I hope you had a fantastic week! What are your plans for the weekend? It is finally starting to cool off here so I’m excited to go for a walk once I wrap up my work day…and maybe we’ll throw up our pop-up tent for some backyard chilling this weekend. I’m also looking forward to Monday when my books from the Biannual Berger Book Swap should arrive in the mail! (Here’s a look at what I got in the last swap.) Have a killer weekend!
P.S. Need a workout for your weekend? Try this one.
A few days ago, I was listening to Gretchen Rubin’s podcast. Gretchen and her sister/co-host Liz Craft talked about a listener’s suggestion to try the rubber duck debugging method. The listener had written in explaining that this was a trick used by software engineers when they needed to debug code. They simply explain the problem to the rubber duck, and in the process of talking through it, line-by-line, they are able to debug the code.
The suggestion was that this is a hack us non-software engineers could borrow. That by talking through a problem, you might just arrive at a solution. And because there isn’t always someone around to listen as you babble about why something you’ve tried five times now STILL isn’t working (…or maybe there IS someone around but you don’t want to bother them), it’s nice to have a little companion at the ready who is always willing to hear you out.
And whatever frustrating situation you’re navigating, naming a problem is often the first step to solving a problem.
While I’m the furthest thing from a software engineer, the rubber duck debugging method made a lot of sense to me! So I set about searching the house for my own little companion…
Tiny Mark Twain seemed like the perfect choice!
What do you think of the rubber duck debugging method? Would you try it? Do you have a little friend on hand to talk your problems through? I’m starting to think it is a WFH must!
P.S. Here’s another post with something I learned thanks to Gretchen Rubin!
In August, I set myself a challenge to only read the books languishing on my TBR bookshelf. And to read as many as possible.
What’s a TBR bookshelf you ask? Well, I have a bit of a book buying habit. I pick up books all the time with no real plan of when I’ll get to them. Those books go to live on a small two-shelf white bookcase that lives in my office. Meanwhile, I get books from the library and buy other books that I read right away. Leaving some books unread, sometimes for years.
I needed to make a dent in the shelves on this little bookshelf before I ran out of space…and so I could continue buying more books, let’s be honest.
Here’s what I was able to clear off my TBR bookshelf this August:
The Switch by Beth O’Leary Rom-Com Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.
My Review: 4 stars A genuine and absolute delight! This book follows Eileen Cotton and her granddaughter Leena as they switch places for two months – Eileen moves into Leena’s posh warehouse flat in London and Leena takes up residence at Eileen’s cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. The story is told in dual POVs and because of that we have two whole casts of characters to fall in love with – each of them unique and fully realized. If you like found family, Gilmore Girls vibes, or wacky British village shenanigans – pick this one up!
Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka Mystery When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.
My Review: 2 stars Danya Kukafka writes beautifully. Unfortunately, for me, this particular story was just super slow and not that memorable.
The Round House Louise Erdrich Literary Fiction One of the most revered novelists of our time – a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life – Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.
My Review: 5 stars It’s 1988 on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota and 13-year-old Joe’s world is turned upside down when his mother is sexually assaulted. Sadly, she doesn’t know exactly where she was when the attack occurred, making it difficult to determine whose jurisdiction the case falls under – state, federal, or tribal. This sets up the mystery at the heart of the novel. Joe and his friends, as well as his father, are trying to figure out the perpetrator – and once they do, they grapple with how justice will be served and by whom.
While the book is set in the 80s, Erdrich notes in the afterword that, at the time of writing, a third of Native women will be raped in her lifetime; 86% of sexual assaults upon Native women are perpetrated by non-Native men; few are prosecuted. The story is a commentary on the need to restore sovereign justice and ensure safety for Native women, and it is beautifully done.
The plot is exciting and well-developed. The characters are well-drawn. But my favorite part was the strong sense of place. I highly recommend this to any literary fiction lovers, especially if you like books about family dynamics or are interested in reading about Native issues from an own voices perspective.
Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri Short Stories Navigating between the Indian traditions they’ve inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri’s elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In “A Temporary Matter,” published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession. Lahiri writes with deft cultural insight reminiscent of Anita Desai and a nuanced depth that recalls Mavis Gallant.
