weekend open thread – February 17-18, 2024

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand.

Here are the rules for the weekend posts.

Book recommendation of the week: Come and Get It, by Kiley Reid. The lives of a college RA, three dorm roommates, and a visiting writer intertwine in surprising ways. It’s about race, money, bad choices … and it’s so, so good.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,357 comments… read them below }

  1. Weekend Warrior*

    Catification ideas? We’re planning to get a new kitty soon after saying goodbye to our 16 yo tortie last year and are looking to making our house more stimulating for a new young cat. We like the idea of switching out cardboard boxes and other temp constructions and also building some more permanent things, e.g. steps up to and high shelves linking our Billy bookcases in the office.
    We know there’s no predicting what a cat will like and what it’ll turn its nose up at but what’s the best catification thing you’ve tried? The worst?

    1. PleaseNo*

      Get 2 cats! Life’s better with a friend, you avoid single cat syndrome, you save 2 lives, and they will have a friend around always!

        1. Weekend Warrior*

          There are a lot of bonded pairs for adoption but someone needs to take the crotchety singletons advertised as “needs to be only cat in home”. :)

          1. Helvetica*

            Exactly. I get so frustrated with the advice about getting 2 cats – I wanted one cat and I took a cat who gets stressed out by other cats, on purpose. There are plenty of cats out there who don’t need a partner.

          2. RC*

            Definitely get one of those, then! I always see those guys and (also we are at our cat max right now for the space we have) I wish I could take them but I will never have <2 cats.

            Re: toys and stuff: maybe wait and see what the agency says? Because every cat is different, but maybe they had a fosterer who can attest they like the scrunchy rug ones or the circle ball one or a particular type of wand toy?

            2 of ours currently love lying in a shoebox on the couch. We put a little blanket in it but they seemed to like it anyway. There’s just no telling with cats lol

      1. Clara Bowe*

        +1 If you are getting a kitten, get 2 kittens. Built in playmate and energy expended. Also, check out Kitten Lady’s education playlist. Lots of good info there.

    2. RLC*

      Anything tunnel-like or cave-like is a hit with our crew (4 cats, ages 6-10, all adopted as adults). High and secure perching spots with non slippery surfaces to jump and land upon.

    3. Melissa*

      The worst thing I bought was the cardboard scratch toys – the kittens loved them but they shredded and there were tiny bits of cardboard all through the house forever. Focus on rope ones instead.

      1. Sloanicota*

        but take it from me, don’t use sisal-like toys if you have sisal rugs. It seems obvious in retrospect!

      2. Porch Screens*

        Alternatively, the cardboard scratchers seem like they’re generally a big hit with most any cat so if you don’t mind the mess, they’re great. They’re also cheap if you need or want something temporary while you work on getting stuff that’s sisal/wood/etc.

      3. RLC*

        With the rope scratchers and anything else with rope, keep an eye on your cat to see if they try to eat bits of torn-off or unravelled rope. Two of ours try to eat the loose bits. Unbeknownst to us one cat ate a long strand which briefly lodged in his bowels. Thankfully it passed without surgical intervention but gave us some scary hours at veterinarian.

        1. Melissa*

          Yes! Also never leave hair elastics or gift ribbon lying around, that’s another trip to the vet to avoid.

      4. The Cat is There*

        My cat only does the cardboard ones. If they aren’t around, the next stop is our furniture. I’ll take little bits of cardboard over shredded furniture any day. But you just can’t know before the cat is there.

      5. RC*

        Ohhh yes scratchers! I’d say (if you don’t mind the mess) cardboard or sisal, which is more durable, but DO NOT get the carpet-covered ones because they just get torn to shit (I recently re-sisaled some carpet legs on our cat tree because the carpet was falling off and it looks so much better!)

        I don’t mind the cardboard ones because I know they can go in the recycling/compost which I’m not sure about the other stuff. Just have a vacuum out

    4. BellaStella*

      A friend just built cat shelves into her walls in one bedroom at various heights and including sling shelves for lounging plus two cat trees with different things like posts and shelves. Also she got the idea off of insta and bought stuff online. installation took special molly bolt type things. have fun!

      1. Sloanicota*

        I got my cat a heated window seat, and she loved it. I do think it’s a big ugly, but … the things we do for our pets, I guess, haha. She was an adult cat, though, I don’t think a kitten would be *as* enthused about a heated perch.

    5. All Monkeys are French*

      Catio! My cats love going out to watch birds, sniff the breeze, or bask in the sun. I love that they can do it while staying safe from cars and predators.

    6. Euphony*

      Definitely shelves and anything else you can add so the cat can traverse multiple rooms at different heights. They also provide a safe space for the cat to observe visitors from. If you have a high energy cat it’s worth investing in a cat wheel too – one of mine absolutely loves running on the wheel. Radiator and window beds are nearly always a hit. Especially if there is a bird table just outside so they can watch birds in between naps.
      I’d also suggest a recheck of the house to make sure there are no exposed cables, toilet seats are down etc. Just because the previous cat didn’t make a mess doesn’t mean you won’t have to fish the new cat out of the toilet (yes I did find this out the hard way)

      1. I take tea*

        We got a couple of cats many years ago. While exploring their new place one of them managed to jump straight into a sink full of soapy water. Poor kitty, but it did mean that she learned from the beginning, that the counters are not for cats.

    7. fposte*

      My friend added step ledges to her built in bookcase and then a partial lip on the top corner shelf, then put a cushion in there. Several cats in succession have adored it, so I think your Billy plan is a good one.

    8. Cat Wrangler*

      Look up outdoorsavannah on Instagram. I hope we can install a few of his changeable wall mount ideas for our cat someday. (She does not like other cats, and also expects all her playtime to involve humans…)

    9. don'tbeadork*

      Our current six like different things, but one of the most popular with the young set is a puppy playpen filled with packing paper. I leave the door to it open so they can go in and out as they please, and often can hear them rustling around in the paper. The youngest likes to toss tiny catnip infused balls around among the paper. Senior cat will go and just lounge in the paper pile if the youngsters aren’t using it.

      We get lots of things with paper as the filler in the packing boxes, so this is a good use for them until we gather everything up and hit the recycler. The playpen keeps the vast majority of the paper shreds contained in one spot so clean up is simplified.

      Ours also adore the Wicked Ball from CatIT. We have five or six because we need to keep a couple charging for quick distractions.

      We also have cat toy baskets filled with things like small balls, catnip mice or little skittery rings and things scattered throughout the house. The cats won’t put the toys back in them (alas), but they know where the toys are kept so they can fish out what they want. If the toy moves to a different room it may end up in a different basket during clean up, but the cats seem to appreciate the variable mixing of toys.

    10. Sleve*

      Default cats (there’s always exceptions) prefer to stretch up as high as possible when scratching, so any permanent features will benefit from the addition of a tall scratching post/column. Even a short cat is surprisingly long when stretching. An uninterrupted post as high as your waist wouldn’t go astray. Covering with carpet is a common choice. If you go this route, make sure any nails or staples are hidden where they won’t catch and hurt the cat’s claws. Rope or just bare wood are also popular choices. The classic combo of base-post-seat on top is a classic for a reason. It gets the cat up to a nice high vantage point with a tall scratching post included and it doesn’t take up much more space than a pedestal fan.

      My neighbours have sacrificed an entire window and built a small outdoor cat playpen somewhat like a vertical rabbit hutch on the outside of their house. The open window has a sheet of ply in it to keep the wind and rain out, and they just put a regular cat flap into the ply as though it were a thin wall. Their cats seem to love it and I’m seriously considering copying their idea and building one for myself.

      The worst thing? My cats loved beanbags, but one of them panics easily. She got stuck in a beanbag and peed in it out of panic. That was not a fun clean up. I’ve also heard some cats will mistake the sound and texture for litter and will intentionally use them as a litter tray. Beanbags are a risk. Definitely the worst catification I’ve tried.

    11. BikeWalkBarb*

      Reading an article about cat care recently I came across the information that they need to be warmer than we do, which is why they so often lie in the sun. I started putting a heating pad on a low setting on a pillow under a soft blanket and our cat LOVES IT.

      More high climbing towers has made a big difference in happiness for our grouchy guy. They’re positioned so he can look out windows (indoor-only cat) and he spends hours birdwatching.

      We had a problem with him wanting to scratch one particular spot on a sofa. Putting a scratching post there didn’t seem to matter. After reading a book on cat behavior that stressed rewards for good behavior I started giving him a small treat (a crunchy bit that’s supposed to be good for his teeth) and praising him in a special voice every time he used any of his scratching posts. I don’t know that the special voice matters–that just came automatically. This dramatically reduced the bad behavior and now I wish I’d started it from the beginning rather than waiting for bad behavior to show up and then trying to redirect. Claw Withdraw from Chewy.com has been helpful in this regard too–light citrusy scent (learned that cats don’t like citrus), doesn’t stain upholstery. Fortunately he prefers vertical scratching; if he were a horizontal scratcher my rugs would be shredded.

      Ours came from a shelter as a kitten and they gave us a couple of the toys he and his littermates had to play with. Continuing to stock up with those and ones like them worked for us; I don’t know if he imprinted on the crinkly foil ball or what, but that’s still a favorite.

      I’ve had cats for many years and had never read anything about their behavior. They’re not as low-maintenance as I’d always assumed and have a clear play-eat-sleep cycle I hadn’t really tuned into. I think we were shortchanging him on straight-up play time and we’ve tried to increase that. I pay more attention to his body language now and try to follow his cues. Watching My Cat from Hell with Jackson Galaxy also taught us quite a bit. Our guy is not very well socialized for humans other than us. He was a COVID kitten and maybe the isolation of his early life had an effect; he doesn’t like other humans to come into the house and I’ve never had an unfriendly cat before so this is distressing.

      Good luck with the new kittums!

  2. catios!*

    I know there are lots of cat people here so can we talk about catios? Do you have one, how’d you build it, any recommendations for setting one up? Is a screened in porch just as good or is official “catio” material better? I am finally thinking of making one for my cat overlords. All suggestions welcome.

    1. NL*

      We put a dog run outside on our back porch for our cat to sit in and she loves it. It’s completely secure but she can get fresh air and watch birds.

    2. BellaStella*

      The same friend I noted above has built a catio – found the instructions online, it is similar to a screened in small dog run but has a few logs and cat tree places to sit and also natural grass too. It is about 9 feet tall and secure on top too and about 5 feet deep, 9 feet wide.

    3. All Monkeys are French*

      I bought mine from Amazon. It’s a wood frame with hardware cloth screening and several shelves. The cats can access it 24/7 through a window cat flap. The hardware cloth is definitely more durable and secure than regular screening, but you might get away with screening if your cats don’t scratch and you’re not worried about predators.

    4. Morning Reading*

      I use my front porch as a catio, created simply by adding baby gates and blocking spaces small enough for cats to squeeze through. Only my older, fattest cat, who can’t leap over the railings and doesn’t fit between the rails, is allowed out there. It’s not ideal but it works for him. To allow the more agile kittens out there, I’d have to fence it better and higher. It’s not entirely secure so I supervise closely, or better, stay out with him, when Catus Emeritus is out there.
      If you have a screened in porch, that can work well, but you may need to improve the quality of the screens to make sure they are secure, to prevent your cats escaping and also to prevent other animals from visiting. If cats go outside, even on a porch, they could pick up fleas, etc, so be more vigilant than you usually have to with indoor-onlies.
      A question is whether to have a cat door or an arrangement where you need to let the cat out. If your catio is completely secure, depending on your environment, you can probably have a cat door. I used to have one and I was more lenient, in the summer, about letting my cats (at the time, two older large cats) out on their own, until one day a young raccoon walked in. That was the end of the cat door for me. Plus the younger smaller cats I have now don’t go out.
      I’m thinking of doing some kind of bay window arrangement for the future so I’ll watch this thread for ideas, thanks!

      1. Dog momma*

        Also if you let cat outside at all please make sure rabies vaccine is up to date. Rabies is fatal & endemic in North America and if there is even a possible exposure, the Department of Health is involved.
        We live in the South and raccoons are the most common vector in our county and small rural but growing town. Recently, there was 11 cattle and 4 humans exposed in a nearby county! Which was a new one for me.

      2. Tea and Sympathy*

        A friend made her balcony a catio. She weaved screen through the rails, and used a decorative rope fisherman’s net (like you would see on the wall of a seafood restaurant) from the railing top to the roof. It works really well, but she has adult cats whose heads won’t fit through the net holes, and who aren’t particularly interested in getting out and exploring the world.

    5. GoryDetails*

      I considered building a catio in past years, but my current trio of cats tend to be highly reactive to seeing other cats outside (as in redirected aggression on each other with horrifying screams, whirling balls of fur and claws, and many ripped-out tufts of fur), and I haven’t figured out how to dissuade the few-but-persistent neighborhood roving cats from coming onto my property.

      But if your cats aren’t set off by seeing strange cats (or dogs, or mail carriers, etc.) on their turf, a catio could be lovely. Just make sure that any screening is reinforced/blocked off from cat-claws; plexiglass panels down low, maybe, or hardware cloth or some such thing… I’ve seen metal screens damaged and nylon ones shredded by persistent cats, and with the metal screens they sometimes get claws caught in the mesh. So be cautious about that – though, again, it depends on the cat.

    6. TPS reporter*

      chicken wire is a good barrier if you’re building your own. stands up to those murder mittens!

      1. allathian*

        Yes, I was going to say this. The mesh is also large enough that it doesn’t trigger the urge to scratch as easily as screen door material does. Our next door neighbor has a chicken wire catio on her deck/porch, and I’ve never seen any of her three cats scratch it. It’s about 10 ft high, 6 ft long, and 3 ft deep. Her cats enjoy the sun on the ledges, especially in spring and early summer, and the shade under the ledges when it’s hot. One sunny but cool-even-by-our-standards summer when the maximum temperature barely hit 70 F (21 C), her black cat who loves the sun turned brown from the constant sunbathing!

    7. Kathenus*

      Depends on your cat, I have a screened in back porch which is pretty big and down at ground level (versus my screened front porch which is elevated), and my cat LOVES it. I’ve not had problems with her chewing on or scratching through the screen. I have a cat door in the back door to the porch and she has access pretty much any time I’m home, unless it’s really freezing out.

  3. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I’m going to start off with a small joys thread. My teenager’s sweetheart invited us to a chamber music recital tobight. I am in a lovely space listening to talented musicians from tiny to near college, and I’ve been smiling for an hour. I’ve needed this.

    1. Squirrel Nutkin (the teach, not the admin)*

      Watched some of the new *Death in Paradise* season in the tub. Such a nice antidote to winter.

      1. allathian*

        I’m hoping we get it soon on our public broadcaster’s streaming service. It’s one of my favorite cozy mystery shows.

    2. Past Lurker*

      I love chamber music and haven’t found a concert I can attend in a long time!
      My small joy was finding out that a favorite grocery store’s bakery makes an amazing lemon meringue pie.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        This was a student performance at a senior residence, open to the public but only “advertised” on the school’s social media. So maybe try asking the music departments at your town’s school and any nearby college(s) for a link where they post announcements.

        After last night I’ll be looking for more!

    3. Ontariariario*

      An older family member used to hoard but got years of therapy and has finally been able to declutter a lot this year. We also found him a nice place to live and he will soon be moving to a really nice apartment. It isn’t fancy, but it’s a big step up from low income. I’m really happy for him, and that I was able to help find him this place.

      1. fallingleavesofnovember*

        As someone who has had a hoarder family member, that is a BIG joy!

        Also, I love your username!

        1. allathian*

          Agreed, it really is a big joy! My father has some hoarding tendencies that have been exacerbated by his mental health issues. My parents live in separate apartments in the same building, indeed the same stairwell, largely because my mom can’t deal with the clutter and because my dad has a disordered circadian rhythm (sometimes he sleeps for 2 hours a night 5 days straight and then he’ll sleep 16 hours at a stretch, you never know when he’s going to be asleep or awake) and it’s simply easier for them if they live apart but remain married. But when my mom told me that he’s taken the first baby steps towards decluttering his apartment, I literally jumped for joy! And it takes a lot to make this unfit, obese, middle-aged woman jump for any reason, let alone joy…

      2. allx*

        I am cheered that your story has a happy ending. Most of the stories around hoarding behaviour end with not being able to make any progress. I have someone in my family who hoards and it has been difficult trying to help. She wants to do better but just cannot. If you are able to share, what kind of therapy did your family member do?

        1. Ontariariario*

          I don’t know exactly what therapy, but it wasn’t specific to the hoarding. This was years of treating anxiety and ADHD and I’m not sure what else. He has been much more careful about bringing stuff into the home for the past few years so it has been a long process. Admitting that he had a problem also helped. A friend of mine has a neighbour who lies about getting rid of stuff and gets upset that her children won’t visit, and I don’t think she’ll ever get better because everyone else is to blame.

    4. Dragonfly7*

      I had an unexpected major car repair following the cold snap in mid-January that had to go on a credit card. I sold part of a collection to help pay down that debt. Yesterday, I received a deposit refund check from my last apartment that was much higher than expected, and the amount paid off that remaining car repair debt and then some.

    5. Middle Aged Lady*

      My BFF has had a string of health issues in the last couple of years, and now she is much better and we are planning a train trip to the Grand Canyon!

      1. LynnP*

        I recently completed a knitted pullover sweater and it took a long time to complete. I’ve lost weight in the meantime and now it’s so big it just looks sloppy. Has anyone successfully taken in a knitted garment? I do sew also. If I can’t resize this sweater I’m going to take it apart and reuse the yarn.

        1. rudebeckia*

          If you follow tinasayknits on Instagram she’s got some good tips! And finishing a sweater is a big joy, congrats!

    6. BellaStella*

      It took me an hour to move about 7miles from one apartment to another one this week, the movers were amazing, and I am half way unpacked here too. And my cat likes our new balcony. And I am sleeping really well.

    7. shteripecas*

      went to a chamber music concert tonight too, it was good
      My small joy is that I made a sarcastic comment on a weekday thread here and a couple of people said they found it funny.

    8. WellRed*

      The Valentines Bandit returned (in spirit) and decorated the downtown with hearts. This is a tradition dating to 1979 and the actual bandit died last year so his family revealed his identity and just launched a foundation. jMany different groups and people appear to have answered the call. My whole street woke up to hearts on doors.

      1. Bluebell*

        Awww- we were in your city last summer and they had a Remembrance Day and saw lots of hearts in the harbor area.

      2. Forrest Rhodes*

        My local news (different part of the country) covered this sweet tradition.
        RIP, Valentine’s Bandit. Your work will continue!

      3. Dicey Tillerman*

        I went to the kickoff fundraiser for the foundation this week, and it was really lovely. <3 #beakevin

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My husband is allergic to pretty much all flowers and we never have them in the house. We usually ignore Valentine’s Day (which is fine with me). On Valentine’s Day I came downstairs to find a dozen red roses on the table. And they don’t seem to bothering his allergies. Every time I look at them I smile because they were such a surprise, and I feel loved.

    10. Nervous Nellie*

      I’m in a place that is usually dark and raining, but this morning’s sunrise was visible for a change and was mindblowing! What a beautiful planet we have.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        It’s lightly snowing here right now but the sun is peeping out. It did this on Thursday morning too, as I was walking to work. Sometimes I forget that winter can be kinda pretty.

    11. Small town*

      it is my birthday! I get to go to a stage adaptation of a beloved Jane Austen play and then dinner. Life is good.

    12. fposte*

      A beloved friend’s granddaughter, who hasn’t been responding to treatment for leukemia, is well enough for a bone marrow transplant! Fingers crossed very tightly.

    13. GoryDetails*

      Had my first food-truck experience! A popular local lobster truck had listed its newest locations, and I met some friends there – on a very, very cold day, as it turned out. But the venue was a plant nursery that had a seating area inside, and they let us bring our lobster rolls indoors to eat in comfort. [And I picked up some intriguing new dahlia tubers to plant after last frost.]

      1. Bethlam*

        Ohhhh, can I ask what kind of dahlia tubers? I plant hundreds of dahlias every spring and am always interested in what others have.

        1. GoryDetails*

          It’s a pair of contrasting-color bulbs, one each per package: “Jolly Bumblebee” from Simple Pleasures. One’s bright yellow, the other a dark purple. I do hope they bloom for me!

          1. Bethlam*

            They sound lovely. I got a gorgeous purple from some random lady who was dividing hers, and they would have looked great paired with the 2 yellows I had. Except for some reason both yellows started dwindling after years of multiplying beautifully and then died out completely. I’ll have to either buy some yellow tubers or find someone who would be interested in an exchange.

        1. GoryDetails*

          It’s Cousins Maine Lobster – their web site should have a list of each week’s upcoming food-truck locations. (I’m in New England, and the eastern-Massachusetts locations are closest for me, but it seems they have trucks in quite a few states.)

          1. Dicey Tillerman*

            Thank you! I’m also in New England, and always keeping an eye out for new places to try. Their truck here seems to be closed for the season (which, fair) so I’ll add them to my list for this summer.

    14. Girasol*

      I pruned the currant a couple weeks ago. The buds looked so healthy that I took a bunch of trimmings inside and put them in a jar of water. It’s a joy to see all those green leaves coming out now in the fag end of winter.

    15. Irish Teacher.*

      Today, I went to a nearish city to see a play. Not only was the play pretty awesome, but I had egg and chips in a café beforehand and it was delicious and I bought a new book in the city also.

      1. allathian*

        Egg and chips remind me of Inspector Morse because that’s what Mrs. Lewis always cooked for her husband.

    16. Tinamedte*

      Today was a sunny day for the first time in a long while, and I just had to get out of the house to get some sun, so I more or less forced my 8yo to go for a walk with me. I was expecting whining and resistance – but we both had a great time, experimenting with breaking ice on puddles etc and ended up staying out of the house for 3 hours! He was in such a good mood afterwards and we were both energized instead of tired. Love that little guy.

    17. I don’t post often*

      It’s Saturday night. Family and I enjoyed a simple supper of bruschetta and whatever leftover fruit and vegetables were in the fridge. Bulk of 3rd grade science fair project complete today. Everyone is healthy. We have enough money for me to buy he cheese I wanted for dinner and all the science fair stuff. We will see members of our community tomorrow at a nonprofit thank you dinner. I guess I’m enjoying a normal healthy 40 year old life. :)

    18. Pamela Adams*

      A thorough house cleaning today turned up 10 Kong toys, as well as A woolen dryer ball. Certain dogs were annoyed that we had discovered their stash.

    19. North Wind*

      I bought a Meyer Lemon Tree (for indoors) that I received last month. This is my first time taking care of anything more than common houseplants. It’s already had a lot of new foliage growth and TONS of buds. I found the very first bloomed flower this morning :) :) :).

      I saw someone else posting about the joy of watching things grow. I’m happy for you too!

      1. Clisby*

        Our citrus tree bore fruit for the first time in the 16 years we’ve lived in this house. All this time I thought it was some kind of lime, because that’s what the the guy we bought the house said. Instead, it’s an orange tree! And the fruit is actually good!

        This is not really amazing, since I know of people in my Charleston, SC neighborhood who have lemon, lime, and grapefruit trees – we were just so surprised that all of a sudden it produced.

    20. AGD*

      I usually react negatively to strong smells, even supposedly pleasant ones, especially when they involve plants/flowers. But there are a few exceptions. One is the tea tree oil soap that I bought. It smells fresh and not quite lemony, and I had a nice moment while washing my hands earlier.

    21. carcinization*

      Went to a hockey match for the first time in 5 years or so. “We” won, so it was even better.

  4. goddessoftransitory*

    So I have a question as a semi-literate computer user: is it possible to search for or list one’s own posts on AAM? I often try to find an older post I made, but have to paw through several older posts trying to remember where I made a comment.

    I’ve tried to go through my online avatar with Google but can’t find them there.

    1. Teapot Translator*

      If I understand correctly what you want: go to Google, type site:askamanager.com and your username. It should list all posts on this site where your username appears.

      1. Vio*

        For those whose username is two or more words you can put them inside quotes “like so” and it will only search for instances when the words are together in that exact phrase. One of the most useful search engine tips in my experience.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Add an asterisk next to the username – Alison has the software add that invisibly, for just this purpose. It helps weed out references to the person by others. (Not always, because some of us copy/paste usernames and the asterisk comes along for the ride.)

    2. OperaArt*

      You don’t need to go to Google. Ask a Manager has its own search box labeled “Search This Site”. It’s on the right hand side when I use my iPad browser. Type in your user name and hit the return key.

      1. Madame Arcati*

        Ime that often doesn’t work or only gives a few results, and also doesn’t put them in any semblance of order, certainly not chronological. It’s just not very good.

  5. HannahS*

    Sewing friends, where do you get good kids’ patterns? I’m looking for sizes 3T and up, mostly for classic, unisex basics. I’m willing to pay for quality, since my experience has been really bad with free patterns and random patterns from Etsy. The language of the pattern doesn’t matter.

    Specifically, I’m looking for:
    -pants with a flat front, elastic back waist, and pockets
    -plain t-shirt, long and short sleeves
    -sweatshirt, (zip or pullover),
    If you know of any good patterns or companies, please let me know!

      1. Carol the happy elf*

        Try Burda. (My Grandmother used it, the patterns came with very classical looks that could be embellished if desired. A lot of easy lines, and if you make children’s clothes, a few
        patterns make a whole wardrobe.) Our school uniforms were the same pattern as fancy dress, just different fabrics and buttons, bows, collars, etc.

        Burda has a magazine that used to have patterns in the actual magazine- at least that’s what I seem to remember. I’ve always had to have children’s sizes tailored to me, and buying off the rack is a nightmare.

        Good luck!

    1. Sparkle llama*

      I really liked Kwik Sew when I still made clothes and I think my mom used them for a lot of stuff when I was little.

      When I search online though it looks like they might not exist anymore:(

    2. RLC*

      Kwik-Sew Patterns, sadly out of business, but should be find-able on eBay or sewing pattern reseller sites. Sometimes see as deadstock at independent fabric stores, hit or miss. Vastly higher quality than most mass market modern patterns.

    3. Anono-me*

      My friend who sews, told me our library had patterns. If yours does also, maybe you could peruse a few there and find ones that suit you.

    4. shteripecas*

      I like Burda. Try Fabricland, or another fabric store in your area. Just a plug in case you want this, but Jalie patterns – mostly online, but some independent fabric stores carry her patterns – are very high quality, and should come in enough sizes that if you buy the onesie pattern for your kid, you can make one for you. She doesn’t do a full range of patterns, but I’ve got the coat similar to a northface goretex coat pattern, a skating dress, onesie and bikini pattern. Highly recommend

    5. HBJ*

      I use mostly Simplicity as well as some McCall and Butterick. FYI, there’s a $1.99 sale going on at Joann this weekend if you’re near one. All Simplicity patterns are $1.99 through Monday.

      If you’re going to shop from Etsy, look for a presence outside of Etsy at minimum. A website or social media. There are so many pattern companies that don’t exist outside of Etsy that are just using some sort of algorithm/AI to create patterns and you have no idea if they’re total junk or not. And don’t trust the reviews. Etsy has a short window for reviews. So people will give five stars never having sewn it just because the PDF was emailed promptly to them.

    6. Pattern Books*

      When I first started sewing kids clothes, I picked up a few books and I’ve added to the collection by buying used in my area. They were hit and miss in some ways, but they were invaluable for basics like you are describing. It helped, for me, to just have a place to go when I needed a new thing, rather than trying to chase down individual patterns.

      Unfortunately the ones I have are not in English, otherwise I’d add the specific titles. But see if you can find some used or at your library, just to start out with!

    7. Neurodivergent in Germany*

      Ottobre Kids is a popular magazine here that features modern classics with simple lines and a relaxed style. I’ve der seen sweatshirts and sweatpants there. Don’t know if it’s available in the US

    8. Haven’t picked a name*

      Made by Rae. There aren’t a ton, but can be made in so many ways and have sizes new born through I think size 12 for kids. (There are also some adult patterns.)

    9. Pumpernickel Princess*

      I haven’t used them personally, but a friend has shared good things about the online pattern company Patterns for Pirates. They have lots of kids’ stretch/knit patterns and I spotted a pair of joggers that looks like what you’re looking for.

      Not as much in line with your wishlist, but in case anyone else is looking for kids’ sewing patterns: I LOVE Twig + Tale, a NZ-based pattern designer. They make lovely thoughtful children’s and adults’ patterns, with crystal-clear instructions.

      1. Claus, Mrs Claus*

        I was coming here to suggest Twig and Tale too! Also Waves and Wild have a similar vibe.

        Both of these are indie pattern companies. They have great instructions and often sew-alongs to help « hold your hand » through any tricky bits.

      2. wkfauna*

        Yes, I love Patterns for Pirates and have made many things for my daughter from there. Also in the same vein is Made for Mermaids. Both companies specialize in patterns for knits.

    10. What the what*

      I’m a quilter so I can’t help you out. But I’m so impressed that you are sewing clothes!

      1. Pattern Books*

        I am a quilter who has started sewing clothes–it can be done! But yeah, total learning curve. But totally worth it. :) Quilts and clothes are great, and difficult, for different reasons. If you’re worried about taking the plunge, give it a go! Kids clothes are a great starting point because they’re usually a little simpler, don’t have to be perfect in the same way and don’t waste as much fabric when you mess it up.

    11. one more librarian*

      There’s a great sewing blog, “So, Zo, What do you know?” that includes a monthly free pattern link and review, and many of them are for kids’ clothes. What I like is that Zoe writes about the process of adjusting the pattern if needed, the sewing, any tips or potential errors, and her kids offer their opinions of the results. Link in reply to this.

    12. Maria R.*

      I really like everything I’ve made from Titchy Threads! I made a couple different pants patterns and some tops, too. Jalie is also really solid, and many of theirs are kids and adult in the same pattern.

      I’ve made a few infant things from Brindille and Twig, and they’ve turned out ok. They weren’t the best patterns ever. If my memory is correct, they were a bit lacking in notches. (Kind of common in indie patterns, to be honest.)

  6. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Wall color recommendations for a very small space with no natural light? I have a tiny half bath, literally under 4×5 feet, that we’re getting ready to tear out fixtures, redo flooring and de-texture walls. It’s currently painted white, and that’s okay, but I’m trying to figure out if I can get a color in there without making it feel even smaller. (Maybe mostly white with an accent wall? Or would that look silly in a small space?) Plus I’m struggling in part because I have no visual imagination and the current vanity is ridiculously large, it takes up 2/3 of the room and comes within a quarter inch of blocking the door from opening and closing, so I am not doing well with trying to picture it completely changed.

    Also open to other suggestions on how to best use the space in a tiny bathroom. There is a hall closet right outside, so a lot of the things that might normally be in a bathroom (spare toiletries, OTC meds, towels etc) are already out there.

    1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Ok, so this is WAY over the top, WAY over the top, but I’ve seen some gold or copper leaf covered walls that were just stunning. And you’d want to do it to a small space anyway, since it’s so dramatic. And you have to seal it anyways. So it’d be good for a bathroom.

      What does the rest of the house look like? What general style are you aiming for.

