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  • feedwordpress 16:00:35 on 2022/06/30 Permalink
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    What I Read This Month: June 2022 


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    For four years now, every Monday morning, I've posted a photo on my Facebook Page of the books I finished during the week, with the tag #GretchenRubinReads.

    I get a big kick out of this weekly habit—it’s a way to shine a spotlight on all the terrific books that I’ve read.

    As I write about in my book Better Than Before, for most of my life, my habit was to finish any book that I started. Finally, I realized that this approach meant that I spent time reading books that bored me, and I had less time for books that I truly enjoy. These days, I put down a book if I don’t feel like finishing it, so I have more time to do my favorite kinds of reading.

    This habit means that if you see a book included in the #GretchenRubinReads photo, you know that I liked it well enough to read to the last page.

    When I read books related to an area I’m researching for a writing project, I carefully read and take notes on the parts that interest me, and skim the parts that don’t. So I may list a book that I’ve partly read and partly skimmed. For me, that still “counts.”

    If you’d like more ideas for habits to help you get more reading done, read this post or download my "Reading Better Than Before" worksheet.

    You can also follow me on Goodreads where I track books I’ve read.

    If you want to see what I read last month, the full list is here.

    June 2022 Reading:

    Pure by Andrew Miller (Amazon, Bookshop)—A terrific novel that captures an interesting moment in history—the moving of the contents of the Les Innocents cemetery in eighteenth-century France.

    Sorrow and Bliss: A Novel by Meg Mason (Amazon, Bookshop)—Winner of the Book of the Year (Fiction) at the British Book Awards—an absorbing novel of a woman and her family.

    Artificial Conditions: The Murderbot Diaries (The Murderbot Diaries, 2) by Martha Wells (Amazon, Bookshop)—USA Today Bestseller—I rarely listen to audiobooks, but for the Murderbot Diaries, I tried the audiobooks, and really enjoyed the experience. I love the main character of these novellas.

    Rogue Protocol: The Murderbot Diaries (The Murderbot Diaries, 3) by Martha Wells (Amazon, Bookshop)—ditto

    Exit Strategy: The Murderbot Diaries (The Murderbot Diaries, 4)  by Martha Wells (Amazon, Bookshop)—ditto

    The Absolute Book: A Novel by Elizabeth Knox (Amazon, Bookshop)—Several people told me to read this book. It reminded me a little of Little, Big: Or, The Fairies' Parliament by John Crowley.

    Becoming a Gardener: What Reading and Digging Taught Me About Living by Katie Marron (Amazon, Bookshop)—I have no desire to garden but I love books about gardening. This meditative memoir looks at the power of gardening, with gorgeous illustrations.

    A Severed Head by Iris Murdoch (Amazon, Bookshop)—I'm on a Murdoch kick. They're always worth reading, though this wasn't one of my favorites.

    Also A Poet: Frank O’Hara, My Father, and Me by Ada Calhoun (Amazon, Bookshop)—A fascinating memoir about a complex father-daughter relationship...plus Frank O'Hara.

    The Grief of Stones by Katherine Addison (Amazon, Bookshop)—I couldn't wait to read the next book in the Cemeteries of Amalo series.

    The Reason I Jump by Naomi Higashida (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times bestseller—an interesting memoir from an unusual perspective (after reading it, I learned that there's some controversy about this book).

    The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thorton Wilder (Amazon, Bookshop)—Winner of the Pulitzer Prize—a short and thought-provoking story about life and fate.

    The Great Passion by James Runcie (Amazon, Bookshop)—A historical novel with a compelling narrator—a thirteen-year-old who finds himself in Bach's circle.

    Left on Tenth: A Second Chance at Life: A Memoir by Delia Ephron (Amazon, Bookshop)—A "Best Memoir of 2022" by Marie Claire, A "Best Memoir of April" by Vanity Fair—Romance, marriage, aging, New York City, bone-marrow transplant, sisters...a terrific memoir.

     
  • feedwordpress 16:00:19 on 2022/06/01 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , book recommendations, , , ,   

    What I Read This Month: May 2022 


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    For four years now, every Monday morning, I've posted a photo on my Facebook Page of the books I finished during the week, with the tag #GretchenRubinReads.

    I get a big kick out of this weekly habit—it’s a way to shine a spotlight on all the terrific books that I’ve read.

    As I write about in my book Better Than Before, for most of my life, my habit was to finish any book that I started. Finally, I realized that this approach meant that I spent time reading books that bored me, and I had less time for books that I truly enjoy. These days, I put down a book if I don’t feel like finishing it, so I have more time to do my favorite kinds of reading.

    This habit means that if you see a book included in the #GretchenRubinReads photo, you know that I liked it well enough to read to the last page.