My Review: 4 stars This collection of short stories is beautifully written. Lahiri is a master of her craft. Her book ‘The Namesake’ is one of my favorites so I was excited to give her short form prose a go – and it did not disappoint! Most of her stories focus on the Indian immigrant experience, and even more specifically – the experience of immigrating shortly after an arranged marriage to work at a university in the Greater Boston area. Even with this niche subject matter, each of the stories holds universal appeal. Lahiri shows us a lighthearted and hopeful side of the human spirit, even as her characters face challenges, which makes for a very readable little book. Pick this one up!
Atonement by Ian McEwan Historical Fiction On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century.
My Review: 4 stars I found the middle third to be a bit slow-going, but well worth pushing through to get to the latter part of the book. Really enjoyed this one!
Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham Rom-Com Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates – Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material – and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.
My Review: 4 stars I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a sweet rom-com full of the smart, fast-paced dialogue style Lauren Graham is known for in her shows (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) and lots of fun NYC settings. I also have a weird love of books that take place in 1995. It’s just a great year
Throughout the book, we get to see pages from our main character’s Filofax. I love seeing other people’s planners (even fictional people) so I thought this was a fun element. My nitpick is that the handwriting the pages are written in is really hard to read! Cool that the pages are realistic (I’m guessing it’s Lauren Graham’s actual writing?) but I was sad I couldn’t enjoy them more.
The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner Historical Fiction The year is 1975 and Reno—so-called because of the place of her birth—has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world—artists have colonized a deserted and industrial SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art. Reno meets a group of dreamers and raconteurs who submit her to a sentimental education of sorts. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, she begins an affair with an artist named Sandro Valera, the semi-estranged scion of an Italian tire and motorcycle empire. When they visit Sandro’s family home in Italy, Reno falls in with members of the radical movement that overtook Italy in the seventies. Betrayal sends her reeling into a clandestine undertow.
My Review: 2 stars This may have been a me thing… This book just did NOT hold my attention! I am a self-proclaimed know-it-all so it pains me to say this, but I just didn’t “get it,” and the plot didn’t do enough to make up for the fact that I wasn’t vibing with the subject matter. On a sentence level, the writing is very nice. However, I’m happy to be done reading it.
Since She Went Away by David Bell Thriller Three months earlier, Jenna Barton was supposed to meet her lifelong best friend Celia. But when Jenna arrived late, she found that Celia had disappeared—and hasn’t been seen again. Jenna has blamed herself for her friend’s disappearance every single day since then.
My Review: 3.5 stars I knew this book was written by a Western Kentucky University professor but had no idea going in that it was actually SET in Kentucky. That was a welcome and fun surprise. Not a mind-blowing thriller but an enjoyable read with a couple unexpected moments/twists. Definitely want to pick up some of Bell’s newer titles now that I’ve read this one!
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett Literary Fiction The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.
My Review: 5 stars I love this book so much. We follow the Cousins and Keating children from childhood to adulthood, starting with a kiss between the mother of one set of siblings and the father of another that sets into motion all the ways these two families will blend and disperse over the coming decades.
Patchett has written a pitch perfect family saga that explores divorce in full – beginning to end, an entire cast of blended family characters represented and fully realized. Each character in this tender narrative searches for connection while grappling with the damages of loss. They all share a bond that’s simultaneously painful and powerful. This is a truly brilliant, touching story.
The Round House and Commonwealth were real stand outs this month and I’m so happy that this challenge brought them to me!
I can’t wait to do this challenge again in the future. (I think I’ve decided that I’m going to make it a biannual occurrence.) But for now, it’s on to my FALL TBR!
Having trouble coming up with content ideas for your personal brand, small business, or side hustle?
As a marketing writer and content coach, I’ve come up with five questions I recommend you ask yourself at the start of each month. These five questions will help you get all your best ideas out from inside your head and onto the page (as any good brain dump should), allowing you to slot great content into your editorial calendar and begin posting!
Before you get going on your first Content Creation Brain Dump, there are two steps I’d like you to complete first.
Step 1: Determine your CONTENT PILLARS for the year.
I recommend that a content creator (whether that be a person or a business) have three content pillars. These are essentially the “themes” in which your content falls under.