      1. Chauncy Gardener*

        Came here to say this. I’ve heard that small bathrooms can be decorated like jewel boxes. BIG wallpaper. Strong colors. In one house I lived in, there was a very small powder room that had a foil like wallpaper with a very large design and it looked amazing!

        1. Nihil Scio*

          Love, love, love this! Our interior small bathroom is cranberry with white trim, pecan floors, and a beautifully framed mirror
          In the last house, the smallest bathroom was deep, sapphire blue. This really works!

        2. ReallyBadPerson*

          Back in 2001, my husband chose a very bold wallpaper for a very small bathroom (toilet and sink). We installed it. That house has changed house three times since. When I look at the online ads, I see that paper is still there.

      2. Llellayena*

        I have a dark red-brown in my half bath and I’m planning to put a map wall mural up. Bold is good in a small space. And dark wall can retreat into the background to make the space feel bigger (think looking into a dark cave).

    2. HannahS*

      Windowless bathrooms I’ve seen and found nice:
      -three walls were bright white, one was a saturated cerulean blue, with tiny white tiles and cedar-coloured shelving. It felt kind of Mediterranean.
      -Caroline Winkler (a youtube personality) did a bathroom makeover that I unexpectedly liked (yellow and red and wallpaper are super not my thing.) It’s called “the internet’s most chaotic bathroom makeover” or something similar.
      -could board-and-batten or a picture rail divide the wall vertically, and have it partly coloured? Sage-y greens seem to be big right now, and I love the colour against creamy white
      -there are storage units that sit above the toilet

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        The bright-white-with-a-saturated-color is what I did in the kitchen – I painted it what I politely call bright-ass turquoise, but then most of the walls are behind white cabinetry, so it’s more overall a bright feeling, with the turquoise just popping out here and there, rather than overall eye-searing. I was pondering such a thing with maybe a bright purple for the bathroom – white for three walls, and purple for the fourth, plus also maybe purple for the baseboards and trim around the door.

        My guest room is a sage-y green (maybe a little brighter) with white trim :)

    3. Anon-E-Mouse*

      I think you can use colour and/or texture in an interesting way to make the room feel special. We had a very small powder room in our old house that had deep red walls and a diagonal black and white checkered floor. We had a narrow sink and a simple but fairly large vertical mirror above the vanity.

      You might find some good ideas on Pinterest if you look for tiny house bathrooms, although those will be full bathrooms, and for “small powder rooms”.

      Some other ideas to consider:
      – Vivid and sophisticated but not dark colours (eg deep golden yellow, robins egg blue).
      – Unusual wallpaper (all walls) – something floral or with animals (or both).
      – A neutral and fairly bright colour on the walls combined with interesting tiles.
      – Look into downsizing the vanity to make the room more functional. You can often find places to donate sinks and cabinets.
      – Think about flattering lighting – a combination of ceiling (or uplights) and sconces.
      – Investigate whether a pocket door is feasible to provide more space.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Definitely downsizing the vanity, probably to a pedestal (or maybe even wall-mounted) sink. A pocket door won’t work, I don’t think, though I wish it would — one side of the door is on a wall that’s has an open room behind it, and the other side has the wall depth but also electrical running through it – but I was looking last night at barn style doors. I don’t know if they come with narrow enough rails to fit a “normal” barn style sliding door into the space, but I saw some bifold style ones, that fold to one side rather than sliding the whole door over, and those might work. (Is a barn door on a bathroom weird? Can you put a latch or lock on them? Hm.)

        1. No Tribble At All*

          You can’t put a latch on them, and they don’t seal as well as regular doors, so they’re a bit…. Personal… for a powder room

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            That’s what I figured would probably be the outcome, thanks! Regular door it is.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        I used to live with a daffodil yellow kitchen, and later with a lighter yellow bathroom. It would have been too much for a bedroom but in a place you go to wake up, it was cheery.

        (Although I do suggest two levels of lighting so you can keep it dim if you are getting up briefly at night.)

        1. SarahKay*

          I used to live with a kitchen in a soft primrose yellow and it was lovely – it always felt sunny in there regardless of the weather.

    4. allx*

      Check out Tasha at Kaleidoscope Living (designertrapped.com). She has lots of before and after photos of people who redesigned their bathroom (and other) spaces using her Designer in a Binder process. Something may inspire you.

    5. Manders*

      I have a bathroom that is similar in size, maybe a little larger. I struggled for a long time, but now I love it. I painted it a light grey (with a slight purple undertone), and about 4 feet off the ground I painted a ~10 inch tall stripe in a medium/dark gray all the way around the room. It was easy and gives the room visual interest without being overwhelming, and it could probably work with any color.

    6. Gatomon*

      I have a small half bath with no natural light about the same size, it has a pedestal sink instead of a vanity though. Dark, jewel-toned colors actually help a space feel larger! I went with a tone of blue-green, I think it was called “juniper ash.”

      Eventually I’ll do a more serious renovation and go bolder with the color, but this was just a quick fix to cover up the atrocious mac-and-cheese yellow the previous owners used. Because my bathroom is naturally dark and off a dark hallway, anyone trying to use it will have to turn on the light, which makes the color pop.

      As for storage, I don’t think you need it in a half bath. I have a small wastebasket with a lid and a small basket to hold a spare roll or two of TP on top of the toilet tank. There was a crappy hanging cabinet that I took down because I never remembered there was a spare roll in there anyway. (ADHD… can’t see it = doesn’t exist.)

      1. Morning Reading*

        For space use: cabinet over the toilet, hooks where they might be convenient, grab bars everywhere you might reach out a hand for balance (can also hang things from them in a pinch.)
        For color: I have red walls, with white tiles and fixtures, some blue tile highlights in places over the tub. I’ve hung various small decorations, like tree ornaments in white or metallics (like Xmas decorations but generic like red birds, snowflakes, winter scenes) and also use a string of lights plugged in (makes finding the bathroom easier at night) I have a large mirror opposite the bathroom sink so if I open the medicine cabinet, I can check out the back of my head in the double reflection. Also increases the feeling of space. When I first moved in, the red walls seemed weird but they grew on me, so I kept them and leaned into the style when I renovated.

        1. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

          Just don’t do a mirrored wall! I house sat for a place with mirror tile on the bathroom wall. So awkward to sit and watch yourself. It did make the place look larger, but still one of the most NO bathrooms I’ve ever used.

    7. Ranon*

      I did mine white on the bottom (we have beadboard), Sherwin Williams gala pink on the top. I love it, it’s a lot but it’s super flattering and really pretty.

      Small bathrooms are the best place to go wild- fancy wallpaper, bright colors, whatever- it’s not like you spend that much time in there, might as well have fun!

    8. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      Y’all have some lovely sounding ideas!! Thank you :)

      The door is on one of the short walls, so it’s a “long” rectangle, and the plumbing is on one of the long walls – for replacement fixtures, I was thinking a pedestal sink with a flat mirror above it (the current one isn’t a cabinet, but is bulky enough that it looks like it should be) and a nice lighting fixture above.

      1. e271828*

        I just finished remodeling a tiny bathroom (technically a 3/4 bath, it does have a shower) with no natural light. The ceiling is black, the wallpaper is a black background with multicolored fish (Cole), kept the sandy-colored floor. Fixtures are gold-bronze Kohler, picking up tones in the paper. I didn’t pull out the vanity, kinda wish I had, but I didn’t want to redo the floor. Tall frameless mirror reflects light, it’s not dark, but it is dramatic.

        For the small space you describe, one of the long, narrow wall-mounted sinks with a frameless mirror might work well.

      2. Sutemi*

        In a small dark room, consider if you can add lighting that isn’t only from above, or if it is above can you use a fixture wide enough to hit the face from different angles. Maybe a sconce on the opposite wall or something so there is light from multiple directions if your electrical allows for it.

    9. Slartibartfast*

      I have a windowless half bath, and it’s a light teal blue, like a sky blue in saturation but just a little bit more toward seafoam green in hue, with all white fixtures and trim. Any pale color wall and white trim would work I think.Also daylight toned LED bulbs, that made a huge difference.

    10. Bluebell*

      Not a bathroom but we have a very small pantry done in a light lemon yellow and white, and it’s not claustrophobic. The cabinets below counter are white, the ones above counter are white with yellow trim, and the two walls are yellow. I love it.

    11. Phryne*

      I have a tiny bathroom with no window that I have managed to make not look too cramped. I have large white tiles on the wall, (small tiles make it look more crowded) but to make it not sterile I have patterned tiles on the floor. (kind of like Sevilla tiles) These patterned tiles are all unique from each other, but they are all in the same greyscale colours so it looks like a unity. I have two large drawers under the washbasin and a mirrored cupboard above and this is more than enough storage for bottles.
      I have added a pop of colour with a fake plant and cute little vase from IKEA on a ledge.

    12. I take tea*

      I’m really encouraged by people saying that you can go over the top. We have a small toilet, at the moment all white, and we are planning to paint it with a metallic greengold colour and paint all details gold. It will either look fabulous or overwhelming. But I have seen a small one with metallic tiles and a crystal chandelier, and it was fine, so I think it might work.

    13. What the what*

      I’ve read that deep saturated jewel tone colors with a lower LRV (light reflective value) are great for spaces like this. Reflective surfaces or light colored accessories are supposed to help. I have a Pinterest board on low-light rooms because my bedroom is hideously dark. Great for sleeping though!

    14. OhGee*

      I have one that small and I painted it purple. it does have a window though. A friend has a windowless half bath that small and it’s yellow: very cheery!

  7. Emily Elizabeth*

    I’m interested in hypothetically starting to garden on my balcony but have historically had a black thumb and have very little gardening experience. Any suggestions for where to start as a complete gardening beginner? Book recommendations, YouTube channels, Reddit communities, etc. The one time I tried to look at plants I realized I don’t even know how to figure out the amount of sunlight my balcony gets regularly because I am rarely home all day, and I got overwhelmed and stopped, but I really like the idea of growing vegetables outside! Thanks in advance!

    1. clumsy*

      To figure out sunlight: are you in the northfern hemisphere? Which way does your balcony face? Are there large buildings shading the sun from you? On a weekend, just casually look out every hour or so, and that gives you an idea. Otherwise go to your garden centre and say: I have a northwest facing badly, what can I grow? Herbs might be a good place to start

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        I am in SC and my balcony is south facing, looking out at a wall of trees, no buildings. Herbs would be lovely, thanks for the rec!

        1. Giant Space Pickle*

          South facing means plenty of afternoon sun so that’s not an issue. You can buy self-watering planter boxes so you don’t have to constantly be watering – fill a reservoir, and moisture is sucked up from below. Some also have nets to protect from pests and frost.

    2. Carol the happy elf*

      Are you in the US? Every county has an extension office connected to their Agricultural University, and some research universities (like Clemson in South Carolina) have amazing information online. My bestie is a Master Gardener who actually teaches in the community (free classes, handouts are usually a buck or so, or printed from their websites online)
      When I was recently divorced and sick, in an apartment, she visited me and my little children, and made my balcony look like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, veggies included. If your balcony isn’t straight north-facing, it can be done. Bestie had big, glorious vegetables that were pure beauty. (A big pot with dinosaur Kale, strawberries spilling over the edge, and a tower pole for beans and cucumbers. For shade and privacy, she had netting up to hooks on the ceiling, and vines with these long red beans and pretty little flowers.

      She said that anything that’s an ornamental can be mimicked with food plants. She makes porch railing window boxes with colored lettuces and spinach (Salad bar garden) and scallions spiking up out of it. One giant pot had sweet potatoes and real ginger, and the leaves on the sweet potato vines were like a mild spinach. (real potatoes can also go in pots and bags)

      Look up “Foodscaping” and patio gardening, and now is the season to plan it all. You can do this; thrift shops have big pots, plastic buckets can be painted and have holes drilled. My glass patio table was just over mini tomato plants, and carrots and herbs grew in buckets of sand and sparkly stuff.

      Some extensions are run better than others; hers is amazing, mine less so, do if you’re not impressed, call another county.

      Good luck.

      1. Emily Elizabeth*

        That all sounds lovely! Thanks so much for all the info! I am actually in SC so good to know Clemson’s work can be a resource.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Do you cook? Start with a few pots of herbs. Many of them are annual and die every year anyways, so can start fresh next year anyway. Plus, fresh herbs!

      Most vegetables are also annuals, but they almost always need full sun to produce. Making all those yummy veggies takes a lot of energy.

      I have a self watering planter that I really love. Top it up with a few gallons of water and then I can ignore the plants until the water gets low. I DIY’d it, but you can also buy them.

      Also, just plan on having failures the first year. You will, that’s just life and the way new things go. A youtuber with the most impressive kitchen garden I’ve seen in my life made a video about pulling up and replanting a pear tree, because it just never thrived and was starting to be diseased. And he had decades of experience! You will make mistakes, and you will learn from them and do better next year. I started my planter box in 2022, my first attempt at my own little garden. My tomato plant didn’t give me a single tomato. Not even a little one that failed. And it sprawled and looked ugly. So no tomato plant in 2023. Maybe a future year.

      1. Houndmom*

        Someone here recommended Garden Stalk — it was a couple of years ago? It is a vertical garden. It is pretty cool and there are lots of videos on it on You Tube.

        I bought mine when it went on sale. The piece I did not think though is how much soil I would need for it. I spent $75 on soil. But I am growing veggies inside in the northeast.

        1. MissB*

          Greenstalk maybe? They currently have a BOGO 60% off sale. I also like their new stationary spinner base.

          I use one for strawberries and one for whatever else I want (lettuce, kale, spinach, green onions, flowers, etc. It’s a mix.)

    4. Girasol*

      We did a balcony veggie garden from seed once and it was amazingly productive. We were quite poor then so it was all in second hand buckets and cardboard boxes lined with trash bags, and planted with seeds from sale bins. But we used rotted leaf mold to fill them – like a fluffy compost – and everything burgeoned. Watering can be a little tricky on a south facing balcony since small containers dry out fast. If you plan to start from seed, take a look at the Pinetree Seeds catalog. They sell good flower and veggie seed in small packets for small prices, so they’re ideal for those of us who want variety in a small space.

    5. WestsideStory*

      Self-watering planters are the way to go. Gardens.com has the best selection of designs and you will thank me later for getting the special soil that goes with them. You are in a south-facing exposure in a hot climate, a player with a reservoir of a gallon or more will keep your plants alive in the hottest months.
      As a beginner, start with plants rather than seeds. As others have suggested, regional gardening books or your states cooperative extension can steer you to the best cultivars for containers and help you troubleshoot pest and disease problems.
      One more thing- make room on the terrace for a chair or a bench. Enjoy the process, gardening is a lifetime adventure no matter where you live.

    6. Chauncy Gardener*

      Do you have a garden club in your town? The one in mine has a lot of free, open to the public programs all about different aspects of gardening.
      You can also google “container gardening” since that is what you will be doing.
      Fine Gardening magazine has a lot of articles about container gardening that are very easy to follow. Your library may have copies.
      Good luck and I hope you have fun!

    7. RC*

      If there’s any sort of community garden around where you are, I’ve learned loads from going there re: what to plant around here and how to care for them (it’s an actual community garden, not plot-based, so it’s low-risk of *me* actually killing anything, because I’m not in charge).

      I’ve also learned that store-bought basil plants are the worst, I’ve killed like 5 in a row. I give up now. But I have some other nice plants, including a couple volunteers that have lasted.

      Oh final note: if you’re willing/interested to do vermicomposting (worm bins) I’ve gotten so many volunteer pepper plants out of the stuff I’ve put in there. Also tomatoes and melons/squash (I haven’t had luck pollinating the latter so hard to tell what they’d end up being). Plus then you get some nice compost for your plants— mine clearly like it since they keep sprouting! The guy at redwormcomposting dot com has a lot of great info. Anyway, I find it easier to keep my worms alive than my plants honestly!

  8. Georgia Sands*

    Any storage tips for small houses? Currently decluttering to move into a much smaller place and it’s a bit terrifying ngl!

    1. Dragonfly7*

      I just moved into a 500 sq foot apartment and bought a platform bedframe that is designed to have room to store things underneath. My queen frame would fit 8 66 qt plastic storage bins easily with room to spare. All of my spare linens, off season clothes, extra cat food and litter, and paper goods live under there now!

    2. Jay*

      Just about any large piece of furniture can be purchased in a variation that has additional hidden storage space. Beds, tables, couches, chairs, footrests, just about anything.
      Use high places to store things you don’t plan to use often.
      The very tops of cabinets, and book cases places that are completely out or reach without a ladder. That kind of thing.
      A place I lived in for years had these sort of “loft” thingies. Basically thick wooden beams supporting platforms. They would be either set against the wall or as part of a door frame. They made a kind of open air attic. They weren’t the greatest looking things ever, but they were also obviously not professionally built (or even built by a skilled amature). I imagine that someone with more skill and proper tools and materials could do a much better and more ascetically pleasing job.

    3. Kaleidoscope*

      be brutal. what do you need, want and like? what are you holding on for in case of x,y,z? do any friends or family like anything and would be able to give an item a new home?

      I had to move internationally, the less I moved, the cheaper it was. some items were just stuff at the end of the day.

    4. Not A Manager*

      Bins and plastic drawers in various sizes and configurations. I have high closet shelves with a whole series of stacking drawers on them. It creates storage literally to the ceiling. I got a small folding stool and keep it in a slot in the closet so that I can access the upper shelves easily.

      I have bins/drawers under every sink, in every small closet, in my tiny pantry, etc. My kitchen drawers have small bins in them. My dresser drawers do too. I also have a storage bed on order that has several large drawers in it. That’s more practical for me than having a high bed with storage under it, although I’ve done that in the past.

      I don’t like a bunch of stuff out on my counters or taking up wall space, so I’ve hacked a lot of interior space in my cabinets between the cabinet door and the edge of the shelf. (My apartment is old so in some cabinets there’s quite a bit of room there.) I got some inexpensive glue-on spice racks for the inside of one cabinet door, for example. Also, I have two bathrooms for only one person. I keep my large household stuff in the second bathtub and just keep the shower curtain drawn.

      But the reality is that you can’t fit more stuff into your space than you have cubic room for. You do have to purge, and keep on top of your organization, or it becomes a nightmare.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      My life goal is to duplicate my relatives who moved into a new house when they retired, and just moved in the minimum amount of stuff from their old house. Lived with it for a brief period and then decided what else they wanted to include. Then got rid of the rest. If you can overlap the two spaces, I really recommend this: their home is so pleasant and uncluttered. (They also remodeled to add significant upstairs closet space in what had been a pass-through office to the bedroom, so it wasn’t just downsizing.)

      For storage, if you own and so can construct, I’ve admired solutions that figured out all the unused bits of space within walls, like under the eaves or next to the chimney, and built in some shelves/cabinets/drawers in those spaces. Our cats enjoy the drawers under the bed, so I find they are not practical for clothes/sheets without an added storage bag–depends on your cat situation.

    6. IT Manager*

      I just downsized and struggled with this (no basement!! Small closets! No pantry!)

      The best thing I’ve done so far – in a hallway, I put 4 IKEA Billy bookshelves together and use them for all sorts of things from teasets to travel knick knacks to serving platters.

      They are shallow, so they don’t take up much space in the hall. I got doors with solid lowers half to hide functional things, glass on top for pretty things. I put stick-on wallpaper as a pattern on the back to make it a bit more unique and bought my own handles for the doors. It really helps keep the clutter out of the rest of the space.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      What I have wanted to do is build a bookshelf wrapping the room at a level above the door. Think of vintage plate rails, but sized for my beloved paperbacks… and preferably with mitered decorations above and below to act as crown molding.

      1. Slartibartfast*

        picture frame molding on the leading edge of the shelves will make a lovely look and prevent small things from falling off the shelves

    8. Girasol*

      If you have a garage, lining the sides with narrow wire shelving with plastic bins on can give you a lot of backup storage.

  9. Aussie Down Under*

    The bathroom decoration thread made me think of something I’ve been wondering. In my country, it’s very common for the toilet to be in a separate room to the bathroom, and many houses built in the 90s/early 2000s had 3-way bathrooms, where the basin area is in an alcove and the bathroom and toilet are in separate rooms coming off of that.
    In the US this seems to be seen as undesirable and the bathrooms are often all in one. Why don’t people like the separate rooms? They are much more convenient because the person using the toilet isn’t preventing others from washing hands or brushing teeth. I suppose there’s the dirty knob issue, but generally the bathroom doors are left open so it’s only the inside toilet door knob that gets touched.

    1. Commander Shepard's Favorite Store*

      Maybe it just depends on the region, builder, and the size of the house? I don’t think it’s that unusual here in the US. In the house I grew up in and the first house I bought, both in the midwest, the bathrooms were too small to section them off like that. My current house in the western US, and my parents’ current house in the south, both have the toilets in separate rooms and I never thought it was unusual.

      1. JR 17*

        I think it’s not unusual in the US for the toilet to be in an enclosed space within the bathroom. I grew up in an SF Victorian where the bathroom and sink/shower were in completely separate rooms, both exiting to the hallway, and I haven’t seen that in the US except in Victorians. I think the dirty knob factor is a big piece of it! But also, many US houses have 2+ bathrooms, so less if an issue if one is in use, there’s still someplace else to go.

    2. Esprit de l'escalier*

      We used to visit my husband’s cousin in Belgium every few years and her very modern apartment had a tiny toilet-only room with the sink outside it. Maybe it’s just that I’m used to having the sink next to the toilet, but her setup always made me feel icky as I couldn’t immediately wash my hands, and sometimes I wished I could moisten some TP for cleanup purposes (not to get too descriptive) as I could do at home. I recognize that it has some advantages, but those felt like significant disadvantages.

    3. Double A*

      I wonder if it’s partly because American houses are big so they often have multiple bathrooms so it’s not a huge issue if one person is occupying one. And then housing that is are smaller/cheaper are, well, cheaper and an all-in-one rooms requires less material.

    4. Stardust*

      My husband prefers hotel bathrooms that have the sink basin available outside with the toilet in its own small room. He likes to be able to access the sink.

      Many homes in the US have several bathrooms as well as additional sinks available to use in the house… a home may have a one or two sinks in the kitchen, and maybe another one in a utility/laundry room.

      There are times when someone would want to have immediate access to a sink within the privacy of the bathroom and right by the toilet (i.e. menstrual and other reasons).

    5. RagingADHD*

      I’ve seen that a lot in newer houses in the US, and I don’t like it because I don’t particularly enjoy tiny public bathroom stalls and see no compelling advantage to recreating them in one’s own house.

      1. Gatomon*

        Yes. It’s claustrophobic, and feels about as private as using a public restroom to me. They don’t really feel like separate rooms because they’re so tiny, and the ones I’ve used in homes aren’t fully enclosed because the ceilings were extra high, leaving a couple feet up top so a light fixture didn’t have to be dedicated to the box.

        I think it’s a primal thing, like you’re doing something that puts you at higher risk of predation and you’re trapped in this tiny space with no escape if a predator comes along. When presented with a narrow, tiny, dark toilet stall and a wide, well lit* accessible stall, many of us are going to take the accessible stall because it feels safer in our lizard brains, even though it’s not the kind choice because someone who truly needs it could be right behind us.

        *Well lit because it’s large enough to actually end up with a light fixture over it, unlike those too-small stalls that somehow end up between fixtures and permanently dark like the far side of the moon.

        1. RagingADHD*

          I don’t think it has anything to do with prey instinct, it’s just crowded and chintzy feeling. Space is a luxury.

          I also do not think it’s unkind to use an accessible stall in an otherwise empty public restroom. It’s not a parking space. But I’m not even sure how we got there from not liking home bathrooms to be chopped up into two or three rooms, which more often than not have very poorly planned doors.

      2. GoosieLou*

        I think the main advantage, aside from people being able to use a sink when someone else is using the toilet, is that you don’t have to either just hope that everyone is good about closing the toilet lid when they flush or keep your toothbrush shut in a cabinet where it can’t dry if you want to avoid sharticles on your toothbrush.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I’ve seen a few houses that had the different bathroom fixtures in different rooms like Aussie Down Under described. In my experience they’re usually older houses built between say, 1900 to about 1940 or so. I’m not aware that the people who lived in houses with these features actively disliked them, but the idea did seem to, sort of, fade out of popularity and I’m not sure why.

    7. Morning Reading*

      I suspect we aren’t sharing bathrooms at the same time as much anymore. This could be convenient in a family house with multiple children and only one bathroom. But I’ve lived alone or with only one other person most of my adulthood, and when I had a bathroom like that, with a door to enclose the toilet room, I never used it. I speculate that during the peak baby boom years, when families were larger and bathrooms fewer, there was more need for this separation. 3 bedrooms 1 bath was very typical. Now I see places advertised with more bathrooms than bedrooms.

      1. Morning Reading*

        That is, I never used the extra door, eventually had it removed. Definitely used the toilet since it was the only one I had!

    8. Part time lab tech*

      All in one bathrooms have a smaller footprint than the enclosed powder room in bathroom and are often better access for some disabilities.
      Personally, I hate the idea of toilet aerosols on my toothbrush and love my privacy. (My current ensuite has no door and I hate it more and more as time goes on but we’re stingy.) I also like a powder room separate from the family bathroom.

    9. abca*

      Interesting thread! Where I live single toilet rooms in addition to bathrooms are standard, but they have small basins inside, just for washing hands. I once lived in a very old house that did not have the basin and I missed it, but I did put a hand sanitizer dispenser there.
      One large downside of only having all-in-one bathrooms for me is that it requires you to have an organized clean bathroom at all times. It’s easy to keep a separate toilet clean enough for guests, but bathrooms have way more stuff, more potential for clutter. And they have many private things. I keep my meds in the bathroom, but I wouldn’t want people who just need to use the toilet to stumble upon them. It would be annoying to keep them somewhere else. Also other stuff like toothbrushes. And then there’s the poop aerosols. I also use menstruation underwear, and rinse it out and hang it to dry in the bathroom. I don’t want guests to stumble over that. I know there are solutions to all of this, but I really like having the bathroom as private space. When we have guests sleep over they will of course use the large bathroom and I’ll adapt, but I’m always happy to have my house back too.
      I also don’t think it is universal to prefer larger spaces, as some have said. In my own house I don’t have a preference, but in other people’s houses, I feel a bit more exposed in all-in-one bathrooms, especially when they have windows. I expect it’s probably just what you’re used to. I would not like separate toilet rooms without full doors at all! That’s definitely the worst of all options.

      1. RagingADHD*

        Now I’m curious about the layout of a toilet that can be accessed by guests without seeing the rest of the bathroom! Does it have 2 doors?

        I thought we were talking about an all in one bathroom or full-bath that had been divided up into rooms within rooms within rooms. You have to go through the main bath area to reach the toilet. That’s the kind of thing I don’t care for.

        Are you talking about a powder room or half-bath? The kind that’s a whole separate room in a different part of the house? That’s different to me, it’s not so squished.

        1. londonedit*

          The way it worked traditionally in older houses in the UK is that you have a very small and narrow room that literally has a toilet and nothing else – sometimes a very small hand basin. Then immediately next door to that you have a slightly larger room with a bath and hand basin. As the OP says, that configuration became very unfashionable a few years ago, and people almost universally knock the two through into one larger bathroom with toilet, bath/shower, basin etc.

          In the UK you also need to bear in mind that the majority of old houses in towns and cities are terraced Victorian/Edwardian houses, built for the working classes, and those wouldn’t have had indoor bathrooms at all – you’d have an outdoor loo in the back yard and then the family’s baths would be taken in front of the fire in the main living room, using water heated in kettles on the stove. Many Victorian houses now have a downstairs bathroom because when indoor bathrooms became the norm it was often too costly to put a bathroom upstairs, so the solution was to build a small extension on the back of the house for the bathroom (and sometimes also for a kitchen, as kitchen facilities were also a lot smaller and more basic than people expect now).

          1. RagingADHD*

            Oh, ye olde water closet.

            Toilet + basin is what we call a powder room or half bath in the US. It’s very common to see them in all ages of house.

            An all in one bathroom with the toilet walled off inside started getting popular here in maybe the 1990s.

    10. IT Manager*

      Yeah this is in all the home shows, isn’t it? They immediately rip out that configuration and put one big room.

      Personally, I don’t like to be in the bathroom with my husband so having more separation with the sink accessible for shaving, makeup, washing hands separately from shower or toilet is great for me. In my last home, I even put sink/vanity separately in our bedroom and my teenager’s bedroom so we were all sharing the (full) bathroom as little as possible.

      So I don’t understand this trend either!

    11. WellRed*

      Maybe it’s regional? I’ve always lived in old houses in New England and they tend to have one bathroom with a footprint big enough for sink, full tub and toilet. These multiple room bathrooms? If I’ve seen any, it was probably newer build or new renovation.

    12. fhqwhgads*

      It’s not seen an undesirable. It’s seen as fancy. In my experience it’s more common to have this in larger houses. Or in some cases, older houses or in certain regions. In more recent construction though, mostly I’d wager space is a premium. You can have all three things in one smaller bathroom. It takes more space to do it as two or three separate spaces. So the choice may be between the three separate areas, and a smaller adjacent room, or let the living area be bigger and let the bathroom be all-in-one but slightly smaller.

    13. Alex*

      Well, one very specific reason I personally don’t like that is because I use a menstrual cup, and you need immediate and back-and-forth access to the sink in order to clean and re-insert. And sometimes people like privacy with the sink as well! I also prefer just smaller, all-in-one bathrooms overall because I think large bathrooms are a waste of space, since I’d rather spend time in other parts of the house lol.

    14. Loreli*

      Visiting friends in the UK whose house has a bathroom with sink and tub/shower. Toilet in a separate room (might have had a tiny sink in toilet room).
      It was “that time of the month” and not having a toilet in the bathtub room was awful. I wasn’t able to take care of what needed to be done either before or after my shower. I never understood the reasoning.
      After I had little kids I thought the same, seeing they often had to use the toilet during bath time (even after having them go beforehand). If there was no toilet, it would have been difficult to avoid kid peeing or pooping in the tub unless I quickly carried them dripping and naked to the toilet room.

    15. allathian*

      I’m in Finland, and here the typical configuration for small apartments with only one bathroom is a full bath. Our house is built on a slope and we have a sauna with two showers and a bathtub downstairs and a separate half bath with a small basin. These are pretty ubiquitous because our building standards specify a bidet shower for each toilet seat, except for some multi-stall public washrooms. Saunas are basically mandatory in single-family homes and summer cottages, where they’re generally in a separate building fairly near the beach if the cottage is located on a lakeside lot. In a country of 5.6 million people we have about 3 million saunas.

      Our bedrooms are downstairs because our main entrance is upstairs and the downstairs is half underground and several degrees cooler than the upstairs, especially in summer. Upstairs we have a toilet with an enclosed shower stall. Our building code specifies at least one toilet with a basin for each storey of living space for permanently inhabited homes. The rules for summer cottages are much less strict, even with running water from a local well many cottages only have outhouses or chemical toilets because dealing with the sewage is a big deal out in the boondocks where there are no municipal utilities except maybe electricity.