    When I read books related to an area I’m researching for a writing project, I carefully read and take notes on the parts that interest me, and skim the parts that don’t. So I may list a book that I’ve partly read and partly skimmed. For me, that still “counts.”

    If you’d like more ideas for habits to help you get more reading done, read this post or download my "Reading Better Than Before" worksheet.

    You can also follow me on Goodreads where I track books I’ve read.

    If you want to see what I read last month, the full list is here.

    May 2022 Reading:

    Smile: The Story of a Face by Sarah Ruhl (Amazon, Bookshop)—I love the work of Sarah Ruhl (see below), so couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of this memoir about her experiences with Bell's palsy, a high-risk pregnancy, play-writing

    Parson's Nine by Noel Streatfeild (Amazon)—On a recent episode of More Happier, I talked about how happy I was to discover Streatfeild's adult fiction. I loved this novel.

    Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism by Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D. (Amazon, Bookshop)—A fascinating memoir about how studying the interactions of gorillas offered a lifeline to the author.

    In the Early Times: A Life Reframed by Tad Friend (Amazon, Bookshop)—A thought-provoking, honest, revealing memoir about family and marriage.

    Signal Fires: A Novel by Dani Shapiro (Amazon, Bookshop)—A gripping novel that I finished in one day. I keep thinking about the characters.

    The Copenhagen Trilogy: Childhood; Youth; Dependency by Tove Ditlevsen (Amazon, Bookshop)—Haunting. A fascinating portrait of a person and a time.

    The Office BFFs: Tales of The Office from Two Best Friends Who Were There by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey (Amazon, Bookshop)—we'll be talking to the authors in upcoming episode 381 of the Happier podcast, for the Happier Podcast Book Club. Such a delightful book. Behind-the-scenes at the iconic TV comedy The Office, stories of best friendship, Hollywood stories, and more.

    Mothering Sunday by Noel Streatfeild (Amazon)—more Noel Streatfeild!

    Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times Book Review’s 10 Best Books of the Year, Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor—a thought-provoking family memoir that was both funny and somber. (Side note: much of it took place in Kansas City, which made me feel a personal connection.)

    The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith (Amazon, Bookshop)—A great novel about romance, grief, family, music—all set on an Alaskan cruise ship.

    Ties by Domenico Starnone (Amazon, Bookshop)—2015 Bridge Prize for Best Novel, Sunday Times and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, Strega Award—the story of a marriage told with an unusual and effective structure. (Side note for Elena Ferrante fans: some argue that Starnone is her husband and that this novel is "in dialogue with" her novel The Days of Abandonment.)

    To Siri with Love: A Mother, Her Autistic Son, and the Kindness of Machines by Judith Newman (Amazon, Bookshop)—a fascinating memoir about a family, about autism, and about technology.

    Letters from Max: A Poet, a Teacher, a Friendship by Sarah Ruhl and Max Ritvo (Amazon, Bookshop)—Kirkus Best Book of 2018—see above—I loved this collection of letters exchanged between Sarah Ruhl and her student, colleague, and friend Max Ritvo before his early death from cancer.

    The Aosawa Murders by Rick Onda (Amazon, Bookshop)—A gripping story about a crime and the mystery of who committed it, and why.

    In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss by Amy Bloom (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times Bestseller—A beautiful, thought-provoking memoir about love and death.

    The Book of Boundaries by Melissa Urban (Amazon, Bookshop)—in galley! A practical, helpful book that's also hilarious and a real page-turner, on the question of how to create healthy boundaries.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:09:08 on 2022/05/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , book recommendations, , , ,   

    What I Read This Month: April 2022 


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    For four years now, every Monday morning, I've posted a photo on my Facebook Page of the books I finished during the week, with the tag #GretchenRubinReads.

    I get a big kick out of this weekly habit—it’s a way to shine a spotlight on all the terrific books that I’ve read.

    As I write about in my book Better Than Before, for most of my life, my habit was to finish any book that I started. Finally, I realized that this approach meant that I spent time reading books that bored me, and I had less time for books that I truly enjoy. These days, I put down a book if I don’t feel like finishing it, so I have more time to do my favorite kinds of reading.

    This habit means that if you see a book included in the #GretchenRubinReads photo, you know that I liked it well enough to read to the last page.

    When I read books related to an area I’m researching for a writing project, I carefully read and take notes on the parts that interest me, and skim the parts that don’t. So I may list a book that I’ve partly read and partly skimmed. For me, that still “counts.”

    If you’d like more ideas for habits to help you get more reading done, read this post or download my "Reading Better Than Before" worksheet.

    You can also follow me on Goodreads where I track books I’ve read.

