8 things I learned in May – Modern Mrs Darcy

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

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1. Liane Moriarty has a new book coming out this fall!

Around here this totally qualifies as “significant.” The publisher’s description as of right now is rather cryptic (“Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? These nine perfect strangers are about to find out…”) but does it matter? It does not.

That photo above is from when I got to interview Liane for the 2016 Savannah Reads event. I always love to discover the actual people writing the books I love are kind, smart, and wise, and was delighted (and let’s be honest, a bit relieved) to meet Liane in person. She spoke frankly and compassionately about the real-life experiences that inform her plots: love and marriage, unhappiness and infertility, friendship and parenting.

I can’t wait to read what she writes next. Coming November 6, and currently available for preorder at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

2. And in related Liane news…

Blake Lively just signed on to star in the big-screen adaptation of The Husband’s Secret. I’m paying attention.

3. How authors sign tons of books at once, in advance.

I was thrilled when my publisher told me Barnes & Noble will be carrying autographed copies of my next book I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life. But I didn’t know how it would work. Would I fly to a warehouse someplace and spend a day signing hundreds (or maybe thousands) of copies?

I thought it would look more like this:

Well, no. I learned that many special autographed editions—the sort I’ve been lucky to stumble upon at the bookstore from authors like Louise Penny, Joshilyn Jackson, and Elizabeth Strout—are signed before the books are bound. When the author signs, she’s surrounded not by stacks and stacks of books, but smaller stacks of easier-to-handle, easier-to-ship title pages. The signed pages are bound into the books, and voilà.

(You can see an example right here, from Rachel Held Evans.)

This month I also learned that I’d Rather Be Reading will most definitely be able in a Kindle edition, and also for Nook. The inexpensive hardcover is gorgeous… but I know you ebook lovers have been hoping this would happen, and it did.

4. After 50 years, the Metropolitan Museum of Art changed its admissions policy.

For five decades the Met has maintained a pay-what-you-wish price for admissions tickets. They suggest $25, but you could pay whatever you wanted. Will and I have taken advantage of it: I don’t remember the amount we landed on when we last took the kids to the Met, but it was less than $25, and it was great. (I’d prefer my kids never get bored in an art museum, but it’s going to happen, and when it does it’s nice to know I didn’t pay $100 for the privilege.)

It turns out that only 17% of visitors paid full fare, so in January, the Met announced a change: residents of New York (and surrounding states) can pay what they wish, but out-of-towners must pay the stated rate. (Fees are reduced for kids, students, and seniors.)

I also learned that From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, the beloved children’s book set at the Met, turned 50 last year. If you, like me, probably can’t manage a trip this year (regardless of the admission rate) might I suggest joining Claudia and Jamie for a vicarious visit?

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5. We inherited some good landscaping.

We moved into our new-to-us old house last year, and this time last year we were watching everything bloom for the first time, discovering all the plants we would get to enjoy without having to do any of the work. It was so fun to see everything pop up, like the daffodils and peonies and a delightfully funky bush called false indigo.

I thought our yard was done surprising us, but this month we discovered we had a lilac bush, right there in our backyard. It didn’t bloom last year—perhaps because we transplanted it within the yard last spring—but this year its purple blooms were unmistakeable, and completely delightful.

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6. I can put Anne of Green Gables on my walls.

A few years ago I fell in love with these gorgeous Tundra editions of Anne of Green Gables, and they make me happy every time I see them on my bookshelves. But now (thanks, Donna!) I know that you can purchase a print of Ellie MacKay’s beautiful cover art on Etsy. You can even order one specially sized to fit IKEA frames.

I’m thinking about it.

7. Salt Lake City and Prince Edward Island are roughly the same distance from my house.

My second grader loves geography, and for his final school project he planned a big road trip to Salt Lake City. He has it all mapped out—what we’ll see, where we’ll stop, how long it will take to get there.

The project is over, but now he wants to go. Of course.

The whole family has been part of these dinner time conversations for over a month, and at some point we started investigating where else we could go if we were willing to drive for 24 solid hours. And Will (bless him) discovered one promising answer: Prince Edward Island.

I’m thinking about that, too.

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8. Instagram has done wonders for my houseplants.

I’ve never been particularly good with houseplants, but this year I’ve managed to transform my black thumb to something closer to the brownish end of green. My local plant stores have helped answer all my (many) questions, but I know I owe my significant increase in know-how (and decrease in freak-out) to a more unlikely-to-me source: Instagram.

The fellow plant-tenders I follow there have been so helpful in identifying the unlabeled plants I’ve picked up on the cheap at Home Depot, or telling me how to care for them, or diagnosing and treating them when necessary, as in the case of my spider mite-overrun fiddle, which has finally managed to sprout some new leaves that didn’t immediately turn brown and fall off.

I still have lots to learn, but the Instagram community gives me hope that I’ll figure it out. (Follow me there @annebogel.)

What did you learn in May?

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