Is Reading Books Enough?

Year after year one of the top three New Year’s resolutions is to get organized. It is partially for this reason that January is Get Organized Month. It has been since 2005 (when it was established by the Board of Directors of NAPO on which I was then serving—thanks for indulging my moment of pride).

Another popular New Year’s resolution is to read more books.

This January, for Get Organized Month, I’m participating in a collaborative organizing book promotion campaign orchestrated by Shawndra Holmberg.

I truly believe, with 14 authors and 19 books, there’s at least one book for everyone. Genres include: how-to, motivational, workbook, novel, memoir, planner.

All the authors have put their hearts, souls, time, and talents into writing these books. Each of us is gratified every time someone reads one of our books.

But, is reading enough?

The protagonist in my novels is named Patience (a virtue necessary to be a successful professional organizer and, if truth be told, author). Her name is not Charity, and, as her over-generous self is often heard saying to her husband Fred, “I’m not running a charity.”

That phrase came to my mind recently as I was reading the May/June issue of the IBPA Independent magazine. A market report from Codex-Group concluded that only one-third of what book buyers read in the past month was actually bought new or received as a gift. More than half of the books they read were obtained for free (from libraries, free downloads, loans from friends, etc.).

Wait! What? I spent hundreds of hours to create my books (as did all the other authors) and most people who read them are not going to pay a cent for the privilege?

Wait, again! You can see from the photo, which is a portion of my home library, that I do, in fact, own many books – about 3,000. And a book on one’s shelf often is like a good friend. But I must admit that these days I borrow most of the books I read from the public library or buy them secondhand. (All that good professional organizer talk about experiences instead of stuff, minimalism, recycling, etc.)

But I can’t continue to entertain and help my readers if no one pays for my books. And neither can my fellow authors.

So this year: Do I want to get more organized? Yes. Do I want to read more books? Yes. But my resolution is: to BUY more books.

How about you?

cropped bookshelf.JPG

Patience Oaktree’s Cross-Country Book Tour: 
Leg 1, September 2018, New York to Ohio

Q: Combine Little Free Libraries and the Lincoln Highway and what have you got?
A: The Patience Oaktree Cross-Country Book Tour!

Little Free Library® —
Little Free Library is a nonprofit organization that inspires a love of reading, builds community, and sparks creativity by fostering neighborhood book exchanges around the world. The first Little Free Library was built in 2009, and there are now more than 70,000 of them registered with the organization and branded as Little Free Libraries.
Valentina Sgro, the author of the Patience Oaktree books, is a lifelong fan of libraries and reading, and she wants to see her novels in the hands of as many people as possible.

Lincoln Highway —
The Lincoln Highway – now mostly U.S. Route 30 – was the first hard-surfaced road that went from coast to coast in the United States. It was conceived by a group of businessmen in the fledgling automotive industry who wanted to provide car owners with an incentive to take road trips. The Lincoln Highway Association was created in 1913 to promote the road using private and corporate donations.
One of the cities on the Lincoln Highway is Massillon, Ohio. Carl Cormany, the illustrator of the Patience Oaktree books, grew up in Massillon, and has long wanted to drive the entire Lincoln Highway from New York to San Francisco.

Little Free Library nearest Val & Carl's home in Shaker Heights, OH

Little Free Library nearest
Val & Carl's home in
Shaker Heights, OH

Book Tour —
This year – September 8 through 12 – Carl and Val will travel their first segment of the Lincoln Highway from New York City to Massillon, Ohio. Along the way, they will stop at Little Free Libraries and deposit copies of the Patience Oaktree novels.
The planned stops are:

  • September 8: Brooklyn, NY; 238 11th Street; charter #12222
  • September 8: Princeton, NJ; 32 Edgehill Street; charter #15104
  • September 9: York, PA; 37 North Broad Street; charter #58778
  • September 10: Chambersburg, PA; 19 South Main Street; charter #45102
  • September 11: Latrobe, PA; 300 Fraser Purchase Road; charter #9990
  • September 12: Lisbon, OH; Village Square NE Quadrant; charter #37522

Join Us —
If you are along our route and would like us to stop at your Little Free Library, please let us know.  
We would love to have you follow us on our tour via Twitter:

Patience Oaktree's Hidden Past

When I write Patience Oaktree organizing adventures, I’m in another world—a world in which all the characters are very real. They have complete lives, including their pasts, whether or not those details are revealed in the stories. That’s part of what makes the characters believable, and makes the reader care what happens to them.

Stuffed with Turkey, p.30

Stuffed with Turkey, p.30

Real people all have backstories, strengths, and shortcomings. Patience Oaktree does, too. Sometimes they help her relate to her clients, and sometimes they get in her way. When you, the reader, meet Patience “Pat” Oaktree, she is already a successful professional organizer with her own mantra(1), her favorite four-letter expletive(2), and her dream of writing a book. You find out where and how she met her husband Fred(3) and what she fed her kids for lunch when they were young(4). Little details from Pat’s past influence her work—the brand of sneakers she wore as a child(5) helps her set up a system for a client’s collection of shoes, and an experience with a coworker at Pat’s job right after college graduation(6) helps her decide that she will never arrive early for an appointment with a client, especially a chronically disorganized one.

My college roommate was fond of saying, “we do what we have to do,” meaning that our actions are the result of our experiences up to that point. That’s certainly true for the behavior of all my characters.

Pat’s world is very real, and she and I would like to welcome you into it.


(1) Patience and the Porsche, p.7
(2) Patience and the Porsche, p.25
(3) Photographic Memories, Chapter 9
(4) A Mess of Fish, p.34
(5) Heart of a Hoarder, p.81
(6) Stuffed with Turkey, p.10

Cast of Characters

Hi, Readers! I’m Sally, the chair of the hospitality committee in Heart of a Hoarder. Up until now, I’m the only character in a Patience Oaktree book who has made an appearance outside of the book’s pages. I’m the star in the book’s video trailer, so Val thought I’d be the right person to introduce this section of the blog. I’m not so sure about that — my specialty is really baking bar cookies.

I love that the video is accurate right down to the purple highlights in my hair. And the lemon squares were delicious. But — and I hope I don’t get in trouble for saying this — the trailer is a pretty primitive effort. I don’t think I need any expertise to realize that. I do hear Val is working on producing some better videos soon.

One of the big goals of this blog is to present the back-stories and extra stories that aren’t included in the published books. Many of those vignettes will be presented by various characters from the books. So…

Orange-titled posts with the oak leaf thumbnail — like this one — are written from the point of view of the character presenting the post.

Publishing Stuff

The business of publishing is a whole array of things different from the knowledge and creativity of the author who writes the manuscript.

I’m thinking there might be a segment of my audience that would be interested in topics such as formatting, printing options, distribution channels, book metadata, etc., etc. Those factors certainly have a lot to do with readers’ experiences when they delve into a Patience Oaktree adventure. And the significant upheavals in the world of publishing today can make for some interesting conversations, too. So…

Green-titled posts with the Green Square Publishing logo – like this one – are written from my point of view as a publisher.