    If you want to see what I read last month, the full list is here.

    April 2022 Reading:

    The Joy of Sweat: The Strange Science of Perspiration by Sarah Everts (Amazon, Bookshop)—An Outside magazine 2021 Science book pick—A fascinating look at a very common aspect of life.

    The Bell Family by Noel Streatfeild (Amazon, Bookshop)—I just realized that Noel Streatfeild has several novels that I've never read, and it's so delightful to plunge in. This children's novel is based on her own childhood. It's very much like A Vicarage Family, below, which is a memoir.

    How to be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together by Dan Kois (Amazon, Bookshop)—I'm a big fan of the podcast Mom and Dad Are Fighting, which was co-hosted for many years by Dan Kois, and I knew that Dan and I would both be at the Iceland Writers Retreat, so I wanted to read his memoir. Funny, thought-provoking.

    Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times bestseller; I loved this novel; it was the chance to be inside a pure mind.

    In the Land of Pain by Alphonse Daudet (Amazon, Bookshop)—When I interviewed Meghan O'Rourke about her book The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness (Amazon, Bookshop), she suggested this book. Short, haunting account of Daudet's experience of chronic illness and pain.

    Inside Grandad by Peter Dickinson (Amazon)—I'm a huge fan of the work of Peter Dickinson but had somehow missed this novel. A simple, lovely story about a boy's love for his grandfather.

    Thinking 101: How to Reason Better to Live Better by Woo-Kyoung Ahn (Amazon, Bookshop)—A very engaging, readable, and powerful examination of how we can think more clearly.

    My Year Off: Recovering Life After a Stroke by Robert McCrum (Amazon, Bookshop)—A very moving account of the author's experience of having a stroke at a relatively young age.

    First Bite by Bee Wilson (Amazon, Bookshop)—Fortnum & Mason Food Book of the Year 2016—a fascinating examination of why we eat what we eat.

    True Biz: A Novel by Sara Nović (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times bestseller, Reese's Book Club pick—I read this novel in one day. I'd just binge-watched the reality series Deaf U, and True Biz picks up on many of the same themes related to Deaf culture.

    The Vicarage Family by Noel Streatfeild (Amazon)—Streatfeild writes this memoir in the third-person, which gives it a different atmosphere. If you love the Shoes books, you'll love this.

    You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories about Racism by Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar (Amazon, Bookshop)—New York Times bestseller, a Library Journal Best Book of the Year—These essays highlights very serious issues of racism by using humor and sisterly banter.

    Under the Glacier by Halldór Laxness (Amazon, Bookshop)—I wanted to read at least one novel by Laxness before coming to Iceland. This is an extremely odd and interesting novel.

    Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes by Robert Louis Stevenson (Amazon, Bookshop)—A travelogue from a very different time and place. I very much admire the work of Stevenson, and had never read this one.

     
  • Crystal Ellefsen 10:00:22 on 2018/09/15 Permalink
    Tags: , , book recommendations,   

    15 Books That Not Everyone Will Love 


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    Here is a round-up of some of my favorite eccentric picks.

    Now, looking at this list, you might ask, "Well, just how eccentric is a book like American Gods? It's a gigantically popular, best-selling book." By "eccentric," I mean that these books aren't for everyone. They suit my idiosyncratic tastes. Not everyone likes books that are fantasy-set-in-the-real-world. But I love it!

    People often ask me to describe the books I recommend. I don't like to do that, because weirdly I often find that when someone describes a book to me, I want to read it less. The best books often sound terrible. So I like to say, "Take it from me, this is a great book."

     

    1. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

    Buy from IndieBound; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    2. Revenge of the Lawn by Richard Brautigan

    Buy from IndieBound; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    3. Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

    Buy from IndieBound; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    4. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction by Christopher Alexander

    Buy from IndieBound; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    5. Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud

    Buy from IndieBound; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    6. J. M. Barrie and the Lost Boys: the Real Story Behind Peter Pan by Andrew Birkin

    Buy from IndieBound; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    7. Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

    Buy from IndieBound; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    8. Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

    Buy from IndieBound; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    9. The Golden Bough: a Study in Magic and Religion by James Frazer

    Buy from WORD; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    10. Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

    Buy from WORD; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    11. The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis

    Buy from WORD; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    12. Flaubert’s Parrot by Julian Barnes

    Buy from WORD; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    13. The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

    Buy from WORD; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    14. Forty-one False Starts: Essays on Artists and Writers by Janet Malcolm

    Buy from WORD; Barnes & Noble; Amazon

    15. The Official Preppy Handbook edited by Lisa Birnbach

    Buy from Barnes & Noble; Amazon

     
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