Interview with Anne Bogel - Author, Blog Creator, and Podcaster

Interview with Anne Bogel - Author, Blog Creator, and Podcaster

In this Behind the Scenes interview, Anne Bogel and I chat about the space she has carved out in the book world, how she originally got started with her blog and then her podcast, creating a format for her podcast What Should I Read Next?, helping readers learn how to identify what didn't work about a book for them personally, whether she ever DNFs a book, how books get on her radar, and much more.


In this Behind the Scenes interview, Anne Bogel and I chat about the space she has carved out in the book world, how she originally got started with her blog and then her podcast, creating a format for her podcast What Should I Read Next?, helping readers learn how to identify what didn't work about a book for them personally, whether she ever DNFs a book, how books get on her radar, and much more.

Anne's recommended reads are:

  1. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
  2. Platonic by Marisa G. Franco
  3. Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
  4. The Anomaly by Herve Le Tellier
  5. Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
  6. Becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Duchess Goldblatt

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Transcript

[00:11] Cindy: You are listening to the Thoughts From a Page podcast, which is a member of the Evergreen Podcasts Network. My name is Cindy Burnett, and I'love to talk about books with anyone and everyone. While listening to my podcast, you will hear author interviews, youth behind the scenes conversations about various aspects of the publishing world, theme discussions with other book lovers, and more. For more book recommendations and a complete list of all of my interviews, check out my website, Thoughtsfromapage.com and follow me on Facebook and Instagram at Thoughts From a Page in 2022. I would love for you to join my Patreon group. I offer at least two bonus episodes a month and a monthly advanced read and pre-publication author chat. For those on Facebook, I host a special Patreon Facebook group where we all chat books. Thanks so much to those who already participate, and I hope you will consider joining us today for my Behind the Scenes series. Anne Bogel joins me to discuss her role as a literary tastemaker and influencer. Anne shares her love of the written word on her popular blog Modern Mrs. Darcy, and on her two podcasts, What Should I Read Next? and One Great Book. She is the author of several books, including Don't Overthink It and I'd Rather Be Reading. Anne and all of her books reside in Louisville, Kentucky, sharing space with her husband, four children, and a yellow lab named Daisy. I had so much fun chatting with Anne, and I hope you enjoy our conversation. Welcome, Anne. How are you today?

[01:35] Anne: I'm doing great because we get to talk about books.

[01:38] Cindy: I cannot tell you how excited I am that you are here for my Behind the Scenes series. This is just a dream come true for me.

[01:45] Anne: Well, it is mutual. Thank you so much for having me.

[01:48] Cindy: Well, you have been described as a literary taste maker, which I love, by the way.

[01:52] Anne: It makes me kind of roll my eyes, but thank you.

[01:54] Cindy: I don't know.

[01:55] Anne: I like it.

[01:56] Cindy: I'm like literary taste maker. That's so fancy.

[01:58] Anne: It is fancy, and it always makes me want to reiterate it makes me a little defensive, Cindy. I want to be like, Hold on. We are firmly anti-snob. We're not telling anybody what they should read. But my team and I will enthusiastically tell you what we love and hopefully talk about it in a way that lets you decide if you might as well.

[02:17] Cindy: Well, I think that is wonderful. You have carved such a fabulous space out in the book world, and I can't wait to hear more about it.

[02:24] Anne: I can't wait to talk more.

[02:26] Cindy: Let's start with a quick snapshot of what you do and then we can kind of go back in time and talk about how you got started and more about all of that.

[02:33] Anne: Sure. Well, I have a little hub that is internet based that helps readers get more out of their reading lives. And we firmly believe that when you get more out of your reading life, your whole life is a little sometimes a lot better. So we do that with the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy that's been around since 2011, which is suddenly a really long time.

[02:51] Cindy: Yes.

[02:52] Anne: Podcast called what should I read next? And then we have member communities for both for our What Should I rRad Next? Patreon and our Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. I also write books and do some other bookish stuff, but that's the core of what we're about.

[03:06] Cindy: Well, I'm a patron member, and I really enjoy that community. I just recently participated with your fall reading recommendations, and it was really fun to see what you're recommending. I enjoyed the summer ones. So you really have put together quite a wonderful thing for the book world.

