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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
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    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
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    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.

     
  • feedwordpress 10:00:18 on 2019/04/30 Permalink
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    What I Read This Month: April 2019 


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    For more than two 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 now 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.

    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've recently started tracking books I’ve read.

    If you want to see what I read in Mach 2019, the full list is here.

    April 2019 Reading:

    The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty -- A friend with similar reading tastes sent this to me as a gift—what a treat! A great book.

    The Book of Delights by Ross Gay -- Wonderful little essays. Elizabeth and I will interview Ross Gay for the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, so stay tuned for that.

    The Beautiful No by Sheri Salata -- And we're also interviewing Sheri Salata! Stay tuned! These are many Secrets of Adulthood that she learned the hard way.

    Chance, Luck, and Destiny by Peter Dickinson -- Yes, more Peter Dickinson. I love thinking about chance, luck, and destiny so couldn't wait to read this book. It's a non-fiction collection of interesting observations of these subjects.

    Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown -- I wrote books called Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill and Forty Ways to Look at JFK so of course I had to read this book. Wonderful. I knew nothing about Princess Margaret so learned a lot, but more importantly, this account contains deep insight into human nature.

    Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected by Nnedi Okorafor -- I love Okorafor's fiction, and was always curious to learn more about her life, so I was thrilled to get the chance to read this memoir. Short and powerful.

    The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons -- Great book, but it was confusing to read it within a few weeks of "The City of Brass." I kept mixing up the two titles.

    Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett -- I've read this book three times. Love it.

    The Silent Strength of Stones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman -- I've read this book three times. I love it. Why does no one ever talk about Nina Kiriki Hoffman's work? I'm a huge raving super-fan of her books. GO READ NINA KIRIKI HOFFMAN.

    Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney -- I admire this book tremendously. You know how reviews say a book is "finely observed," and you think, "What does that even mean?" As I was reading this book, I literally had the thought, "Gosh, this is finely observed."

    Long Life: Essays and Other Writings by Mary Oliver -- The title is "Long Life" and the book is short. Very thought-provoking, with many passages that I copied into my notes (no surprise).

    The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner -- A beautifully written, haunting book. I dog-eared many pages.

    Plain Girl by Virginia Sorensen -- I read this book as a child, and suddenly remembered it and felt compelled to get my hands on it. A wonderful book about an Amish family.

    Midnight Fair by William Mayne -- Odd. Interesting. Not quite sure what to make of this book, but I'm glad I read it. I believe I heard about it in Philip Pullman's Daemon Voices.

    Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses by Paula McLain -- I did an event for San Diego's organization for Court Appointed Special Advocates, and during the lunch, someone recommended this memoir. Fascinating. The writer and her two sisters grew up in foster care.

    Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid -- So many people told me to get this book! A great read.

    Comedy Sex God by Pete Holmes -- I love memoirs by comedians, and I love spiritual memoirs, and here is two in one.

    Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs -- My sister Elizabeth told me I had to read this book. An outstanding family memoir.

     
  • feedwordpress 10:00:18 on 2019/04/30 Permalink
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    What I Read This Month: April 2019 


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    For more than two 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 now 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.

    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've recently started tracking books I’ve read.

    If you want to see what I read in Mach 2019, the full list is here.

    April 2019 Reading:

    The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty -- A friend with similar reading tastes sent this to me as a gift—what a treat! A great book.

    The Book of Delights by Ross Gay -- Wonderful little essays. Elizabeth and I will interview Ross Gay for the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast, so stay tuned for that.

    The Beautiful No by Sheri Salata -- And we're also interviewing Sheri Salata! Stay tuned! These are many Secrets of Adulthood that she learned the hard way.

    Chance, Luck, and Destiny by Peter Dickinson -- Yes, more Peter Dickinson. I love thinking about chance, luck, and destiny so couldn't wait to read this book. It's a non-fiction collection of interesting observations of these subjects.

    Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown -- I wrote books called Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill and Forty Ways to Look at JFK so of course I had to read this book. Wonderful. I knew nothing about Princess Margaret so learned a lot, but more importantly, this account contains deep insight into human nature.

    Broken Places & Outer Spaces: Finding Creativity in the Unexpected by Nnedi Okorafor -- I love Okorafor's fiction, and was always curious to learn more about her life, so I was thrilled to get the chance to read this memoir. Short and powerful.

    The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons -- Great book, but it was confusing to read it within a few weeks of "The City of Brass." I kept mixing up the two titles.

    Truth & Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett -- I've read this book three times. Love it.

