Revealed! Book Club Choices for July 2015.

Before I get to the fun of recommending some good books for July, here’s a quick bit of self-promotion: I was very happy to be included in Mashable’s 25 Must-Read Books to Dive into This Summer. Better Than Before is in really terrific company, so it was exciting to be part of the list.

Most of us have habits that we want to make or break, and Better Than Before explains how to do that. Really! Excerpt here. Audio clip here. Discussion guides here.

Now enough about me and my book (!) — on to the fun part. Three terrific books.

Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

· one outstanding book about happiness or habits

· one outstanding work of children’s or young-adult literature–I have a crazy passion for kidlit

· one eccentric pick–a widely admired and excellent book that I love, yes, but one that may not appeal to everyone

Shop at the wonderful Brooklyn indie WORD, BN.com, Amazon (I’m an affiliate of all three), or your favorite local bookstore. Or visit the library! Drumroll…

An outstanding book about happiness or habits:

Loneliness: Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection by John Cacioppo and William Patrick.

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:

Time at the Top by Edward Ormondroyd.

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

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

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

Some readers have said that they wished that I’d describe and make the case for my book choices, instead of just providing links. I’ve noticed that many times, when someone describes a book to me, I want to read it less. And often, weirdly, the better a book is, the worse it sounds.

Nevertheless, because so many readers have requested it, I’ve decided to give a bit more context for these choices in the book-club newsletter. So if you’d like to know more about why I made these selections, check there. To get that free monthly book-club newsletter, and to make sure you don’ t miss any recommendations, sign up here.

In any event, I assure you that, for all the books I choose, I love them; I’ve read them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely admired.

If you read last month’s recommendations…what did you think?

Happy July, and happy reading!

Agree? “You Increase Your Self-Respect When You Feel You’ve Done Everything You Ought to Have Done.”

“You increase your self-respect when you feel you’ve done everything you ought to have done, and if there is nothing else to enjoy, there remains that chief of pleasures, the feeling of being pleased with oneself. A man gets an immense amount of satisfaction from the knowledge of having done good work and of having made the best use of his day, and when I am in this state I find that I thoroughly enjoy my rest and even the mildest forms of recreation.”

Journal of Eugene Delacroix

A wonderful, wonderful book by the way. Delacroix, like Andy Warhol and Edward Weston, is an example of a visual artist who is also a brilliant writer.

Can you recommend any other journals by artists?

Video: The False Choice Loophole. One of My Personal Favorites.

In my new (bestselling) book, Better Than Before, I identify the twenty-one strategies of habit-formation, and one is the Strategy of Loophole-Spotting.

I’m doing a video series in which I discuss the ten categories of loopholes. I love studying loopholes, because they’re so funny. And ingenious! We’re such great advocates for ourselves — in any situation, we can always think of some loophole to invoke.

Well, what is a “loophole?” When we try to form and keep habits, we often search for loopholes, for justifications that will excuse us from keeping this particular habit in this particular situation. However, if we catch ourselves in the act of loophole-seeking, we can perhaps reject them.

In Better Than Before, I describe all ten categories of loopholes; in this video series. I’ll describe them, one by one.

Third of ten loopholes: the False Choice Loophole.

 

I have to admit, this is my personal favorite.

 If I join that group, I won’t have any time with my daughters.

I haven’t been exercising. Too busy writing.

I don’t have time to work on my draft, I’ve got too many emails to answer.

If I go to sleep earlier, I won’t have any time to myself.

I’m so busy, I’ll make those appointments once things calm down.

Even outside the context of a habits, false choices often appear as a challenge to a happiness project.

I remind myself that whenever I’m inclined to think “Can I have this or that?” I should stop and ask, “Can I have this and that?” It’s surprising how often that’s possible. Is the habit that I want to foster really in conflict with my other values? Usually, if I’m honest with myself, it’s not.

How about you? Do you find yourself invoking the false choice loophole?