A person creating content for their online jewelry shop, may select: 1. Jewelry Making & Crafting 2. Fashion 3. Travel & Outdoors
Step 2: Determine your MARKETING PILLARS for the quarter.
As you look at your business goals for the quarter, your marketing pillars prop those up. If you want to increase revenue coming in from sponsored Instagram posts, one of your pillars might simply be sponsored content. Trying to build your mailing list? Maybe your pillar is a lead generator.
Our online jewelry shop owner chooses: 1. Sale on Summer merchandise 2. Cross promotion of brick & mortar store that sells some of her pieces 3. Working with a few travel content creators on an influencer marketing campaign
[I advise that you repeat Step 1 every year and Step 2 every quarter!]
Once you’ve determined your CONTENT PILLARS and MARKETING PILLARS, it’s on to the Brain Dump! Grab some paper and ask yourself the following questions…
Question 1: What are some pieces of content I already have that I can repurpose?
Our jewelry shop owner took beautiful product photos of all her Summer merchandise before that line launched. Now that the remaining pieces are on sale, she can use those photos in her Instagram stories to promote her End Of Summer Sale.
Question 2: What is going on this month that I could create content about?
The brick & mortar store that sells her jewelry is a couple towns over and is hosting a small event. She plans to travel there for the event as well as do a restock of her merchandise.
She also donated a couple pieces to a local nonprofit for an online auction at the end of the month.
Question 3: What products or services should I highlight this month?
She’d like to promote her new jewelry collection that’s going on sale next month. She sent out a few pieces from the collection in advance of the launch date to travel content creators.
Question 4: What content did my followers/clients/customers respond best to last month that I can iterate on this month?
Her customers always respond well to giveaways! Maybe she can include some other local products she finds at the small event she’s attending this month?
Question 5: What content am I missing that would help me achieve my quarterly business goals?
Sales in the brick & mortar store are an important part of her business goals this month. She needs to sell the store (as well as the little town it is located in) just as much as the merchandise she has inside it this month. She might think about some content from her trip to the store that falls under her Travel & Outdoors pillar.
Once your Brain Dump is complete, you can build out the content ideas and get them scheduled on your calendar. Repeat each month for ongoing awesome content! Remember: Validate each idea against your two sets of pillars. They should serve one or the other and ideally BOTH!
If you ever want to talk strategy, my inbox is open! Send me a message at firstname.lastname@example.org ❤ Let’s work together to make some internet magic!
Hello friends! Today’s post is a bit of a catch up. I wasn’t able to post a WINTER TBR back in December but I still wanted to share some books I’m excited about before we get to my springtime reading list. After all, we just had an ice storm in Alabama (!) so I’m still curling up with my winter reads.
Hello there! I thought it might be fun to share a few random facts about myself on this Tuesday afternoon. There have been a few new faces around these parts and it’s high time we got to know each other better! 🙂
Below are 15 random facts about my life. Do we have anything in common? Go ahead and share a few facts about yourself in the comments, if you feel like it. I’d love to learn more about you!
Let’s get to know each other ✨
I love when I have the opportunity to fly or take a train solo. It’s the perfect excuse to have some uninterrupted me-time! My ideal solo flight includes a new book, an in-flight movie or two, and some delicious snacks (like pretzels and peanut m&ms). On a train, I’m happy to just pop a podcast in my ears and stare out the window at the passing scenery.
I recently read Heavy by Kiese Laymon and it’s easily one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. I feel like I’ve read so many memoirs by *~*writers*~* lately and most of them are kinda meh but this one and In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado will stick with me for a long time.
During a rewatch of Gilmore Girls, I searched online for a list of every movie they mention in the show. My search proved successful and the list served as the impetus for rewatching some incredible films. So far I’ve tackled West Side Story, Rosemary’s Baby, Mommie Dearest, The Shining, Flashdance, and Bright Eyes.
Because my birthday is in October, I feel like I was into pumpkin-themed foods long before they were trendy. All sorts of snack foods are putting out pumpkin versions these days during autumn, but Pumpkin Delights will always be a tried and true OG with a special place in my heart.
My perfect cozy night-in involves a dark and suspenseful television show (or a British period piece), popcorn, red wine that doesn’t have to cost a lot, and a snuggly blanket.