  10. clumsy*

    What’s the best material for a kitchen counter? We heavily use the kitchen, so spilling tea & coffee on it several times a day, as well as turmeric and other stainy things.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I can only say that mine are granite, and I am not a fan. The instructions were not to use anything abrasive, no bleach, and no heat on the surface – and it discolors with water. It also stains easily. To be fair, it’s a light color, but whoof. I was really excited about it too.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Aren’t most stone countertops (granite, quartz, marble and concrete and I don’t know what else) protected by some kind of sealant like acrylic or something? Shouldn’t the sealant prevent staining? I would imagine that you’d have to reaply the sealant every so often, maybe every few years?

        1. Seashell*

          I think that’s probably true in theory, but I’m not sure how well it works in practice. When my husband & I moved into our house about 20 years ago, it was the first time we had granite countertops (or anything other than cheap laminate), so we had no experience on how to deal with them. The house had been recently redone by the occupants, which included a contractor who wanted to flip it, so I don’t think the kitchen was more than a year or two old. We left a deep fryer on the counter that had some oil on the outside, and it left a stain on the counter that never came off.

          We had a counter guy give us an estimate on fixing it and resealing everything, but he didn’t seem sure that the stain would actually come out, so we never bothered. At this point, I would rather just have the kitchen redone and get whatever counters really can’t be stained.

    2. RLC*

      My parents had a stainless steel kitchen worktop and backsplash in the home they built. Slight raised lip on outer edge contained most spills, and almost nothing could stain it. (If needed the surface could be buffed with BonAmi or similar non toxic cleanser). Didn’t look particularly “industrial” as cupboards were natural color wood.

    3. Janesfriend*

      I have stainless steel bench tops and I love them. I can put hot pots directly on them, they easy to keep clean and they don’t stain.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I had a stainless steel island in my last apartment and I loved it. I put bags of ice on it before I rolled out pie crust– it was a dream.

    4. JR 17*

      We have silestone, and a year out from our remodel, we’ve been very happy with it. We have a matte finish and I especially like that.

      1. Imprudence*

        we have cheap IKEA plastic laminate chipboard. it’s bleachabke for tea and turmeric, and cheap enough to replace every few years when it gers too dinted.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I am so glad you asked this, because we are about to remodel and I am so mystified by counter advice like “These are great, just don’t expose them to acid (tomatoes, lemon), or water, or heat.” What are these people doing in their kitchens?

      I honestly really love the basic laminate countertops that came when we bought the house–you could discover an unsuspected puddle (like a tomato had died) and just wipe it up. And they remained unmarred up until last year when my son managed to set a dish towel on fire, so now there are a couple of dings next to the stove.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      We have composite granite in a dark gray/flecked red and green color (I can’t remember the name but “Ubatuba” was our second choice and the one we have is very similar). I love it. It doesn’t show spills and is easy to clean. We had it installed when we moved here in 2004 and it still looks new. I think there are a couple of tiny chips from something really extreme like my son dropping a heavy car part. Best of all, it’s heat resistant; you can take a dish out of the oven and set it straight on the countertop.

    7. Chauncy Gardener*

      We have honed black granite and it is awesome. We did not have it treated because we didn’t want any chemicals on it. I put hot pans on it all the time. It never stains. I abuse it!

      I have friends with that manmade quartz stuff and they have to be SO careful. Same with marble and slate.
      I highly recommend black granite if that works with your color scheme

    8. Emma*

      I don’t know, but if you get some kind of stone, do your research. My husband was saying that there are certain kinds (granite? quartz? I truly don’t remember!) where if you spill a bottle of hydrogen peroxide, it will eat away the counter, which sounded like a nightmare scenario!

      1. Emma*

        And we have some regular plasticky engineered to look like a dark flecked stone countertop, and I spill stuff all the time, and it’s fine! I think the color is what helps most. My grandparents had a light stone that would stain with stuff like red wine.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          That’s what I ended up putting in last year, dark grey granite-look laminate, and I routinely find surprise spills that weren’t easily noticeable until I was actually wiping the counter in preparation to cook something. (WHY can my husband not wipe up the counter after he fixes himself a snack. :P )

          1. Chauncy Gardener*

            What is this wiping a counter that you speak of?? My husband and son have never heard of it! lol

    9. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I’ve redone two kitchens. I am married to a geologist. Please don’t ever call kitchen counters “granite” in his hearing unless you want a very long explanation/rant about the fact that it’s not really granite. I don’t remember what ours is – some long name that ends in “ite.” It’s a gorgeous dark gray with flecks of blue and silver. It doesn’t show any dirt (to the point where it’s annoying because I can’t tell what needs to be cleaned) and I put hot pots on it all the time without issue. Some stone stains and is more sensitive to heat and some suppliers will call that “granite.” Marble is heat-resistant but very porous and will stain. Same with limestone, which we have in the dining room, bathroom, and on the living room bar – the bar has some rings, which kind of add to the character, and now we have those rubber mats that actual bartenders use.

      Assuming you don’t have a tame geologist to take along, you’ll need to talk to your supplier carefully. I would go to a stone yard rather than a home center. A darker color with some variation will make it less likely to show the spills and a good sealant should reduce the risk of staining, although it will need to be redone every few years.

      Stainless steel gets around all those issues, but I’m a doctor and stainless steel counters look way too much like I’m still at work. Took me 20 years to give in to stainless steel appliances for that reason.

      1. Might Be Spam*

        How do you tell the difference? My landlord says my counters are granite, but when I asked how to care for them he just looked vague and didn’t know if I had to seal them periodically. I don’t think he really knows what they are.

    10. Hotdog not dog*

      My parents have soapstone. Think dark gray/black counter tops from high school science class. They’ve had them for about 20 years and they haven’t stained, chipped, or anything else. Mom puts hot pots directly on them, and they clean up easily.

      1. Newbie*

        I love soapstone and put it in my old house. It’s the best, IMO. It feels good, is indestructible, easily cleaned, etc. I love it.
        My 2nd place and what I’m currently perfectly happy with is…. Formica. It’s not sexy, but it works well, looks fine and if it gets messed up beyond safe/sanitary usage, is inexpensive to replace.

    11. MissB*

      soapstone. It doesn’t absorb anything.

      I used wax on mine to get the black color and to make the veining pop. Of course you can avoid that.

      If you get a scratch, you can literally sand it out. You can set something straight from the burner on it and not worry about cracking.

      Only drawback is that it can be a bit prone to chip on the edge. I’ve had mine for almost 2 years and I only have one chip on the edge. There is a certain edge profile that helps protect it from chipping.

      1. California Dreamin’*

        We put our soapstone in 19 years ago. I love it! It’s so beautiful. It does chip and nick very easily… you have to be okay with that as it’s part of the character of the stone. You can set hot pans on it no problem. In the beginning you’ll have to oil it fairly regularly to keep the black looking nice. I oiled monthly for a long time. But now I’m terrible at keeping up with that and they look fine. I’d probably oil them if I were having an important party because it really does bring out the richness. In my opinion they have a really distinctive warm look that is unmatched by any other counters I’ve seen.

    12. HannahS*

      Quartz. Like, the stuff that’s semi-synthetic, not literal blocks of quartz stone. It’s non-porous, durable, scratch resistant, and is generally just great. I’ve had laminate growing up and in some of my apartments, and while it’s a good option too, it’s just not as durable. I’m someone who cooks a lot and spills a lot. I would never ever get anything porous.

    13. Falling Diphthong*

      Can anyone either explain the logic of desirability of various kitchen countertops, or point me to a layman’s essay on the topic?

      I’m looking at a table right now where laminate looks like the clear winner based on things like resistance to stains and heat, followed by solid surface–the cheapest and second cheapest, respectively–and yet I know that those are respectively considered the shoddiest and second shoddiest options. I feel like remodeling without putting in stone countertops is the wrong choice, but laminate actually functions really well! I don’t understand.

      1. MissB*

        It is such a personal choice. When I started planning for my kitchen, I realized that at this point in my life – dh just retired, I’ll probably retire in about a decade – our choices of materials was based on the idea that this was the last kitchen we’d be doing. We plan on aging in place so we picked items that would in theory outlast us.

        If we were selling in a few years, we wouldn’t have spent as much on the kitchen as we did and might have chosen composite material for the counter.

        I want to walk into my kitchen in a decade or two and not feel like it is dated. I chose what were/are considered timeless choices. I could’ve opted for leathered granite for the countertops but the soapstone was only slightly more, and in my opinion, will still be around when I no longer own the house.

        My brother just redid the kitchen for the house that my mom lives in. She’s in her mid-80s and he probably will sell the house after she dies. He didn’t get high end surfaces. The cabinets were from Home Depot as were the counters. Neither the cabinets nor the counters are going to last, but that kitchen won’t see a whole lot of use either.

        You do you! If solid surface or laminate are what you want/can afford, then it’s the perfect choice. Kitchens have to be functional, they don’t *need* to look like an HGTV dream kitchen.

      2. RLC*

        Wonder if it has something to do with perceived luxury/desirability/status based on cost? We have 30 year old laminate counters just now showing wear at the edges, no stains or scratches.
        Similar to the basic/reasonably priced car or clothing item which far outlasts the expensive version. Status vs practicality.

      3. office hobbit*

        My impression is stone is ~trendy right now but it hasn’t always been. And of course it’s expensive and pretty, which people like. Get whatever will work best for your lifestyle. I have formica or laminate countertops that I think were put in when the kitchen was redone in the 70s, and they’re honestly great.

    14. Part time lab tech*

      Laminate and stainless steel would be the most durable and stain resistant. Laminate is the least status but from a practical point of view, it works!
      It comes in a multitude of colours and patterns, requires very little maintenance and is cheap enough to replace. I have also seen pictures of contrasting laminate on the inside of drawers and I think it looks great but we’re going for standard white.
      Personally, I covet some dolomite(?) “Pilbara Green” marble for our island bench but can’t justify the expense. There are also porcelain benches with pictures of stone which are gorgeous too.

    15. Zelda*

      We put in a Corian countertop in 2010 that’s still going strong. Ours is a flecked pattern meant to resemble granite, with a light background (silver birch, which I see is still available). You could probably choose a warmer hue or a medium tone, as well– I think rosemary is nice!

    16. lilybeth*

      I am pondering a future kitchen remodel and the one thing I am adamantly against is any kind of engineered-stone countertop. There are a lot of advantages people talk up, but there is also a mounting pile of evidence that making them is incredibly hazardous to the health of the workers (silicosis outbreaks among the workers). So as much as I hate to be That Killjoy, I’m just going to put that information out there. Maybe inquire pretty rigorously about materials and fabrication if you want to go that way.

      A couple links:

  11. Sloanicota*

    Are people following the Charlotte Cowles story about being scammed by IRS (among other) impersonators? I thought it was brave of her to share it and was sorry that most of the hot takes I’ve seen in various comment sections aren’t too sympathetic (mostly because she’s a financial advice columnest). I hope we can learn something about the various scams … I suspect she’s right that, if not this exact scam, but *a* scam would work on anyone, even people who think they’re far too savvy to fall for it. Link in my next comment if you haven’t seen it.

    1. Cookies For Breakfast*

      “if not this exact scam, but *a* scam would work on anyone, even people who think they’re far too savvy to fall for it.” – I completely agree with that. Scams work when they hit on the mark’s vulnerabilities and we all have at least one.

      My partner told me about the article this week, because he was enjoying one of the “funny” reaction tweets. I found it the opposite of funny. Recently, a friend was telling me how her elderly mother spotted one of those “hi mum, new number, text me here” scam messages, and my blood ran cold, because I can’t be sure that my own very rational mother would think twice if someone impersonated me like that. I nearly fell for a particularly realistic email from a travel site recently, because it flagged the risk of losing a booking for an imminent work trip, and even after doing some due diligence it seemed to make sense. I also know someone who is now deep into a pyramid scheme that preys on body image insecurity; if she had been peddling it when we were “friends” in our early 20s, I would likely have taken the bait.

      I have read and listened to a lot about scams, and my main takeaway is always that there is one, out there, that could work on any of us. If we have never felt at risk before, it’s just because we haven’t seen *that* one yet.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        There’s a specific type of con artist that targets doctors. They make ideal marks because they’re intelligent and educated (so they don’t think they’d ever fall for a scam) but many don’t have a lot of financial training so they can be lured into phony investments very easily.

        1. RLC*

          There’s also a type who targets veterans and retired military. Family member, retired high ranking military, was victim to one. Even after we closed bank accounts, cancelled phone service, etc the scammer still kept contacting him (even after he moved to care home!!!) Had to alert switchboard and front desk to have them screen calls, only callers who knew a password were rung through to his room.

    2. BellaStella*

      Last year a friend’s father who lives in the USA got scammed. The criminals were calling him and he ended up going to seceral banks to get over 10,000$ out of the banks and gave it to them. All day he drove around ignoring his phone ringing from family and in the end they could report it but will never get it back. Second time he was scammed. I think when you are late 80s you are gullible and vulnerable and it is so sad to see this happen. The family says they cannot take away his car or phone or computer. Just hope it does not happen again.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I’ve certainly heard of it happening to older people and that makes sense to me, if they’re less familiar with the norms of scamming, but I thought it was interesting this is a young married mother who writes financial advice and it still worked on her.

    3. The OG Sleepless*

      My MIL fell for several small scams over the years, because she was a sweet, earnest person who just didn’t always think. Someone attempted to pull the “grandparent scam” on her once (a young man called her pretending to be my son and said he needed bail money) and I’m still really proud of her for not falling for it. She would have done anything for my kids and if it involved getting them out of trouble without me finding out, even better. People who would do this kind of thing to vulnerable people are the lowest of the low.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It really is crappy when people play on the generosity of others. It makes the world a worse, more suspicious place for all of us!

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Let me rec Mrs Plansky’s Revenge by Spencer Quinn, about a woman who falls for the “Grandma? It’s me” scam, feels utterly humiliated, and sets out to get revenge on the scammers.

    4. WellRed*

      Just read article on this!! Why oh why did none of the admonishments for secrecy not clue her in? Why would the CIA be involved? Frustrating and heartbreaking and aggravating.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Yeah, I spent the whole article going “Oh honey,” like so much of this should have been really waving red flags. I get that hindsight is 20/20, but wow.

      2. Nessness*

        She mentioned more than once how tired she was after so long on the phone, and how she just wanted it to be over, which made me think of how cops can elicit false confessions if the interrogation goes on long enough. Fear and exhaustion can eventually override the more rational part of your brain.

        1. Sloanicota*

          Yeah I think a lot of people are victim blaming and saying it would never happen to them, and maybe some specific part of it would be less effective on them (the phone call, say) and it’s good to remember stuff like “don’t answer calls you don’t recognize,” but something else equally stupid could get you. These guys were spoofing, so the call could appear to come from a family member or it could be a text. It’s like cults and brainwashing – these techniques work, on all of us, on our primitive brains that we don’t control. I realize we don’t want to believe we can be manipulated into buying things or shocking strangers or supporting fascist governments, but …

        2. responding to the Cut article*

          Yeah. While I don’t think this particular scam would work on me, based on some experiences I’ve had in the past, the secrecy/govt involvement pings some existing anxieties I have, and I can absolutely imagine how someone might fall for it.

      3. AvocadoQueen*

        Amazon doesn’t call you. The very first thing just isn’t a thing that happens.

        My thing is, never answer the phone if it’s not a friend or parent. If the bank calls, hang up and call back to thr number on your bank statement/credit card. Very few things, even fraud, are that urgent. Our bank actually did call us about credit card fraud, and ny partner ignored it thinking it was a scam. The bank sent a letter and a week later it was still easy to get it all cleared up (next time he’ll just call back).

        1. Goldfeesh*

          Nor could I believe the FBI or CIA or any huge government agency would call me to do *anything*. I’m not living in some CSI/X-Files storyline. I’d think that’d make someone think a little at least.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          I had that happen to me–my husband said “hang up” and I did, and we spent the next hour getting calls from different (obviously spoofed) numbers from the same “Amazon Center.” Once they think they may have you hooked they are relentless.

        3. Washi*

          Amazon can call you! A NYT piece on the subject reported they do occasionally call to verify purchases, though of course they are not going to transfer you straight to the FTC.

    5. Tiny Clay Insects*

      It reminded me of that horrible story about the fast food worker being manipulated over the phone (it was made into a movie, Compliance). And she talked in the article about the comparison to how false confessions are gotten by interrogators. It made me feel horrible for her. I can’t imagine it happening to me, and I hope I’m right about that, but also, who cares if it wouldn’t happen to me, personally? It’s still horrifying.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yeah I took like one psych class in college and they talked about how terrifyingly susceptible we are to authority figures and going along with social pressures. I’m thinking of that experiment with the different length lines, the thing with the people pretending to be prison guards, and the one where people shocked imaginary partners to death. And we’re all so sure we would do better.

    6. OtterB*

      I just took an online cybersecurity class for work, and it pointed out that some of these things are really easy to fall for. They look like messages that you deal with routinely, except the link is a slightly-mispelled clone. Or the account of a coworker or family member has been hacked and so you’re getting a sketchy message from a trusted source.

      I get annoyed sometimes at how much time we all have to waste, and how cynical we’re forced to be, because of these jerks.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        What gets me is how much time, effort, and energy is expelled by the scammers on these things–it’s a whole shadow economy. How is this better than just getting a job?

        1. Lurker*

          Because you might have to work for a year to earn $50k (and pay taxes on it), but if you can scam just one person (as in the example), you could make $50k tax-free in one day. Okay, maybe they had to split it 3 ways, but there’s still the potential of more cash money with less work. They’re working smarter, not harder! :/

        2. Irish Teacher.*

          While I agree with you, I would imagine that for many of these people, at least the rank and file, jobs may not be so easy to come by. I suspect that for a lot of those employed by these scam companies, it’s the only job they can get.

    7. ShroomLog*

      I personally think she lost the money some other way and this is a cover up. 50K in a shoe box? Your bank allowed you to withdraw 50K without questions? I had to justify $5K in closing costs to my bank…

      1. Sloanicota*

        It’s kind of amazing to me that people would have 50K liquid in a bank account, TBH, but that’s probably due to the fact that I’m not wealthy and this person apparently came from wealth. My gut instinct is that she wouldn’t come up with such a public and embarassing story just as a cover up, particularly because (as she points out) this story is hazardous to her own career as a financial advice giver, but I suppose a shocking confessional to get people talking could be a good way to get a book deal or something.

      2. They Don’t Make Sunday*

        New York magazine, where this was published, has a rigorous fact checking process. Journalists also stake their careers on their integrity, so… faking something like this (a REALLY weird thing to fake, btw) would risk blowing up her livelihood.

        1. o_gal*

          I wouldn’t count on their fact checking processes too much. I’m not saying the article is fake – I’m pretty sure it’s a true account. But even the New York Times has been fooled – read the Wikipedia page on Jayson Blair. He got away with an awful lot until they finally questioned enough things he wrote.

      3. Clisby*

        Hmm – I don’t find that particularly surprising. A few months back we did an expensive renovation project where a couple of the payments to the contractor were > $30,000. We do online banking and the bank did flag it, but all I had to do in response to their query was to say yes, go ahead and pay it.

    8. Maggie*

      Yeah, people are being super mean to her and I think it’s unproductive. The situation she describes is hard to fathom but I think it’s awesome she spoke out bc there’s so much shame in it, and it does happen!

    9. Girasol*

      It’s a good reminder that when anyone calls saying that some account of yours is compromised and you need to do something about it right away, tell them nothing. Instead, hang up and immediately call the company in question, so that you know for sure who you’re talking to. It’s so easy to get caught up in the crisis and forget that the caller might be a fraudster, so it’s nice to be reminded by a story like this.

      1. shteripecas*

        I read something recently that was something like scammers can not hang up on their end (more complicated than that), so when you hang up and redial, you still get the scammers. The advice was to use a different phone to call the bank, or wait a few minutes.

        1. Girasol*

          The point isn’t to redial the number that called you. You hang up and go look up the correct phone number for the bank or credit union or whoever was supposed to have been calling, and then dial that. Then the business can tell you if they just called you with a problem or if it wasn’t them who called you in the first place.

    10. Slinky*

      Yes. It gives me the creeps because I can so easily see how it would happen. My husband fell for a similar, though much smaller, scam. We were lucky. We only lost $100 and were able to recovery it, but it’s easy to see how people fall for these kinds of scams. My husband was initially too embarrassed to tell anyone but eventually shared with some close friends and family, who shared that they’d had similar experiences. It is so, so common but few people share out of shame. It is really brave of her to share.

    11. slashgirl*

      Yeah, one of my aunts (in her 70s), who lives with my mother, recently got a phone call from her grandson. Because he called her Grammie, she used his name, so they got his first name; anyhow, said he had been with friends, stopped by the cops, drugs were found, he wasn’t allowed to tell anyone, he needed some money.

      Luckily, one thing my aunt HATES doing is spending money she doesn’t have to. Plus the whole “not allowed to talk about” it bit had her suspicious/it didn’t really sound like her grandson and she knows her grandsons’ parents would always help him out, no matter what. So she started asking questions–like “What are your parents’ names?” She was on the ball and didn’t get scammed but it’s easy to see how it can happen.

      1. Sloanicota*

        Good for her! One of the techniques of the scam is to cause panic and urgency such that the victim doesn’t have time to think through such questions, so she did a great job remaining cool headed!

  12. Jackalope*

    Reading thread! Share what you’ve been reading and give or request recs. I’m going to answer with my own books a bit later but wanted to start the thread up.

    1. Jackalope*

      Okay, I have to share this book with youall! I just finished an amazing book called Book of Queens by Pardis Mahdavi. It’s a nonfiction book about women from Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey being total badasses. More specifically, it’s about a handful of women who brought the Caspian horse breed back from near extinction (they are possibly the oldest breed of domesticated horses on the planet); and a connected group of women who found a set of caves near the Iran/Afghanistan border and started a refuge there for girls and women undergoing abuse and violence. They lived there for several decades (the author was silent on whether they are still there), and spent a lot of time protecting their region from the (won’t say it to try to avoid this going to moderation, but the group of religious fanatics controlling most of the country right now). They did this while living in caves (in case you missed that part) and patrolling the area with their Caspian horses that they got in large part from the first group of women (who also smuggled said girls and women over the border and to the caves). It was amazing and awesome and those women are my HEROES now.

      1. BellaStella*

        There is a movie out that this book reminded me of and it is called Last Song from Kabul. It was great to watch. “The riveting, heroic story of young orphaned girls whose music school was closed after the T….n took over Afghanistan as they escape to Portugal to try and rebuild their fractured lives and begin to play music again.”

      2. Nervous Nellie*

        WOW. Done – added to my library list.

        On related note – The Bookseller of Kabul by Asne Seierstad, also non-fiction, adds more layers about women’s daily lives there. It was a very good book, described as the best description of day to day life written to date. This new one sounds fantastic. I hope these brave women know we are cheering for them worldwide.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I want this one as well! And to finally read Reading Lolita in Tehran. I don’t know why I haven’t yet; Lolita is one of my favorite books and I really enjoy reading essays and writings about it.

    2. Pamela Adams*

      T. Kingfisher’s latest, What Feasts at Night. Ruritanian fantasy, and a sequel to What Moves the Dead. I love her work.

    3. Dark Macadamia*

      I’m reading A Power Unbound by Freya Marske and it’s… fine. I really liked the first book in the trilogy but was disappointed by the second, and this protagonist is someone I didn’t enjoy as a side character. I’m also here for the historical fantasy and prefer my romance PG13 so I kind of feel like I’m missing the point because I didn’t realize going into the first book how “spicy” it would be (this is the series from the letter awhile back about accidentally recommending smut to their boss, lol).

    4. Free Meerkats*

      Currently listening to “The Girl in the Green Silk Gown” by Seanan McGuire in the car. Second book in her Ghost Roads series.

      Just finished reading T. Kingfisher’s latest, What Feasts at Night on Kindle (see above.) Filling time reading a collection of short stories “Big Book of Modern Fantasy” edited by Ann Vandermeer and Jeff VanderMeer while I decide what’s next.

      On paper, I’m reading “Furry Nation: The True Story of America’s Most Misunderstood Subculture” by Joe Strike.

    5. Peregrine*

      I’ve just started listening to Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao – wasn’t sure I’d like this one so borrowed a copy from the library. I’m digging it so far.

      I hope you don’t mind the piggy-back but I do have a question for other audio book people: what is up with this recent trend of calling it “reading”? I enjoy them myself and they are in no way worse than reading a book with your eyes, don’t get me wrong, but recently I’m seeing people say things like “I’m reading this on Audible” and I’m just here like…why? You’re not using the same senses? Is this some attempt to validate the experience in the eyes of “audiobooks are inferior” people?

      1. Jessica*

        You mean saying they’re “reading” an audiobook as opposed to listening to it? Hmm. If you [verbed] a Braille book, what word would you use for it?

        1. Peregrine*

          You know, I’m glad you bring that up because I would refer to that as reading!

          I’ve also discussed this with a blind friend before who argued that the entire point of an audiobook is that she isn’t reading it, just like you wouldn’t say someone who is having a book read to them by someone live is reading the book.

        2. Lexi Vipond*

          I find it odd (incongruous, rather than morally wrong) because they’re completely different experiences for me – I wouldn’t say (or feel) that I was reading a radio programme, or a lecture, and an audiobook doesn’t seem any different.

          But still reading for Braille – apparently it’s the words being on a page that matter to me, not whether you use your eyes.

          1. allathian*

            To me the big difference is that most people acquire spoken language more or less without conscious effort during the first three years of their lives, even if the ability to learn new words is lifelong.

            Reading is a skill that children usually acquire at school, even if reading levels vary a lot.

            Non-verbal people are often profoundly disabled and rarely able to live independently unless they’re able to learn to read and write. Reading difficulties can make life difficult in cultures where reading and writing skills are necessary, but it’s only since the invention of the printing press that more than a tiny minority of the population has been literate, in the West at least.

            I guess I’m a bit of a reading snob, and I include braille in this, but I don’t count listening to audio books as reading. It’s a valid way to consume entertainment or information, but not the same as reading.

            I don’t listen to audio books or podcasts because I’m a fast reader and find it difficult to focus on audio content.

            1. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

              I want to encourage you to think a bit more about your casual “reading levels vary a lot” comment. For people with dyslexia or other reading challenges, their ability to comprehend narrative or information is far beyond their ability to decode print. Audiobooks let them absorb text at the level they’re interested in. My 11-year-old struggles with “Wimpy Kid” books if reading print, but just finished reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” via audiobook.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        I mean, the point is that they’re consuming the content of the book, regardless of literally how the words are getting into their brainpan for contemplation. What’s the point of being pedantic about it?

        1. Peregrine*

          I’m not trying to be pedantic, just trying to understand a trend I’ve noticed relatively recently. Been listening to audiobooks for ages (I was not a good at reading as a child, still am not with long texts) but it’s only recently that I noticed people referring to it as reading more and more.

          1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

            I meant generically, not you in particular :) to rephrase, if the content of a book is going into someone’s head, whether by reading it themselves with their eyeballs or through their fingertips or having it read to them by their partner or by Samuel L Jackson, the overall outcome is the same, so it seems easier to me to focus on that outcome and sum it all up as “reading” rather than to be pedantic about the exact means of consumption, unless there’s an actual reason it matters in context. I rarely use audiobooks but when I have done I have always included them on my reading list for the year.

            1. word nerd*

              Your comment suddenly made me realize that I would like Samuel L Jackson to read to me, which I had not ever thought about before.

          2. IT Manager*

            My friend who is a reading specialist Eg creates curriculums and strategies at scale based on science to get kids to read, says categorically that “listening to audio books” is the same brain activity as “reading a paper book” and she labels it reading. She has a different name for the wholly different skill of parsing written symbols into language, which I forget – something technical sounding!

        2. Lurker*

          I think that reading (really reading, like words/braille on a page) is always an active experience. Reading a physical book requires that you be present in the moment — it’s very hard to multi-task when reading something (or reading to someone). But listening can be passive or active. I think most people are passive listeners the majority of the time because it’s hard work to be an active listener. I’d guess that a lot of people who listen to audio books are doing something else at the same time (like driving to/from somewhere, cleaning, etc.). You can’t do that if you’re reading.

          I admit I’m a snob about stuff like this. I don’t listen to audio books and don’t consider listening to audio books reading.

      3. Still*

        Well, I think the word reading can have slightly different definitions, and depending on the context, it makes sense to emphasise different aspects of it. Of course, it commonly means “absorb written words with your eyes”, but when talking about books, it often doesn’t matter how exactly you’ve consumed it as long as the content got into your brain.

        If someone asks me “hey, have you read this book?”, I’m gonna say “yes”, without necessarily specifying “yes, with my bare eyeballs from a piece of dead tree”, or “yes, on a tablet”, or “yes, with my fingertips, in Braille”, or “yes, with my ears from an audiobook”, or “yes, my mum read it to me”. Because the relevant part is that I’ve consumed the book and I’m familiar with it.

        And in some other contexts, it might make sense to make the distinction; if I’m talking about what I like to do in my spare time, “curling up with a book and a cup of tea” is quite different than “listening to an audiobook while decluttering my closet”.

        I very rarely listen to audiobooks because I’m incredibly picky about narrators, and I myself use the word “listen” when referring to audiobooks… but I can totally see why people would just say “read”. It’s the verb most commonly used for consuming books and it most cases, the format doesn’t really matter.

        Plus, it’s really common for words to expand their definitions to include new cultural and technological phenomena.”Liking” expanded from just a feeling to a specific expression of that feeling online. “Snoozing” expanded from just taking a nap to using a specific setting to postpone the alarm on your phone in the morning. And “reading” expanded from absorbing words with your eyeballs, to consuming content that’s produced primarily in a written form (which is why we don’t read podcasts or the radio).

        A funny example of meaning change from Swedish: the younger generation commonly refers to hair ties as “ponytails”. As in, “do you have a ponytail I could borrow”? Cause that’s what you use to make one.

      4. word nerd*

        As someone who got into audiobooks just in the last few years, I have this default in my head that reading = consuming the contents of a book. When I get into conversations with others about books, it’s often in response to “What have you read lately?” or “Have you read XXX?” It would feel weird to me so say, “Well, I have not *read* XXX, but I did listen to…” or “I listened to book 1 in the series and read book 2 in the series and listened to book 3 in the series” rather than “I read the whole series.” When I talk about book content with others, it just doesn’t seem that relevant whether it was reading vs listening unless it’s a discussion about a particular audiobook narrator or discussion of how the listening vs. reading experience differs. Occasionally I will use “listen,” but I have often have to think about saying that consciously. I don’t feel shame about converting to audiobooks (kind of have to for most of my “reading” now since I’ve developed some eye problems), so it’s not a matter of consciously trying to hide that I was listening to a book instead I think. I get why the imprecision bugs you, but I’d be up for making up a new word that means “either reading or listening”! :)

        1. Nervous Nellie*

          I’m with you on that one. I’m in the ‘call it all reading’ camp. I too am not going to clarify to a friend that I listened to an audiobook as opposed to reading the book in hand. When someone asks if you’ve read a book, they’re not asking about the delivery method, but whether you know the story. It’s all reading to me.

