What I’m into (September 2016 edition)

What I’m into (September 2016 edition)

Joining my friend Leigh Kramer to share what I’m into these days.

September has thrown me for a loop. It’s been a great month, but wow has it been crazy. All summer, and now into fall, we’ve been in a cycle of getting ready to leave town/leaving town/recovering from being gone, and then doing it all again.

We’ve also gotten back into the school groove (more or less) with homework and ball games and the related new routine.

It’s been fun, but it’s been nuts!

work weekend in Nashville


Early this month I spent a long weekend in Nashville with 5 amazing women, working. It was amazing to me both how much I got done, and how much fun it was.

I wondered if it would be worth it to spend all that time in the car just so I could do something I usually do at home and the answer was an emphatic YES. I just read Deep Work by Cal Newport—it’s a book I can’t stop thinking about—and he would call this the strategy of the “grand gesture.” I’m a believer now.

I also got to stop at Parnassus Books on the way down which was, of course, awesome.

Magnolia Hall, Savannah


I told you a little about Savannah in my September What I Learned post, but it’s worth repeating: this city is amazing! And I’m so thankful our event hotel was smack in the middle of the action. We had pockets of time to explore on foot, and while I definitely need to get back one day to be more of a tourist, I was at least able to get a feel for the city.

The whole experience was wonderful. I so enjoyed getting to meet so many of you there (thank you for coming!). And I met so many wonderful authors, and saw friends again, and I brought home SO MANY BOOKS.

(33, to be exact. And I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or bad thing that when I checked my bag Delta told me I had 18 pounds to spare before I had to pay overages. On the one hand, it’s good to exercise restraint. But on the other, I could have brought home more books!)

SIBA book haul

What I’m reading

I always have plenty to read but after SIBA the situation has gotten a little bit out of control. (Photo to prove it, above.) I’m excited about so many titles that will be hitting the shelves in the next six months.

I’m also working my way through quite a few of these 20 books everyone will be talking about this fall. And diving in to re-read Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth, our MMD Book Club pick for October.

What I’m watching

For once, I actually have tv to report on!

Will and I started This Is Us. Great premier, can’t wait to see where they go with it. (Hot tip: when your writer friends tell you to watch a show, watch the show. They know a good premise when they see one.)

The Blacklist is finally back with season 4. The writers got a little lost with season 3, but the finale was promising and the season opener wasn’t terrible.

And Will and I finally, finally started The West Wing. It’s our first time through—anything I should know?

All writers, all the time

Or at least that’s what September has felt like these past few weeks! First SIBA, then good stuff at home.

Sebastian Junger came through town for a great author event. (That’s the Kentucky Author Forum, and if you’re in the Louisville area I can’t say enough nice things about it.) Joe Klein interviewed him about his new book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, and he was fascinating, in a few ways I expected and many more I didn’t.

I was planning on road-tripping it up to Cincinnati last weekend to hear Amor Towles talk about his new novel A Gentleman in Moscow. I loved the book, and I’ve heard from a few of you who have gotten to see him in other book tour cities that he is fantastic in person, but I was a lot busy and a little sick and missed it. If you’ve seen him on tour please tell me all about it!

And finally, it’s Idea Festival time in Louisville, and yesterday I got to hear Alan Lightman, author of a little book I’m quite fond of, talk about the intersection of the science and the humanities.

I hope your September has been lovely. What were YOU into this month?

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58 comments | Comment


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  1. I’ve been into audiobooks this month! I always thought I wasn’t really an audiobook person, but then I started listening to the Harry Potter books and got hooked. Especially since I can check them out for free from my library and listen to them at work. I’ve “read” so many books this month that way!

  2. Brandyn says:

    I loved the premier of This is Us too. Totally jealous of anyone starting The West Wing for the first time. Only warning I would give is that some of the issues are a tiny bit dated now but not nearly as much as you would think after almost 2 decades. Its also a little idealized (people compromise), but I prefer that to reality.