The thing I miss most about living in Miami, besides proximity to beaches, is empanadas. Empanadas are so delicious, cheap and convenient in South Florida and I was totally spoiled by working right across a parking lot from a ventanita that served them.
My cat’s favorite food is cheese. He will scarf down any type of cheese offered to him — from Kraft singles to fancy goudas. When cheese is out somewhere in the kitchen he will pat my leg with his paw to make sure I know he’s available for taste testing and then spin around in circles waiting for a sliver to be bestowed upon him.
While my real name is Elizabeth, I’ve gone by Beth for as long as I can remember and have never really thought of myself as anything else. When I was little, my family called me Peppy and now my nephew calls me Aunt Peppy — which is very sweet and such a throwback.
I met my husband in Bowling Green, KY when I was working at WKU and he was in grad school there. Although it’s possible we saw each other years before at a national speech tournament in Boston.
I started studying ballet at the age of 3 and danced through my freshman year of college. One of my favorite feelings in the world is leaving a warm ballet studio after a great class and walking outside into a crisp, dark evening.
I love watching YouTube videos about and following social media accounts of people who live at the northern reaches of the globe. I’ve even started to really romanticize the idea of 24 hours of darkness in winter and midnight sun in the summer.
Things that make me extremely happy: the smell of small health food stores/co-ops, true crime podcasts, hiking trails along big bodies of water, Little House on the Prairie, Monet and Degas, Dolly Parton, edelweiss, listening to the radio, vegan cupcakes, how it feels outside at night in those first few days of autumn and the first few days of spring, and the temperature under my quilt when my cat is under it too.
There’s really only 3 foods I won’t eat. I don’t like mushrooms or olives and will pick and flick them out of a dish with no shame instead of politely grinning and bearing it. I’m allergic to shrimp although I remember really enjoying it before having a reaction to it. I sometimes want to try my luck and see if maybe I’ve grown out of the allergy…
Places on my travel bucket list include: Maine, the Pacific Northwest, Rotterdam, Costa Rica, Scotland, rural Japan, the west coast of Italy, South Australia, Bonaire, and the Arctic Archipelago.
Sometimes when I’m really bored, I’ll Google Street View a city I’ve previously lived in to see if I can still get from Point A to Point B from memory. Recently, I remembered how to get from an apartment I lived in when I was 10 to the ballet studio I went to…which I think is pretty impressive considering I haven’t been back to that city in this millennium.
Time for another DO I HAVE THAT BOOK? challenge. Awhile back I posted a little cross-section of my shelves based on the first iteration of this book tag. You can see that post HERE. But a new set of queries was making the rounds on Booktube and I wanted to play along. I combed my shelves and tried to find books in my collection that best met the prompts. Let’s see what I came up with…
Do you have a book with a fox on the cover or as part of the plot?
Nope. Ok, not starting off great…
Do you have a book published the year you were born or within 3 years radius?
Yes! Matilda by Roald Dahl was published around the time of my birth. This was the only book from this period I had. Maybe I should look into getting some others?
Do you have a book that’s between 287 – 306 pages?
This advance reader’s edition of The Divines by Ellie Eaton is exactly 306 pages long. It came out last month and you should totally pick it up if you like books about boarding schools.
Do you have a book where the main character where’s glasses?
I do. Travelling to Infinity by Jane Hawking is a book written about Stephen Hawking by his first wife. Stephen Hawking definitely wore glasses. (How many people do you think say Harry Potter for this one?)
Do you have a book with a title with the same number of letters as your first name?
E-L-I-Z-A-B-E-T-H — 9 letters. T-H-E-S-W-I-T-C-H. The Switch by Beth O’Leary has a title with 9 letters. Bonus: Written by a Beth.
Do you have a book where cybercrime/technology is an important plot point?
I had all but given up on this one, but then I remembered that in Looking for Alaska by John Green the characters hack into their school’s database to send falsified progress reports out to some of their enemies parents.
Do you have a book written in another language or translated?
Welcome back to Finding Delight! I’m here today to give you some options for your next read. I put together a collection of some of the most popular overly specific book genres. Then, I scoured my shelves and the internet to find the perfect books that fit these categories. (If you don’t see a good fit here – do leave a common below with an overly specific book genre you love and I’ll be sure to reply with some choices!)