    The Silent Strength of Stones by Nina Kiriki Hoffman -- I've read this book three times. I love it. Why does no one ever talk about Nina Kiriki Hoffman's work? I'm a huge raving super-fan of her books. GO READ NINA KIRIKI HOFFMAN.

    Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney -- I admire this book tremendously. You know how reviews say a book is "finely observed," and you think, "What does that even mean?" As I was reading this book, I literally had the thought, "Gosh, this is finely observed."

    Long Life: Essays and Other Writings by Mary Oliver -- The title is "Long Life" and the book is short. Very thought-provoking, with many passages that I copied into my notes (no surprise).

    The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner -- A beautifully written, haunting book. I dog-eared many pages.

    Plain Girl by Virginia Sorensen -- I read this book as a child, and suddenly remembered it and felt compelled to get my hands on it. A wonderful book about an Amish family.

    Midnight Fair by William Mayne -- Odd. Interesting. Not quite sure what to make of this book, but I'm glad I read it. I believe I heard about it in Philip Pullman's Daemon Voices.

    Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses by Paula McLain -- I did an event for San Diego's organization for Court Appointed Special Advocates, and during the lunch, someone recommended this memoir. Fascinating. The writer and her two sisters grew up in foster care.

    Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid -- So many people told me to get this book! A great read.

    Comedy Sex God by Pete Holmes -- I love memoirs by comedians, and I love spiritual memoirs, and here is two in one.

    Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs -- My sister Elizabeth told me I had to read this book. An outstanding family memoir.

     
  • feedwordpress 11:00:15 on 2019/02/01 Permalink
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    What I Read This Month: January 2019 


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    For more than two 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 now 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.

    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've recently started tracking books I’ve read.

    If you want to see what I read in December 2018, the full list is here. And if you're interested in seeing my year in books, check out this list on Goodreads.

    January 2019 Reading:

    The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai -- many bookish people told me that this is one of their favorite new novels, and I loved it too.

    Wise Child by Monica Furlong -- a terrific children's book with a "witch," an apprentice, a mysterious religion.

    Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders -- many bookish people told me this is one of their favorite recent novels. It was very different from what I expected, very interesting.

    The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin -- if you knew the date you'd die, how would that knowledge affect your life? Haunting question.

    I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Philpott -- I love essays. If you're curious, these essays reveal that Philpott is an Obliger who shows Obliger-rebellion.

    And This is Laura by Ellen Conford -- I bought this book for nostalgic reasons; I remember reading it in middle school. A charming book about a girl who develops the ability to see the future.

    In My Mind's Eye by Jan Morris -- A "thought diary" is a fascinating idea for a structure of a book. I'm a big fan of Morris's work.

    Outrageous Openness by Tosha Silver -- I read this book because at an event, someone told me that it changed her life. I can't resist a life-changing book!

    The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson -- as someone interested in habit change, I was very interested to read this account of journalist Tomlinson's battle with his weight.

    Apples and Oranges by Marie Brenner -- I met Marie Brenner, and whenever I meet someone who has written a memoir, I run out and read it. This is a fascinating account of a difficult but loving relationship between an adult sister and brother, a subject that interests me greatly but isn't often written about.

    The Blue Hawk by Peter Dickinson -- More Peter Dickinson. I LOVED THIS BOOK. I plan to re-read it quite soon. I may have loved it as much as Tulku.

    Bad Blood by John Carreyrou -- An outstanding account of the crazy story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. A real page-turner. Just about everyone I know has read it, or like my sister Elizabeth, listened to the audio-book. I also just started listening to The Dropout, a 6-part podcast by ABC News correspondent Rebecca Jarvis about this subject.

    The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty -- an absorbing story by the beloved writer Moriarity. When I checked this novel out of the library, the librarian told me how much she'd enjoyed it, too.

    Swimming in a Sea of Death by David Rieff -- A fascinating account by David Rieff, Susan Sontag's son, about the last year of her life and how she faced death. For some reason, I've suddenly become interested in Susan Sontag.

    Hindsight by Peter Dickinson -- More Peter Dickinson. I love his children's literature so much, I decided to read one of his adult books (of which, I'm excited to report, there are many). This crime novel had a very different flavor, but I really enjoyed it as well. Very interesting structure.

    The Golden Name Day by Jennie D. Lindquist -- How I love this book! I've read it many times. It's on my list of my 81 favorites works of children's and young-adult literature. I also love the two books that follow. Cozy, Swedish traditions, apple blossoms.

    What have you read recently that you'd recommend?

    I'm really in the mood for essays, so am particularly on the look-out for suggestions in that category. And did I mention that I'm a fan of Peter Dickinson?

    Announcement! We decided to launch the Happier Podcast Book Club.

     

     
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