Author Ann Patchett has never seen social media, doesn’t own a cell & doesn’t watch TV

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I don’t know a lot about author Ann Patchett, but I read about half of her latest very popular book, The Dutch House. This is typical of how I read and is not an indictment of the book, which was decent but didn’t pull me in. I often read about half of a book and give up as my attention span is low, especially lately. Even really trashy books can’t hold my interest and instead of reading I just fall asleep watching YouTube. Ann spoke to Seth Meyers last week. She owns a book store in Nashville where she lives calls Parnassus Books. Ann said that they remained closed up until October out of an abundance of caution. Online orders picked up so much around the holidays though that she and her sister had to work late into the night. She hasn’t had to lay off any workers and they’re now open again, with restrictions. I’m writing this story because I admire how dedicated Ann, 57, is to her lifestyle. She doesn’t watch TV and hasn’t seen major shows! She also doesn’t own a cell phone and although she makes video content for Instagram someone else posts it for her. She’s never even looked at Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

On her bookstore’s Instagram account, which she doesn’t use personally
It’s all about pivoting, figuring out how keep your business alive. I am somebody who has never looked at Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any of it. Now I am on Instagram. The trick is I have never looked at it. A couple of times a week I make these short videos, usually wearing evening wear, in which I cuddle with a book for twenty seconds and talk about how fantastic it is. That’s my job. It’s a good job.

“You’re really missing out on social media. It is just a real pleasant place.”
I hear that about crack all the time too. It’s just amazingly good and I should try it just a little bit to see.

She doesn’t have a cell phone or watch TV
I also don’t have a cell phone. I am just a dinosaur. I write a lot and I read a lot and I live my life. I’m sure that I’m missing out on amazing things. For me to go back and catch the wave of the golden age of television – I haven’t watched The Sopranos, I haven’t watched Breaking Bad. I’m so far behind at this point I could never catch up.

[From The New Yorker]

I have a lot of questions about how she manages to do video interviews and make videos for Instagram without owning a phone. Does she just have one of her employees record the videos for her? I’m also wondering how she writes her books. Does she use a very old computer or a word processor like other authors? I tried to figure out what technology she uses to write and ended up with a lot of good advice from her on writing in general. I found an interview from 2019 where she said she had a flip phone, doesn’t text and doesn’t know how to check voicemail. So it’s not quite accurate that she doesn’t have a cell phone, although she could have gotten rid of it since.

Ann has also admitted that she’s so disconnected that she can’t write books using modern technology. She said, in 2011, “I just don’t know how to write a novel in which the characters can get in touch with all the other characters at any moment.” Many of her characters set in modern day end up losing their cell phones because of this. Giving up my phone is not something I would do as my entire job is online, but I know a lot of people wish they could disconnect more, if not entirely. She’s living life on her terms and it sounds kind of peaceful.

Here’s that interview:

Ann’s book recommendations on Instagram really sold me on a few books:

A post shared by Parnassus Books (@parnassusbooks)

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Photos credit: Getty. Photo on the frontpage is a screenshot from this video

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