[03:22] Anne: Well, thank you. And thank you for being a part of that. And we're really looking I mean, I know we're going to talk about what's happening in the future in my work. We're really looking even more to build up that bookish community. It's so great to find people who love books as much as you do, because I don't know about you, Cindy, but outside my work life, I don't know as many people in my bump and dew on the street everyday life who do love books and reading as much as I do. And it's such a gift and an affirmation to connect with people who get it.

[03:50] Cindy: I think that's exactly right, Anne. And I think it's one of those things that once you know someone loves books, you can just talk forever because the conversation is truly endless.

[04:00] Anne: Yes, it's so true. And not only do you get to talk about the books themselves, but what I especially love about good books and about this whole space is that books are an open door to talking about all kinds of things that really matter in your everyday three dimensional life, as well as a wonderful escape, if that's what you need right now. I often am seeking a little of both at the same time.

[04:21] Cindy: Exactly. Especially lately. And the escape is nice because it does take you away from our current world, but it's also just a great way to visit places that I may never get to or learn about, places I'd like to visit. There's just so many wonderful aspects of reading.

[04:35] Anne: Yes. One of my guiding lights is an out of context quote from Emily Dickinson, “I dwell in possibility”, and I love how books just dangle so many glittering possibilities in front of readers.

[04:47] Cindy: I think that's exactly right. Let's back up to the beginning, to 2011, which is a while ago, and you deciding to start your blog and how you chose the Modern Mrs. Darcy as your name. All of that.

[04:59] Anne: We actually need to go back to 2010. I think it was in that liminal space between when school lets out for Christmas and when the new year feels like it starts in earnest, when my husband Will and I were talking through what went well the year before, what worked, what didn't, what do we want to do the next year? And he'd done a little bit of blogging for work in 2010, and he said, I've been thinking about blogging, I've been thinking about who should maybe start a blog. And I was like, oh, you know, somebody else your job is going to okay, cool. Who should start a blog? And he said, you should. And I said, I don't even read blogs. This is a terrible idea. What are you talking about? But I am a persuadable type nine enneagram. And 15 minutes later I was like, yes, what can we call it? The categories. My brain apparently needed to create a project to latch onto and just really ran away with the possibilities of what that could look like. And at the time it felt like it took forever to put bones to the idea, and I'd never heard of WordPress. I didn't know anything about the techy stuff, but the first post went live in February, which I think probably doesn't exist on the internet anymore. I probably went through a big purge and took some old stuff down last year, but that was the beginning.

[06:15] Cindy: And how did you decide on your name for it?

[06:18] Anne: Well, when I started the blog, I was in my early thirties, and at the time I didn't realize that as adults we're just making stuff up all the time that nobody has it figured out. And I was really trying to figure out what it meant to be an adult woman in the world today, like, with all my responsibilities and all the things I wanted for my life and all the things I wanted for my work and all the things I'm a parent, so all the things I wanted for my kids. I just felt very much like I was putting the pieces together and trying to build something, and I didn't quite know how to do it, but I knew that I wanted something. So I knew that I wanted to write in such a way that I could touch on those issues. Because I've always used writing as a way to figure out what I think, like, to work out my ideas. So I knew if I was going to do this blogging thing, I wanted to have things to explore that I felt like would be valuable and make it worth my while. So I knew that I wanted to focus on some of those issues for today, but also I knew that I wanted to write about things that were evergreen. So I was trying to capture something, or I was trying to use a name that captured the intersection of the timeless, like what is always and the timely, like what is right now. And I've always loved Jane Austen. And so I was just tossing around names and somehow hit upon Modern Mrs. Darcy, and my husband was like, oh, you could brand that, that would work. And I have had some. We've come so close to renaming it many, many times over the years, I have to say. We for a long time was just the royal we. It was just me often paying ideas off friends or my husband, but it was just me. But it has been Modern Mrs. Darcy for almost twelve years now.

[08:03] Cindy: I love it because I'm a huge Jane Austin fan, and I think it's perfect as you're talking about the intersection of timeless and modern. So I think it works quite well. That's interesting about the renaming. That was actually one of the questions I was going to ask you, and then I pulled it off. So I want to hear more about that. Why have you thought about maybe renaming?

