issue #170 - an offline one
I fully understand why my husband chooses to not engage with social media after this week. And while I also don’t want to completely step away, I also don’t want to go back to how I was constantly plugged in.
Let me elaborate.
As you can imagine, I was sad after the Super Bowl, but it was a familiar feeling. Being a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan means you’re used to losing more than winning. Being very online this playoff season also meant my Instagram and TikTok algorithms were constantly feeding me Philadelphia Eagles content, and I knew that wouldn’t be good for me right now.
So I deleted both apps - and Twitter - from my phone this week. I checked my DMs via my computer once a day and Taber kept #5SmartReads running (thank you Taber!), but it was minutes a day versus the hours I’d usually be scrolling or commenting or engaging.
Those hours I got back? I spent them taking long walks in Central Park, enjoying the gorgeous weather and listening to A Court of Wings and Ruin (I love a comfort re-read). I read four books and picked up a needlepoint canvas for the first time in almost a year. I was a calmer, present mom and wife every morning and evening, and soaked in every hug and kiss and snuggle from my sons.
I was fully present at the events I attended this week. I’ve been a longtime fan and customer of Cuyana since they launched over a decade ago, and seeing Shilpa and Karla talk about the thought and detail behind the new pieces in their beautiful store was a full circle moment (I remember attending their first previews that they’d host in a hotel suite, and still wear my original tote and cape with pride).
I loved finally meeting Arjun and Pragathi, the founders of Soma Ayurvedic, and to celebrate the launch of their new fragrances. Old Delhi Oudh has quickly become one of my favorite scent to wear, and their Jasmine Body Oil smells and feels like heaven.
I celebrated birthdays, babies, book deals, and business growth over long lunches and dinners with friends.
I also slept so well this week (both by being offline and with the addition of this magnesium supplement), according to my Oura ring.
It was a much-needed dopamine detox (from Thursday’s newsletter), and a long overdue one. And I understand the irony of a digital content creator encouraging you to step away from the very apps that have helped me build this career, but it’s true. Instead of documenting my life in flattering angles and quippy captions, I lived my life and soaked in the many little moments that I would’ve otherwise missed.
As much as I am encouraging you to take your own breaks, today’s reflections are also to document the little things I savored this week and to remind my future self to step away from social media or being plugged in when I’m feeling anxious or on the verge of spiraling.
The book recommendations, delicious recipes, and peeks into folks’ lives will still be there when you log back in. So step away and focus on the little details that make your life yours, for a day or a few days or a week. It’s going to feel weird and uncomfortable at first, and then it’ll feel like a weight has slowly been lifted off your shoulders.
What I Read This Week
Sweep of the Heart by Ilona Andrews - The latest Innkeeper book left me wanting more and very much ended on a cliffhanger that has me checking Ilona Andrews’ website every day to see if there’s been an announcement for book 7 (still nothing). Innkeeper Dina and her werwolf beau Sean host their most challenging event yet at Gertrude Hunt - The Selection but make it intergalactic - while trying to save Sean’s mentor Wilmos and continue Dina’s longstanding mission to find her parents and their old inn. Andrews’ world building is some of the best I’ve read in contemporary fantasy, and worth the slower pace of the early books. Each book goes deeper into their world and has you growing more attached to the characters and the inn, and I will be distracting myself with other books and saving their Kate Daniels series when I’m really feeling withdrawals from the Innkeeper world.
I just discovered that there’s a full cast dramatized adaptation of this series by the studio that did the ACOTAR audiobooks! I highly recommend if audiobooks are your jam, and you can get 2 free books with code hitha when you start a Libro.fm subscription.
The Princess Game by Lyra Vincent - billed as The Selection meets ACOTAR, this was the perfect book to bring me out of my Innkeeper hangover. If you’ve read either of these books, you will know exactly what’s going to happen at every twist - but it didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying this book and look forward to Lyra’s upcoming books in her Fae world. I also appreciate standalone books within a specific universe - it’s a nice and necessary break from the epic series I tend to dive into and center my reading world around.
Love Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood (out June 13, 2023) - I think one of the reasons I love romance novels so much is because of their predictability - the trope the main characters fall into, their inevitable falling for each other, the conflict that threatens to end their relationship, and the happily ever after. With Ali Hazelwood, I particularly enjoy the enemies-to-lovers inspired by Reylo trope, the villain reveal that always manages to surprise me, and the way Hazelwood brings up the sexism that women in STEM often face. Love Theoretically - centered in the ongoing battle between theoretical and experimental physicists in academia - was an absolutely lovely read and has me rewatching my favorite Big Bang Theory episodes as well.
Zodiac Academy: The Awakening by Caroline Peckham and Susanne Valenti - when Becca tells me to read a book series, I read them (and usually screenshot our text exchanges because I will find myself obsessed with the books and end up posting them to Instagram). Zodiac Academy is the newest series, and I appreciated her heads up to give the characters some time to reveal themselves and not judge them too quickly at first. I am a sucker for Fae and other creatures in an academic setting with elemental magic, and this series is giving me younger All Souls Trilogy vibes but is wholly its own. I’ll be making my way through this series and furiously texting Becca at every twist.
If you love books and smart conversations, you’ll love Bad On Paper, the podcast Becca cohosts with Olivia Muenter. I love both of these women so much and listening to the pod makes me feel like I’m catching up with them.
What Everyone Else Read This Week
Idol by Kristen Callihan- Apparently 2023 is my year for rockstar romance because I can’t get enough of them. Objectively these are not amazing books but solid ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ for their addictive quality. I describe these books as "hot Cheetos" - nutritionally deficient but HIGHLY addictive. I finished Idol in a day. It’s the story of the lead singer of a rockband who finds himself drunk in the lawn of a recluse in North Carolina. He’s escaping his life and she is too in a manner of speaking. They form a connection and embark on a relationship (this is wide open door) and have to deal with the realities of their lives and jobs. Excellent side characters that all have main character syndrome in subsequent books. Idol is book 1 in the VIP series of 4 books. Just inject them all directly into my veins.
You can find all Shibani’s book reviews here!
The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy- This mystery with a side of sharp commentary on the un-sustainability of American motherhood was un-put-down-able for me! There are a lot of books that are in the sub-genre of the socially critical, female-led, whodunnit/psychological thriller, but this felt totally fresh and like it was doing something new. It reminded me of the first time I read Gone Girl or Big Little Lies... at the time, those seemed like they were doing something a bit different also, before the series and copycats came along. Highly, highly recommend this if you are in search of a good page turner.
Top #5SmartReads Of The Week
Who Is She? (Gloria)
Why I Stopped Being an Influencer (Ijeoma Kola)
How Emotionally Intelligent People Use the 'Done List' to Feel More Productive, Fulfilled, and Accomplished (Inc.)
Nia Long Is Doing Just Fine (The Cut)
I Was Alone. Abandoned. With Only A Hundred Million In The Bank’- Spare, Digested By John Crace (The Guardian)
The rest of the week’s reads + last week’s (and conversations!) are below:
Monday February 13, 2023
Tuesday February 14, 2023
Wednesday February 15, 2023
Thursday February 16, 2023
Friday February 17, 2023
Have a wonderful rest of your weekend - emphasis on rest.
Love it. I wrote about that exact topic last week - Using Analog to Douse Digital Dopamine. I’m on a digital diet - no news channels, no socials makes a big difference for me rather than a full detox. #AgewithAttitude