In evaluating my various professional endeavors, I’ve spent some time over the past week looking at what people chose to read in 2014, and what they did not. Here are a few of my most popular posts from this blog, and why I think people liked them (I’ll write about my most-read Fast Company posts later this week).
Dear Mrs. Patton: Earlier this spring, the “Princeton Mom” — who’d written to undergraduates advising them to find a husband on campus — came out with a book. I wrote this letter in response, one “Princeton mom” to another. It was a lot of fun to write, so I’m gratified that other people enjoyed my assurances to her that, though my husband went to a state school, he still comprehends my intellectual awesomeness. Also, there is no epidemic of childlessness among Princeton women that must be solved. We have data from reunions surveys, and by their 40s, about 80 percent of these Ivy League women have had kids, which is roughly the same as the population at large.
The Nesting Place: Myquillyn Smith’s decorating guide hit the bestseller list in late spring. I thought the decorating was great, but was puzzled about the first few chapters spent narrating her life of woe. She wrote of having to move more than a dozen times, largely because her husband had such a hard time supporting the family, which led to the obvious question (to me) of why she didn’t step in to assume this responsibility. Now that she is, with her decorating empire, they’re doing quite well. This post introduced the archetype of the “Zondervan Woman,” a category of reader who devours books like this (and A Thousand Gifts). It also asked why the “imperfect narrator” is such a popular device. To me, the appeal of Smith’s book wasn’t that she had an awful life and hence I relate to her. I liked her book because she’s an amazing decorator. Why are we attracted to weakness and woe? Apparently, readers of this blog ask that question as well.
Real Simple and the laundry. Real Simple magazine put the topic of laundry on the cover this past summer. Editor Kristin van Ogtrop wrote her editor’s letter about her relationship with the laundry. She dislikes it, but with 3 active boys, it’s her lot in life. Or is it? In this essay, I point out that van Ogtrop earns a lot of money. Money can be exchanged for goods and services. If she doesn’t want to do laundry, she doesn’t have to. So why is she still doing it? Or if she’s not doing it, why has she calculated that she can seem close to readers by lamenting it? As with the above posts, this one took a common narrative (oh, sisters, we can all hate laundry together!) and questioned it. I love those sorts of posts, and I’m glad to see readers do too.
Should I get up earlier if I’m already getting up really early? This was a reader question, along with another popular post, When other people eat your time. In the first, a reader wanted to know if it was possible, or desirable, to create a morning routine when you had to be at work at some ridiculously early hour. The answer is…maybe. If you’ve got time for everything you want to do in life, then there’s no reason to get up earlier. If you don’t, early mornings are often a good time to seize. Not for everyone, but for many people. I think the post has some good advice, though I’m also laughing as I read through the comments. In one, I told reader Sarah that “I am really, really glad I am not 8 months pregnant. Very sympathetic to you right now!!” Oh, the irony that the next time I would read that comment, I would be 8 months pregnant. As for the post on other people making demands of your time, I imagine many people relate to this problem of wanting to be helpful and considerate, and wanting to spend time with family members, but also having fulfilling leisure activities we’d like to do on our own, too. I offered some suggestions on this front. I’d love to tackle more reader questions in 2015, so please feel free to send along (they can be totally anonymous).
At least I got a 6 month reprieve from diapers. An obvious one: I announced my pregnancy and posted a 20-week sonogram photo of the baby boy I’m expecting in January. It turned out that several other readers are (or now, were) expecting too!
If you liked or disliked any of these posts, or had a favorite post that wasn’t on this list (if you remember it) I’d love to hear about it!