[08:20] Anne: First of all, because there are so many good ideas, and I work really well in the space of what could be, what could we make, what could it become? Something that we say a lot in our work with our team is ideas are not the scarce resource, but there's only a few that we can implement. But the thing about naming a business is you're limited to one. So it's just always easy to think of what could be. Also, if you have ever tried to explain Modern Mrs. Darcy to, I don't know, someone who hasn't read a book since they graduated from high school, really quickly you could start to see the appeal of other names.

[08:58] Cindy: It's a little trickier that way.

[09:00] Anne: On the other hand, they're not our target audience.

[09:01] Cindy: Yes, exactly.

[09:02] Anne: Readers love us. And if you don't understand that, that's totally fine. It's a big internet. There's stuff out there for you, too.

[09:08] Cindy: And do you have a favorite Jane Austen? I'm assuming maybe Pride and Prejudice based on your name, but is there one that really has stuck with you over the years?

[09:16] Anne: I love Pride and Prejudice.

[09:18] Cindy: Me too.

[09:19] Anne: My favorite rotates. So, you know, on my podcast. What should I read next? I always ask guests to share three favorite books and so that people aren't paralyzed by this question, we always say they're not like, your top favorite, not like your lifetime favorites, just three books you love. And I feel like that's a grace I need to give myself for Jane Austen. My usual. Like, I have three that rotate through my favorite, and it often depends on the season. So in the fall, Persuasion is my favorite. In the summer, I live Emma, and the rest of the year it's usually Pride and Prejudice. Or we could say it's whichever one I most recently read.

[09:51] Cindy: Well, I get that those three are my favorites as well. I just love them. And I don't really like Sense and Sensibility, which always makes people, I think, surprised but for some reason that story just does not resonate with me. But I like all the rest of hers. But your three are my favorite threes?

[10:06] Anne: Well, I almost pulled Sense and Sensibility into rotation because I read it in August for Austin August, which is something loose tradition we have in our book club. But I do want to say to listeners, I think, because I have a blog named Modern Mrs. Darcy, I can't tell you how many times people get very apologetic very quickly, like, oh my gosh, I've never read Jane often. It's okay, I love her. I can give you reasons why it might be worth your while to try, but I'm not going to tell you you should, and I'm definitely not going to. You won't get scolded for that.

[10:35] Cindy: That's so funny. But I also think that's a wonderful thing about the book world is because there are so darn many books coming out all the time and so many that have already been published. There's space for everything. You can read something, not read something like something, not like something. There's just so many opinions to be had.

[10:51] Anne: Yes, we quote Whitman a lot, too. Like, we are readers. We contain multitudes. That is a beautiful thing.

[10:58] Cindy: It is a beautiful thing. So you started the blog, and I'm assuming it took off. It may have taken some time. I know those things sometimes take a little bit of time. You started the blog?

[11:07] Anne: Yes. That would be an understatement.

[11:09] Cindy: Yes, I know. I know how those things work. So what happened after you started the blog?

[11:13] Anne: After I started the blog, I mean, I started in February. It took me till April to even tell my mother. A lot of bloggers say just my mom read it for years, and my mom didn't even read mine. But very quickly I discovered that my picture of what blogging would be was wrong. I thought blogging meant writing alone with a cup of coffee in the basement with your pajamas on, because bloggers are anti socials and don't have to talk to people ever. And I very quickly realized, oh, no, the community is the best part of blogging. And this was a long time ago where bloggers got to know other bloggers in the comments section and very quickly developed some online friends and got to know other blogs. Like, I was reading blogs then or now. I was reading blogs after not having read them the year before, and it was so fun. So the next few years just looked like slowly building up a community and figuring out what I wanted to write about. Because at first my intention had not been to write about books. And for a long time I protest when people be like, oh, this is a book blog. And I'd be like, Well, I mean, we talk about books now. I don't protest as much, although we do talk. My favorite blog comment ever is one that said, I love how this is a place where I can find a wonderful book and a wonderful mascara, because both are really important to me, and I love that this site acknowledges that. So I very quickly discovered that something I really like to do was to write about these issues that I felt like I was figuring out in my early 30s. Something through the lens of a book. I find I'd read something, and it would get me thinking, like, long after I closed the book about the issue at hand. And so I ended up writing a fair number of posts saying I was reading this book, and it got me thinking about X. So these are some things I'm working through. And it wasn't a post about the book, but it used literature as a doorway to conversation. And I found that I really liked those kinds of conversations and slowly started writing more about books that mattered to me, because I found, much to my surprise, like, oh, hey, this is a really fun thing to write about for me and also to talk about with other readers. I was finding those conversations really valuable, and I should say right now, there is no end game for Modern Mrs. Darcy. Or what should I read next? We've always tried to do good work, to make good, high quality stuff and see where it takes us. That's what I was doing then, that's what I was doing now. So I just thought, oh, I'm really liking this avenue of exploration, and started leaning into that a little more.