          And I will add that when I was really small, Mum would take us to the library every other Friday to refresh our mountain of signed out books, and in addition to books that we chose, she would select slightly harder and older-level books for us that she would read to us. I can remember many occasions when I would point out a book to her, not knowing that she had already read it to us, and she would always say, “You’ve already read that one.” So I come by it honestly!

        2. Peregrine*

          Hij, I have always changed it to “listened”. Like if someone asked me “have you read X” I’d answer “oh yeah listened to that one last month”.

        3. Peregrine*

          Also it’s not bugging me per se, it’s just…15 years ago I didn’t hear anyone call it listening, but now that audiobooks are a lot more popular (thankfully! So many more options now) suddenly people are all over the internet calling it “reading” as well. To me it always felt like they were trying to justify that listening to an audiobook is of equal worth – which it is – to reading on paper of electronically, but then I’m like…Justifying it to whom? People who look down on audiobooks aren’t magically going to change their opinion because we all decided to call it reading too, and if you have to justify it to yourself…I would feel sorry for you that that is something you feel is necessary.

          I’m honestly glad the general consensus just seems to be “it’s more practical that way”.

      5. Shiara*

        This is interesting to me because I do personally feel like there’s a difference in how I process and retain information when reading or listening and I’ll say I’m listening to something if I’m consuming the audiobook. But once I’m done I will say I’ve read it, regardless of the format.

        Also, having a young child who can’t read yet, obviously any books they’ve read, have actually been read aloud to them, but it still feels reasonable for them to say they’re reading The Hobbit.

        1. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Definitely a difference in the experience. I don’t differentiate afterwards if I’m talking about the content of a book – only if I have something to say about the narrator of an audiobook or the editing of of a physical book (typos and usage errors make me twitch).

      6. GoryDetails*

        I don’t have a problem with people referring to the audiobook experience as “reading” – indeed, if I’m asked if I’ve read a book that I listened to on audio, I’ll say “yes”. [Whether I go on to explain that it was an audiobook depends on the context of the question.]

        Yes, the experience of reading print is different from that of listening to audio, but I’m not irked by having somebody say “read” instead of “listened to”. [I do get more irked by abridged versions of books, fwiw; if the only version of a book that I can find is an abridged one I might read/listen to it, but I’ll be sure to mention that was abridged whenever I talk about it. For me that’s way more significant than whether the book was experienced in print or in audio!]

      7. 248_Ballerinas*

        I use Audiobooks more than I used to because of some vision problems and it’s easier to just say that I read a particular book than to spell out that I listened to it. I realize that I’m missing something by not seeing the book in print, but c’est la vie.

      8. Hastily Blessed Fritos*

        My dyslexic son uses audiobooks for most of his reading. We absolutely call it reading – it engages the same parts of the brain whether the text gets there via eyes or ears. It’s also very important for us to affirm his self-conception as someone who reads, after years of not thinking of himself that way. (He’s 11 now, was diagnosed at 8.)

      9. MeepMeep123*

        I dunno. As long as the information gets into your brain somehow, what’s the difference?

        My wife and I are reading the same book for a book club we are both in. The exact same book, exact same author, exact same words. I’m a fast reader and I read that book on my phone as an e-book. My wife likes to listen to audiobooks while she walks or while she’s cooking, so she listened to the audiobook on her phone. Talking to my wife about the book, it seems like we both retained about the same amounts of information from it. Should there be that much of a difference in what it’s called?

        And if there is, does it then matter that I consumed that book on my phone as an e-book rather than getting it on paper? I remember the e-book/paper book debate, too.

    6. Jen Erik*

      Some marketing person has thought up the term ‘romantasy’ – at least, I’ve read several articles all very recently that use the term.
      What I think I want to read though would be more ‘cozy’ fantasy. I’m thinking ‘Legends & Lattes’ where an Orc tries to open a coffee shop, ‘A Coup of Tea’ where a princess gives up princessing and works in a tea shop or the first of the Monk & Robot books where a monk decides to become a tea monk.
      Could we call the genre Fantastea?
      I’ve read the second in all those series, but does anyone have any other suggestions? Doesn’t have to be a tea shop, just low stakes fantasy. (I’ve read most of T Kingfisher.)

      1. Ali*

        The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna, romance arc but the romance is very secondary to a found family narrative. I haven’t read it, but pretty sure Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is very much this niche. Also, all of T.J. Klune.

      2. OtterB*

        I may have rec’d this here before, but I like To Hive and to Hold by Amy Crook. It’s set in a world like ours but some years ago magic began to work, and now there’s a mix of magic and of still-functioning tech. An apothecarist with a hive of magical bees on his roof meets his new neighbor, a magical tattooist. They barter with neighbors to get the materials to expand the bee hive, plus for food / clothes / etc., while having a slow-burn, low-angst romance.

      3. Pam Adams*

        Try Natalie Kritzer. She has a lot of short fiction and a few novels. Look for So Much Cooking- free on tor.com

        1. OtterB*

          Repeating my response from the out-of-nesting comment below.

          I love Kritzer and So Much Cooking, but that should probably have tw for pandemic and worries for family during pandemic.

          Also, if you haven’t read it, Kritzer has a recent story in Uncanny Magazine called The Year Without Sunshine. Excellent story about people in a natural disaster / challenge pulling together to help each other.

      4. Jen Erik*

        Brilliant. I haven’t read any of those (apart from The House in the Cerulean Sea, which Alison recommended) so that gives me lots to work through. Thanks!

      5. word nerd*

        Now I totally want to read A Coup of Tea! I second the Irregular Witches suggestion <3, and most Diana Wynne Jones is cozy. Also Patricia Wrede's Enchanted Forest Chronicles and Cecelia and Kate books. Ella Enchanted is my favorite middle grade book and leagues better than the movie. For adult books, T. Kingfisher's Swordheart, and maybe the Saint of Steel series, which starts with Paladin's Grace, also set in that world.

        And since you mentioned Fantastea, I feel like I have to mention Tea with the Black Dragon. :)

        1. OtterB*

          Oh, Enchanted Forest is a great addition to this list. It’s one of my favorite comfort re-reads.

          A couple of weeks ago there was a webcast from Loyalty Bookstore of a comfort read/watch discussion between T Kingfisher, Martha Wells, Malka Older, and KJ Charles. There’s a watchable recording. Lots of good suggestions there, although they pointed out during the discussion that “comfort” doesn’t mean “nothing bad happens.” Sometimes it means that bad things happen, but it comes out okay in the end with the good getting rewarded and the bad getting their comeuppance.

          1. word nerd*

            Yes, I’ve read it a bunch too. Btw, did you know that “Wrede” is pronounced “Reedy”? I just found that out this year and now I feel like I have to spread the word!

            That discussion sounds fun–I’ll have to check it out! Yes, I should probably add that T. Kingfisher does have plenty of dark elements, but somehow the interactions and dialogue between characters is generally so good-natured and sweet that she falls firmly in the cozy category for me.

            1. OtterB*

              Me too, for the most part. I am really not a horror reader at all, but I’ll read hers. Although I do get a bit creeped out by the dark elements in some of the not-horror books.

    7. 248_Ballerinas*

      I just finished a nonfiction book from 2008, Merle’s Door, by Ted Kerasote. A man and his dog, but not just a man and his dog. Kerasote weaves in research on canine behavior in an engaging way.

      He keeps it real about the work involved in dog ownership, which I appreciated. I do not plan to ever have a dog, and this book helped me realize that’s the right decision for me. I mean that as a compliment to the author.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes, a retelling of the story of Medusa. Really well told, and there are a whole lot of parts that your secondary school course on Classic Greek Myths decided were too risqué for young minds, which quite change the whole thing for a modern reader. (Medusa was cursed by the gods for being the victim of a crime. She was living quietly in a cave so she wouldn’t hurt anyone when the gods decided to send a young person to chop her head off while she slept.)

      I previously read her nonfiction Pandora’s Jar, which included the interesting point that 20th century adaptations of the myths–the ones many of us are probably most familiar with–tend to give women even less of a role than the ancient Greeks did. Like reassigning Medea’s feats helping Jason to be Jason’s feats while Medea looked on.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I just started Pandora’s Jar! I can’t wait to read the rest of her stuff.

        And yes, the actual myths that don’t clean up the rape, incest, and lifelong ramifications to the victims are quite a slap with a dead fish to people who grew up with “kid’s” versions and Clash of the Titans as reference points.

    9. Falling Diphthong*

      Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher, about a young girl (Summer) who is sent to a magical realm (Orcus) by Baba Yaga. Strong Alice in Wonderland vibes. I liked this, especially the satisfying way it wound up. Baba Yaga voiced something that often bugs me, which is the importance of lower stakes and smaller goals. (If the entire universe will be destroyed if the heroes fail, well, I don’t consider failure to be on the table as a storytelling option.)

      Interestingly, the portal fantasy mentioned both in the book and in author’s notes at the end is Narnia, not Alice.

      The bits about Summer’s mom (who is depressed and anxious and really leans on Summer to support her) will hit differently for different aged readers.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        YES. If the perils of failure are “the world as we know it ends” then I assume the heroes will succeed and now I’m just reading to find out how, so that journey better be good on its own. And if I’m wrong you actually destroy your world at the end, I will not have seen that coming. But I don’t know if I’ve ever actually read anything where that’s what happened?

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Even if Dr. Strange pops in to say “I’ve run the numbers! There is only a 1 in 54,234,901,003,222,185,206 chance that this plan succeeds!”

          The story is usually more gripping if it feels like failure is an option.

          Plug for Chernobyl, in which we know that they did eventually prevent the worst. But the way the story is told you really feel that all the options are on the table and being considered.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            That’s why Infinity War is probably considered the best of the Marvel movies–there are stakes, and the heroes lose a lot. Thanos gets away with his plan and trying to reverse it costs them even more.

            1. Falling Diphthong*

              I eye rolled at Infinity War because I figured there was no way that outcome was actually sticking–I checked my watch and was like “Not really enough time; I guess there’s a sequel where they undo it all.” There was.

              I then quite liked Endgame because the opening actually deals with the grief and sense of loss. After zapping everyone back I feel they’ve really wobbled in terms of acknowledging that this would have consequences, but not following through on those very effectively. Like the nods to how it sucks to be a redshirt.

        2. Falling Diphthong*

          Very rarely, I have seen the hero go to massive effort to secure a risky medical treatment that isn’t covered by insurance and only has a 1 in 100 chance of working… and then their loved one is in the 99 out of 100 for whom the treatment doesn’t work. (Wish I could think of an example, but I have actually seen it happen.)

        3. cleo*

          I’ve read exactly one fantasy where that happened and it was one of my favorite reads of 2022.

          I’m not sure if I should name the book after kind of spoiling the ending (although it’s the prequel to a poem, so anyone who reads the poem first also knows the ending).

          But book is The Unbalancing by R.B. Lemberg. It’s really good. It’s like an explicitly LGBTQ+ version of Earthsea and is also completely it’s own thing. Also like a queer, trans Lost City of Atlantis.

      2. OtterB*

        I really liked Summer in Orcus, especially her companions on the journey – Glorious the shapeshifting wolf, and Reginald the regency-mannered hoopoe bird (of the Almondgrove hoopoes, at your service).

    10. Teapot Translator*

      I read The Odyssey, translation by Emily Wilson and a few graphic novels that are not available in English. I’m reading Chaos Terminal by Mur Lafferty. I liked the previous book, but I’m finding it hard to get into this one.

    11. Lilo*

      I read The Fourth Wing to see what the hype was about and my impression is that it’s extremely derivative and the author definitely didn’t earn the twist in the book.

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Any further thoughts? (My daughter read it and had a lot of feelings about it… but not enough to make me dive in and add to my reading pile when she didn’t even think she had liked it, just had intense feelings.)

        1. Lilo*

          It’s fine? It reads like YA, to be honest, except for a couple explicit (frankly cringey) sex scenes. The protagonist is the typical “seemingly a bad fit but ultimately the best and most special person” trope. But it’s an easy, fast read.

        2. Jen Erik*

          I agree that it was derivative – as if the author had decided to meld the Scholomance with Twilight, little bit of Pern…
          And just badly written – everything was telegraphed in advance, and the world building made no sense at all – though genuinely, I so almost bought the second book today, because it was reduced, and I’ve a theory that the most ludicrous bit of world-building is a further twist and I want to know if I’m right.
          I loved worse books than this when I was a teenager, though.

    12. Nervous Nellie*

      Two for me – I am continuing on with A Jest of God (Book #2 in the Manawaka series by Margaret Laurence, and am riveted by Mess: One Man’s Struggle to Clean Up His House and His Act by Barry Yourgrau, a hoarding biography from 2015 that I chanced across in the library. Yourgrau is a lyrical New York writer who tells a sympathetic story of immigration, dysfunctional family life and feelings about stuff that all drove his need to hoard out his NY apartment. He recounts his attempts to reform after his girlfriend gives him an ultimatum. So many books on the subject are written by therapists and organizers. This is an intimate peek into the mind of the hoarder himself – his motivations, his reasoning, his concerns and compulsions. He’s a marvelous writer – so much so that I plan to blow off a party tonight to stay home and read!

    13. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Currently reading “Castle Shade” by Laurie R. King – I’ve been catching up on her Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. Also have been re-reading old mysteries that I enjoy because it’s like visiting old friends. Can’t recommend them because they’re laced with homophobia and antiquated gender roles and I’m a little ashamed of myself but it’s the reading equivalent of sinking into a hot bath with a glass of wine.

      Also recently finished “I’m Glad My Mom Is Dead” by Jennette McCurdy. Not exactly fun to read – memoirs of abuse usually aren’t. Very well-written and readable and in the end kind of hopeful. Glad I read it.

      Just downloaded “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning” to listen to during a long drive tomorrow. It was in the NYT Books newsletter, which recommended “Ball Four.” This one was in the “read if you liked…” list at the end and since I liked “Ball Four” and I’m a New Yorker by birth and a Yankees fan, it sounds like a good match (it’s about baseball and NYC politics in the summer of 1977, which I remember well).

    14. PhyllisB*

      Has anyone read the book We’re All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin? My granddaughter gave it to me saying it was one of the best books she had ever read.
      So far, I’m underwhelmed, but I haven’t gotten very far either. Without spoilers, is it worth it to keep going? Don’t want to give up too soon, but on the other hand I don’t want to waste my time when there’s so many good books out there.

    15. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I downloaded a Jenny Colgan “Little Beach Steeet Bakery” audiobook that my library finally got in…. and proceeded to weep my way through fair parts of it. It was cathartic for me so that’s a good thing. Main character is introduced with anxiety and agoraphobia that developed after the death of a beloved family member, and her therapy and recovery is as much a part of the plot as the romance. Although it is compressed for requirements of the format, it is not a bumpless linear recovery. It’s well done. I just wish I’d found it a few years ago because it’s too late for my probably agoraphobic late husband.

    16. Rara Avis*

      The 18th book in Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series just came out, called The Lantern’s Dance. I’m going to a 30-year celebration for the series today.

    17. OtterB*

      I’m reading Malka Older’s new book, The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles. It’s a sequel to The Mimicking of Known Successes. It has a Sherlock Holmes, gaslampish vibe. It’s set in colonies in the atmosphere of Jupiter that are connected by rail lines. In the first book Mossa, an inspector/detective, reconnects with her ex-girlfriend Pleiti while investigating a mystery at the university where they met and where Pleiti now works. The second book is also a mystery, looking into missing persons from the university.

      Probably the new T Kingfisher after that.

      1. BikeWalkBarb*

        Oh yay! Love Malka Older’s books. Glad to hear this is out. My library doesn’t have it so I’ll have to request it. Her Infomocracy series is an amazing feat of technology, political economy, political strategy and so much more. Very different for me from Known Successes, but wonderful.

    18. ISO non romance fantasy by women authors*

      Partner and I are trying to read more books by women authors, particularly in the sci fi/fantasy genre. Someone in this thread alerted me to a new word, “romantasy”, which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid! I’m aware of Ursula LeGuin and Robin Hobb (who I love). Any other recommendations? It’s OK if relationships develop but neither of us is interested in a book where that is a focus.

      1. Dark Macadamia*

        Dauntless Path series by Intisar Khanani

        Broken Earth trilogy by NK Jemisin (this one gets pretty dark but it’s amazing)

        Circe by Madeline Miller

        Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

        Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden

        Anything by Alix E. Harrow or Nghi Vo

      2. Decidedly Me*

        Becky Chambers – I recommend the Wayfarers series
        Martha Wells- Murderbot series
        T Kingfisher – anything really
        VE Schwab – Shades of Magic series (some romance, I wouldn’t call it a focus)

      3. Ali*

        Since you like Robin Hobb, Jemisin’s Dreamblood books and Roanhorse’s Black Sun might be good fits, both politicky epic fantasy with decently strong characters.

        If you like Le Guin’s quieter writing and focus on social structure level politics, Arkady Martine or Ronalyn Domingue.

        Also, Octavia Butler, giant of the field, the parable books are an easy starting place with her, or if you are down for weird alien shit the Xenogenesis books.

        For pure fun if you like a sarcastic main character, Martha Wells’ murderbot books.

      4. allx*

        Doris Lessing Canopus in Argos series (5 books). (Sirian Experiments was shortlisted for Booker Prize). Another excellent Lessing contender, (not “space” oriented but more “alternate reality”) is Memoirs of a Survivor.

      5. AcademiaNut*

        Theodora Goss, Lois McMaster Bujold, Marie Brennan, Octavia Butler, Becky Chambers, Katherine Addison, T. Kingfisher, Tanya Huff, Seanan McGuire, Elizabeth Moon, Nnedi Okorafor, Naomi Novik, Martha Wells, Aliette de Bodard, C.J. Cherryh, Susanna Clarke, Alix E. Harrow, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Tamsym Muir, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Erin Morgenstern, V.E. Schwab, Jo Walton, Jen Williams, Diana Wynne Jones, Janet Kagan, Patricia Wrede, Jane Yolen, N.K. Jemisin, Victoria Goddard.

      6. OtterB*

        Not yet mentioned, Rachel Neumeier, especially the series that begins with Tuyo. A young warrior from the winter country is taken captive by a warleader from the summer country, and they develop a deep friendship while trying to navigate cultural differences and end the war between their peoples and, incidentally, stay alive.

    19. GoryDetails*

      Just finished T. Kingfisher’s “Nettle and Bone,” one of her dark/lovely spins on traditional fairy tales. In this one, the heroine tackles several impossible tasks at the behest of the dust-witch – who, it turns out, didn’t believe she could manage any of them and just wanted her to go away. But having succeeded, there’s a quest to be undertaken, complete with the newly-crafted Bonedog as sidekick… (I spent a lot of the book worrying about what would happen to Bonedog, who was the Best Good Boy despite being, you know, made of bones. Got teary for a bit there, but all was well in the end.) I loved the way the godmothers and magic in general worked – one definitely has to consider the cost. And the use of constructively-worded curses to get benign results tickled the heck out of me.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I also loved that the main character was a full grown adult who had romantic experience and was smart enough not to let her hormones rampage (although she doesn’t deny they sit up and take notice!)

    20. Atheist Nun*

      I finally read My Favorite Thing is Monsters, and it was wonderful. It had been sitting on my bookshelf for years (I had even loaned it to a friend), but I was inspired to read it last week when I saw the electronic advance reading copy for the sequel. Now I can look forward to that!

    21. Bluebell*

      Earlier in the week I read Murderbot #2, and I just finished Lies and Other Love Languages by Sonali Dev. It was a good read, even though the twist was rather obvious.

    22. Mobie's Mom*

      I listened to Women Talking by Mirism Toews on a long car trip yesterday. It’s totally something I never would have finished if u were reading it, despite being very interested in the story, because of the way its written, but I didn’t mind it so much as an audio book. My biggest critique is that there was too much of the narrator’s voice/ story in it – I would have liked for it to focus even more on the women. My husband asked if I liked it, and I told him it was good, but that I’m not sure it’s a book that anyone LIKES. Having said that, I would definitely recommend it – but the people who most need to read it would never!

      1. allx*

        “The Flying Troutmans” and “All My Puny Sorrows” are my favorite of Miriam Toews’ work. Very different in style and content from” Women Talking” with a funnier tone, despite serious subject.

    23. goddessoftransitory*

      Just finished The Twisted Ones, by T Kingfisher–very good and a fun read, but there was a bit too much buildup and the payoff seemed a little shortchanged. It’s still worth reading, for sure, especially since she got the idea from reading Alfred Machin’s The White People, which I had never heard of. He wrote The Great God Pan, so next I’m going to check out that story!

      Also just starting Pandora’s Jar, by Natalie Haynes, with Divine Might lined up next. They’re studies of the women of Greek myth and the goddesses, respectively and so far I’m enjoying the hell out of the first one!

    24. Elizabeth West*

      Strongmen: Mussolini to the Present by Ruth Ben-Ghiat. She discusses the careers and tactics of dictators we all know and hate, including Hitler, scumbag Putin and wanna-be tRump.

    25. Filosofickle*

      I am reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles and liking it quite a bit! It follows a count in Russia through decades of his life in the hotel he was confined to after the Bolsheviks deemed him an “unrepentant aristocrat” as a young man in the 1920s.

      It’s very long so it’s taking me several weekends to get through. I’m usually a speed reader but taking my time with this one. It’s quite lovely and thoughtful.

    26. Irish Teacher.*

      Just started reading Christina Koning’s Murder in Dublin.

      I’m only 50 pages into it, so can’t evaluate it too much yet, but it’s an interesting concept. It’s set in 1939, as Britain faces war and a British private detective is asked to Ireland (they don’t seem to be in Dublin; they’re in the country, Wicklow, I think) because an Anglo-Irish landowner is getting threatening letters. They assume the letters are from well, any of those who resent the Anglo-Irish for centuries of colonisation and want the remainder of the aristocracy out (I’m guessing they will turn out to come from closer to home) and they figure there is no point in going to the Gardaí who are more likely to be on the side of the Irish nationalists (in the sense of pro-independence groups, not in the sense of what nationalism was being used to mean in Germany at that time) rather than on the side of the Anglo-Irish.

      The book does, however, think the Blueshirts are Protestant, when they were actually…well, wannabe fascists, which indicates they don’t know the difference between the Irish Civil War (fought between those who wanted full independence and those who were willing to settle for the Treaty of 1921) and the Northern Irish Troubles, which…isn’t a great indication of the research.

      (Given that one of the Blueshirts’ big things was that “Ireland should support Franco because he is Catholic,” thinking them Protestant is…really a failure of research

    27. IzzyTheCat*

      I have just finished Catherine Newman’s first fiction novel, “ We All Want Impossible Things,” and I LOVED it. I wasn’t sure (it sat by my bed for a long time) because the premise of the book is that the main character’s childhood best friend is dying in hospice and the main character is there with her every day – but it ended up being very funny and poignant and it had all of the feels. Also it was short. So although it was at times deep I didn’t wallow too much, if you know what I mean? I would never have picked it up on my own except that I loved her memoir “Catastrophic Happiness” and thought I would give it a try. Highly recommended!

  13. Jackalope*

    Gaming thread! Share what you’ve been playing and give or request recs. As always, all games are welcome, not just video games.

    (I can’t respond right now but will write later about my gaming this week.)

    1. AnalystJ*

      I just bought Dredge and am excited to try it out this weekend. The art style is lovely and it’s something different from the fps I usually play.

    2. Peregrine*

      I played a game called Assemble with Care! You’re basically playing a character who travels the world fixing people’s items for them (and in doing so, also fixing their relationships to other people). It’s a nice cozy puzzle game that I highly recommend.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I downloaded something called Bubble Pop Dreams. It’s extremely easy and I win every time. I like it when I get frustrated with grinding in other games, and when I’m tired, it’s kind of comforting. Plus I like the noise the bubbles make when they pop.

    4. Giz's Mom*

      Hubby and I were recently introduced to Ticket to Ride at a board game night, and have become addicted. There is also an online option, where you can play against the computer or against other players worldwide. It’s not free, but US $10 will get you the base online game and a few of the expansion. Love this game!

  14. cuppertea*

    Library appreciation thread!

    I’m so glad I have access to libraries, I love borrowing physical books and also the ebooks/audiobooks are so convenient. And now that I’m learning sewing, I appreciate the sewing books in the libraries; those books are so expensive!

    My librarian left a note in the book I had a hold on (they loved the book, have you read this other author, <3 from a librarian) couple weeks ago , and it absolutely made my day. I scribbled a message on the other side, and I'm hoping that librarian gets to see it.

    What are your library stories?

    1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

      I’m part of a knitting/crochet/general fiber crafting group at one of my local libraries.
      We haven’t been meeting the past couple of months as the library has been closed while they move into the new, much bigger, library building.
      The new library is finally open and we’re meeting for the first time in the new building this upcoming week and I’m very excited about it.

      1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

        But you asked for stories so…
        A different (larger) local library has an outdoor amphitheater type space behind it and when I was a kid the local junior college would put on free Shakespear plays every summer.
        I have so many wonderful memories of my mom taking us to watch them.
        Except for the year we joined some of the other kids rolling down the hill while we waited for the play to start and I managed to roll right into an ant bed. We did not stay for the show that year.

    2. Anonymous cat*

      Not an individual librarian but I’m so glad the libraries do E-audiobooks! It’s so great I can listen to these wherever I am!

    3. Peregrine*

      When my library was moving to a place more easily accessible by car and larger, they did a parade where people could register to carry one of the final books over to the new location.

      It was a lot of fun to do, and the new location is a repurposed convent so it’s a very pretty location too. It also gives them more room for community events and stuff.

    4. Cookies For Breakfast*

      The Libby app singlehandedly solved my frustration with waking up too early and some potential relationship squabbles. And the choice with my library card is huge.

      I’m awake at least two hours before my partner and don’t like getting out of bed so early (I know, I know there’s a million productivity reasons why I should). Reading physical books means turning on a light, which disturbs his sleep. Since I started reading ebooks on my phone (no separate e-reader app, yay!), he doesn’t notice a thing, and I get to do so much reading without leaving my bed before it’s breakfast time.

    5. Atheist Nun*

      Well… I appreciate my library because it pays me, as it is the place where I do what we do not talk about on the weekends–and that remuneration allows me to enjoy the weekends.

    6. Turtle Dove*

      How great to find a librarian’s note in a book!

      Our library hosts free yoga classes that I’m enjoying. The instructor is paid thanks to a millage that boosts community-education programs.

      There are also bagged craft kits for kids that you can take home. This week it’s a spaceship made, I think, with a paper plate and construction-paper cutouts.

    7. Lore*

      There is a branch library at the end of my block next to my subway station and I am there a LOT. Once I was getting on the subway and a woman I didn’t recognize was calling my name (and calling me Ms Lastname, which was odd). When it became clear I didn’t know who she was, she said, “it’s me, the library lady.” It was a librarian from my branch! More recently, I’ve had two of the current branch librarians tell me I have great taste and they take notes for reading recommendations when they shelve my holds.

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Late summer of ’20, I pulled into my library to return my books and pick up the new ones (they did this on tables outside, no contact) and in the corner of the parking lot they had set up a little outdoor library you could browse. Staff Picks, New and Interesting, etc. I am almost moved to tears at the memory of getting to do this little normal thing, strolling around looking at books on the displays.

    9. Usually Lurking*

      When our local library open its doors after the Covid shut-down (it had been open for on-line reserves/pickups all along), I was inside browsing on the very first day and I heard a woman crying. I immediately turned to her – to offer help or support – and she was smiling, while crying! She looked at me and said “I’m just so happy to be back here!”
      Then *I* was crying, too!

    10. ccsquared*

      I love that our libraries have nice reading rooms with a big periodical selection. Sometimes I like browsing fashion or home decor magazines, but it’s hard to justify always buying a copy for myself when I know I’m going to leaf through it once and throw it out. It’s also nice to be in a public space from time to time that isn’t oriented around commerce – like you’re allowed to be there simply by virtue of living in the city, not because you’ve bought an appropriate amount of food and drink.

      The digital periodicals collection is also awesome because they have magazines in a foreign language I speak that I couldn’t even easily get my hands on if I wanted to, plus magazines on every topic or hobby.

    11. Jay (no, the other one)*

      The first day of retirement I renewed my library card. I still buy non-fiction (we have a wonderful new independent bookstore walking distance from my house – HOORAY). I’ve stoped buying fiction completely. I take books out of the library and use Libby for e-books when I travel. My local library is seriously underfunded and switched from Libby to Hoopla because I guess it’s cheaper for them. Luckily the Free Library of Philadelphia will give a library card to anyone who lives in PA and they use Libby.

      As I mentioned in the reading thread, I’ve been re-reading some very old mysteries that I enjoyed as a kid. They’re so old that when I was in the middle of the series they suddenly went missing from the shelves. I asked the nearest librarian where they’d gone, and she explained that they were culling to make room for new purchases and then said “I bet you’re looking for the Dell Shannon books. I was wondering who was reading those.” Now when I stop in and see her we chat about mysteries and our kids. One of her colleagues noticed I was checking out a Louise Penny book yesterday and so now I have someone else to talk mysteries with!

      1. Academic glass half full*

        “I was in the middle of the series they suddenly went missing from the shelves. I asked the nearest librarian where they’d gone, and she explained that they were culling to make room for new purchases and then said “I bet you’re looking for the Dell Shannon books. I was wondering who was reading those.”
        This made me anxious- if the early books were circulating why did they weed the later ones?
        On the other hand- if I am going to start a series I better be ready to grab them all at once.
        (and renew, renew, renew)

    12. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My current relationship with my library is purely digital, as I do 99% of my reading in bed on my phone in the dark, but when I was a wee tiny Reader, I spent a lot of time at the library where my grandmother was a children’s librarian. Though the thing I remember most was that I was one of several winners in the “name our new fish” competition when the library got a fish tank, I named one of the fish Amelia (as in Bedelia), and my prize, aside from the fish being named my pick, was a box of animal crackers.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I spent so much time in the library when I was a kid the librarian would look over and say “your mom called, you need to stay until this rainstorm is over” and I wouldn’t have noticed it raining at all.

    13. PhyllisB*

      I love, love, LOVE my local library!! 95% of what I read comes from there. If it’s not in stock I can usually get it through interlibrary loan.
      I’ve gone so much that the librarians know what I like and will tell me about books they think I’ll like. (They’re usually right!!) Once I came in and the head librarian flagged me down to show me some books she had just received to see if I was interested. Another day I was there reading the area newspapers when she brought a new employee over to introduce me, and told the young lady I was a “special patron” and should always get all the help I needed. Wow!!
      I have commented before that if I bought everything I read, I would have to have another house just for books.

    14. Anonymous from LI, NY*

      When I was tiny, our village library was in an aging Victorian house that we had long since outgrown and was not accessible in the least.

      When the modern building next door was ready, the librarians appealed to everyone to check out as many books on one shelf as they could easily carry. We then returned them to the new library over a period of weeks.

      I remember being so very excited that I wasn’t restricted to 10 books!

    15. Texan In Exile*

      I love my library so much. One of the main reasons we bought our house is because it’s within walking distance of the library. I once calculated how much I would have had to pay for the items I got in a year versus our property taxes and let me say that I am the clear winner on that one.