  3. Amy McCoy says:

    MMD Book Club? Did I miss something? I need to be a part of this! ? I just started the Outlander series and I’m reading it for the first time. While I’m completely loving it, my other books are taunting and begging me to read them. What’s a girl to do? So many books, so little time.

  4. As one who leans conservative, I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy the West Wing. It ended up being wonderful. Great writing and acting. My favorite season is when the Republican Ainsley Hayes is brought on staff for she brings on the funniest conversations. The final season wasn’t great but definitely worth watching.

    • Lori McKee says:

      Same here. Love the writing in this show. I’m watching it again after many years and I think originally I just watched the first couple seasons – but I remember loving Ainsley when she arrived. I also like the “explanations” that point out that the other (conservative) side isn’t completely off the deep end in their objections to liberal points of view. We Have Our Reasons. 🙂

      In the West Wing Weekly, they call these explanations “Donnatellas” – when they occur between Josh and his secretary (love interest?), Donna. 🙂

    • Natalie says:

      Great to know! I’ve felt the same reticence at starting the WW but great to know it’s somewhat even-handed. Thank you!

  5. Christine says:

    I also watched the first episode of This is Us last night and thought it was amazing! Loved the revealing shift of perspective at the end. Can’t wait to see more!

  6. Missy G. says:

    I didn’t realize that the MMD Book Club was an ongoing thing! Unfortunately, when it was announced over the summer, I did not have the time or money to participate, so I passed. Is it still possible to join now?

    And thank you for mentioning the Deep Work book. I now have it on hold at my library!

  7. Elise says:

    Enjoy The West Wing! I agree that the podcast is also fabulous. As for anything you should know about the show…it gets better each time you watch it. There is so much depth that is impossible to catch on your first time through. I am a little embarrassed to say that I have probably seen the series seven or eight times. 🙂 As an avid reader, you will definitely appreciate the beautiful writing. The writing gets a little iffy in season 5 after Aaron Sorkin left the show, but push through it because seasons 6 and 7 are still worth watching.

  8. Sandy Nawrot says:

    Yeah I could live in Savannah. Except I’d weight 350 pounds, but besides that. In my heart I am a Southern Girl but Orlando is NOT Southern. It’s La-La land. Pernassus and Ann Patchett and Nashville = jealous. And Blacklist…just started it and am nearly depleted and I’m not even finished with Season 1. Please Lord no more 22 episode seasons!!!

  9. Mary Kate says:

    I read some good books this month, and some less good, but October is looking way more promising–Tana French, Leigh Bardugo, Sabaa Tahir, Jennifer Niven, just to name a few! I’m bringing some to Ireland and some I’m keeping on my Amazon wishlist because my birthday’s coming up!

    My recent post on how to decide what books to bring on vacation in case anyone’s interested: https://wanderlustywriter.com/2016/09/29/how-to-choose-the-books-to-bring-with-you-on-vacation/

    I’ve also gotten into SO many great book podcasts thanks to you, so thank you 🙂

  10. Donna says:

    I just love these posts, Anne! Idea Festival sounds incredible. Last week Sunday was The Word of the Street Book and Magazine Festival here in Toronto. Unfortunately I missed it! But I’m looking forward to the International Festival of Authors at the end of October.

    What I’m reading: I’m finishing up my summer reading list, so September was an amazing reading month for me. I read and can’t stop recommending Food and the City by Ina Yalof. I also flew through Truly Madly Guilty in two days. While I enjoyed it, Big Little Lies is still my favourite Moriarty. Over the weekend, I finished Before The Fall by Noah Hawley and I am still thinking about it. One of my favourite reads of the summer for sure. I am making my way through Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi and The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman and loving them both. Last night, I started Michelle Obama: A Life by Peter Slevin, the last book on my summer reading list. It hooked me from the first page and I can already tell it’s going to be one of my favourites. Slevin spent a decade on the national staff of The Washington Post and he paints a powerful portrait of FLOTUS Michelle Obama—chronicling her extraordinary journey from Chicago’s South Side to the White House. It’s riveting so far.