[13:47] Cindy: And so then eventually you decided to launch a podcast. Is that what came next?

[13:52] Anne: It did. Well, I began planning that in 2015. I don't know if you all remember the podcast landscape and the early 2010s, but it was trendy. It started to get popular, and I had friends from Blogging World who were starting podcasts, and I thought, that could be really fun. But I didn't have an idea. I didn't know what I would want to talk about on a podcast. I didn't want it to be the Modern Mrs. Darcy show, because we got approached a few times, like, oh, let's start the Modern Mrs. Darcy show. And I thought, I don't know. I'm exploring those topics on the blog, and I love doing that, and I can't visualize how that could be an oral conversation in a way that would make it better, because, again, ideas are not the scarce resource. Like, there are tons of new things we could try, but we wanted to be really good, and I didn't see the benefit of just doing it for novelty, although I do like novelty, and that's something I have to keep in check as a creative person. But meanwhile, I started this blog series very early in the life of the blog that I put up spontaneously on a Sunday morning, and I called the post this is not eloquent, but it was called Literary Matchmaking, personal Shopping for Books, whatever you want to call it. Let's try something. And what happened was I wrote about books on the Internet, and so it's not uncommon for people to kind of become an authority about the thing they talk about all the time. So I got requests increasingly for people to recommend. The terminology was always, Great books. Can you tell me a great book to read? And like, I'm going on a trip. Can you tell me a great book to read? And my really annoying answer was always, well, what does that mean to you? I can tell you what I thought a great book was, but in order to pick a perfect book for your vacation, I need to know what you love and also what you don't, because the truth often emerges in contrast. But I spent a lot of time mulling over, like, what makes people think that they can ask one reader with totally different life, context, values, experiences, taste, etc, etc. Hey, tell me about a great book. And to have that be a good answer. And of course, I'm writing from my background something else informing this experience or my reactions to this question was it had been really hard for me to identify my taste as a reader. That was a whole journey after I graduated from college to figure out what do I like as a reader and how do I go to the library and look at the end cap and go home with a book I'll actually enjoy, or how do I do that at the bookstore? Like, I didn't know. And it was something I had to learn. And I could tell when people were like, oh, just like, it doesn't don't overthink this and just tell me, just give me a great book. You know, just a great book. I could tell that they hadn't, like, wrestled through those same issues. They hadn't really been thinking about their identity as a reader yet. And I thought, well, how can I help people do that? And how can I help people connect with books that they will find to be perfect for them and especially perfect for them right now in their lives, in their reading lives? So I said, okay, I've been thinking about this, and I want to try and experiment because we believe in experimenting. I said, Tell me in the comments three books you love, one book you don't, and what you've been reading lately, and I'll recommend three books that you may enjoy reading next. And I don't know if anybody's going to bite. I don't know if anybody is interested in this idea, but maybe I'll answer a few on the blog every week and we can see how it goes. And I had to shut down the comments when they were, like, 250 immediately. And it's not like our leadership was that big. It's just that there was a lot of demand for this. So I've been answering these questions every Sunday on the blog for, I think over a year at this point, maybe years, because this really started in 2012 or 2013. The Internet knows we could actually look this up and see if memory serves. But I often found myself during that blog series a little frustrated because I wanted to ask people follow up questions, like, they tell me what they enjoyed, and I think, oh, well, obviously you have to read this book by Barbara Kingsolver, you have to read this book by Octavia Butler. And it was so obvious to me. I thought it has to be obvious to you too. Like, surely you found this already. And I didn't want to recommend books that they had already read and loved, because that's no help. I mean, you feel seen, but it doesn't help you know what to read next. And I didn't want to have a zillion email threads. Like, I didn't want to have those conversations by email. So I was doing a series over on the blog on one hand, and then over here, I was having this year long thought process like, well, it would be fun to start a podcast, but what could it be? And it took forever for me to realize that was the same idea. But when it did, in late 2015, we started preparing to launch a podcast, and our first episode was on January 12, 2016, and we're about to hit seven years, which just blows my mind. It just baffles me. I can't believe it's almost been that long.