So there you have it! I hope you found an absolutely perfect book for your next read! If any of these overly specific genres are your fave, do leave me a comment below and let me know if you think these suggestions might work for you.
For more bookish content, make sure you’re following me on Instagram HERE.
The world of fashion is always moving and changing. That goes for Instagram too. No sooner has a new style appeared on the site than everyone is following it and copying it. That’s why it pays to be out in front when it comes to establishing the most recent trends and winning the praise for originality. Below are 5 trends you might want to jump on before everyone is doing them…
Everyone owns a pair of trusty denims — loose fit, tight fit, or even shorts. You might wear your denims a lot or hardly ever, but they’re very common, so what turns them into a trend? The answer is creativity. This year you will notice a range of patchwork denim on Instagram on the Best Instagram Fans Accounts. The trend of patchwork denim is on the up and you can catch the wave. Make your own using old pairs or buy them ready made.
When browsing your Instagram discovery page this year be sure not to overlook some of the decorative rings advertised there. They might be in the shape of aquatic animals, stones and shells, or even adorable anthropomorphized foodstuffs. That’s right, there are so many types of decorative rings and bracelets around now that it’s become quite the trend. You will see the same rings and bracelets both advertised and worn on the dainty hands of the top influencers. Don’t miss out, investigate those intriguing ads and see how they fit your image.
No wardrobe is complete without dresses for different occasions. There are ones for formal events like weddings and birthdays, ones for casual drinks with friends, and ones for wearing around the house. The smock dress gives you a bit of everything and is a must have for 2021. It’s also a must have for your Instagram grid. Smock dresses are growing in popularity and they seem to be all over the platform this year.
The Sweater Vest
Picture a lady on a golf course teeing off with a Big Berth. She raises a hand to her eyes and watches the flight of the ball into the blue sky. She wears a sweater vest with a flattering V-neck and a loose blouse underneath. What you’re picturing is an ensemble perfect for the golf course but they also perfect for getting a great Instagram pic. Sweater vests come in a range of patterns and styles that can beautifully add interest to simpler outfits. .
If you were around in the nineties you may remember the hair claw trend popularized by all our most-loved sitcom stars. Hair claws are statement hairpieces that allow you to arrange your hair in several interesting ways. A hair claw will allow you to wear your hair up or half down. You might also wear it in a French twist. The great thing about hair claws is that they’re big and bold — perfect for standing out in the endless scroll of Instagram.
What fashion trends have you been spotting on Instagram so far this year? Which of the ones listed above would you try?
Boredom is something that hits a lot of us regularly, but it’s likely been made much worse during the pandemic. As we can’t see many people or go to places we’d usually go for fun, it’s made it a lot harder to find ways of relieving that boredom when it hits you. With that being said, if you’re needing some inspiration, here are some tips to relieve boredom during a pandemic.
Take Up A New Hobby
A good way of getting rid of boredom is to try and do something you’ve not done before. This is where a new hobby comes in. It could be that you want to try and pick up reading again if you always used to read when you had more free time. You might tap into your artistic side and paint a new masterpiece. Or even try out RPG with SkullSplitter. If you have a bucket list of things you want to do in life, perhaps there are one or two things that can be done within the confines of your home like learning a second language or writing the next great American novel.
Organize A Zoom Party
Zoom has been used by many around the world during this pandemic, both for work-life and to connect with friends and family. That being said, you should definitely try and organize more get-togethers with your loved ones. For example, host a zoom party. This could be especially helpful when you’re looking to spend some quality time with friends and family. There are lots of ways to make the experience engaging and fun — play a game, set a theme, or organize a blind taste test.
Baking can be something that’s therapeutic and delicious at the same time. Cooking and baking, in general, are two skills that are always worth building on so that you can explore new tastes and experiences with food. It might just be that you want to enjoy some freshly baked cookies or try out a family recipe that you’ve been missing over the months (since you can’t pop round to see extended family). Whatever the case may be, strap on that apron!
Focus On Looking After Yourself
Focusing on yourself is so important and all this time in quarantine could be a great opportunity to spend some quality time on oneself. For example, why not do something you enjoy and that looks after your physical wellbeing or mental health. Or both! Practicing self-care is definitely something that’s important to do right now.
What has been relieving YOUR boredom throughout the pandemic?