    What I’m watching: Last weekend, I watched and loved Miss You Already. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a funny and moving film about a life-long friendship.
    This week, my boss got me hooked on Netflix’s documentary series, Chef’s Table. I only watched one episode so far, but I’m planning on binge watching it this weekend! It’s so fascinating and incredibly well done.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  11. I have seen SO MANY Of my favorite bloggers recommend This is Us. We don’t have cable, but I am tempted to start a free trial of Hulu just to check this show out!

    Also, I always read your blog posts with my “What to Read Next” list beside me, because I always find another book to add to it. Thanks for all the inspiration! Guess I will be heading over to the library this afternoon. 🙂

  12. Cassie says:

    I got my first book published! Wahoo! Also, I can’t wait to catch up on This Is Us in the next couples nights. I’m totally in bed by 9pm so catching it live is not an option.

  13. Denise B says:

    Wednesday is our new TV night after seeing pilots of Speechless and Designated Survivor. I love the quick wit and down to earth hilarity of the first with Minnie Driver and the latter…well, put Kiefer Sutherland on a billboard and I’m going to rush home to see the trailer.

  14. karen says:

    The West Wing is the show that is the standard to which all other shows are compared. WE LOVED IT! (I have tried the podcast but didn’t really like it too much!) But the show is great. We are going to watch through it again this winter.

    LOVE LOVE “This is Us”.

  15. Maryalene says:

    Sounds like you had a packed month! I went to the National Book Festival in DC last weekend, and it’s the first bookish event I’ve ever been to. Makes me want to find more!

  16. Jordan says:

    Hi! I’m rather new to the blogging community and I absolutely adore your blog. So much great content, all the time. Thanks!

    Sounds like you had an exciting month! I love how the books you brought home are arranged and stacked by color. That’s totally something I would do, though I’ve been more into E-books here lately. Having it on my phone makes it easier to read small bits when I have just a moment throughout the day and there is less temptation for my little people to pull out bookmarks and bend pages.

    • Anne says:

      Maybe? Some things need to sit with you for a while before you’re ready to share. I’m not ready to talk about that yet—-it still needs to simmer–but might be eventually.

  17. Hannah Beth Reid says:

    “West Wing” tip…keep IMDB handy on your phone! Random characters look familiar and I found myself looking up specific episodes often to see who they were and why they looked familiar.

    • Lori McKee says:

      Is there a quick way to find casts of specific episodes on IMDB? I google for actors a lot but not sure I’ve figured out “by episode” yet. One was Ty Burrell (Modern Family). I think he was a military guy on WW (first season)? Still not sure it was him though.

      • Hannah Beth Reid says:

        I do a Google search of “imbd West Wing season 1 episode 1” (whatever episode you’re looking for, of course) and it usually brings it up. Within IMBD you can look up a season and scroll thru the episodes. Sometimes it helps to know the name of the episode, but usually I can find what I need without it. Hope that helps!

  18. Ashley says:

    I agree with what everyone has said about the West Wing – the podcast is fantastic as well.

    I was able to see Amor Towles in Harbor Springs, MI at the Festival of the Book (http://www.hsfotb.org/) last week. He spent a bit of time talking about the history of the Metropol hotel which was fascinating. This is one of those books, and his talk reinforced this, that just makes me want to read more about that time period in history. He also includes these really cute stamps when he autographs books (the kremlin & a top hat). The only downside of the talk happened when a woman asked a question about the ending (which I had not read yet) and he tried to interrupt her to say he wasn’t going to discuss specifics or spoilers and yet she asked the question anyway. grrrrr…

    I asked him about the humor in the book and that there were specific scenes that made me laugh out loud (first interaction with Anna & her dogs, the descriptions of his adventures with Nina etc) – how difficult or easy was it to write? He said that he didn’t really intend for the humor to be there, but as he was writing it just seemed to come about naturally. He had the choice to rein it in or open it up a bit, and chose to open it up which I sincerely appreciated. All in all, a lovely conversation.

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