[18:40] Cindy: That's truly amazing. And obviously it really resonates with people because it has done so well, and any time I mention it, everyone knows it. So it's one of those things that there was a definite need for it.

[18:53] Anne: Well, that's so kind, and thank you for mentioning that's how people find podcasts. And we're always trying to connect I mean, we're always trying to connect people with the right books, and we're also trying to connect with an audience who'd be excited to find, what should I read next? So thank you.

[19:08] Cindy: Well, certainly. But also I think that the podcast works so well because different people share reads that they really like. So when I listen to your show and I hear, oh, I also really like those books, or I also really didn't like that book, it's interesting to hear what you recommend, like, oh, that's a great idea, or helps me also with my recommendations to people as well sometimes.

[19:29] Anne: Well, thank you for saying that because I do get nervous sometimes. We ask people every week to share three books they love, one book they don't, and what they're reading lately. And we are very cautious in how we help people if they need it, like learn how to speak honestly, but also kindly and tactfully about books they didn't enjoy, knowing that identifying what didn't work for you as a reader is different from saying, this book is trash. We don't say that on our show. And the reason I find that so valuable is often when we love something especially, we don't really know ourselves as readers really well. We may know what we like, but we can't quite articulate it, which makes it very hard to walk into a bookstore and find something that you'll enjoy reading next. The truth does emerge in context, and it's often only when we do find an author doing something that gets on our nerves. It's not good, it's not bad, it's not to our taste, and that's fine. That's a different thing from it being quality or not quality. That's just a personal, often a personality thing. But we may not realize what we love until we encounter something we don't. And it's only then that we can go, oh, I don't like books that are largely character driven, where the words are really beautiful, I need something to happen in my books, and this one was so boring, where another reader can be like, oh, I could read evocative descriptions of atmospheric moody, blah, blah, blah. I could read that for days. Never gets boring to me. And it's only when you realize those are two different options and one works for you and one doesn't, that you're really able to articulate. This is something important about me as a reader. So that's why we ask that. And we always try to be kind and gentle and say, like, we're talking about books we don't enjoy for a purpose. That's not how most podcasts work. And ours is different, and I think it's different for good reason. But we always want to be kind and respectful, even as we're trying to help we're trying to help readers that connect with books they love. And it's really important to acknowledge that not every book works for every reader, or you can't find the stuff that does really work for you.

[21:32] Cindy: But I think your point is well taken because that's something that's taken me a little while to make sure I understand. And it's important to make those distinctions when you're talking about books that you didn't like. It's not that the book is bad. It's just that the book didn't work for me, and it didn't work for me because I was looking for something different, as you were describing for me. I don't really like domestic thrillers. I don't like the mistress. I don't like the husband and wife having all this trouble. To me, that's just not my genre. Doesn't mean it's a bad genre. It just means it's most likely not going to appeal to me. And I think it's exactly what you're talking about, learning yourself, but also making sure you practice kindness, because someone has put a ton of effort into the book that they've put out there.

[22:10] Anne: Yeah. And we really want to respect that. Right? And also we exist to help readers connect with books that they love. So, Cindy, if you were on, What Should I Read Next? depending on how you're feeling about your reading life and what you're looking for and what's niggling at you, we might spend some time exploring, like, okay, let's evaluate why these domestic thrillers aren't working for you. Maybe it bothers you. Maybe you're like, oh, it's so close to these other books I like so I can't figure out why this doesn't work for me. Or maybe we just use that as a clue to go like, domestic thrillers. Okay. Not going to approach those. Maybe you want to try one again in five years, maybe you don't. But let's focus on what would bring you great satisfaction in your books right now.