      I appreciate how librarians are in the forefront of defending some of our rights. I was on my library’s board for three years and I was shocked at how much happened behind the scenes (and now in front, in Wisconsin, where they want school librarians to go to jail for lending certain books to children). So many people get so angry at what’s in the library and librarians stand firm.

      And I really like all the cool free stuff they do! Last night, the Milwaukee Public Library hosted a talk with Jonathan Eig, who wrote “King: A Life.” After Cree Myles’ wonderful interview with him, I am dying to read the book. Next week, they are hosting Beto O’Rourke.

      They have also had Matthew Desmond (Evicted and Poverty, By America), Toya Wolfe (Last Summer on State Street), and Richard Rothstein and Leah Rothstein (The Color of Law). If I had had to pay to see these people, I probably would not have gone.

      1. Texan In Exile*

        Also – we go to Madeline Island (one of the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior) every summer. I sometimes run out of books and have gone to the La Pointe library (which is in an old house and wonderfully cozy and fun). My Milwaukee library card is valid there, but the librarians just wave at me and tell me to bring the books back before I leave the island.

    16. Vanessa*

      Libraries have been my safe space since I was a kid.
      My kids and I go regularly. I have an older elementary kid who is so so on reading but has a discovered deep dives. We’ve gone through the titanic and a couple other topics. The most recent is Galileo (thanks legos). So he reserved every book he could find on the topic (age appropriate or otherwise).
      My kindergartener has discovered librarians all on his own. He slipped away once and I found him at her desk. I apologized profusely and the librarian essentially told me to give her the library card so they can interlibrary loan some more dragon books and then shooed me off. Now he checks in with her every time we are there.
      Add to that all the fun activities- Lego day, robot class, cool stickers, etc. it’s great.

    17. GoryDetails*

      I spent much of my youth in libraries (this was in the early ’60s), whether glomming onto stacks of books to read or, later, spending my summers as a library page working in the stacks. Learned how to repair book-bindings, do the stamping/embossing/labeling of books being added to circulation – and how to go through the shelves making sure books were correctly alphabetized (fiction) or Dewey-decimal-ordered (non-fiction). Though that last wasn’t a good fit for me; I couldn’t browse the shelves without stopping to read some of the books! Luckily for me, the librarians were pretty good sports about that, nudging me to get a move on but not making a big deal of it.

      When I graduated from high school the librarians gave me a set of hardbound Tolkien, “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”, which they’d been encouraging me to read for years. For some reason I never felt drawn to those – was focusing on science fiction and horror and animal books at the time – but once they gave me the books I dived in, and rapidly became a huge LOTR fan.

      Last time I visited that area – decades ago now – the library building had been expanded beyond recognition, and the librarians I worked for had all retired, but I still think of that time fondly.

      Nowadays I visit the library mainly to buy books from their ongoing book sales, though sometimes I will check books out. [The library was very helpful in my early manga-fan days; they had quite a few series on hand, so I could read them without having to buy a dozen or more volumes.]

    18. fposte*

      I went to a comedy show a few weeks ago where the comedian (Dara O Briain, if anybody knows him) was doing some of his usual initial crowd work, and one of the people he chatted to said they were a librarian. And my friend and I (both library people) whooped, and it turned out so did a lot of people. And the comedian was slightly startled and got a lot of entertaining subsequent mileage out of the raw sexual charisma of librarians.

      (He’s a very intellectually rigorous guy so if he’d realized the linkage between librarians and intellectual freedom, he’d likely have been all over that. But it was fun both to have a very pro-librarian audience and some hilarious treatment of that.)

    19. Nervous Nellie*

      My regional library has a free jigsaw puzzle exchange in their Friends of the Library book sale nook in each branch. I trade out puzzles a couple times a month, and least twice in the last year, I have picked up puzzles that the previous user has presorted – ie. bagging the edge pieces separately from the middle bits, or bagging same-color pieces in separate little ziploc bags. But yesterday was the best – I opened the new puzzle when I got home to see that the previous user had preassembled the end pieces in bagged strips, and because of the very odd cuts and configurations on each piece, I might not even have been able to figure it all out and likely would have given up and traded it back out on my next trip. But their work showed me how the puzzle works, so now I’m confident I can tackle the middle. But the best part is that when I removed all the little bags from the box, there was a note in the bottom of the box that said, “I know, right? You’re thanking me now, aren’t you? LOL.” Heck yeah, I am!

    20. Bluebell*

      When I first moved to this state several decades ago, I loved chatting with one of the librarians as I checked out books. We had similar tastes in fiction, and she often recommended books to me. She left the library, and became a bestselling novelist herself, and I’m always thrilled when she has a new book out.

    21. goddessoftransitory*

      The eclipse thread below reminded me:

      I saw Connie Willis read her fantastic short story “And Come From Miles Around,” about the 1979 full solar eclipse, right after the 2016 election, and it did so much to cheer and encourage me, that as long as we have humor and courage we cannot fail.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      I recently discovered Kanopy, which is free if you have a library card. You get so many “tickets” to spend on movies and shows. There’s a TON of stuff ranging from new to very old.
      And lots for a horror fan to enjoy. So far I’ve watched The Quatermass Experiment (a movie I’ve always wanted to see thanks to Stephen King talking about it in Danse Macabre), Bodies Bodies Bodies (loved it), and F.W. Murnau’s 1922 Nosferatu, which was surprisingly good and creepy for an unauthorized Dracula ripoff.

    23. Cuppertea*

      All your comments bring me so much joy.

      While I’m here, shoutout to my university fiction library that has a fake cay flap on the door, a ‘DO NOT STUDY’ sign that a lot of students ignored, a media room with comics on the shelves and bean bags and a TV screen where they occasionally screened stuff but to me was the most cozy spot for a nap. They also put out a few 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles for community solving (the cat puzzle was completed fastest). I miss having access to that library.

  15. Firebird*

    Are you planning to travel to view the eclipse in April? I’m going on my annual roadtrip to visit my son. I figure that if I time it right, I can just pull off the road during the eclipse and then get right back on the road to hopefully avoid traffic issues. Is there anything I need to consider other than traffic and the glasses?

    1. Decidedly Me*

      Getting right back on the the road won’t avoid traffic issues as everyone will be doing that at the same time. During the last eclipse, I was barely making it 10 miles in an hour (if even that….) on the freeway for hours on end. Due to this, make sure you use the restroom beforehand and I wouldn’t skip an available rest area if there aren’t other places to stop at.

      1. Free Meerkats*

        We did the 2017 one in Oregon at a friend’s house and stayed 2 days after. Still, the normal 4 hour drive home took 10.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          Food in the totality areas had been razed. The convenience stores attached to gas stations were like something out of an apocalypse movie, with like one Slim Jim on an aisle of otherwise empty shelves.

      2. The Week Ends*

        Same for me in Illinois last time. Agree, traffic will likely be worst with your plan. Can you arrive 6-12 hrs before and stay overnight near that location? Or at least stay 4-6 hours, find a local park with restrooms. Or avoid interstates! Interstate was a parking lot, we used state and county roads.

        1. Lilo*

          Staying overnight, I did still have some traffic. Unless you stay for a couple days over, traffic is just going to happen.

      3. Falling Diphthong*

        Google maps went down as we left our eclipse-viewing llama farm in western Oregon–too many people trying to use it at once. (I do remember semi trucks going by during the eclipse, so some people just did drive right on by.)

    2. talos*

      I’m flying to Dallas for it!

      Definitely bring glasses. Optional, but consider a pinhole camera box or one of those Internet products that helps you take photos with your phone through a filter.

      1. Retail*

        I made a viewer in 2017 but had glasses for the eclipse this past October and such a huge difference! Glasses are it.

        I can stay home and see pretty full coverage and the actual band isn’t far north so we’re going but I know everyone else is!

      2. Lilo*

        My advice is to not bother with pictures during totality. This was the advice of scientists at a panel I went to. Totality is very short, eclipse photos are very hard and you don’t want to waste your totality trying to snap a photo. Just leave that to the experts.

    3. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I live in the path of totality, so I am explicitly not leaving my property for it. A friend is coming to visit and she may watch it with me from my backyard or she might go somewhere local for a bigger group type gathering, I haven’t heard her decision yet.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My mom was in the path last time — I watched the 2017 one at her place along with my uncle, her neighbors, and some friends of mine from overseas. I highly recommend seeing a total eclipse at least once in your lifetime. It’s probably the most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen.

        This time, I’m somewhat south of totality, but we’ll have 92% and should still get an interesting diamond ring view. I bought some certified eclipse glasses from Eclipse2024 dot org (same place I got them last time). Buy them now if you’re going to.

    4. Sloanicota*

      I saw it last time and am planning to see it again, and I think what I took away last time was that even *one* badly placed heavy cloud could have blocked the whole thing. On a rainy day I’m not sure you’d see anything! So if you’re doing it as a road trip, I’d say keep an eye on the doppler for the day and day before and aim for the least cloudy location.

    5. Southern Girl*

      We live a 2 hour drive from totality. Planning to make a day trip but traffic after will be a mess as we have to drive past a big city. We still have our solar glasses, binoculars, and eclipse play list from the 2017 eclipse, which was a 7 hour drive. If you can, go to totality as it is amazing.

    6. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Going to Mazatlan. Had the sense to make lodging reservations three years ago. Didn’t have the sense to make plane reservations in time so we’re driving into Guadalajara and driving to Mazatlan. It should take five hours. We’re prepared for it to take 10 or 12 going back.

    7. Seeking Second Childhood*

      If there’s any chance you do that trip as an overnight, check NOW if there’s any hotel/motel rooms left.
      Hotel room prices go up when occupancy is high, so rooms may already be more expensive than usual.
      Also I’d suggest you reserve directly with the hotel itself because some online travel agencies have been known to take reservations when there is no availability. And even some corporate central systems can get glitch
      and overbook. (I have friends who used to be in the industry.)

      1. fposte*

        In August of last year I decided to travel and stay over the night before and after, and my first choice town (Carbondale, IL) was already totally booked up. So I’m off to Bloomington, IN and will, as a result of this thread, pack food.

    8. GoryDetails*

      I live in the high-90s-percent band, so I could stay home and hope for decent viewing weather. (Years ago I was able to use a pinhole camera to see a near-total eclipse from the comfort of my hammock – I was impressed at how effective the pinhole camera was!) But I have kicked around the idea of driving a couple of hours to a totality area, though fears of heavy traffic are making me reconsider. (At that distance it’d be feasible to leave pretty early, potter around on side roads until the traffic clears, and come home late, but… well, we’ll see. The weather forecast will have a huge bearing on my decision.)

      1. Sutemi*

        The difference in experience between 95% and totality is quite a bit, so if you can make the drive I highly recommend it!

        1. Cedrus Libani*

          Agreed. 95% is slightly chillier than it ought to be, and if you pay attention there are cool diffraction patterns in the shadows, but it’s certainly not something I’d suggest taking a day out of your life to experience a few minutes of. 100% totality, though? Worth it. I could totally imagine a pre-modern person who didn’t understand what it was, and how utterly freaked they would be, because…wtf where did the sun go? It’s impressive.

    9. RMNPgirl*

      Going to Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. They’re doing a whole event in their stadium with experts. It’s a 7 1/2 hour drive for us but St Louis is on the way so we’re staying there Sunday night and then leaving early to get to Carbondale. We’ll just make the long drive home Monday afterwards.
      We tried to see the 2017 eclipse in Missouri but clouds came in right at totality so we experienced it but didn’t get to see the corona. I’m really hoping we’ll have clear skies this time!

    10. Bluebell*

      I’m visiting family in TX. We are still working out logistics from there, as we have several options where the driving time won’t be too bad, even with scary traffic.
      Related question- Where are people buying their glasses from?

    11. goddessoftransitory*

      No, but I will read Connie Willis’s short story “And Come From Miles Around,” about the 1979 full solar eclipse and how far people are willing to go to witness it!

      I saw her read that story aloud at the Seattle Public Library right after the 2016 election and man, it did so much to give me some hope that all was not lost. (Huh, gonna pop up to the library thread with this story!)

    12. OtterB*

      I’m driving from the DC area to Ohio for it. I made a hotel reservation a month or two ago for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights. Planning to drive over Saturday, do some general sightseeing on Sunday including scouting out a place to watch the eclipse from – hopefully close to the hotel – then drive home on Monday. Hotel rooms were already a bit scarce and more than a bit expensive when I made the reservation. I looked at Cleveland first and couldn’t find much of anything. Ended up at Cuyahoga Falls, which I think will be interesting. I bought some eclipse glasses and a (not very expensive) cellphone camera gadget and app, but I may not bother to try to use the phone camera.

          1. OtterB*

            That’s the main thing on my Sunday sightseeing list, probably including a ride on the scenic train. I have driven through Ohio multiple times coming and going from DC to Chicago, but never gotten off the highway. I’m looking forward to seeing the park.

      1. OtterB*

        Thanks for the suggestions about food. Our hotel room has a kitchenette and I planned to pack food for my low FODMAP daughter but will now pack some for hubby and me also.

    13. Cedrus Libani*

      I went to the 2017 eclipse, at a farm in rural Oregon (owned by a friend’s friend’s family). Didn’t plan ahead, so we drove…and it was a long drive back, so we only waited an hour or so before hitting the road. It was still bumper to bumper for the next 2 hours or so, and rush hour conditions most of the rest of the way home. I would advise filling your gas tank before the eclipse, and bringing whatever food and water you’ll need with you. Don’t rely on small-town restaurants, gas stations, etc to have enough surge capacity to handle you and everyone else doing the same thing.

      I would agree with the advice to not waste your time photographing the eclipse, unless you’re a serious hobbyist and this is a bucket list item for you. Let other people do that. Focus on the experience; it’s brief, also it’s surreal, and genuinely more impressive than you would expect from a basic description.

  16. There's no candles over here....*

    Anyone here monetize a hobby and wants to share their experience with it?

    I have a hobby (say, candle making) that I enjoy doing. Friend have asked me to “make candles” for them in the past, for which I usually just charged cost. My time was my gift to them. Plus I usually have the supplies around anyways. But now I’m considering selling my “candles” online to see if I can make money off them. It’s something I enjoy doing and based on feedback, I’m pretty good at it (and I know the bar for free is lower than anything someone pays for).

    Has anyone else done something like this? I’m not looking to quit by day job, but maybe make a little bit of money and get to do something I enjoy more often.

    1. Sloanicota*

      I make a couple hundred bucks a year, not enough to change my life, just nice extra pocket money. For something physical like candles, I found that the shipping took too much energy/money, and if my product got damaged, that was “my” problem in that my clients were unhappy with their purchase. I had better luck going to locations where I could set up a booth for a few hours. A place that will let you put up a booth for free, while hard to find, is ideal (library/brewery in my case) – then all the the cash you make is basically profit. Also, make sure you understand any tax implications, which vary based on how you go about it.

      1. EveryDayICheckMyEmailandForWhat*

        Agree with this 100%. Shipping very quickly eats up any profit you might be making, on top of service fees from places like Etsy. Plus, having the physical stock ready to go whenever someone places an online order can be stressful and space consuming (unless you buy by order, in which case the supply cost may fluctuate). Eating the upfront cost of renting a space at a farmer’s market or craft fair paid off more for me, especially since I could simultaneously sell existing products as well as take special orders (which get a shipping up charge).

    2. Semi-retired admin*

      A good formula to use for pricing is first, determine how much money you want to make per hour, then figure out how long it takes. Your cost of goods x 3, plus your hourly rate, then add on a profit (anywhere from 5% to 20%). You may find that people who claim to want to support small businesses and independent makers change their tune when they see the cost. Please value your craft and don’t price down just to get orders!

  17. Anonymous cat*

    Mysteries vs real police question.

    You know how in mystery novels and police procedural tv shows, the police—or at least one determined detective— spend a lot of time digging for info to solve one crime? Do police really do that?

    I thought that police were probably too busy to do that and the complicated stories were usually only for fiction. There would be exceptions of course but that most crimes were solved quickly or became cold cases.

    Does anyone here know?

    1. Vio*

      I’m not an expert but I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some people who are, without being stuck on the wrong end of their investigation (which probably makes for a less friendly and far more suspicious discussion of hypotheticals).
      From what I gather it depends a lot on how much other work there is to do at the time. In a quiet, relatively low crime area there’s generally more room for really determined digging. But it’s probably also a smaller force with less resources available as well.

      From what I understand, a lot of cases do go cold and there’s often little to no reason to reopen them. If evidence wasn’t found at the time then it’s assumed that it won’t be found later. Unless somebody comes forward with new information there’s probably not going to be somebody just randomly pick the case and think “Hmm I think I’ll try to solve this one during this break in our oddly predictable pattern of crimes.”

      There are real reasons for cases to be reopened though so if you’re planning to write a mystery and want to minimise the suspension of disbelief there’s always ways. As an educated guess I’d say
      New evidence found
      Witness comes forward
      Similar crime occurs which may be connected
      New discovery suggests original investigation may have been insufficient/heavily biased

      1. Sloanicota*

        “our oddly predictable pattern of crimes.” – I always chuckle imagining TV detectives saying to each other, ‘do you think it’s a bit weird that all the action in our cases combined usually makes up one tight hour, except suddenly at the end of every fall there’s a big case that really takes up our energy??’

      2. Zelda*

        “Witness comes forward”

        According to my Extremely Scientific Survey of Cold Case Files, a major cause of cold cases getting solved is romantic breakups. Someone who was involved at some level tells their SO and swears the SO to secrecy. Years later, they break up, and the SO wants to do the right thing and no longer feels too threatened to talk, or is mad and wants to make trouble for their ex, and goes to police.

    2. blue rose*

      *Uninformed assumption incoming*

      I always made the assumption of time passing. Like on Law & Order for example, even though each episode airs over an hour and minus commercials is probably something like 43 minutes, I often assumed time skips of weeks at least between scenes unless specified onscreen. But like I said, this is my own uninformed assumption. I didn’t consciously make it, but realized when I stopped to think about your question.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        On Criminal Minds, the time span of the episode is almost always explicitly defined and like, a week or less to catch this week’s Ted Bundy. I like the show but that part always struck me as patently unrealistic.

        1. Sloanicota*

          I guess I could imagine some of the crime solving might happen pretty quickly – I mean, the scene is going cold darn fast and witnesses need to be interviewed right away – but some of the more realistic shows point out how long it takes to get DNA results, autopsy information (especially the chemical parts, like “was there poison in this guys blood?”) and chemical analysis back. It’s like, weeks for that stuff sometimes, so the detectives have to go ahead with their theories before knowing that information and find out later if the data backs it up. Makes sense to me especially in crowded/underfunded public morgues. And then of course the *legal* parts take literally forever but some shows cut off before that part kicks in

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Sometimes it is a very short interval. We worked a local murder case in OldCity in my Police Patrol class to practice report writing (it happened at a motel not too far from my house, one I drove past every day, and I didn’t have a clue 0_0). It was obvious from the initial canvass who did it. The dumbass perp was still in the general area and they caught him right away.

          If it’s not obvious, it can go cold pretty quickly.

    3. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      There was a local case in the city where I live three or four decades ago, a really grim child murder. One of the detectives spent massive amounts of his own time on the case for many years.

    4. Peregrine*

      From what I heard, they’re usually juggling multiple cases at once – so the stereotypical mystery show/book threat of “I will take you off the case” would be met with more of a “great thanks” instead of being considered a threat from a results-obsessed superior in reality.

      (Hearsay, of course)

    5. Irish Teacher.*

      I’m guessing it also depends on the type of crime and the seriousness of it. Mystery stories usually focus on murders and an unusual type of murder at that, one where the victim is not “known to the police” and where it isn’t pretty obvious who did it. The sort of case that, at least in Ireland, would dominate our national news for days, if not weeks.

      Those are the kind of cases where the media follows every twist and turn and unlike in mystery stories, they are pretty rare. My whole country has an average of 40 or 50 murders a year and the vast majority of those are gangland typed stuff, where the police at least have a general idea of what gang killed them even if they don’t know the exact person who did the deed.

      Other murders are usually fairly obvious like somebody killed their partner in a row. Murders that aren’t part of gang feuds and aren’t done by somebody in a row who often admits it pretty quickly are pretty uncommon and I could see them getting more manpower than the average crime and certainly taking precedent over the drug dealing and minor thefts that probably make up a lot of police work.

      I don’t know if they get the attention they do in books, but these are the crimes that have documentaries made about them (especially since the victims in books are often well-off people) where the detectives get interviewed and which have the whole country following the court case, so I’d imaging they’d want every t crossed and I dotted. We still talk about the Rachel O’Reilly murder that took place in 2004 and there was recently a documentary about it on TV and that was one of the real cases that came closest to resembling the type of murder you see in books or on TV.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I suspect there’s a grain of truth here (although in the US of course there are many more murders) – it’s probably an 80/20 type thing. 80% of the murders seem relatively either pretty obvious, even if they can’t prove it completely to the satisfaction of the court. Police probably spend most of their time on the other 20%.

          1. Goldfeesh*

            And with seeing the relatively large number of Innocence Project cases, some of the “solved” cases are solved by saying “Huh, conveniently this person did it according to the prison snitch, case closed!”

            1. Maggie*

              Very true! And even if 50% have a suspect arrested it doesn’t mean they are even charged with the crime yet, much less found guilty. Violent crime clearance rates are actually pretty low which is scary. And it’s scary as you said that some people aren’t even guilty. “The confession tapes” is a show that really goes to show how people get railroaded even when they KNOW someone else did it. Highly recommend. Disturbing a bit though!

      2. Phryne*

        Yes, I’ve also seen this statistic. Most crimes, it is pretty well known who (likely) did it, either gang/crime related or in the family sphere. And the case is about getting enough forensic evidence and or getting enough people to talk about it both of which take time. But if it is a real mystery, there is a very low probability the case ever gets solved unless someone comes forward.

        1. Phryne*

          I saw a German docu ‘Dig Deeper’ about the disappearance of Birgit Meier in Northern Germany, which I can recommend. The case eventually got solved because her retired big city police officer kept looking, because the local police ignored pretty much every lead for decades.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          One FBI stat that has always haunted me was quoted by Bill Bryson back in his travel books days: that there’s a constant, estimated number of serial killers out and active at any one time, nationwide. Many never get caught and age out of being able to commit those crimes, or go to prison for something else. But most of their victims are never found, or wrongly attributed to someone who’s already been caught.

        3. londonedit*

          I don’t know about anywhere else but here the police only give very basic details when there’s a suspected murder, so as not to compromise the investigation before an arrest has been made. You’ll hear phrases like ‘police are looking for a 38-year-old man believed to have been known to the victim’ and then you know that they know exactly who did it, they just need to make a formal arrest. With gang-related killings arrests are either made immediately or may not be made at all if members of the gang/people in the local area refuse to give information. It’s rare that there’s a murder where the culprit is completely unknown – in those cases police will appeal to the public and give as much of a description as they can, and so on.

    6. londonedit*

      There’s a BBC series called Forensics: The Real CSI, which as the title suggests follows UK police forces and forensics experts as they try to solve crimes (sometimes murders but also other types of crime, whatever forensics would get involved with really). The teams absolutely do put a lot of effort into trying to gather evidence and bring the criminals to justice – it’s a really interesting programme and definitely sheds a light on how things work behind the scenes. When the criminals are eventually brought to court and found guilty, the forensics team usually gets a call from the lead detective to let them know the sentences received – which drives home the fact that they really do care and want to see justice being done.

    7. TX_TRUCKER*

      I asked a nephew who works in law enforcement this question. He says that some jurisdictions have a dedicated “cold case” unit where detectives dig deep to solve an old crime, and that is all they work on. But the TV idea of a detective working both “active” and “cold” cases at the same time is fiction. A witness coming forward on their own (not physical evidence) usually will turn a cold case to active.

      1. Sloanicota*

        I do think the most common scenario, rather than the tireless detective still toiling away 20 years later, is that someone who knew about the crime comes forward later for reasons of their own. Maybe they’re trying to get a plea deal or a reduced sentence, maybe their conscience gets to them or something about their circumstances change. A lot of crimes involve conspiracies or almost seem to be open secrets honestly, if what I see in the true crime genres is in any way more accurate than fictional TV/novel procedurals (of which I consume a lot).

    8. Ochre*

      Anecdata here but I was a witness to a murder 8 years ago. (It’s complicated; I didn’t realize it was a murder until someone turned up dead elsewhere in the neighborhood.) I gave my statement and the police took statements and some trace evidence from others and then…I heard nothing for 7 years. Then the DA’s office called: they had a date for a grand jury trial. Did that, then they said the trial was successful (I only had to give my statement; I wasn’t there for the whole thing). Then a trial was scheduled. At this point the original officer I’d talked to had retired, the first DA had become a judge and a new DA was taking the case. A week before the trial date, the defendant took a plea deal…for 25 years. I didn’t feel I could ask the DA for details (maybe I could have?) but it was implied that they had witnesses (who most likely were incarcerated) who were finally willing to testify. Whatever they said must have been pretty damning for him to plead for 25 years! This was a gang/drug-related retaliation murder, as far as I could gather.

    9. Elle*

      I can’t remember if it was the people who made the TV show ER or Law and Order but I read an interview where they talked about how the real life stuff is slower and more boring then we think. I know my friends in law enforcement complain about all the paperwork, which would not make for good tv.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Most things are more mundane than TV would have you think. Even reality shows about unusual jobs are heavily scripted and edited.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        The makers of Veronica Mars knew that their real life detective consultant could get most of this stuff by typing at a computer, but there’s a limit to how dramatically or visually interesting you can make that.

    10. Morning Reading*

      I don’t really know, but I think the “amateur detective solves crimes” genre is in part based on the idea that police don’t do much with the mysterious crimes. The obvious ones, which most murders are, yes they do arrest and prosecute. Mostly ending up with plea bargains.
      I don’t know if police are unable or unwilling but many/ most crimes, in reality, are never solved.
      In the case of sexual assaults, I don’t think they usually even try. Hence the vaults of DNA evidence sitting untested in various labs. Maybe they don’t have the resources but my impression is that it’s not a priority. For robberies and thefts, they want you to fill out a police report for insurance purposes, but they usually tell you not to expect anything. Even if they find the perpetrator, they stuff is long gone. And mostly they never find the perpetrator; with small property crimes, again, they do very little.

    11. Isabel Archer*

      I just finished a true-crime podcast called “Bear Brook,” which would answer your question. Realistically, law enforcement doesn’t have enough time or people to do all the tip-following and deep research that solving mysteries requires. This podcast showed how many years and how many law enforcement folks plus regular citizens it really took to solve these murders.

    12. Anonymous cat*

      Thank you everyone! Very interesting! (And I always kind of wondered if the police had overwhelming amounts of paperwork!)

  18. Morning Reading*

    A book and old-fashioned courtesy title question:
    I’m reading (listening to) The Paris Mystery by Kirsty Manning, which I think was recommended by someone here. The book is set in 1939. In it, the title character uses the “Mrs” equivalent (madame iirc), as she is married but not yet divorced, but she didn’t take her husband’s last name upon marriage so she uses Madame Her-Original-Lastname. This makes no sense to me. In my experience, if someone doesn’t change her name upon marriage, she also doesn’t go by “Mrs,” and if she does use Mrs, she is “Mrs Hislastname,” not “Mrs her maiden name.” The latter sounds like she would be married to her own father. (Or maybe a cousin, as with the Roosevelts.) Nowadays I would expect a married woman with her original name to be Ms. her last name, and if they didn’t have the Ms option in 1939, wouldn’t she have used Miss Herlastname?
    Then, once this character is divorced, she goes back to using Mademoiselle, the equivalent of Miss (although I have heard this title is no longer used much in France.) But here in the US, a divorced woman would traditionally (in early 20th century) still use Mrs., but with her own first name instead of her husband’s. So Mrs. Mary Jones instead of Mrs. John Jones. (Whereas a widow would still use Mrs. John Jones.) Once you were a Mrs, you were always a Mrs, no going back.
    So what gives? Is this an eccentricity of the author, or was it done differently in France then? Or maybe Australia since the character is Australian?
    Another question: throughout the book, another character is described as having green hair. Could I be misunderstanding “greying” hair with the narrator’s accent? Did anyone have green hair in 1939 Paris?
    P.S. I am indeed fortunate to have no other pressing problems currently, to be so curiously peeved about this non-problem.

    1. RagingADHD*

      Since this is apparently not a fantasy setting, do the other characters react at all to her hair? Green hair would have been possible, but unusual enough to be quite remarkable. Is she some kind of performer, a wealthy eccentric, a high-society fashionista, or otherwise unfettered by social conventions?

      If not, I think it’s probably “greying.”

      1. Morning Reading*

        Not as far as I can tell, but it is described more than once. She’s an aristocratic lady, married to Lord Somebody, but with an acting background and a reputation for heroism as a wartime nurse, in the last big one. Known for her innovative entertainments; the first murder happens at one of her soirées. So maybe it’s green? (I need to find a text copy of the book to check.)

        1. RagingADHD*

          I doubt it. To have nobody overtly react to her unusual appearance in any way is very unrealistic.

    2. RLC*

      Ooh, great question!
      I have a question-provoking example in my own family tree: Great grandmother was married and subsequently divorced prior to US Census of 1900, she is listed as “Mrs Firstname Her maiden name” in the 1900 records. (Her child is listed as “Childname Her maiden name”)
      Ten years later a newspaper article from 1910 lists her as “Mrs Firstname Ex-husband name”
      The 1910 mention fits the traditional pattern you noted – but 1900 census surely does not!

    3. WS*

      There were a very small number of women at the time who kept their maiden names professionally but used Mrs, at least here in Australia. My great-grandmother was a pianist and singer and used Mrs Mary Smith (her maiden name) professionally, but was Mrs John Jones socially. Some female doctors and professors and at least one pharmacist (who apprenticed with her father) also did this. That said, it was *extremely* unusual and my grandmother told me she was embarrassed as a kid because she worried people might assume her parents weren’t married.

      1. RLC*

        Your story gives me a bit of insight into my great-grandmother’s usage of “Mrs Maidenname” – she was a tailor and dressmaker with both male and female clients. “Mrs” might convey social propriety for a businesswoman working with male clients in the Victorian era, and her professional career began prior to marriage so she was known by her maiden name. Her use of ex-husband’s last name only appears after she moves from New York City to Los Angeles.

        1. Margery Daw*

          And the cook in Victorian households was always “Mrs.Somebody” to designate status as head of cooking, often with helpers under her, regardless of cook’s marital status.

    4. Weegie*

      Mrs is short for ‘Mistress’, and in former times meant ‘mistress of the household’ – which would usually be a married woman but not always. My grandfather told me that when he was growing up (1910s/20s) all women over the age of 21 were called ‘Mistress Lastname’, whether married or single. That might have been particular to where I live and I’m not sure when that custom changed; it’s quite common to see women of that time and earlier referred to in official documents as ‘Mary Marriedname or Maidenname’. Maiden surnames are still used for legal purposes here.

