoy a mini Justin Timberlake and watch the full clip 🙂

    • Karen says:

      You have to wait for him to finish his stint on The West Wing (I’m in season 3, episode 22 and listening to The West Wing Weekly; last episode the interview was with Mark Harmon) before he joins Parks & Rec.

  6. brianna says:

    I learned that I am terrible at being unemployed, and that trying to find a job is immensely more frustrating than anything I’ve ever done in my entire life.

  7. Abby says:

    Remember the Titans was my introduction to Ryan gosling in high school. Gosh I loved him! Also Sunshine. What.a.hottie. Sigh. Good movie. And then came The Notebook! I actually prefer Nicholas Sparks movies to his books, and the notebook is example No. 1.

  8. Jillian says:

    My reading personality is also Escapist!
    I’ve learned so much in Sept about running a website, and finding that if I think of it as “playing” and solving a puzzle, I have a lot more fun.

  9. Jennifer Sherwood says:

    I learned a lot this month, mostly because I was trudging through “The Gene” in preparation for a lecture by Siddhartha Mukherjee last Tuesday. Interesting book; the in-depth science portions slowed me down while I tried to understand them before moving on.

  10. Torrie says:

    Getting our knives sharpened is hands-down one of the best ways to spend my money, I’ve decided–they’re something I use every day (how many things can I say that about?!), so they deserve more love than I usually give. Funnily enough, that was actually one of the things I mentioned in my own “Things I Learned In…” post last October.

    As for my latest “Things I Learned” post, it’s all about the (totally surprising) perfect place to have a play date, a new bit about winterizing my home that I didn’t know before (being a new homeowner), and how sometimes, you just need to buy the dang pants already, even if you think you’ll be changing sizes soon:


  11. Trisha says:

    To my shock I learned that I actually prefer to watch the movie and THEN read the book. When I do it the other way around, I feel betrayed! Why did they leave so much out? So much lost!!! When I watch the film and then read the book it’s as if I discover a whole new world. Some frowning English teacher gave me the idea that that’s the wrong way to pair books and movies. Now I think maybe it’s the ONLY way to do it.

    • Ruth says:

      I agree with you! I like watching the movie first and then reading the book. I can picture the characters as the actors from the movie and it is like getting “extra” because the movie leaves so much out.

      • Trisha says:

        Ruth, Yes! Sometimes I have trouble getting a mental image of a character at first and I use my mental image of the character from the movie…to keep them straight at first–until the image I get from the book takes over. I just read a play that way “Carnage.” It was so helpful to start with a mental image to keep the characters straight.

    • Abby says:

      Exactly!! Every time I read the book first I’m disappointed in the movie. But the reverse is usually a great combo. I waited till all the Harry Potter movies came out before I picked up the books, and I’m so glad I did!!

  12. Rebecca says:

    Love these posts! Our non-stick wore out awhile back and All-Clad informed me that non-sticks can’t go above medium heat. Whoops! Always been curious about the Cooks Illustrated recommend one.

  13. Here’s a fun tidbit: Remember the Titans was filmed at Berry College (summer football camp scenes) while I was a student. I have friends who were extras but I was all tied up in a theater production at the time. Kicking myself for missing out on that. We did, however, regularly stalk the set for Denzel sightings. They mostly filmed at night, who knew??

    And please–all the book tidbits need dropping. All about the learning from others.

    • Anne says:

      That’s so cool about Berry College! I didn’t know where it was filmed.

      And I will try and process on the book tidbits! Congrats on your own book—and I hear what you’re saying about learning from others! I’d be hopeless if I didn’t have other authors clueing me in. 🙂

  14. Summer says:

    We went to New Orleans on our honeymoon, and when we get asked what we did there, our first answer is,”Eat”. Honestly, we scrimped on lodging so we could splurge on food!!

  15. Anne says:

    I started watching Parks and Rec because of that comment section – haha! I remember I had tried watching the first season and thought it wasn’t very good. I abandoned ship until reading that post and dived into season 2. I’m on season 4 now. It’s laugh out loud funny. Thanks MMD readers! 🙂

  16. Deborah says:

    I agree! Tea is cuter than coffee! I love teacups, BUT there are some super-great mugs, too.

    I love the tidbit about airbnb.

    Thank-you for the link to the reading personality quiz! I haven’t done this one yet.

    I’m currently reading “Reading People” and loving it! Thanks!!

    I went to Physical Therapy for the first time ever in September, so that would equate to learning a bit about how a PT center works. 🙂

  17. molly says:

    I completely recommend you skip ahead in Parks & Rec to the episode when Rob Lowe & Adam Scott arrive! I pretty much hated Season 1, but as soon as those two came on board, the whole show had a new vibe & became SO fun & funny! I LOVED it. And I honestly didn’t feel like there were in holes in the story having skipped so much (it’d been forever since I watched part of S1 with my husband). I really think you’ll fall in love with it, but no need to suffer (?) in the meantime. xo

  18. My husband and I have seen Remember the Titans a ton – it’s his favorite movie – but we watched it a few months ago for the first time in a couple years. I said, “Is that Ryan Gosling?” and my husband said, “No. ” But it is! I win.

    (We quote that movie all the time. What is pain? FRENCH BREAD! You’re killing me, Petey! What do you mean you didn’t know? I TOLD YOU.)

  19. Hannah says:

    You’re making me want to rewatch parks and rec! We love that show along with everyone else apparently 🙂 people always tell my husband he looks like rob Lowe (although we don’t really see it) but his character is one of our favorites so keep watching! Hwe welcomed our 3rd child a month early this month and I’m learning how to navigate life with 3 littles 🙂 It’s amazing how every time you forget how bad the sleep deprivation is!

  20. Jill Foley says:

    I loved your book – I listened to the audio version and it was so fun to hear you reading your book to me! You’ve convinced me that I need to dive into the Enneagram next. And I need to explore Cognitive functions more. Two years ago I stumbled on another typing system that has to do with physical features and overall “energy” (meaning how you interact with others and the world in a physical way). Once you determine your type, you then “dress your truth” so as to present yourself to others in the most authentic way. I don’t know why, but this has helped me immensely!

    Anyway, thank you for your book. I can’t wait to sit down and read the physical copy.

  21. Leigh Kramer says:

    I knew some of the Airbnb origin story, including the name, but the whole thing was FASCINATING to listen to when they were interviewed on How I Built This with Guy Raz.

    Also, we are so going back to Blue Dog next time I’m in town. Their tea pot stole my heart!

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