[22:51] Cindy: I just love that. I think it must really help readers try to narrow down for themselves what it is they're looking for so that when they go into a bookstore or the library or wherever. They have a much better sense of themselves and what's going to work because there are so many books out there. And you hate to waste your time on the ones that aren't going to work for you.

[23:08] Anne: True. And we're definitely we're not seeking to give readers a checklist like, oh, you can never somehow I'm thinking of Color Me Beautiful. You're a spring. You can never wear brown again. But it's not like that at all. What we are trying to do is give you a language to think about books as you're deciding what to read next.

[23:25] Cindy: I like that.

[23:26] Anne: Thank you.

[23:27] Cindy: Well, talking about your personal reading one, how do books make it onto your radar at all? I mean, you're reading, I know, far ahead as I am, probably even farther ahead than I often am. But how do you get books onto your list? How do you prioritize them? How do you organize your list? What does all of that look like for you?

[23:43] Anne: Oh, Cindy, I feel like those are the kinds of questions only an organized person would ask.

[23:47] Cindy: Yes, I try to be, and I'm always looking for a better organizational system that I have.

[23:52] Anne: I will say it's an art and a science with a whole lot of whim and maybe whimsy and luck thrown in. I am in the mostly fortunate position of having, like, literally thousands of people sometimes emailing me or pinging me saying, like, Anne, I heard about this book, and it has your name on it. I also do things like, I read, like, trade publications that are talking about books coming out sometimes next month, sometimes next year. I read like, the deal points memos that say, oh, Celeste Ng, just sign for three books coming out through the year 2027. So I do. I have a spreadsheet called Books on the Way and just track those little random notes. This is, oh, an author I love has a book coming out in four years. Don't forget, circle back on this later. One of my favorite ways to get great book recommendations is from independent booksellers who also have reason to read ahead. Just like you get to know a good friend's reading taste, you get to know their reading tastes of people in your line of work. I'm not an independent book seller, but we all are trying to find good books to connect with our readers. And I know whose tastes overlap with mine, whose recommendations I really put a lot of credence in. And I have my book pals that just leave me to get stuff. You know, my friends I like to go walking and have coffee with, he'll be like, and have you read this? And I know that our tastes overlap, so I want to find those. Also, I get lots of good recommendations from people whose tastes don't overlap with mine or not as much, including like, some of my own team members from Modern Mrs. Darcy. And what should I read next? We all have very unique reading styles and we're all drawn to dramatically different genres. I think I'm the only one on our team who really reads. OK, this isn't entirely true, but I'm the one on our team who reads the most, like, literary fiction. I love what I call compulsively readable literary fiction. Books that have plot that keep you turning the pages but also are just gorgeously crafted. Like, that is totally my jam. But everybody in our team has their own reading personalities that I know really well. And so to have wrecks coming from a trusted source but also you might not have found on your own. Those are really valuable to me personally because they make my life better, but also invaluable for the work we're doing.

[25:59] Cindy: But that is wonderful that you have a group that have separate and distinctive personalities with respect to books, because that way then you're not all recommending the same titles.

[26:08] Anne: Yes. And in fact, when we hire for our team, we often get apologetic notes in our initial interview process that says, I don't read the same books as Anne. And we say, don't apologize. That is wonderful. Anne already reads like Anne. We don't need to duplicate that. Bring it.

[26:27] Cindy: Yeah, you don't need five more Annes, because you're like, I need people that are reading other things so that we all have different things we can be talking about and bringing to the table.

[26:35] Anne: Yes.

[26:36] Cindy: So tell me, Anne, because I'm dying to know, do you ever DNF books?

[26:39] Anne: Oh my gosh, yes, all the time. We want to help you make choices that feel right to you. And we're not going to boss you about what to do in your reading life. We are not book bossy, but this is one of the places where I might say readers, if you are still compulsively reading to the end of a book because you started it and you feel like you owe it to the reader and you're just a firstborn daughter who doesn't quit things. She started just to describe basically everyone on our team. We had a good life. We had a good laugh when we discovered that we were all firstborn daughters.