      I also had a university lecturer who referred to herself as ‘Mrs Maidenname’, as an indicator that she was married but keeping her own surname (she didn’t have a doctorate, which would have dodged the issue!). It was the early 80s, the use of ‘Ms’ wasn’t that common, and I suppose this was her workaround.

      1. Sloanicota*

        It’s crazy that Ms went from not really used just within my lifespan to becoming so common as to be the primary form of female address at least in my workplace! I wonder how common this is. I’m in a liberal coastal city and work in a liberal office.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I chose to go by Ms. at around age 18, when having a title of some kind began to be a given, such as mail addressed to me (as opposed to a kid, who just goes by firstname/lastname in most of US society late 20th century.) It was still a thing you had to pick and insist on. I still get a few pieces of mail from older relatives that write to me as Mrs. Husband’s Lastname, which I find irritating but it’s what they were taught and used to.

          Nowadays, of course, Ms. is a total non-starter as A Feminist Issue for the most part. But it definitely evolved to that point.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      My impression with the “Mrs Mary Jones” for divorcées is that–like the Medieval rules about all the luxury products only nobility were allowed to wear–it was mostly evident in all the people violating the Strict Rules.

    6. fhqwhgads*

      This reminds me of watching Serena Williams play after she married Alexis Ohanian. She professionally obviously is very much Serena Williams. But umps calling matches did switch to calling her “Mrs. Williams” not “Miss Williams” , not “Ms. Williams”, and not “Mrs. Ohanian”.
      My understanding (although I don’t know if this is true of 1939 France) is the “Mrs” can be used simply to denote “this person is married” and the surname is just their surname, and it need not be the combination of the two indicating the name of the person they’re married to.

      So basically, that part of the story wouldn’t make the blink, even though I’m not familiar with the norms of the time period or locale.

      1. Morning Reading*

        Interesting, I had not noticed that. Wondering why she was Miss or Mrs or anything but Williams at all? Isn’t the sports convention to use last names? I’ve never heard of Mr. Aaron or Mr. Palmer. Is it a tennis thing to use titles? Or is it just for the women? Or just for Ms. Williams, to distinguish her from her sister of the same last name? Curiouser and curiouser.

        1. Fulana del tal*

          Wimbledon I believe is the only tournament that uses Miss or Mrs titles and Mr for men. The announcer and display use the Miss/Mrs/Mr(Name) but other tournaments just use (Name)

    7. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I knew someone who did this and I can’t for the life of me remember who it was. It also bothered me for the same reasons you mention, and as someone said below I suspect it was a pre-Ms workaround for someone who wanted to signal she was married and keep her name.

      In a related question I’ve been meaning to look up when Ms originated. I’ve been reading a mystery series by Stephen Spotswood that’s set in the 1940s. One of the main characters uses Ms which seems anachronistic to me.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        OK, I just looked it up. According to Wikipedia, Ms was an alternative abbreviation for Mistress in the 17th and 18th centuries. “Mistress” in those days was the equivalent to “Mister” and did not denote marital status. That changed in the 19th century. The article quotes a newspaper article from 1901 suggested the revival of Ms when the speaker or writer didn’t know the woman’s marital status. So it was a thing, although not widely used until the 1970s.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          It might be worth tracking down the origins of Ms. Magazine, which did a lot to popularize the use of Ms. in America!

          1. Imtheone*

            I had the first copy of Ms. Magazine, which was published inside another magazine (The New Yorker?). It was 1973.

            The title Ms. took quite a while to become somewhat common.

    8. Chicago Anon*

      I believe that in France if a woman is, say, over 30 (that is, old enough that it’s likely she’s married), then she is Madame regardless of marital status. The exact age will vary with time period and region.

      1. MissCoco*

        This is also my recollection from high school French, it’s much more age-based than Miss/Ms/Mrs in English.

    9. Retired Accountant*

      When Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice President on the Mondale ticket, it was a thing in some circles that she went by Mrs. Ferraro. She was married and did not change her name, and it was frequently asserted that she could be “Ms. Ferraro” or Mrs. (husband last name) but not Mrs. Ferraro. The world continued apace.

    10. Jackalope*

      French has never to my knowledge had an equivalent of Ms., just Madame or Mademoiselle for women. I don’t know how many of the French women that I met who were married had taken their husband’s last name, but Madame was used for all of them. (And as you note, Mademoiselle is used much less these days, although I would be surprised if that were the case in the time period you’re referring to.)

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      No matter what a woman wants to be called, it’s likely many strangers and irritating family members will default to “Mrs. HusbandsLastName.”

      Source: Personal experience. I have never introduced myself as Mrs, have always checked&signed Ms, and have specifically joked “If you say Mrs I look for my mother-in-law”—and it’s rare that people say Ms.

    12. IGoAnonAnonAnon*

      Review in The Washington Post calls out Lady Ashworth’s green hair, so it’s definitely green not greying. Seems like she’s just famous and wealthy enough to get away with it!

    13. Washi*

      I went and looked up some newspaper articles about LM Montgomery, who was married but did not change her name. One article (post marriage) called her Miss Montgomery but all the others say LM Montgomery (Mrs. Ewan Macdonald) on the first mention, then just LM Montgomery thereafter. I recall reading in a biography that socially she did use Mrs Macdonald. I did not see “Mrs Montgomery” as an option anywhere.

    14. shteripecas*

      If it’s set in France “madame” would be the polite title to apply to any woman, regardless of marriage status. “mademoiselle” is really for girls.

    15. EllenD*

      Different countries have different approaches to married women, whereby they weren’t expected adopt their husband’s family name. In Scotland, a woman might be known as Betsy Cameron wife of John McDonald and in France married women in legal documents were expected to sign their maiden name, however long they were married. In Spain, it is more complicated with everybody have two surnames based on those of their parents and women don’t adopt their husband’s surnames but retain those of their parents. Their children then have two surnames one from the father and one from the mother.

    16. Morning Reading*

      Thanks for the fascinating discussion! The gist seems to be that I am (sort of) correct in my understanding of the Anglo/English/New England/Canadian style, but that individuals could and did use different styles according to their preferences, even 85 years ago. Also that Madame is not a Mrs equivalent and these practices vary widely in other languages and cultures. And also that Mrs has been used in other ways than connotating marital status, in some places and eras.
      My own experience is that the only times anyone has addressed me as Mrs has been in the context of being a mother. First time was the day my child was born; I suspect they default to Mrs for all new mothers. It is probably easier, or friendlier, if you know a child’s full name, to default to “Mrs. child’slastname,” than to use “child’s first name’s mom,” when addressing a woman you only know through her child.
      For others,if someone uses Mrs, I assume she is a teacher, or old-fashioned. I haven’t encountered it much otherwise.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It was also traditional in England, with upper class families, to refer to their housekeeper and/or cook as Mrs. Lastname, regardless of their marital status.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        My name from my children’s friends followed:
        Emily Mommy
        Emily’s Mom
        Mrs. Emily’s Last Name

    17. Phryne*

      Women’s names being automatically and legally changed to their husbands’ is an Anglosphere custom. Pretty much nowhere else is this the norm. In most countries, women either keep their own names or hyphenate their birth and married names. In my country, it is not strange for married women to take their husbands name for daily use, or hyphenate marriedname-birthname but many do not and in all official documentation and ID women will always will keep their birth name, possibly with the addition of a spouses name in a ‘married to’ line
      I am not sure about titles in France, but I think it is safe to assume it is not necessarily the same as in the US.

      1. allathian*

        I’m in Finland, and the requirement for a woman to take her husband’s name was a brief thing, barely 60 years, 1926-1987. But I suspect that the tradition of a married woman being known socially as Mrs. Husband’s Full Name is purely Anglophone. It’s certainly never been a thing here.

        1. allathian*

          Husband’s last name is a thing here, but a woman’s never known by her husband’s first name. It’s also increasingly common for husbands to take their wife’s name.

    18. Esprit de l'escalier*

      Several of you said “mademoiselle” isn’t used much in France these days. How do they address young women if not as “Mlle Francois”?

        1. allathian*

          Yeah. When I was an exchange student in France in my early 20s, I seem to remember the lecturers addressing their female students as Mademoiselle, but in stores etc. I was generally Madame unless the cashier was old enough to be my grandparent. This was in the mid-90s.

    19. ranunculus*

      Oscar Wilde famously described Aubrey Beardsley as having “a face like a silver hatchet and grass green hair”. It’s impossible to tell from photographs, since they’re all in black and white, but it appears to be a kind of ash blond, which can definitely appear to have a greenish cast in certain light.

  19. Free Meerkats*

    What music from when you were young that you completely missed have you discovered later in life?

    I tend to listen to youtube music when I’m reading on the computer and the algorithm recommended an album compilation from 1973-75 by a group called Budgie. I’d never heard of them, so hit play. These guys rock! They were a Welsh band, active late 60s to late 80s (my prime radio listening years), then again for a couple of year in the mid 90s, and again in the early 1999-2010.

    1. mreasy*

      I was pointed to Budgie by a (Welsh) friend ages ago, they are great!! More classically metal, but if you don’t know Blind Guardian, they hit a similar spot for me.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        I didn’t miss them completely, but I always thought so many bands like this were one hit wonders. You’d go to the music store and think, am I going to take the risk and buy the whole album based on one song I heard on the radio? I made so many mistakes gambling doing that.

        Now I realize, they are not a one hit wonder? Why did I think that.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      The Rolling Stones’ She’s a Rainbow, via Ted Lasso. I’m sure I must have heard this on the radio In My Youth, but it never registered.

    3. Generic Name*

      I didn’t miss it when I was young (I just didn’t necessarily appreciate it), but I’ve recently started listening to the old school (80s and 90s) hip hop radio station.

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      I came to Death Cab For Cutie a little late. Plans and Transatlanticism were both released when I was in high school but I didn’t listen to them until college. Just recently I’ve started listening to some of their earlier stuff!

    5. Girasol*

      I was looking for old favorite music and remembered a one-hit wonder from ages back. That led me down a trail of one hit wonders from my teen years – whole youtube collections of them – and they were all songs I had loved.

    6. Busy Middle Manager*

      Not miss completely, but so many songs sort of blended into the background when they were new and all sort of sounded the same as other songs at the same, so didn’t hit the endorphin button in your brain. Then you hear them now and they go poof, and light up your brain, and sound so new and original. Recent cases for me include Concrete Blondes – Joey (at the time it sounded like too many other bands and it’s like my brain didn’t register it) or Billy Joels Matter of Trust.

      As an 80s kids, so much music from the 70s sounded the same to me, and because I couldn’t google the songs and couldn’t differentiate the voices, I was just lost. Now I often have 70s rock on in the background and am starting to be able to tell the bands apart:-). There was a Family Guy episode where Stewie discovered Anne Murray and it was a total trip for him. I had that experience with Ozzy Osbourne and ELO in the past few years. Like it was always background noise, then it clicked in my head, and now I have no idea how bands like that all sounded the same to me!

      1. Falling Diphthong*

        Songs that were used in a really evocative way in a TV show will take on a much enhanced meaning for me.
        Chuck: Take on Me
        Wednesday: Goo Goo Muck
        Lupin: Atomic
        Umbrella Academy: Footloose and Bad Guy
        Harley Quinn: Sweet but Psycho and Confident

    7. Clara Bowe*

      Late 80’s/early 90’s house music! There was so much I missed as a small white child in the Midwest with zero access to dance clubs. I love Kellee!

    8. Emily Byrd Starr*

      In the past 5 years or so, I’ve been really into electronica/trip-hop from the 1990’s, which was a genre I rarely listened to back then. I especially like Ivy, Jem, Morcheeba, and Portishead.

    9. allathian*

      Finnish rock band Dingo. They had a string of hits in the mid-80s when my family lived in the UK and I was just discovering my own musical tastes rather than simply listening to whatever my parents listened to. When we returned, much of the Dingomania had passed. I started listening to their music during the pandemic.

  20. Helvetica*

    What’s your e-mailing pet peeve that is absolutely nonconsequential in the bigger picture? I’m not talking about people who use reply all for everything but truly things that have no actual practical effect on you.
    For me, it is people who sign off e-mails with their initial. I don’t know why I find it annoying but if your name is Mary and you sign off “M”, I will roll my eyes. It would never rise to the level of me telling the person because it actually doesn’t matter, so hence it is a pet peeve. So, what’s yours?

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I get irrationally annoyed by email signatures – “expired” info (“scheduled out of office: 1/2-7” still being there in February, I don’t mind a day or two while you catch up but update that nonsense), names in fancy hard-to-read fonts (that are off-brand to boot), and most quotes.

    2. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      “Nice to e-meet you”

      I stopped signing off work emails with “Best,” as I learned that it’s a huge pet peeve of other people, never bothered me!

        1. Charlotte Lucas*

          Not crazy about “Best” or “Cheers” (FTR, I live and work in the US).

          Hard agree on the outdated schedule info.

    3. BookMom*

      Blank subject lines. Yes, Lundberg, I’d love to scroll through 15 different emails to find the one about the February TPS reports.

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        At least in my Outlook, I have the option to modify the subject line on a received email – open the email in its own window, click on the subject line and make edits, and then save. It doesn’t modify anybody else’s copy, of course, but it does help if the information I want to save for later has a blank or not-very-helpful subject line. (I had a vendor who sent me three weeks of daily emails by forwarding and modifying the previous day’s email, but she never updated the subject line, so they all had the same date on them, so I used this trick to edit the dates for my own records.)

      2. Charlotte Lucas*

        Or meaningless subject lines. Bonus irritation points if it’s a trail and the topic has significantly changed from the initial email. (This is the kind that I tend to get added to about 15 messages in, with a question about my opinion but no summary of the discussion. My opinion is that y’all need to learn how email communication works. How’s that?)

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Conversely, people who change the subject line without changing the subject matter… and then cant find their own emails.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I HATE THIS.

        Sorry. I really do hate this. I just started a new part-time job (still retired three days of the week!) and one of my coworkers makes chart entries in all caps. Much harder to read and also makes me feel like she’s yelling at me. She’s a sweet woman. I’ve known her for years. She doesn’t yell, at least not when she’s not typing.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          She may read all caps better–I’ve noticed that lower case letters are harder and harder to decipher as I age into decrepitude.

    4. ccsquared*

      That we haven’t yet come up with good sign-offs that sound right for people we work with frequently. “Regards” or “Kind regards” is great for more formal or less frequent contacts, but feels too distant to use with someone I’m probably going to see in the hallway later that day. “Thanks” doesn’t really feel right when you’re not making a request (and even if you are, isn’t it weird to thank someone before they’ve done it?) but I end up defaulting to this a lot because it’s sufficiently breezy at least. I have former colleagues who use “cheers” which no longer sets my teeth on edge, but I can’t see myself picking it up.

      I’m sending more and more emails without any sign-off but my name, but I’m sure that peeves at least a few people.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        I work with someone who just wishes people a great day. (It works for her, because she is the kind of person who does sincerely want you to have a great day.)

        1. skylight*

          I have a friend you signed Happy [day of the week]. Also would greet people in person the same way too. After a couple
          of years, I started using it too. I hoe it’s not anyone’s pet peeve.

      2. Jill Swinburne*

        UK/NZ/probably Australian English has this sorted – you sign off with ‘cheers’. As well as a toast, it’s a friendly informal way to say ‘thank you’.

    5. Nessness*

      The initials annoy me too! I had one coworker who signed his emails with his 3-letter initials when his first name also had 3 letters (e.g. JRT instead of Jim). You’re not even saving time! I don’t know why this annoyed me so much but it did.

    6. Knighthope*

      “Sent from my iPhone/Android” whatever. Annoying, space-wasting advertising. Change your signature to blank, people!

    7. Venetia Hall*

      I find myself doing a hard eyeroll when people with professional email accounts begin a message with “Hi this is Firstname Lastname …”. Yes, I know, because your name was clearly displayed in my inbox. How have these folks never noticed how business email works?

    8. Sitting Pretty*

      Putting a whole request in the subject line then nothing in the body. It’s so weird. I have a supervisor who does this. “Subj: We need to figure out who’s overseeing the project launch presentation by Weds” then I open the email and … nothing? My dude, Teams and texting and Slack all exist for a reason, can you just DM me please?

      1. Maestra*

        I often do that when I email my students because they often won’t read emails, but will at least read the subject when they get the push notification. Sometimes I restate the subject line in the body of the email with complete sentences or add a little more context/detail, but the bulk of what I need them to absorb is in the subject.

    9. Community resources?*

      Ha. I had a boss who would only read the text first visible on her screen when she opened her email. If the sentence continued at the end of the line, she went looking for the next email with the rest of the message. So we agreed that she’d read til my sign off at the end. Within a few months she was up to speed, but asked me to continue signing off so she’d know that was all. I still sign off with my first initial, all these years later.

    10. vombatus ursinus*

      Sorry, I’m one of those who sometimes signs off with just an initial, haha. On the off chance that hearing the thinking behind it might make it feel less annoying, it’s usually in the situation where I’m writing the second or third email in a chain with someone I know, so … I don’t need to remind them what my name is, but it feels a bit rude/abrupt to just end the email with no sign-off?

      I guess I’m generally fairly chilled about writing style when it comes to emails, but I don’t love when people reply to an existing email thread to broach a new topic (especially if they don’t bother to also change the subject line).

      1. ccsquared*

        Honestly, I would love it if we’d adopt the convention of dropping salutations and signoff after the initial email and reply. At that point, you have both agreed to engage in the matter at hand, so doing so directly without the formalities seems fine, particularly if this about a single topic, like arranging a surprise birthday for a friend versus just general life catch-up. We’re not posting letters to each other that need six weeks to cross the ocean on a steamer, whereby we wish to cheer the countence of our esteemed confindants with our heartfelt salutations and manifold regards in our correspondences.

      2. Forrest Rhodes*

        If I’ve added a P.S. after my signature, I’ll end with a lower-case first initial on the line after the P.S. to indicate it’s a finished thought and no text is missing.

        Also, I hate hearing all the hate for “Best”; I’ve been using “Best [to you, to the team, whatever is appropriate]” for a long time. Didn’t realize I was insulting people rather than giving a friendly sign-off!

        1. office hobbit*

          I don’t think that’s insulting? And I read “Best to ___” as different from “Best,” tho I still think either is fine.

    11. Seeking Second Childhood*

      For what it’s worth, a nonzero % of us use our initials as a nickname in the real world.

      Are you bristling at what Mary/Em intended as a gesture of friendship?

      1. Helvetica*

        Mm, people who I’ve noticed doing this definitely don’t use the initial as a nickname nor are we friendly to that extent. But I’ll keep in mind!

    12. allathian*

      Abbreviated sign offs annoy me, like Rgds for Regards. Skip it completely if you can’t be bothered to write it out. It honestly feels like a big fuck you to me.

    13. AGD*

      Copying and pasting into my Outlook mailbox changes the vertical line spacing in a way that I can’t do anything about. Nothing I’ve tried has solved this, and “just don’t copy and paste” isn’t realistic given the sort of work I do. If I need to copy anything in, then half of it has regular 1.0 line spacing and the other half has 1.5 and the whole thing ends up looking awful for the inconsistency and I hate it.

      1. AGD*

        Copying and pasting the entire email at the end, maddeningly, sometimes evens it out and sometimes doesn’t.

      2. office hobbit*

        Do the different Outlook paste options help? There should be a “keep text only” option that should strip out any formatting, or some options like “merge formatting” or “match destination formatting” that might help.

      3. Cedrus Libani*

        I have that problem too – depending on what application I’m copying from, it will come with white space formatting that doesn’t work in Outlook. Pasting as plain text doesn’t always solve it, because these formatting characters are part of the text.

        What I do is paste into a plain-text editor first, which will politely strip off any formatting it doesn’t want to deal with, leaving clean text that I can copy-paste into Outlook. (I use Sublime Text, but I think Notepad would work OK too.)

        This also helps with merging contributions from my Israeli colleagues…there’s Hebrew sprinkled in there, which is a right-to-left language, and it’s like glitter…the formatting gets everywhere, even if I’m copy-pasting only the English bits.

    14. Might Be Spam*

      Sometimes couples share an email account, but don’t sign their name or even initials. So even if I recognize the email address, I still don’t know who it is from.

      1. Emily Byrd Starr*

        They still do that, even in 2024? My whole family shared an email account when I was in high school, but that was in 1995.

        1. fhqwhgads*

          Everyone I know who still does this is either over 70, or is the parent of an elementary-school aged or younger child, and when it’s the parent scenario, they have a single shared account for kid-related stuff, but their own separate accounts for the rest of their lives.

    15. goddessoftransitory*

      Wall of text, for sure. You aren’t being charged by the centimeter or anything, it’s okay to break up into paragraphs!

    16. Nightengale*

      I sign e-mails at work with my initials for a very specific reason: I am a physician and wish non-physician co-workers would call me by my first name but they won’t. They call me Dr Lastname while everyone is supposed to call them by their firstnames. So in this culture, I feel strange signing off e-mails with my firstname but also I really don’t want to write Dr Lastname. Miss Manners says one never applies an honorific to oneself, “Miss Manner” being the exception. So for informal e-mails to close coworkers I often use my initials. I do use 2 initials, not just one.

  21. BellaStella*

    Google Drive clean up: I just left a few google groups, and cleaned up my storage and deleted a lot of stuff. Purging, even digital stuff, fells good. Anyone else need to clean up their google drive or online storage?

    1. goddessoftransitory*

      I have GOT to sort my collection of memes and gifs, again. I have so much stuff still just in Download!

    2. BikeWalkBarb*

      oh boy do I! I lost my cell phone and have to go through figuring out what’s in Verizon cloud, what’s on Google drive, and all of this in a context where on my laptop I have folders named “everything from my phone to sort October 2013” and other similar folder names from past phone mishaps. Clearly not something I prioritize.

      I also have a Dropbox account I pay for every October and every October I intend to start the cleanup so I won’t pay the following year for storage of old photos from a job I haven’t been in for 7+ years. Problem is the folders also have personal images and I do want to keep those and it will mean a lot of sorting. See above for my interest in this sort of task.

  22. rr*

    I’m trying to learn to make tuna salad instead of buying it at the deli. But my first attempt was very watery. I feel like it was the celery and carrots, but I also think at least the celery is important. Any suggestions? Recipes? Oh, and I use Miracle Whip, and really don’t want to use real mayo if this isn’t the issue, though I’m open to alternatives like avocados.

    1. My Brain is Exploding*

      Did you drain the tuna? Tuna canned in water needs more…forceful…draining than tuna in oil (in my experience). I’ve always used pickles in my tuna salad and maybe celery or onions depending on who else will be eating it.

    2. Big sigh*

      First thought is you need to squeeze more water out of the tune fish. I use packed in water and try to get it as dry as possible. And I also use carrots and celery.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        Yes! I would empty the can into a sieve and use a fork to break up clumps and press down on the tuna.

    3. WellRed*

      Celery onions mayo, a little Dijon and a pinch of celery salt here. And yeah use the lid of the tuna an after you open it to squeeze all the liquid out.

    4. Dog Child*

      I think my idea of a tuna salad is very different to yours… do you have a link to what it’s ‘supposed’ to be?

    5. ShroomLog*

      Use tuna parked in oil, not water. Squeeze the oil out. Dice red onions, celery, pickles. Season with salt, pepper, basil. Mix. Add Dijon mustard (tiny amount) and mayo/miracle whip. Mix. Serve over lettuce and sliced cucumber for a salad. Or crackers and chips.

    6. The OG Sleepless*

      I use water packed tuna and REALLY squeeze the water out, as much as possible with the lid and then squashing it with a paper towel. It will be pretty soggy otherwise. After that, I just add mayo and pickle relish. I like the idea of using avocados or whatever, but I haven’t liked the results.

      1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

        That’s my basic tuna salad. I’ll add chopped celery or water chestnuts for crunch sometimes, and finely chopped parsley, or fresh dill, is nice. I find that adding too many things makes me like it less.

      2. WestsideStory*

        THAT recipe is the exact one used in school cafeterias throughout most of the eastern seaboard. To replicate it exactly, top with shredded lettuce and put it in a hot dog bun.

    7. allx*

      i add diced jalapenos to tuna salad (along with celery and onion and MW/mayo). prefer pickled jalepenos but fresh is good too.

    8. MissB*

      my tuna salad recipe uses mayo, but I don’t think using miracle whip should change that substantially.

      As others have noted, drain the heck out of the tuna. I add chopped up pickled jalapeños or spicy pickles, some dill weed, some salt and pepper and the mayo.

    9. Jay*

      If you can get it, try using a dark meat tuna. I think Goya has one, and, if you can get Portuguese canned tuna, get that.
      Always get it packed in oil.
      Personally, I prefer Miracle Whip instead of Mayo with diced sweet gherkins and black olives plus either salt and pepper or Old Bay seasoning.
      Another way to get a better consistency is to toast your bread. This gives you drier bread that doesn’t get anywhere near as soggy.

    10. Zelda*

      The Man uses the spice mix from his family’s homemade salad dressing (they used to use the salad dressing itself in the tuna, but making the spice mix dry is useful both for making dressing quickly and for flavoring tuna (and other things) without making it watery):

      4 tsp each sugar, mustard powder, salt
      3 tablespoons paprika
      2 tsp each celery salt, curry powder, cayenne pepper, ground clove, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano

      Mix well and store tightly sealed (an old paprika bottle is great for this). Use a teaspoon or so per can of tuna.

    11. Cicely*

      I use tuna in packets, which doesn’t have to be drained. I then add mayonnaise, red onion, celery, a bit of hard-boiled egg, a pinch of black pepper, let chill, and serve with/on tomato slices. An additional treat with all of it is a generous helping of good-quality, very fresh coleslaw.

      1. carcinization*

        Yeah, I don’t eat tuna salad, but my husband does, and when he makes it he definitely uses the tuna in packets, which avoids the draining issue!

  23. Angstrom*

    People sending or forwarding emails for personal use that have their full work signature block and legal notice: “This email is intended for use by employees of Megacorp…….”.
    I see those in the local community listserv and think “Really? You couldn’t take five seconds to delete that?”

  24. Put the Blame on Edamame*

    My current life hack/mini serotonin boost: unsubscribe from one email list every day. initially I was doing this for a week but turns out I have inbox material for the rest of the month!

    Anyone got any micro-organising tips or things you’re implementing to feel like a total boss?

    1. JD*

      Every now and then I decide to delete 3 emails for every one that comes in. (Usually at times when work isn’t crazy.) If I can do it for a few days straight it really helps keep my in-box manageable.

    2. Copper Penny*

      I am currently opening my photo app on my phone, searching today’s date and then deleting screenshots., duplicates, random things etc. so I can clear up cloud storage.

    3. acmx*

      I have multiple email addresses. Main, junk, one for travel and entertainment, work, one for rental property. More obvious (but recent for me) was filtering my emails in my main account.

      I will delete emails off my phone when I fly and don’t feel like reading. Just swiping is so easy.
      Occasionally, (like end of the year) I will sort be sender and mass delete.

    4. Lady Sally*

      Purge three items each weekend. Donate, recycle, whatever. But find 3 things to get out of the house. (You said micro was ok!)

    5. skylight*

      this is not organizing but makes me feel like I accomplished something . I’ve started doing two planks daily, each for 30 seconds right after my alarm goes off. Takes less two minutes even with a short rest in between. Has totally changed the way my mornings go. No longer feel groggy for two hours until my brain wakes up. Dog has learned my new routine and does not bother me until I’m done.

      1. Sloanicota*

        My dog is so cute when I do yoga. He always comes over with a clear expression of concern (“why is human on the floor??”) and then puts his face in my face the whole time. I should train him to stop but I find it so cute that I can’t haha. At least it’s starting the day with a laugh/smile I guess.

      2. carcinization*

        I do a sun salutation (including plank) every workday morning and agree that it helps immensely!

    6. Elastigirl*

      I’ve been unsubscribing from an email a day for a couple of years. On the one hand, I’m sorry to say that somehow the unsolicited emails keep coming and the task never ends. On the other hand, I shudder to imagine how awful the email swamp would be if I wasn’t doing it!

  25. 248_Ballerinas*

    We have so many avid readers in the AAM community, which I love. Question: Do you have people in your life who do not, will not, read, and if so, how do you work around that?

    I’m talking about adults who are capable of reading but do not enjoy it. Do you try to encourage them to dip into a book? How to do so without coming off as a nag or know-it-all?

    I know people have a right to enjoy what they want, reading – even light, fluffy books – seems like such a positive thing to add to one’s life that it’s hard not to encourage it.

    And yes, it would give us more to talk about when we get together.

    1. ecnaseener*

      I talk to them about other things? Maybe because I’ve gone through periods of Just Not having the right mindset to read for pleasure, but it’s never occurred to me to try to convince an adult to read books if they say it’s not their thing. There are many other stories and art forms for them to enjoy!

    2. Deuce of Gears*

      I’m that person. If you know them well enough and they *haven’t* asked for book recs or indicated interest, mayyyyybe bring it up once or a book you think they’d enjoy, and then drop it, please.

      I’m a novelist. Writing is my day job. Reading has so much baggage/pressure associated with it that I dread it. I would rather exercise, do crafts, listen to music than read books.

      But I’ve known non-writers who don’t read for various reasons: they have other all-consuming pursuits that make them happy, and those pursuits don’t include reading. Dyslexia etc. makes reading a chore. Or there’s functionally zero representation for them in their preferred genre/language. (This has also been me. It’s astonishingly common.) The list could go on.

      Turning books into Here Are Your Vitamins kills my interest in reading even deader than it already is.

      Seriously, I get it. Books are great for people who want them! But also, there are a lot of great things in the world. There are a lot of positive things to add to one’s life. It’s okay for entertainment/pleasure reading not to be one of them.

      Could you meet in the middle? Hang out and read your book while they do their Fun Thing? Mayyyybe take turns talking about books vs. talking about their Fun Thing? If they’re into (say) music, briefly tell them about your latest favorite book and its vibes, ask them to help you come up with a playlist for it so they get to do music things, maybe you find some way to do their Fun Thing with them on other occasions?

    3. Emma*

      If they don’t want to read, they don’t have to read.

      Think about how it would feel if they were really into rock climbing, and you weren’t, but they kept gently encouraging you, giving you rock climbing brochures, sending you videos about rock climbing, giving you their favorite rock climbing equipment. It would be weird, right?

      If the issue is that they want encouragement to read more, then sure, help them! But if they don’t, that’s fine. Just talk about other stuff. I read, but don’t really talk about reading with others in my life. it’s fine!

      1. Sloanicota*

        Yep. My thing is that I’m not into prestige television. I don’t know why, I just can’t be arsed to start new shows; I’m watching reruns of 90s procedurals in the background of what I’m doing. This drives people who love me crazy. They are sure I would love some of the new shows, and, like you, I’m sure they’re thinking it would give them more to talk about. But I’m not really hurting anything and I’m planning to keep on keepin’ on, so I will extend them the same courtesy on books I’ve liked that they don’t feel like reading! C’est la vie.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          I feel like this about prestige books. I read at least an hour daily, sometimes more.
          I NEVER want to read any auto biographies (most real life people do not interest me), high brow non-fiction, high-brow talked about fiction, there are book genres I just don’t do.
          Leave me alone with my murder mysteries, non fiction that I find myself, kings and queens of European countries, etc.

