working mama files : amanda nelson from book riot

September 8, 2014

Working Mama Files is an interview series designed to support and encourage working moms along the path to having a fulfilling life.

Today I have Amanda from Book Riot joining me! I discovered her from her (now defunct) book blog and have enjoyed keeping up with her since we share taste in books, and also because she is just super interesting, smart, and funny. I link to Book Riot all the time, so I’m excited to have her here today!

amanda nelson

Who lives in your house?

Me (obvs), my husband, my 3-year-old twin boys (Rhett and Atticus), my cat Finnegan and my hound dog Othello.

Will you tell us a little about your current job and how you ended up there?

I’m the Managing Editor of, the largest independent literary website in North America, I have no shame in saying. I run the day-to-day operations of the site, and the social media. I got here through my (now defunct) classic literature blog- I started blogging around the same time as Jeff O’Neal, Book Riot’s founder. We were reading each other’s blogs for awhile, and he approached me to be one of the initial contributors on this crazy book site he wanted to start. I went from weekly contributing, to being part-time staff, to full-time staff over the next two years, and I just started running the joint at the beginning of July.

Your job is mostly internet-based, so do you work from home? If so, how do you handle childcare? How do you like working from home versus outside of it?

I do work from home! The boys go to a sitter from 9 a.m until noon, and then they come home and nap until about 2:30. I start my work day at 6:30 a.m. (my husband handles breakfast and getting them dressed and to the sitter), so by the time they wake up from nap, I’ve put in a full day- though I can rarely resist doing a bit more work stuff after they go to bed. I LURVE working from home. I’ve worked in office settings outside the home before, and I never enjoyed them. I like setting my schedule, working around the boys, being able to take a random Friday afternoon off to go do whatever.

amanda nelson interview

Okay, twins! From your perspective, are there any unique issues having to do with twins and working?

Just that they do mostly everything developmentally at the same time. So when they were teething, it was two kids teething that I had to deal with in the middle of the night. When they were potty-training (which we just finished up with a few months ago), they were both doing it at once, so when they were at home I would have to juggle that. But I don’t think I have any real issues that anyone with two kids (especially two young ones close in age) doesn’t have.

Since you manage a website all about books, reading, and publishing, it seems like you have to read a TON in addition to your editing and writing duties. In reality, how much do you read in a day, week, month, year?

Never as much as I want to! I try to read at least an hour or two at night, after dinner, while my husband wrestles around with the boys. I tend to read for several hours on Saturdays, and Sundays after church, in an attempt to “catch up”. I’m always in five or six books at once, and I keep an audiobook going in the car and while I cook dinner. I’d say I get through three or four books a week? Goodreads tells me I’ve read 62 books so far this year (though 10 of those probably are graphic novels, which take about half an hour to get through).

I hear lots of moms say that they don’t have time to read anymore and that they miss it. How do you fit it in?

I shove it in, heh. My husband understands that I’m a better human to be around after I’ve read a bit at the end of a day, so he occupies the boys after dinner while I do that. Audiobooks are really helpful for getting a book in in those crevices in your day- folding laundry, driving, walking the dog. But I know that my situation is singular because of my job, so I don’t expect any parent (or any person, really) to read as obsessively as I do. I’d say just make it a priority at least once a week to take a quiet hour, outside of the house if you have to, to read alone. Put it on your calendar.

I’m curious – when do you buy a book versus using the library? Do you use an e-reader or subscription service? Do you listen to audiobooks?

I use all those things! I’m an equal opportunity book getter. I’ve had an Audible subscription for three months, and I tend to get through exactly one audio book a month. I have a Nook, but I rarely use it- I use my iPhone to read e-galleys (electronic review copies from publishers), and I have an Oyster subscription. I use the library for reading new books that I didn’t get in galley form that I’m interested in, and then if I loved it, I’ll buy it for my shelves. I’m at the library at least once a week. I will say that I almost never buy ebooks- if I’m going to spend money on a book, I want to be able to see it on my shelf. That’s a weird personal quirk.

amanda nelson interview

Do your boys like reading so far? How do you encourage them in it? Do they have any favorite books (or do you, for kids)?

They do like reading (or being read to, really, at this age)! They see me doing it a lot and want to “copy” me, and of course we have books everywhere, so it’s sort of what they know. I take them to the library once every week or two weeks and let them pick whatever they’re interested in, and I try to buy them books that are about things they’re interested in at the moment (we have a lot of books about trucks and dinosaurs right now). They love anything Curious George, Olivia, anything about Thomas the Train. I (predictably) love the BabyLit books, and they loved those when they were smaller, but are getting too big for them at this point. My absolute favorite kid’s book right now is Bear Snores On– it’s so sweet.

What has been your biggest struggle, doubt, or resistance so far being a working mom?

My job isn’t a typical 9-to-5, and is something I love doing and am thinking about a lot, so I’m always worried that I’m not giving the boys enough time or attention- something every working mom worries about, I know. I just tell myself that it’s important that they see me out doing something I am passionate about, and then I try to set aside time without my phone or computer around to just BE with them every day.

In your experience, what is the best part of being a working mom?

Doing something I love and care about, and modeling what that looks like for my kids.

Do you have any practical tips or ideas to pass along that help you lead a more joyful, fulfilling life?

Read Getting Things Done by David Allen! It taught me how to stop trusting my brain to hold tasks and dates and ideas, and how to get all that stuff down into an organizational system (I use the Omnifocus app, but plain pencil and paper will work) so I could free up brain-space for creativity, new ideas (for every aspect of life, not just work), or just for hanging out with the family without always feeling like I was forgetting something. Oh, and force yourself to go to church even when you don’t feel like it. I never regret it.

amanda nelson interview

Now a few questions for fun…

How do you like your coffee? Or are you a tea drinker?

Both! ALL THE CAFFEINE! I’m an iced coffee, two raw sugars with half-and-half drinker, usually with breakfast. In the afternoons after lunch, I have a black tea latte (I make all this at home, usually).

What was the last good book you read?

I recently finished The Silkworm, the second mystery novel J.K. Rowling wrote under her pseudonym, Robert Galbraith. I’m seriously loving these books- I’m a sucker for a good whodunit.

What’s on your nightstand?

About a million things! Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, about the history and art of comic books. The first book in Robert Jordan’s high fantasy Wheel of Time series, The Eye of the World. Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye. David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks, which comes out in September.

Favorite social media site?

I’m a Twitter addict. I can’t be stopped.

Can you recommend one blog you read?

I love Anne over at Modern Mrs. Darcy– her blog is this wonderful combination of life, books, kids, organization, clothes. She pushes all my buttons!


Thank you so much Amanda! Connect with her at Book Riot (they also have a podcast and a YouTube channel where Amanda makes appearances) and Twitter.

Posted in: books & reading, motherhood, motherhood, working mama files

Comments on working mama files : amanda nelson from book riot

  1. 1

    From Nora:

    Wow! What an interview; so much info, so much spunk and creativity, it just shines through in her writing.

  2. 2

    From Melissa:

    Great interview!

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