[27:14] Cindy: That is hilarious. I am as well.

[27:16] Anne: Because you work from home, you have to be self-directed. You have to be accountable to yourself. No one is going to crack the whip over you and make sure you get your work done. Cindy, you have to do it yourself. And, yeah, I think it's not an accident that there are a lot of firstborn daughters in our space. I understand the compulsion to want to follow through and finish that book because that's what it feels like. It feels like a character issue, and it definitely did for me for a long time, but it's not the best thing for your reading. I've written about this a lot on Modern Mrs. Darcy. It's there. But I can tell you real quick one, you don't owe the author anything. If you're a grown up, you're not at school anymore. I read a quote from John Irving that really got me thinking, like, in 2010 that said, “grownups shouldn't finish books they're not enjoying.” And I would tweak that I think there are all kinds of reasons to read a book that you don't enjoy. Like, some books that I have really despised have been excellent reading experiences and have led to some of the best book conversations I've ever had that have shaped my work. But you shouldn't, and I am going to say shouldn't like, don't spend time with a book that's not worthwhile if you're going to finish the book and go, well, there goes 12 hours of my life I'll never get back, like, what are you doing? You can do better. But when you're sticking it out with that book that you are not enjoying, that isn't right. That isn't right for you right now. But you're doing that with a very real cost, and that is the books you could be reading instead. Also, this isn't always the case, but sometimes, especially for young readers, if you don't want to read the book you're reading, then your reading life often stalls. Sometimes just grinds to a halt completely, and we don't want that to happen. Sometimes the book can be perfectly good, but it's just not good for you right now. Or maybe like, for example, I didn't want to read books about fathers dying after my father died. Like, I picked up a book not long after. I was like, oh, I didn't realize this was in the story. Hard pass for right now. Most people understand that. That helps people understand, oh, there's a reason to not always feel like I have to finish a book. Or I picked up a book the other night that had been highly recommended by a trusted source. It was a memoir and quickly discovered that the protagonist was writing about I knew she was writing about illness. I didn't realize she was writing about a specific kind of cancer that one of my family members has experienced. And I was just like, no, I'm not ready to go. I might never be ready to go there. Like, I don't want to read that book. I definitely wasn't going to beat myself up about finishing all the books you start. I could talk about that forever. But readers, I just ask you to consider putting it down instead or telling yourself, I'll come back, write it on a list, I'll come back to it later and see if that's a better time.

[29:51] Cindy: I agree with everything you said. It took me a long time, Anne, to want a DNF, but now I have no problem doing it. And for the various reasons you described, it wasn't the book for me or it's about Alzheimer's, which my dad has, so I don't want to read about that or it's just not the right time. Whatever it is, I think that's exactly right, that it's better to go ahead and just put it down, whether I come back to it later or not.

[30:13] Anne: Yes. Cindy, thank you for being the model for first born daughters. We can we can let this go.

[30:18] Cindy: We can do it. Well, what's on the horizon for the Modern Mrs. Darcy?

[30:24] Anne: We have some ideas and are working on some things and that's what I'm going to say about that. But right now this is an interesting season for me because for the first time in many years, I'm not under contract to work on a book or a journal, which means I can focus more on the business. So I actually love the metaphor my friend Kendra Adachi has given to her business. Sometimes. She says it's like the Weasley house. You have this thing going, you just start adding on rooms in weird places and it gets a little like, off kills her, but it's working. I feel like when we are busy, busy, busy in our work, it's easy to just add on those rooms hodgepodge like it's the Weasley house. But right now, we're in a season of working on the business more to free up the head space in the calendar space. When we finish making our tweaks, we do a big series of tweaks like once every year or two. But once we get everything just like humming along, it frees up so much creative energy so that we can think expansively and think like, okay, this is rock solid. Now we can dream big. That sounds a little bit cheesy. But I think that's so true. When your systems are perfect or perfectly enough designed to support what you're doing, it really frees you up to focus on the creative stuff and not the logistics and we love focusing on the creative stuff. Like, I did say that ideas are easy. It's the implementation that is hard. But just working with a creative team and getting to brainstorm together and think about the possibilities and then turning those into reality is such a joy. And I'm excited about how we're going to get to try new stuff in 2023 and 2024.