          1. PhyllisB*

            My husband is a book snob. He thinks that paperbacks are inferior, and he hates that I have a ton of them in the bookcases. He also looks down on fiction. The only literature worth reading in his opinion, is history or nonfiction. This affects me…not at all. He can enjoy his books on The Third Reich ( or whatever) and I’ll be here in the corner enjoying my cozies.

            1. PhyllisB*

              I do read things besides cozies. The point is the majority of what I read is some types of fiction and he thinks that’s awful.

        2. Jay (no, the other one)*

          Same. Never watched “The Sopranos,” “The Wire,” “Breaking Bad,” “Downton Abbey.” Probably never will unless I’m trapped on a very long plane and “Abbey” is the only choice. Will absolutely never watch the other because I don’t enjoy violence or cruelty in my entertainment. My husband wants to watch “Masters of the Air.” I watched the first hour with him and will probably not join him for the rest.

          I have a friend who REALLY REALLY REALLY wants me to watch “Ted Lasso” and I suspect I would like it. It still feels like too much of a commitment.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            That’s the problem with Prestige TV: it becomes A Whole Thing rather than “I enjoy this thing but I’m not down with marrying it.”

            I tend to be completist with some shows, like Midsomer Murders and Death in Paradise, but that’s because they’re fun and soothing to watch. I also have had real appointment TV in the past (when Mad Men was airing the rule was “you do not speak to me when the show’s on unless the flames have reached the hallway”) but too often trying to start something like The Wire or Breaking Bad feels like just too much to shoulder.

        3. Annabelle*

          “ Yep. My thing is that I’m not into prestige television”

          Yesssss, my twin. Just let me watch Bobs Burgers or something, my brain is DONE by the end of the workday! I don’t need The Wire or White Lotus to bum me out when I can just read a newspaper.

      2. Clisby*

        Exactly. I have a couple of brothers who are perfectly capable of reading, but that’s not really their idea of a fun time.

        I once said something like, “How can you not like to read?”

        One replied, “How can you not like to go hunting?

      3. Double A*

        This is hilarious to me because reading and rock climbing are my two hobbies that I love. And I do indeed try to get people to try climbing with me, because it’s not something a lot of people have tried and that’s how you fall in love with it. Reading, on the other hand, is something everyone knows about and has done to some extent and has access to, so I assume people can make the choice to do it.

        1. RussianInTexas*

          But if a person tells you firmly that o, mountain climbing is absolutely not for me, even when I never tried it, will you continue to urge them?

    4. Jenna Webster*

      How would you feel if all your friends started nagging you to try the activities they live and can’t understand why you won’t try them? Go ahead and msg them to read and they can nag you to bicycle or go clubbing or join a church or start canning your own food. Alternatively, you could enjoy them for who they are and find other ways to connect with them. I’ve never met anyone who was successfully nagged into beginning a reader

      1. 248_Ballerinas*

        Oh, I know you shouldn’t turn reading into an eat-your-vegetables chore. I hope to be a subtle “evangelist” for reading for pleasure.

        1. Falling Diphthong*

          But are you interacting with people who didn’t know it was possible to read for pleasure?

          As with evangelizing a literal religion, I think the most effective way is to live your life and be happy and interesting. And then people may be inclined to check out your Thing. Proselytizing has negative connotations for good reason.

          (All of the above typed as someone who hates rhubarb. Yes, I have had strawberry rhubarb pie.)

        2. Not A Manager*

          I think this is such a loving urge. Of course you want to share your pleasure with people you love! But I think the urge should be resisted. Do you remember the character of Mr. Woodhouse in Emma? How he’s found a physical routine and a diet that work for him, and he loves his friends so much, he wants them to be happy and healthy just the way he is?

          I think about him a lot, mostly when I’m enjoying my Brussels sprouts (which I adore), or I’m working out (which I don’t adore but I really like the results in a lot of ways). I have so many friends who would really benefit from more cruciform vegetables and some light stretching!

          Mr. Woodhouse is a toxic nuisance and I really don’t want to be like that. :)

            1. TassieTiger*

              I got the opposite- it was useful for me to think on the fact that an instinct/urge can come from a loving place, but should still not be acted on.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Thought experiment:
              What if, when someone did or suggested an action you didn’t like, their underlying motivation was kind and caring?
              What if, when you did or suggested an action someone didn’t like, they immediately assumed your underlying motivation could not be kind or caring?

              1. RussianInTexas*

                If this person already knows you don’t like something, yes, I will at least think they are being annoying.

        3. Coconutty*

          Why? Why does it bother you so much that people don’t enjoy reading? I assume that you’re not picking up every activity that those people in your life do enjoy just so you can have more to talk about, so why is it so important to you?

          I love to read. Some of my loved ones do, some do not. If I found myself using the word evangelize to describe my relationship to a hobby, it would be a serious call to reconsider how I’m treating others about it.

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        It doesn’t need to be nagging though

        I’ve mentioned interesting articles or books to people in passing when they said “I don’t have time” as they sit their scrolling the phone all day.

        I’m not nudging people to punish them, it’s more of “hey, that would interest you, but it’s print form, so you have to turn off the tv to engage with it.”

        I don’t think anyone is chasing someone else with a library cart

        1. Annabelle*

          “I’ve mentioned interesting articles or books to people in passing when they said “I don’t have time” as they sit their scrolling the phone all day.”

          How do you know they aren’t reading though while they do that? Articles, blogs, ebooks, etc?

        2. RussianInTexas*

          If you tell me verbatim “it’s print form, so you have to turn off the tv to engage with it” I will make sure to never read whatever it is you suggested.

        3. Irish Teacher.*

          I suspect when people say they don’t have time but are doing something else, they don’t mean “I really, really want to do that but I am so busy that I am struggling to find time to do it.” They mean more, “that isn’t a priority for me. I might do it if I find time but it’s a long way down my list and I am going to do the things I really enjoy first before something I’m pretty indifferent to” or they mean they don’t want to do it but they are being polite and rather than saying something that interests you sounds really boring, they say they don’t have time.

          I still haven’t gotten around to watching a TV show one of my colleagues appeared on maybe two weeks ago. I do mean to watch it. I just haven’t gotten around to it. That isn’t because I have literally no time whatsoever. I’ve read for at least an hour each of those days and have spent a number of hours each day online, but reading, keeping up with facebook, reading AAM, playing games online are all things I prefer to watching TV, so when I say I’ll watch a TV show if I get time, I don’t mean just “unless I have work or chores”. I also mean “if I get time after doing the things I enjoy most.” My reading hour is not being put aside just for TV.

          So for them, it is very likely that they prioritise what they are doing online over the articles you are suggesting, possibly because they don’t find those articles as interesting as the ones they may be reading online or whatever else they may be doing online. When they say they don’t have time, they more mean that isn’t a priority for them.

    5. Falling Diphthong*

      I just finished T. Kingfisher’s Summer in Orcus and I really appreciated that the villain is a voracious reader. Like, he carries books around and reads them on spider-back while his minions rough up the local populace. A love of reading is so often used as fiction shorthand for being an admirable person, when it’s actually a value-neutral activity.

      My younger child isn’t much of a reader. So I give him other gifts. And we talk about other things. I watched the Super Bowl because he had gotten me into watching the occasional game when he was living at home, and we all watched soccer with my daughter when she was living in Europe–what do the nonreaders in your life open you up to?

    6. RussianInTexas*

      I know plenty, and I do nothing about it, and it does not require any kind of work around. It’s none of my business if someone does or does not like to read. I share some books I read and liked with some people who I know for sure do read, but in a very casual way, like “I read xxx and I did not know yyyy before that!”.
      My partner reads, I wouldn’t have him as a partner otherwise. I do not care for literally anyone else wherever they read or not. I would never encourage an adult to read, just like I wouldn’t encourage an adult to paint, or go camping, or garden, or any other hobby. I would not appreciate people encouraging me to do things I don’t like to do.
      And yes, I have plenty to talk to about with people who don’t read books.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        But the funny part is, my partner’s are mine favorite book genres pretty much do not overlap, so we rarely talk about books we read anyway.

    7. WellRed*

      Some people just don’t read. They are missing out (to us) but they have other priorities that I’d probably not be interested in. But I also rarely talk books with my friends when we get together. We talk about lives jobs kids latest trip or reminiscing.

      1. allathian*

        Yes, same. I don’t talk about books with my friends because most of them aren’t readers. I don’t judge my friends for that.

        My husband is a reader and our tastes coincide but don’t overlap. Both of us read sci-fi and fantasy and some crime novels. He reads horror that I avoid and more non-fiction than I do. I read cozy mysteries and biographies that don’t interest him.

    8. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, you can’t do this with adults, and certainly not through the course of just having a conversation. Look, I get it. I’m an avid reader, and I feel strongly enough about it that I have laser focused my English teaching specialism so that I get to concentrate on mostly just teaching reading. I teach kids to overcome their technical difficulties with reading, and I teach capable-but-bored readers how to enjoy it (the skills which lie behind enjoyment are: predict, summarise, clarify (which means looking up and researching anything you don’t understand with curiosity) and asking questions (like why would character X do that?). I think reading, and reading obsessively is life affirmative and life changing. But. People who read well, and have the skills to make it enjoyable frequently underestimate the work they are putting in when they read, because they are using well oiled muscles. You could possibly bring up one of the helpful skills required through another medium: like challenging someone to predict the ending of a show you both like, or you could recommend an audio book, or say the book X is based on is better. But you can’t tell people what to like. Everything I said about reading? People also say about sport. I live in a football mad city (soccer) and neither me or my partner have ever been able to see anything in it aside from the fact that a football is definitely getting kicked around a field. His uncle once said we “have a sad, football-bereft household”.

    9. Courageous cat*

      There’s nothing to work around. You can’t do it without coming across as a nag or a know-it-all, I think. Just let people do what they want!

    10. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      My dad writes, but doesn’t read, and it boggles me. I’ve tried a couple of times over the years, given him books that I thought he would like, but after he handed me back a series I’d given him that was still in the original gift bag from five years before, I gave up. :P

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I read, and I will freely admit that I read almost no books people ever gifted me. Most books represent what people THINK I would like, not what I actually like.
        In addition, I read 100% of my books on Kindle, unless they are art books, so I just put the gifted paper books unread to the local Little Library.

        1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

          Well, in that particular case, I had told him about the series (because it’s one of my favorites) and he said it sounded interesting, which is why I gave them to him.

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          This. I have a giant list on Amazon of books I’m interested in, and my sister (for example) never buys any of them because they don’t interest HER. “Why are so many weird Japanese books on here?” Um, I thought they sounded good? I’m not making her read them, so why does she care?

        3. ThatOtherClare*

          Me too! I enjoy action, fantasy, and sci-fi best, but if the female characters are either unrealistic or all exactly the same person stamped out of the one mould, I will drop a book like it’s on fire. People are surprisingly bad at recognising when all the women in a book have exactly the same ‘strong and confident female’ personality with similar flaws, motivations, and reactions to stimuli. It’s a disease that shows up with some extremely popular series.

          Unfortunately, I find many books written by women are way too relationship focused for my taste. The women in them have different personalities, but the narrative is all to often ‘human interaction’ instead of ‘battle against the odds’. It is very hard to find books that I enjoy.

          All I want is for some Clarissa Cussler or Ida Fleming to write a stack of gender flipped trashy action novels where the heroine collects ball gowns instead of sports cars and instead of machine guns, the villainous henchwomen all carry poison-tipped stilettos (the blade or the shoe, idc, surprise me). Make the maverick genius team hacker a woman with an AI that sounds like a cat instead of the usual cliché hot woman. The complex but evil villain wants to take down the world banking system because her single mother couldn’t get a home loan.

          It doesn’t seem hard, considering the sheer volume of existing male-oriented action novels. You could even cheat and literally write all characters male as usual and just mirror the pronouns before publishing. Done.

          Thank you for coming to my TED talk. Rant over. I’m going to go hug a copy of All Systems Red now.

      2. RussianInTexas*

        My dad, an extremely smart man, a PhD, basically never read for pleasure. Not books, at least. He could never sit though a movie either, and I think, in general, he was/is probably has some level of ADHD.

    11. MissCoco*

      I simply act as if they aren’t going to want to read! If I have a book I want to tell them about because I think it’s interesting, I don’t have to edit out the good parts or keep from “spoiling it”.

      I have plenty of friends who don’t like podcasts, which I love. If a topic I learned about on a podcast comes up, I share what I learned and just know they aren’t going to listen to it themselves. I might make one or two low-pressure recommendations per year with the understanding they are probably not going to follow up on them, but more than that starts to feel like nagging.

      I’ve gone through phases where I don’t have the bandwidth to read, and there are plenty of people who just find reading too effortful to be a leisure activity, and I don’t really think there’s anything someone else could say or do to change that.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        When I am stressed or mentally tired, I normally don’t read my regular books either. But I usually want to read/sort of read something, so I flip through some of the big nerdy coffee table books, like The World of Ice and Fire (lights of pretty pictures), Uniforms of Star Trek, How to Read a Dress, the big book of NatGeo infographics, or even some prettier cook books.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        An advantage from back in Ye Olden Times when broadcast TV was the only option was that you could discuss what happened on the Wednesday night shows Thursday morning at work. Asynchronous viewing is great, but asynchronous discussion doesn’t work well.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Ugh, it’s so hard to negotiate the “wait, which episode/season are you up to?” thing every time you want to talk about a show.

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Anyone who nudges me repeatedly to engage in an activity I don’t enjoy– especially one that I have tried and I know for sure I do not enjoy– is not someone I care to spend time with. If we have nothing or very little in common because I don’t partake in the same activities, then the friendship naturally fizzles. And that’s ok, sometimes people aren’t compatible or they grow apart, but my friends are people who can meet me where I am and vice versa.

      I’m technically capable of skiing but I don’t enjoy it. I’ve done it. I know I don’t like it. If a skiing enthusiast friend tried to “encourage” me repeatedly to ski because they think it would be good for me, I would step far back from that friendship.

      If your friends ask you for book recommendations, fine. If they agree to meet you in a bookstore, fine. But presumably they’re adults and they know what they enjoy as well as what they’re willing to try.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        It’s like when people try to get you to eat a food you don’t like. I’m an adult, my tastes are pretty much formed. I am indeed sure I will not like X, please stop acting like I’m missing out on God’s Cupcakes or whatever.

        1. WestsideStory*

          Agreed. My in-laws don’t read anything, never watch the news or take an interest in the arts in their city, which abounds in cultural offerings. I would never push them to try to enjoy my interests. They are their own people. Back in 2020 I actually got my SIL registered to vote, for the first time, and hope to gin her up enough to get to the polls this year.
          You pick your battles. If you like books, join or create a book club, and find your reading friends there.

    13. ccsquared*

      This isn’t directly about reading, but something I fairly recently am coming into understanding in my early 40s: not all friendships and certainly not all meaningful relationships will be about shared interests and hobbies. For example, maybe you value their advice on life matters, or you could call them in a pinch, or they’re family. If you are finding it difficult to find things to talk about, maybe try to find different activities to do with them so that there’s less pressure to converse or something else to talk about, or maybe you don’t hang out much at all, but have other ways to maintain those social ties.

      Also, I think it would help for you to consider that other people might be getting the same benefits you get from reading from other things that work better for them, such as watching art films, listening to complex music, viewing art, or listening to longform podcasts or journalism. I also know people who are sophisticated thinkers and great conversationalists, but get enough mental stimulation from their job, and recreation to them means pop music and reality TV. Your impulse to want the people in your life to have the same richness that you do is a noble one, just keep in mind people are different and so they may find that in other things, and that’s ok.

      And if you deeply desire to talk about books with people, that’s totally awesome, but you might need to find book clubs or other ways to meet fellow readers. Or if you meet someone who is a reader, take initiative to find ways to hang out with them more, rather than trying to convert existing friends into the reading buddies you desire.

      1. Elastigirl*

        “I also know people who are sophisticated thinkers and great conversationalists, but get enough mental stimulation from their job, and recreation to them means pop music and reality TV. ” — Great insight!

        I have spent a good part of my career writing things that appear on screens that people watch, and now I teach students who write things that appear on screens that people watch — and I find that I have to be very careful about what scripted TV I watch, because it drains my writing energy. So I watch Survivor and The Bachelor and Great British Baking Show and Shark Tank and and and…. because they are actual recreation to my mind.

    14. GoryDetails*

      Heh! Most of my friends and family do read for pleasure – though not generally at the same rate that I do – so I seldom run into a non-reader. (There are a few whose books-per-year are in the single digits – they’d rather spend their time playing online games or being in a band. And some are busy writing their own books, so their reading-for-pleasure time has dropped.) But I’ve never minded those differences in interests; we find other things to talk about, or I mention an amusing/unusual book and they tell me about an unexpectedly weird final-boss situation in a game, or we debate which new pub to visit for dinner.

      I do often gift books to people, especially if I know that they’ve enjoyed something in that general genre/style before; I don’t nag them about reading same, and don’t ask what’s become of the books afterwards, but sometimes get a pleasant surprise when they tell me they loved it and possibly even want to read more by that author/in that style.

    15. Jay (no, the other one)*

      My kid stopped reading for pleasure after third grade. Reading logs ruined it for her (they are evil. Seriously). I was a book-a-day kid and still go through spurts like that. I love to read. I can’t imagine not reading. And I very quickly learned that it was very bad for our relationships if she got any hint that I thought she should be reading or I was disappointed that she didn’t. So I worked very very hard to not feel that way and pretty much got over it. She is voraciously curious and does deep dives into the things that interest her. Those deep dives involve YouTube and other online resources, not books. OK. In college she was fascinated by some of the required texts – she loved “Oryx and Crake” and pushed me to read it – so I figured her education had done a decent job.

      Fast-forward to age 23 when I apologized for asking her to stop in a bookstore while we were waiting for a table at the restaurant next door. “Oh, that’s OK, Mom. I like to read now.” She reads what is often condescendingly called “chick lit” and now we trade book recommendations. There was absolutely nothing – zero, zip, nada – I could have done to speed this up or change her trajectory. And if I had pushed I suspect she would have resolutely chosen to be a non-reader or never told me if she changed her mind. Don’t evangelize. Leave them be and talk about other things.

      1. allathian*

        With kids, being a good example helps. My son wasn’t interested in reading until he was 11. Then he suddenly announced that he wanted to read Harry Potter and he’s been a reader ever since. Both my husband and I read, he’s seen us reading from a very young age, we read to him until he was 11 and decided he preferred to read himself.

    16. Irish Teacher.*

      I don’t really think of it as something to work around. I don’t try and encourage them to do something they aren’t interested in, just as I would expect they wouldn’t try to encourage me to go to the gym or watch regular TV.

      I just enjoy my hobbies and leave them enjoy theirs.

    17. Esme W*

      Work around? I just talk to them about the things we do have in common, and save the book talk for my friends who are also readers. It’s not a big deal. And no, I don’t try to encourage other adults to read – they know what books are, they can decide for themselves if they want to read them or not. It’s not up to me to try to change them. That would be really crass and rude of me.

    18. Annabelle*

      I love reading but am only recently getting over a LONG dry spell of longform reading for a variety of reasons. I feel like that is a surprisingly common thing for some people, especially after the last few years (it wouldn’t surprise me if long COVID or untreated anxiety and depression—say from a global pandemic—can mess with your attention span and bandwidth for things like longform reading, even for pleasure).
      Dyslexia, poor childhood/school experiences, early literacy issues, money, other ,earning disabilities, plain old personal preference etc, can all play a factor in whether or not people enjoy reading.
      And going back to me LOVING to read (I’ve been on a kick of mainlining romance books through Kindle Unlimited lately)— the fastest way to get me to not enjoy reading is to make it an obligation, to judge me on it, or to otherwise turn it into a chore. A friend recommending books is one thing. A friend pushing it and pushing it? Hmmmm no. I am probably the only bookworm in America who lived through the Book-It era and did not actually enjoy it for the same reason I never enjoyed summer reading lists in school: the requirement aspect. You took sometime I already loved doing and was doing on my own anyway, and now you’ve made it a chore/assignment because other people had to be cajoled into doing it? How is that my problem??*
      So I would kind of just maybe let sleeping dogs lie with this? I’ve had people judge me for being into reading and “reading too much” and that was obnoxious. Being on the flip side of that is probably obnoxious too.

      *I know it sounds crazy to hate on Book-It so let me clarify a little. Part of Book-It involved like, the whole class getting a pizza party at some point, right? If everyone read X number of books or they all read the same book (GAG) or whatever? I just remember me not reading fast enough or whatever in like 2nd grade, at one point that apparently my teachers were like, “Annabelle is why we’re not having the pizza party” and everyone being all pissed off about that even though these were classmates who literally had to be bribed with pizza (and McDonald’s and homework passes and god knows what else) to read a book outside of class. Any book. Ever. All the time. So that is my hang up about Book-It.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        In Ireland, we had the Readathon, which I steadfastly refused to take part in throughout my childhood, confusing everybody as I think even the highest number of books you could choose to read was lower than what I habitually read. Part of my reason was that I didn’t want to have to go around getting people to sponser me but most of it was because reading was for fun. It wasn’t something to go looking for kudos – look at how many books I read – for.

        And things like Book-It can be problematic (I just googled what it was) because it teaches children that reading is a chore you deserve a reward for because you’ve done something so onerous. I read something once about some study done where children who were rewarded for drawing or colouring were less likely to do it afterwards because they’d been trained to see it as a chore.

        Treating reading as something so unpleasant you deserve a reward for getting through it strikes me as likely to put kids off reading. Getting to read should be the reward.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        Ugghhh, that’s such crap. At least back in my day, when we rode dinosaurs to school, you won stuff like personal gift certificates to Pizza Hut or whatever. Nobody’s pizza party hung on how many books one kid got through.

        (I shall now show off my literary cred by referencing The Lottery)

    19. Dark Macadamia*

      I have literally never thought about the reading habits of other adults. I’m an English teacher and I don’t read for fun nearly as often as I would like! Let people use their limited leisure time how they want.

    20. Mind blowing Tuesday*

      I read a lot but if that was the only topic a friend wanted to discuss when we got together it would get old very quickly. Wouldn’t you be interested in hearing about their hobbies or have another hobby yourself that you can discuss?

    21. HannahS*

      Well, different people like different things. I’m a big reader and always was, and am from a family of enthusiastic readers. My husband is not. He broadens his mind by listening to podcasts, watching TV and movies, listening to the radio, and reading shorter things, like news articles and blog posts. I respect his interests and he respects mine.

      We talk about what fiction we’re consuming (whatever modality,) our work (which is very different,) politics, parenting, our friends and family, our future, our travel plans, our shared interests, and our hobbies (which are totally different–he likes sports and I sew.)

      It’s tempting to think that because something enriches your life, it must be good for everyone. “Oh, this person would be so much better off if they would just do this thing that I do/love this thing that I love!” But people are different. Books aren’t inherently superior to other interests.

      1. HannahS*

        Oh, also, I HAAAATE it when my partner, who is a naturally gifted athlete who also spends a lot of time trying to become an even better athlete says things like, “But playing sports is so much fun! Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. I always say that you just need to find something that you like.”

        This is very infuriating for me. There are NO forms of sports/exercise that I like. I have TRIED. I have tried EVERYTHING. The benefits of team sports are manifold (cooperation, discipline, aerobic exercise, strength, coordination) and I will encourage our children to be healthy and active AND ALSO I need other people to hear and respect that IT’S NOT FUN FOR ME. (And to his credit, he doesn’t say that anymore.)

        So, as a Book Person I don’t go around saying, “But honey, you just need to find a genre that you like!” He doesn’t like reading. It’s not fun for him. I respect that.

        1. allathian*

          I also hope that you’ll respect it if your children hate all sports and don’t want to do them as extracurriculars when they go to school.

          1. HannahS*

            What a strange remark to a comment about respecting others peoples’ interests and encouraging my own children to be healthy and active, a vague and innocuous goal. Can a woman say one thing about parenting without immediately being scolded?

            1. allathian*

              I didn’t mean to scold and I’m sorry if I sounded like I was.

              I don’t enjoy exercise either and do the bare minimum, but I do encourage him to exercise (running or cross-country skiing when there’s snow) with my marathon runner husband. I join them on low (for them) and medium (for me) intensity bike rides in the summer. I should ride our ststionary bike more often than I do, but it’s so boring…

              1. HannahS*

                Thanks, it sounds like we’re in a similar boat of encouraging healthy activity despite not really enjoying athletic things. I spent my morning playing hockey with my toddler.

          2. Irish Teacher.*

            I presume she meant she won’t discourage them from taking an interest in sports and that she will encourage them to try them and see if they enjoy them, not that she will insist they play sports. Given that she doesn’t like them, it strikes me as unlikely she’ll be that parent who thinks every kid must be a sports star.

          3. Falling Diphthong*

            This is a genuinely bizarre take on the idea that someone will encourage their children to be healthy and active.

            (I do not enjoy competitive sports, or team sports. Both my kids got a lot out of youth soccer; younger still plays a competitive team sport while oldest focuses on climbing and triathlons. If anything, I think it’s quite normal for your children to expand your world.)

        2. goddessoftransitory*

          But playing sports is so much fun! Exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. I always say that you just need to find something that you like.

          I promise him, for me exercise IS a chore. I am clumsy and uncoordinated and there is no version of sport or workout that doesn’t result in me falling over or getting hit in the head with a ball. Add in my asthma + hill of any kind = WHEEZE and nope, this will never, ever be something I do for fun.

    22. Non Reader*

      It’s a positive *for you* but that’s not universal. Don’t press anyone to do anything they don’t enjoy because you think you know better. You don’t.

    23. RagingADHD*

      The only way to do this that isn’t obnoxious and controlling, is to simply share genuine enthusiasm for something you are currently reading and describe what you like about it.

      There are a lot of things my loved ones enjoy that I don’t, and vice versa. But I do like hearing about things that make them happy. And sometimes the way they describe something gets me interested in trying it.

      Sometimes (probably most of the time) it doesn’t. So if you do this, you have to view it simply as a way of making conversation and connecting with the person. Not a way to make them change their mind or behavior.

    24. HBJ*

      I am an avid reader, but it pretty rarely comes up as a topic or conversation. Honestly, we were just with a group of friends a couple nights ago and never once talked about books. We talked about the weather, spring break plans, were we going to X and Y events coming up, the one person’s vacation they just got back from, another person’s kid’s upcoming medical appointment, kids sleeping habits, etc.

      Honestly, I find it hard to believe reading would provide that much convo fodder unless you’re in a book club. There’s so many books out there, and people have such varied tastes, what are the odds they read the same books as you? Even though I read a fair bit, I read very little of what’s new and hip and popular. I just scrolled through the first half or so of The New Yorker’s best books of 2023 (it was long!), and I’d read none of them. Then, I scrolled through the first 75 or so of GoodRead’s best books of the 2020s list, and I’d read exactly one.

      1. HBJ*

        Oh, and FWIW, most of my books come from the library, so I always skim the new book shelf to see if anything interests me, and I frequently grab books off of there. So I’m not just reading really old stuff or anything like that. But apparently, they’re just not the kind of books that make “great books” lists. Recently, one was a novel, one was about the manufacturing of food, several were how-to books (cookbooks, hobbies, area-specific about outdoor recreation, etc.), one was an autobiography about someone who is only well known in a fairly niche community.

      2. Double A*

        I’m an avid reader and am friends with plenty of avid readers and we actually don’t talk about books a ton because we don’t read the same books at the same time! Sometimes we’ll get into recommendation mode which is fun, but frankly even if we’ve both read the book, the likelihood that both of us remember it well enough to talk about it in detail is kind of slim.

    25. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ve found that the majority of people I’ve met who really dislike reading had dyslexia or other problems growing up, and associate reading with difficulty and failure, not with relaxation or pleasure.

      Luckily things have changed a lot in the last few years, and the huge advent of audio books makes a big difference.

    26. Morning Reading*

      I’ll agree with others that we mostly leave our adult friends to their own preferences. I may encourage interest in a particular book for a friend who likes that topic or genre, but I don’t push it. Mostly I will share tidbits of what I am reading.
      I think you are mainly talking about books. If I knew someone who could not or did not read anything, ever, I would be more concerned. I remember when the Harry Potter books came out and the librarian community was ecstatic, with “hurray, the children are reading again!” Because up to that point, reading was on the decline. I kept waiting in the late 90s for reading to be superseded. Surely it would not be necessary once we all had the devices and bandwidth to talk and listen instead. I’ve also been waiting for the “hurray, the children are reading, and writing!” With the advent of texting and emailing and blogging, all the written communication most of us do more of than ever before. It never came, at least not from librarians far as I noticed. The use of written language has never declined the way I thought it might. Anyone who cannot or does not read must be at a disadvantage these days, but it seems like most of us are using written communication more than ever before, even if it’s not in long form like books.

      1. Inkhorn*

        Hopefully I’ll be able to say this about my boyfriend in 24 years!

        I’m a lifelong avid reader who owns more than 800 books and counting. He could count his library on one hand.

        Conversely he’s an avid cinephile, with a home cinema and a movie library and multiple streaming services. I … well, I do actually own a tv, but it only has free-to-air channels and is largely ornamental.

        This has caused precisely zero problems. Gazing at a screen works for him, curling up with a bundle of pages works for me; that’s just how our respective brains operate. I do have a mental note of a few books I’d lend him IF (and only if) he ever expressed an interest in reading something other than online articles, but unless that ever happens I’ll keep on letting him be him. Just like he lets me be my non-screen-gazing self.

        Admittedly before him I would have found the idea of a relationship with a non-reader incomprehensible, but now I can see the advantage: if/when we move in together, the bookshelf space will be ALL MINE.

        1. Angstrom*

          I had a relationship end because of a difference in reading backgrounds. I came from a family of voracious readers, they did not. I’d use a term with a literary origin in everyday conversation(muse, Dickensian, odyssey, etc) and they’d accuse me of doing it deliberately to make them feel stupid. Sigh.

          1. RagingADHD*

            I mean, that had zero to do with reading and everything to do with their inferiority complex. Someone in that mindset is going to be defensive and accusatory about anything. Good thing you found it out when it was confined to books and not, like, your career or parenting choices.

    27. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      I was a pretty heavy reader most of my life, but I’ve gotten away from it in recent years, due to cataracts (finally fixed, but now my close vision is not as crisp) and hand arthritis. But although I don’t read physical books very often, I’ll read one occasionally online, where I can control the brightness and position. But reading your post and the comments made me realize that I DO read a lot. I read posts on FB from my family and friends, and I also read articles there in the interest groups I’m in – history, politics, travel, food, culture – some are subjects I’d never have bothered to read in a book. And I’m always looking up more in-depth articles on various topics. So I may not read books, but I still spend most of my day reading. For all you know, your friends might be doing the same thing and wonder why you think only physical books can improve someone’s mind.

    28. don'tbeadork*

      I don’t work around it. My youngest brother doesn’t care to read despite growing up in a family of readers. We talk about other stuff when we talk. He finds his life fulfilling sans books and I prefer to have books in my life, but we both have pets, loved ones, hobbies and other things we can talk about. Or we just sit quietly with the connection of the phone or proximity allowing us to enjoy each other’s company. It’s enough.

