“At the beginning of Covid, you could see the evolution of readers’ needs through what was selling,” said Sanyu Dillon, the chief marketing officer for Penguin Random House. It started with a rise in interactive workbooks for children, she said. Later last spring, “baking, cooking, dog training and interior design saw an increase,” she continued. Last summer “was a call for racial justice books after the murder of George Floyd” and last fall, political books were popular.
These days, she said, readers are turning to fiction.
On the weekends, Ms. Dillon shifts priorities, from marketing to motherhood. “Sunday is my day to disengage from work and errands,” said the single mother of two, whose path to parenthood had its challenges. “The natural route was not in the cards for me,” said Ms. Dillon, 51. “I adopted my son 10 years ago,” she said, from a woman who called three years later to say she was pregnant again. Ms. Dillon did not hesitate. “I had a younger sister growing up, and wanted to give that to my kids.”
Ms. Dillon lives with her son, Carter, 10, and her daughter, Reese, 7, in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
STIRRING I need to wake up on my own without an alarm. We are all attuned to each other, so the household stirs around the same time. Then I do 10 minutes of Transcendental Meditation.
BLACK COFFEE I make breakfast for the kids: eggs and toast or waffles and yogurt, something simple. I tend not to eat and do intermittent fasting, so I might have a green smoothie. We love music. It’s a soundtrack house. We fight over who gets to pick the first song. I don’t, but they do. I try to balance it. Right now we are playing Black Coffee, who is a D.J. and producer out of South Africa.
MORE BLACK COFFEE We leave the house by 10-ish. That’s when I pick up coffee. I have a coffee machine at home, but I stop by Locals, the local coffee shop which is up the block, to support them. I love coffee. I take it black. For a long time I got coffee on the way to work. Now that I’m home full time I still get my coffee. It’s my little ritual, even during the week. It says, ‘OK, my day has started.’
PLAY DATE We have a weekly standing play date with my friend Chisara and her son Ikemba. We met when our kids were in preschool. We were solo moms, so that was a connection point. We played together during the pandemic in the Albert J. Parham Playground every Sunday — no matter how cold it was or if it was raining, when everyone’s social circle got narrow and the things one could do got smaller. We’d catch up and try to find activities for kids. Sometimes it was hockey. Now they are taking skateboarding lessons.
AUNTIES Our highlight of the week is seeing the aunties, from noon to 2. This is a tight group of seven friends who are their godmothers. We all get together once or twice a month. When I decided to adopt, they became another set of loving hands for the kids. When I have to travel for work, I can rely on them for overnight stays. We go to different places for brunch or head to Fort Greene Park for a picnic. During Covid those outdoor activities became priorities. Someone always has a playlist and Bluetooth speakers. For a while we were listening to Brazilian samba and would pretend we could samba dance.
GRAPHIC Every Friday my mother took my sister and me to Wilkie’s News, our local bookstore in Dayton, Ohio. I looked forward to this. We could get two books each. I carry that forward on Sundays, so we go to Greenlight Bookstore on Fulton. My kids love graphic novels series; Reese loves “Phoebe and Her Unicorn” and “Dog Man.” Carter loves “Big Nate” and “Wings of Fire.”
SEAFOOD SUNDAYS By 4 I turn my eye toward dinner: seafood Sundays. To make it easy for myself we also have taco Tuesdays. The kids help make it so that it’s fun. We go to Shipwreck Seafood Boutique in Bed-Stuy, and I buy a whole fish, usually branzino for me and my daughter; my son discovered mussels, so I get those for him.
END GAME After dinner it’s bath time. The kids lay out their clothes for the next day. I look at my schedule for the week and make a reminder list on my phone. We love playing word games. Right now we are playing the alphabet game: name, pet, and where you live — Amelia, armadillo, Alaska. We have a lot of fun. Afterward, Carter goes right into his room and picks up a book. Once Reese is settled, I go into Carter’s room and say good night.
ALL ABOUT SLEEP I take a shower to wash the day away and transition to me time, which focuses on maintaining good sleep hygiene. I’ve realized whenever I have brain fog or I’m craving sugar it all stems from lack of sleep.
BOOKLAND When the pandemic hit it caused me to re-evaluate my life and where I wanted to lean in. When I do something I want it to hit three things: curiosity, joy and rest. Picking up a book hits all of them. I love being back in bookland. I have a whole stack on the night stand. I recently finished Mia McKenzie’s “Skye Falling,” a hilarious novel/love story, and just started Brandon Taylor’s “Filthy Animals.” By 10 or 10:30 the book light is out and the pages are closed.
Sunday Routine readers can follow Sanyu Dillon on Instagram @brooklynsanyu.