[31:58] Cindy: I love that analogy of the Weasley home, though, because I do find that if I don't take the ideas I have, sit with them for a little while, try to figure out, okay, how's that going to work, what's it going to look like. Instead, you're kind of just cobbling stuff together. But if you can take the time, really think through it and then take some time to expand, things go a lot smoother and usually work out better.

[32:19] Anne: Yeah, it's very true. I mean, that's one of those very adult, kind of boring, not remotely sexy truths of adulthood that getting the basics right really makes everything so much better.

[32:30] Cindy: I think that's true. Well, Anne, what have you read recently that you really liked?

[32:35] Anne: I've read so much good stuff. So you read the follow up preview. So you heard me talk about how much I loved the new Barbara Kingsolver novel Demon Copperhead. It's a riff on David Copperfield, and I often pull the wrong syllables. Like I call it Demon Copperfield. Demon Copperhead. Coming in late October. This was not the book I thought I wanted to read. I was like, Barbara, what are you doing to us with this stuff? But it was so good and just, like, hooked me from the beginning. I'm surprised how much I continued to think about a nonfiction book by Mariss G. Franco. It's called Platonic. How the science of attachment can help you make and keep friends. I find that this book, which is about attachment theory in friendship, not romantic relationships, is making me see many of the novels I'm reading differently. Like, I just read Seven Days in June, which I know so many people have read already by Tia Williams. But we're doing an event together at a literary festival this fall, so it's been on my list forever, and I finally had to read it now. But I kept thinking of Platonic, and it's not the first book I've been through since reading this nonfiction book that has made me see what's happening on the page in a slightly different way because I'm seeing these very human dynamics at work that Franco really broke down for us in this book. And I've read a couple of French novels I've loved recently. The Anomaly and Fresh Water for Flowers. But I finally listened to the memoir becoming Duchess Goldblatt by Anonymous. The author is Anonymous, which a patron taught me into reading. I'm actually going to be doing a bonus episode about it soon over there. So you'll hear that, Cindy? But it was just such an unexpected delight. I did not know what I was getting into. I knew very little going in, and it was a joy with a lot of depth to it that made me think about Platonic, but also such a joy. I love that book.

[34:26] Cindy: Do you follow her on Twitter now?

[34:27] Anne: I followed her on Twitter for forever, and somehow I thought becoming Duchess Goldblatt, I just didn't understand that it actually was a memoir. I thought it was a fake memoir.

[34:35] Cindy: Oh, got it. Yeah.

[34:36] Anne: Yeah. I just didn't get it. I didn't get it. Now I do. It's so fun.

[34:40] Cindy: Well, I love that book, and I love the two French books that you talked about. My book club read Fresh Water for Flowers and loved it. And The Anomaly. Oh, my gosh, I could talk about that ending forever. I just thought it was such a creative book. Well, Anne, this has been delightful. I can't thank you enough for joining me on the Thoughts From a Page Podcast today.

[34:58] Anne: Oh, thank you so much for having me. It's been such a delight to talk with you.

[35:02] Cindy: Cindy, thank you so much for tuning in today. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen to my podcast. I want to quickly share about this wonderful company I am now partnering with. I am always looking for entities that promote and highlight books and recently came across Bookclubs, a company who provides all sorts of resources for established and new book clubs as well as individual readers. My own personal book club recently signed up on Bookclubs, and the group has been impressed with all of the great tools the site and app provide. The Bookclub's website is linked in my show notes, and I hope you will check them out soon. Also, if you like my show, I would be so grateful if you would tell everyone you know about it and rate it on whichever platform you listen on. It truly makes a huge difference and really helps the show grow. The book discussed in this episode can be purchased at my bookshop storefront, and that link is also in the show notes. I hope you will check out some other Thoughts from a Page episodes and have a great day.

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Anne Bogel

Author / Blog Creator / Podcast Host

Anne Bogel is an author, the creator of the blog Modern Mrs Darcy, and host of What Should I Read Next? podcast and Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club.