    29. ThatOtherClare*

      I know the son of an English teacher, a very clever man with a PhD in Mathematics, who doesn’t read for pleasure. He has a very detailed memory for conversations, and even though he also has an excellent visual memory and can rotate very complicated shapes in his brain, he just seems to prefer obtaining information via audio input. He basically only consumes books as audiobooks. He says he’ll even read textbooks via pdf text-to-speech if they’re not too equation-heavy.

      I’ve learned that if I want to discuss anything new with him when we meet, I have to send him a YouTube video on the topic (which is a pain in the backside, since that’s not my usual method of finding information). He simply will not read even the shortest article or blog post, even if the information is really important to me -_-

      I’m used to it now. Just like my vegetarian friends who will only come with me to certain restaurants or my immunocompromised friend whom I can’t visit when I have a cold, it’s just part of the adjustments I make in exchange for the privilege of having a relationship with them. For me it’s worth it.

    30. Gamer Girl*

      My husband can’t/won’t read books. In a nutshell, there’s some kind of learning issue there involving difficulty processing text. However, he recognized it as a problem a long time ago and listens to audiobooks instead. That’s the perfect workaround for him, bit it’s only because he’s motivated to do it.

      Also, it’s important to let go of ideas around what books people “should” be reaching, imo. So many people enjoy non fiction and dislike fiction (iirc it’s around 50 percent, even among kids), and that interest was not validated or encouraged when they were kids. I usually just mention great, true stories I’ve read, and quite a few people who love a good story but hate fiction check them out. But, I’d never schools someone for not reading. Instead, I just keep mentioning great stories I’ve read or listened to. If you hit on the right topic, people are likely to bite.

    31. carcinization*

      I’ve always liked to read but I am coming up with a complete blank as to why I would try to get someone who does not read for pleasure to do so. Everybody’s different. For example, I don’t play video games but know people who spend their time that way, and I certainly wouldn’t start to play video games even if one of them tried to encourage me to, though I’d probably sit and read a book while they played a video game if they wanted to hang out that way!

  26. Ellis Bell*

    Does anyone have any general motivational tips for just keeping going while losing some weight and life is also happening? I generally think diets suck, and I don’t go in for them all that often, but I was greatly impressed by some advice from a nutritionist who was basically saying not to sweat the small stuff and to lose it really slowly, which sounded right up my alley. He also said taking breaks and maintenance is fine, even preferable which also sounded smart and realistic to me. So I go in with the aim of losing 1lb a week, and I end up losing 2, which is still within safe limits as I understand it, so I was pretty happy. A big part of it was how active I am at work, and I was also tracking calories, which I don’t want to do long term (this nutritionist said to do it just for a little while to get a sense of it, and to get your meals planned, and then to try doing it without counting). So I get a week off work, which also coincides with my birthday, and having a horrible cold. I haven’t been active at all and I haven’t been tracking calories, but I felt like my eating plan was still more or less helping me out, with some additional treats because it is my birthday after all. Turns out I’ve regained every pound I lost with an extra one for good luck. I still like the plan I was on; I was never hungry and enjoyed the food and some treats, and the activity wasn’t arduous. I just feel like, eventually I’m going to stop calorie counting, so how do I keep up the motivation to remain organised in my approach? I feel like I just need to be patient, not overreact and lean even harder into moderation but I wonder if anyone else has ever felt torn between the two overreacting options: A) Give Up or B) Diet Harder.

    1. Sloanicota*

      This stinks, I’m sorry. I guess it depends on your goals. I work hard not to think about size or weight at all, given how sick our culture is, so I don’t weigh myself, and I just have the goal not to need to buy myself a bigger wardrobe – but I’m quite focused on trying to Eat Better. This allows me to pick one thing and focus on it, like, just eat more fruit, that’s it, that’s the whole goal, or just eat more fiber once you’ve got the fruit habit down, or just move your body more in a healthy way more. That way, I *know* I’m doing a good job – and it’s not dependent on the scale / way my clothes fit, which can seem very random and uncontrollable. But if you’re truly trying to shed pounds I’m not sure there’s a low-key way to do it consistently that doesn’t stink a little.

    2. Falling Diphthong*

      I think it’s really good to focus on a) How do you feel? and b) How do your clothes fit?

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Those are pretty nice metrics! I’m actually doing pretty well on both fronts. Even with my cold, I’m pretty pleased with the way I’m fighting it off. I’m also not in “argh need new wardrobe” danger, either, which can be an expensive problem. Everything fits.

    3. WellRed*

      I think the nutritionist was spot on with his advice. It helps to focus on short term victories while remembering you are playing the long game. Focus on eating well and not overeating, moving your body and not giving up because you didn’t lose a pound since the last week (or whatever). I don’t weigh myself more than once a week.

    4. Turtle Dove*

      I’ve been struggling with similar frustration recently and chatted with a friend who’s struggling too. It’s probably hitting us now as a combo of holiday weight gain and shaky New Year’s resolutions. We agreed that we’re giving it too much head space, and it’s time to relax and be kind to ourselves. That doesn’t mean giving up; it means not beating ourselves up. So I did that, and voila! I’m already feeling better. I fall into two traps when I’m stressed: skip exercise and eat mindlessly. So I’m trying just a little harder in those two areas. I motivate myself, after much trial and error, by remembering how proud and positive I feel after I exercise and after I stop eating because I’m full. I agree that slow progress is best. It’s the only thing that’s ever worked for me.

    5. RagingADHD*

      I have never been able to stay motivated continuously about anything. I just have to go back and re-start.

      But for encouragement, if you lost 3-5 pounds (or more) before and it has only been 1 week off, you are probably retaining a lot of water rather than having regained all the fat so quickly. Check again next week, it will probably even out a bit.

    6. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      I would never recommend a diet book but Judith Beck’s stuff on CBT approaches to restricted diets was helpful for me when I’ve had to change what I’m eating. Just ignore the stuff in it you don’t like (it’s very uncritical of diet culture).

    7. Another username forgotten*

      I focus less on the scales and more on how my clothes fit. I’ve had weeks where I feel clunky and am convinced I’ve gained weight but the scales say I’ve lost it.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        I’ve definitely done that in the past, but this is very gradual weight that I’ve put on over time, and I also am great at buying clothes that allow for weight fluctuations. I can’t really tell from clothes alone, like I used to

    8. ccsquared*

      I’m getting a lot of mileage on focusing more on the habits and my environment rather than the scale. This IS frustrating if you are used to intense diets and steady progress, so what I’ve found helpful is to look for additional results for my efforts, such as:
      – wow, my skin really perks up after I drink that glass of water in the morning
      – it’s so nice that I’m not drenched in sweat and taking my inhaler after sprinting for the bus. Those daily walks must be making me more fit
      – I love that when I stop eating when I’m full, I don’t feel uncomfortable after a meal and can focus on other things I enjoy.

      If you really are a numbers person, maybe get a fitness tracker and look at some of the other stats like resting heart rate or deep sleep, or a tape measure and track your waist to hip ratio. Also, I have a scale that calculates body fat percentage, which can be really helpful in interpreting weight gain or loss to evaluate my habits. If I see a 2 lb gain but body fat % drops, I know that usually means water retention from a temporary increase of salt and/or carbs – common when I’m sick or celebrating – and it’s going to go away as quick as it came once I resume my normal habits. Conversely, if my weight drops but body fat stays the same and it isn’t after a change in what I’m eating, I check in on my exercise and hydration habits, rather than thinking of it as automatic progress.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Yeah I thought my smart watch would be great at measuring fat/muscle ratio, but it never changes one iota, not even when I can see more muscle definition, or other people notice.

    9. HannahS*

      This is going to be longer than it needs to be but I’m gonna type out my thoughts and we’ll see where we wind up.
      So, a few years ago I had gained a fair amount of weight (stress + health problems + being too sedentary) and said, “I don’t like this; I don’t like how I feel, I don’t like how I look, and I know that this isn’t good for me” I used a free fitness tracker/calorie counter for about, I don’t know, eight months? And it worked. But I also knew that calorie counting was, for me, deeply unhealthy and not something that I could do long-term.

      What I got out of that period that was helpful was this:
      1. I now have a better sense of reasonable portion size. It helped me understand how deeply psychological and emotional food is, and it helped me get a feel for how much I actually need to nourish my body, versus what I thought I needed to feel “full.”
      2. It forced me to be more active, a habit that I have (mostly) continued.
      3. My palate changed. I started liking my food less sweet and less rich, and I started enjoying things that I hadn’t liked before.

      I have the following attitude towards weight/body shape/diet/exercise:
      -I am a woman of childbearing age who is, in fact, bearing children. My weight fluctuates over the course of the month and also year by year. Many men have one adult weight that they maintain, but that’s not realistic for people like me. So I don’t try.
      -I don’t own a scale. It’s not good for me, personally, to own a scale. My goal isn’t actually to lose weight, anyway, because I’m hoping to gain muscle. So I keep track of how my clothes fit, and that’s good enough for me.
      -There are lots of different philosophies and relationships towards food. I didn’t like the relationship I had with food and my body, but a lot of the American food/body movements don’t really speak to me, either. I read a lot about how different cultures think about food and eating, and found some things that really resonated with me. That helped.
      -Yes, I have felt how you feel, for sure, and I try to remind myself that I’m playing the long game. For me, I had to let go of REACH THE GOAL WEIGHT, HURRAY! I want to be someone who feels strong, exercises regularly, has less back pain, and eats well and in moderation.

    10. goddessoftransitory*

      I’ve found that the best long term tip I actually used was: do you want to spend calories on this?

      I don’t calorie count, never have. But when I encounter some unexpected food (say, cookies at work) or I’m out and about and pass a burger place, I can ask myself: am I really hungry enough to eat this? Do I really want it or is it just because it’s in front of me?

      This has helped me avoid stuff I don’t especially like in the first place (like, say, Oreos) but may have grabbed a few because they were there, or eating because it’s Time To Eat. For instance, at work, none of the pizzas ordered for the crew appealed to me, so I didn’t bother to get a slice. I’ve already had lunch and don’t really want one.

      1. Ellis Bell*

        Hah, you’ve just made me realise how really lucky I am in one respect: I never really encounter food in the wild because I’m a gluten free person. I pack food for myself in the morning so wherever I go, I’m not dependent on what food people can provide me with. I’ve stopped even seeing that stuff as “for me”. People can get out really pretty cupcakes at work, and to me it’s like I’m seeing those dog brownies which are decorated to look like people food.

    11. Harriet J*

      I’m so sorry that you are going through this. I’ve been there (as have many of us).
      For some people, changes in diet and exercise is enough. But just as depression and anxiety are caused by a chemical imbalance, so is excess weight for some.
      Back in 2021 I started working with an endocrinologist who put me on two medications – an appetite suppressant and another to help speed up my metabolism. (Not Wegovy or Ozempic – my insurance wouldn’t cover those.)
      Appetite suppressants make a real difference – I still remember walking past piles of Halloween candy in the store and not being tempted for the first time of my life!
      My appetite has certainly changed and I eat more reasonable portions. I’ve also increased my cardio workouts.
      Over two years later I have lost over 80 pounds and am being tapered off the medications. The goal is to learn how to maintain my weight loss without the medications.
      I take medication for depression because of a chemical imbalance. My eating habits were also fueled by a chemical imbalance that had me thinking that I was always hungry. I needed medical intervention to break that cycle.
      Some of my eating habits were emotional so I worked with a therapist to deal with that.
      Good luck in your journey.

    12. Dancing Otter*

      First, I agree with whoever said part of your gain is probably water retention. Every pound of fat represents about 3500 excess calories. That would be a LOT of birthday cake.

      I’m kind of in your same situation right now. Having finally gotten my knee replacement after losing a lot of weight over several years, I just discovered that I’m up ten pounds after two weeks of institutional food and reduced activity. Kind of praying that a lot of it is because my leg is swollen, but I definitely need to get back on plan.

      I try to think of having overindulged (chips! chocolate!) like having forgotten my prescription yesterday. I wouldn’t take an extra dose the next day, just get back on schedule. So I don’t try to make up for the excess calories, just go back to my planned meals.
      Similarly, if I’m only a few hours late, it might be worth taking the medicine late; I might cut back on dinner if I ate too much earlier in the day.
      But if by “Diet Harder” you mean cutting down to less than 1000 calories for more than a day, absolutely not. It always backfires.

      My veterinarian, of all people, once gave me really good advice. Feed a fat cat according to the weight they ought to be. Kitty may not lose fast, but he *will* reach a healthier weight gradually. So, if my (interim) goal is XXX pounds, how many calories does a moderately sedentary XXX-pound woman need? If I’m not happy with my loss rate, can I burn a few more calories or up my metabolism by being a bit more active?

  27. New Novelist*

    Any resources for a fiction writer trying to find an agent and get published for the first time? I’d like advice on how to write a query letter, querying etiquette, and other advice for my manuscript and the rest of the process. If there was a blog just like AAM but for publishing a novel, I’d be all over it!

    1. Sloanicota*

      QueryShark. Also, I hear good things about “the Sh*t Nobody Tells You About Writing” (which is industry based and seems to have a community element also).

    2. Deuce of Gears*

      This may be less helpful depending on your genre/target audience, but SFWA (for sf/f/h) does have some resources on querying and finding agents that apply generally. Google “SFWA information center” – I’ll drop the link in another reply. If you have money to burn, a subscription to Publishers Marketplace lets you search agents, who they represent, and their deals, which can be useful data but may be overkill at this stage. Good luck with your journey!

    3. Tiny Clay Insects*

      The Manuscript Academy podcast was super helpful to me! It’s free and there a zillion episodes. They also have some paid resources where you can have an agent or editor talk thru your query letter with you, to make it stronger, and I found that helpful.

    4. Maryn*

      I second QueryShark and raise you AbsoluteWrite.com/Forums. (Transparency: I moderate there.) The members share what they know, instruct on and critique query letters, vet potential agents and publishers, and lots more. You can read without joining.

  28. LynnP*

    I recently completed a knitted sweater and it took quite a while. I lost weight during the many months of knitting and the sweater now is so big it looks sloppy. I’ve never worn it but I did wash it.
    Has anyone successfully taken a knitted garment in? If I can’t resize it I’ll take it apart and reuse the yarn.

    1. Usually Lurking*

      I have! It very much depends on the yarn used, where the alteration needs to happen and the busyness of the pattern, but I once altered a very busy/multiple yarns/some fuzzy and fluffy by just sewing it on the sewing machine as I would a shirt that was too big through the waist and hips.
      I fear that a less busy sweater, or adjustments including the shoulders, would require starting over.
      I’d call your local yarn shop (or, really, ANY local yarn shop!) and ask what they think!

      1. Accidental Itenerate Teacher*

        I have seen this work on a non-busy sweater as well.
        So if its just something simple like taking it in on the sides you should be able to do it with a sewing machine- just use a stitch length that catches all the yarn so you don’t wind up with unraveling if you trim away excess

        1. Crocheted familiar*

          With the caveat that I’m applying sewing principles to knitting without having applied these sewing principles to knitting (both have remained separate for me so far): I imagine zigzagging over the edge with a fairly dense stitch should also help catch the yarn and hold it in place, if you need to take out enough that trimming the seam allowance becomes necessary or you want the extra assurance. I’d do it first, a little into the seam allowance, and then cut next to the zigzag edge (just make sure you don’t cut *through* the zigzag stitches!). Another might be two lines of stitches, like in high-stress areas of garments, to help the first line out and catch additional fraying/unravelling yarn before it hits the actual seam.

          1. Another sewer*

            Overlocker/sergers, if you can get access to one. Or ideally know someone has one and already knows how to use it who can do it for you. A serger will work better than a sewing machine because it will cut off the correct amount of excess while encasing the seam in wrap-around loops of thread. So none of the yarn strands should come undone.
            Similar to the sewing zigzag advice above, but it only has to go through the serger once and the yarn won’t have a chance to unravel.

    2. Once too Often*

      Sounds like a great reason to visit your local yarn shop if you have one. (Our small city has 3.). They’ll have ideas about how the yarn is likely to behave in different scenarios, how trimming & stitching is likely to affect drape, etc.

    3. Maotseduck*

      I have this same problem. I spent 9 months knitting a sweater but now it’s huge on me. My plan is to ask my LYS for help, as one of the owners seems to know everything knitting and the other is a master at sewing. I’m sure between the two they can fix me up. I’m not brave enough to do it myself even though it seems fairly straightforward.

    4. office hobbit*

      Definitely talk to a yarn shop. If you decide to use a sewing machine, look up the concepts behind steeking before you start.

  29. RussianInTexas*

    Another reading thread!
    What highly recommend books just did not work for you? I’ll start.
    Wicked, by Gregory Maguire. I hated every page of this book, and only finished it out of stubbornness.
    Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. This one was upsetting, because I love everything Tudor, but her writing style completely turned me off and I did not even finish the book.
    The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. It was just meh. I finished this book with the feeling of vague disappointment.

    1. WellRed*

      The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Twenty five years after the Secret History people are still trying to find its successor and thus was ruined as such. It was bad all around to the point I will never read anything else of his.

    2. Turtle Dove*

      I just could not with The Da Vinci Code. Maybe I don’t like that style, but I found it poorly written and predictable. I groaned and muttered out loud before quitting not far in.

      I also disliked Where The Crawdads Sing and didn’t finish it. I enjoy dialog and dislike long descriptions of setting, so it wasn’t to my taste. And I probably wasn’t feeling up to all the darkness. I have to be in the right mood for that.

    3. Fellow Traveller*

      Gone Girl. Hate read it til 3am. What a bunch of terrible people.
      Unreliable narrators are my least favorite trope.
      Had the same issue with The Silent Patient.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        There was a book I just read that annoyed me in the end. It started as a murder mystery, and by the middle you figure out there is either unreliable narrator with mental illness or some supernatural element in play, and it ended up being the supernatural element. Which annoyed me, because I rarely like the supernatural genre and would like to know that is what I am going in.

        1. Fellow Traveller*

          OMG- yes! Supernatural elements always seem like a cop out unless you know from the start. Mexican Gothic was like that for me. The Mushrooms!?! Seriously?!?!

          1. RussianInTexas*

            This book included the main character having a very strained relationship with her mother, which was explained, in the last 5% of the book by the mother pledging the child to a djinn, if she conceives, and therefore was always afraid of her daughter. And while there attempted murders of the heroine were explained by the earthy reasons, the same djinn protected her. What? There was no djinn anywhere for the first 80% of the book!

          2. goddessoftransitory*

            Oh, me too! Didn’t like The Daughter of Doctor Moreau for much the same reasons (although it’s Science, not Magic, that steps in from the wings whenever the plot needs untangling.)

      2. CTT*

        That’s a book that I think works MUCH better as a movie. Like, the “cool girl” speech in the book felt dangerously try-hard, but Rosamund Pike’s steely annoyance-turning-to-anger when delivering it is just *chef’s kiss*.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I agree–the book basically was trying to be a movie, I think, and had a bunch of internal monologues where watching the character do whatever was more effective.

          1. Sloanicota*

            It’s interesting to note that the author went to Hollywood after that book and did not (as far as I know) try another novel. So perhaps she kind of agrees with you!

    4. Not A Manager*

      I tried all three of the books that you mentioned, @RussianInTexas, and I didn’t finish any of them. Didn’t get past the first few chapters.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I usually trip on the writing style more than a story or characters. I figured out over the year that I like a simple style that gets to the point.

    5. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

      I disliked all three of your examples, yep. Also Hench, by Natalie Zina Walschots.

      I don’t know about highly recommended, but I usually love memoirs and deleted Billy Crystal’s from my Kindle within 5 pages because I was already tired of jokes about his genitals.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        The reference to a classic comedian jogged my memory.

        RoseMarie wrote a memoir years ago, and it was fascinating! No idea why a movie hasn’t been made about her life, especially her early life.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          When RoseMarie passed, her daughter had a massive online estate sale. I have a teabag holder that belonged to her. It’s small white ceramic and shaped like a pear. <3

        2. Chaordic One*

          Rose Marie’s autobiography, “Hold the Roses,” was published back in 2002. A documentary film, “Wait for Your Laugh,” about her life was released in 2017 shortly before her death and received good reviews. It features interviews with her and several of her co-stars and the show-biz people she worked with. Is is available on several streaming services including Amazon Prime and Apple TV. Finally, who can forget the widely reprinted guest column she wrote that first appeared in the 2017 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine a couple of weeks before her death.

    6. Put the Blame on Edamame*

      Any A.S. Byatt, particularly Possession. Honestly I love what she is doing on paper, but on practice it absolutely doesn’t work for me. A.M. Holmes – more initials! – I found miserable to read and gave up on all her stuff.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          I love Byatt, but compare reading her to going on a vigorous, uphill hike with a scientist that keeps telling you all the Latin names of the plants and animals you spot.

          That said, I didn’t really enjoy Villette until I read the edition with a Foreword by her and another writer that intrigued me endlessly.

            1. goddessoftransitory*

              Oh, my copy’s at home (I’m at work right now) so I’ll try to remember to post tonight!

    7. Come On Eileen*

      Demon Copperhead. SOOO many people loved it and recommended it, and I just found it so bleak that I had to stop reading. I asked people if it got brighter, some said yes and some said not really. So I bailed.

      1. Rachel*

        I read the whole thing.

        I found the author used The Magical Black person trope. I haven’t seen a lot of criticism about this so it might just be me, but it really felt like the Black teacher character was a Choice

    8. Falling Diphthong*

      Under the Whispering Door. (I loved House on the Cerulean Sea by the same author.) I loved the tea shop, but at the halfway point the stuff described in the front cover blurb still hadn’t happened.

    9. JJax*

      I recently read the first three books in The Expanse series and could not bring myself to continue. Honestly, I disliked even the first book enough that I almost stopped there but wanted to give the series a fair shake because I love sci fi and everyone I knew was raving about it.

      These are all just my opinions, of course. But I disliked the lack of character growth/arc in all three books – the few character details we know about each member of the cast tend to define them and solidify further over the first three books, rather than growing and evolving as new challenges arise. I also thought the plot points were really sloppy in a “this thing happened then this thing happened then this thing happened” way. I prefer a book that has a central story but slowly unfolds it and reveals the complexities of that story throughout the work. The Expanse felt like a basic action movie instead “set piece happens because plot needs to progress until the next set piece”.

      It wasn’t the worst sci fi series I’ve read, but it really turned me off and I don’t really get the hype around it. It just felt very pulp-y, which is not my favourite genre.

      1. goddessoftransitory*

        I really enjoyed the TV series, for the exact opposite reasons; there, you could see the characters growing and changing in response to things. When a certain character didn’t, you could see that it was because he’d boxed himself into a corner and his followers were not going to look kindly on him changing his mind on his policies.

        1. Clara Bowe*

          +1 Yeah, I couldn’t continue the book series. It just kept changing the genre it wanted to be and I just didn’t want to deal with it. The tv series did a solid job of balancing stuff out. Plus, the casting was god tier.

    10. Charlotte Lucas*

      Well, it’s been over 30 years, so I think I ‘m fine with the fact that I was never able to finish D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers as part of my grad school reading list. (Still like his poetry, though.)

      I only got about halfway through Eugenides’ Middlesex. I found the historical backstory interesting then didn’t like the first person narrator.

      I tapped out on page 37 of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Decided to read some actual Austen instead. She had already written a great send-up of gothic novels. She definitely could have done way better with zombies.

      While I have enjoyed Stephen King’s shirt stories and nonfiction, I can’t get into his novels.

      I have read The Great Gatsby more than once for classes. The best thing about it is that it’s short, so you don’t waste too much time reading it.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Oh! While I read (and loved!) most of The Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, I was never able to really get into The Silver Chair and left it unfinished to reread my faves.

        1. The OG Sleepless*

          That was my least favorite one. Partly because the setting was so bleak. After the lovely setting of Narnia itself in the first two books, and the sea voyage in the third, suddenly we’re just plodding across the moors. Plus the characters are doing everything they were expressly told not to do, and can’t believe it when everything goes wrong.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            Oh, yeah:

            “Don’t touch that.”

            *Character touches that* *ruin ensues*

            Character BUT WHY THOOOOOOOUGH

        1. Sloanicota*

          That’s “Northanger Abbey” … which I confess is my least favorite of hers. Persuasion and Mansfield Park, interestingly, which I disliked as a younger woman, have become my favorites in later age, over Emma, S&S and even P&P which however remains in a nostalgic space in my heart.

          1. goddessoftransitory*

            I really love Mansfield Park. Austen’s selecting of a shy, inhibited heroine who doesn’t “blossom” into a belle of the ball is so great, and her precise description of Fanny’s upbringing shows why that is.

        2. Ellis Bell*

          Oh, now you come to mention it, I did notice something along those lines when I read it. I thought it was somewhere between a send-up of silly pulp romances, and a defence of novels in general, but it’s been ages. Like Sloanicota it’s not a favourite; I might have picked up on the gothic thing if I’d read it over and over like P&P. Perhaps I need to take another look.

          1. Charlotte Lucas*

            It’s both a defense of novels and poking gentle fun at the genre.

            In The Jane Austen Book Club (loved the book, hated the movie), Karen Joy Fowler points out that it follows the plot outline of The Castle of Otranto.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        I really like King’s short fiction; he gets to his point a lot better. But his latest novels are really good–I loved Fairy Tale. Husband, on the other hand, likes his older novels but not his newest.

    11. Jay (no, the other one)*

      Cosign Wicked. I didn’t finish it. Also cosign Gone Girl, mentioned below, which I finished because I had to know what happened even though it irritated me no end. Will never read another of hers.

      More recently The Midnight Library, which I read for book club. I thought it was predictable and sappy.

      In the realm of “classics,” pretty much anything by Hemingway except his short stories. Hate them all. Same book club read “The Paris Wife” and we all liked it (me included – he didn’t write it). We decided to read “A Moveable Feast” as a follow-up and I figured I’d try it since it’s non-fiction. Hated it even more than I hate his fiction. Never again.

      1. Charlotte Lucas*

        Hemingway is great with sentence structure and lousy at character development or telling a story. There, I said it.

        In a lit class in college, I was amazed that anyone was surprised at the “twist” ending of “The Short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber.”

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Ugh, I remember reading Dorothy Parker’s book reviews/rants about how Hemingway had ruined short fiction because everybody and his brother suddenly started aping his style and none of them had the grasp he did on language to pull it off.

        2. Chaordic One*

          I concur with your assessment of Hemingway. I hated the stories and could not relate to the characters at all. As time as passed, I have come to be aware that they are, in fact, beautifully written even if the stories are lacking. Yes, the use of language and sentence structure is great.

      2. Lilo*

        I haaated Midnight Library because it’s such a bad take on mental illness. As someone with a family member who struggles with mental health issues, I was just so frustrated by the lack of understanding on mental health and idea that positivity can overcome them.

      3. Fellow Traveller*

        I did not enjoy Midnight Library either. Thought it was a little prescriptive and unoriginal.
        I though Haig’s How to Stop Time was a much better take on a similar idea of “How to live your one life.”

      4. Decidedly Me*

        Me too for The Midnight Library. I was so excited to read it, but really didn’t like it. The overall premise is interesting, but how it played out didn’t make sense to me.

      5. Still*

        Ditto on Midnight Library. I feel like it presented an interesting problem of having to make peace with the fact that maybe you’ve made some wrong choices and that your life could have turned out differently… and then it dealt with it by saying “just kidding, all those lives would have sucked even worse!” It felt like a mediocre self-help book parading around as a novel.

    12. Tiny Clay Insects*

      I hated The Grapes of Wrath. I was so bored.

      I also was just talking about how back in the 90s several people recommended Geek Love (about a family of sideshow performers) and though I made two attempts, I could never finish it. It was way too disturbing. I still shudder thinking about it.

      Also my husband, who I am chatting with as I type, would like me to very emphatically add For Whom the Bell Tolls. He is still very angry about how much he hates Hemingway.

    13. Charlotte Lucas*

      I’ve read exactly one Jodi Picoult novel, and I did finish to see how it ended. (She didn’t surprise me by not surprising me, even though it was a mystery. Kind of.)

      I was so angry that the book existed that I threw it across the room. (Possibly the smug tone of her follow-up notes had something to do with that. I read them to see what on earth she had been thinking.)

      So, no more Picoult for me.

      1. RussianInTexas*

        I almost threw a book at the wall once, only stopped by the book being an expensive Kindle. It was a mystery written by a British writer, set in Galveston, TX, and it was obvious that the writer’s research was…let’s say, deficient. There were multiple errors, but the two that made me mad were:
        1. Martin character walked a mile in the incoming 4ft storm surge.
        2. A category 4 hurricane, hits Galveston head on, and instead of doing what these hurricanes ALWAYS do, for the reason of physics and meteorology, it turns around, goes back into the Gulf, and dissapates. WHAT.

      2. Dark Macadamia*

        Haaaaate Jodi Picoult lol. I read one of her books out of actual interest and one because someone gifted it to me. Both awful

        1. WellRed*

          Driv, along with Anita Shreve. I’ll never get back the time I spent on her wedding in December nonsense.

    14. Nessness*

      I have a few:
      – Where the Crawdads Sing. I thought the writing was terrible and the main character was not believable at all.
      – Fleishman is in Trouble. I was really intrigued by the story, but there were waaay more graphic s*x scenes than I wanted to read so I quit halfway through.
      – Lessons in Chemistry. As a scientist, former rower, and mom, this book should have been right up my alley ,(and was recommended to me as such), but I couldn’t stand it.

      1. Turtle Dove*

        I haven’t read Lessons in Chemistry yet but plan to. After all the hype, I’m expecting a book with rainbows shining out of its rear end. But I often read reactions like yours too. I’m curious to see.

      2. Annie Edison*

        Oh my gosh I hated Where the Crawdads Sing so much! The ending drove me absolutely crazy. I cannot understand all the hype

      3. fueled by coffee*

        Oh my god I couldn’t finish Lessons in Chemistry. I can’t stand “girl power” books that fundamentally misunderstand the structural nature of sexism.

        The scene where she is bad at rowing, reads a physics book, and is suddenly amazing at rowing nearly did me in.

        1. goddessoftransitory*

          Wow, I only have to read physics to suddenly gain muscle/arm and leg strength? No one told me!

          1. Nessness*

            Yep! Even if you’re a woman who’s only been in a boat twice, apparently all you need to do is understand the physics and you’ll be able to keep up with elite male rowers! Actually, you’ll be so good that they’ll beg you to come back after you quit!

      4. Girasol*

        I couldn’t get into Crawdads either. The movie was kind of okay, but while I usually prefer the book I just couldn’t read that one.

      5. shteripecas*

        I finished lessons in chemistry, but really didn’t like it. Like, the only way we can show power and sexism in a hard science is to have a rape scene? Really? As an old(er) woman in physics, none of that book passed the sniff test.

    15. Venetia Hall*

      I just could NOT get through Love In The Time Of Cholera. I tried many times, over more than a decade, but just did not care what happened to the characters.