How I Used Lessons from Happiness and Habits to Help Me Buy a Backpack.

I carry a backpack with me everywhere. I practically never use a purse, just my backpack.

Recently, the zipper on my backpack broke, so this afternoon I bought a new one (see photo).  It got me thinking about some lessons that I’ve learned about happiness, habits — and myself.

Lesson 1: Why did I find it strangely satisfying that the zipper broke? Because I’m a finisher.

Some people love finishing, and some people love opening—both literally and figuratively. Finishers love the feeling of bringing a project to completion, and they’re determined to use the last drop in the shampoo bottle; openers thrill to the excitement of launching a new project, and find pleasure in opening a fresh tube of toothpaste.

When something breaks, like a zipper, that’s a clear sign that a thing is finished — and as a finisher, I find that very gratifying.

Lesson 2: Why didn’t I feel bad about going to just one store to choose a backpack? Because I’m a satisficer.

Satisficers make a decision or take action once their criteria are met. That doesn’t mean they’ll settle for mediocrity; their criteria can be very high; but as soon as they find the car, the hotel, or the pasta sauce that has the qualities they want, they’re satisfied.

Maximizers, by contrast, want to make the optimal decision. So even if they see a bicycle or a photographer that would seem to meet their requirements, they can’t make a decision until after they’ve examined every option, so they know they’re making the best possible choice.

I live in New York City, with a million stores, and to buy my backpack, I went straight back to the store where I bought my old one, two blocks from my apartment, and of the three realistic backpack choices, chose one.

Lesson 3: Despite Lessons 1 and 2, I nevertheless felt a twinge of reluctance to buy the new backpack. Why? Because I’m an under-buyer.  We under-buyers really dislike the process of buying, and will go to elaborate lengths to avoid it. Over-buyers, on the other hand, go out of their way to find reasons to buy.

That’s a lot of self-knowledge to process in a single afternoon! But mission accomplished.

Want to know if you’re a finisher or an opener? Look here.

Want to know if you’re a satisficer or maximizer? Listen to my sister and me discuss it on the very first episode of our podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Want to know if you’re an under-buyer or over-buyer? Take this quiz.

Podcast 18: Buy an Experience, Strengthen the Foundation, and the Challenge of Table Manners.

It’s Wednesday — time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

We’ve been busy preparing for the Very Special Episode, coming up in episode 20, where we’ll feature our listeners. Thanks to everyone who called or emailed us — the comments are so thought-provoking.

This week:

Try This at Home: Buy an experience. We were inspired by the suggestion made by Tom Rath, in our interview with him in episode 15.

BetterthanBefore_TiltedBetter Than Before Habit Strategy: The Strategy of Foundation (eat and drinking right; move around; get enough sleep; and — more surprisingly — unclutter). Here’s the image that Elizabeth referred to, the cover of Better Than Before.

Listener Question: “On the Four Tendencies — Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel — I’m a Questioner.  If I don’t see the point, I find it difficult to do what I’m supposed to do, and sometimes I get in my own way. So how does a Questioner get over that?” Great question. Want to take the Quiz? Here it is.

Gretchen’s Demerit: Table manners. For me and my family.

Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Her gold star goes to Julie, a fellow pre-school mother, who volunteered to make a keepsake yearbook for the children.

preschoolyearbookgretchenAs it happened, I did know the exact place to find my pre-school yearbook (very impressed with myself), so as promised, here’s a picture.

Don’t miss the extra little exchange between Elizabeth and me, at the very end of the podcast! (That’s called a “button” in podcasting parlance.)

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors. Check out Smith and Noble, a solution for beautiful window treatments. Go to smithandnoble.com/happier for 20% off window treatments and a free in-home consultation. Limited time.

Also, Squarespace the easiest way to create a beautiful website, blog, or online store. Go to squarespace.com, and enter the offer code “happier” at check-out to get 10% off your first purchase.

We’d love to hear from you: did you buy an experience — and if so, what was it?

Comment below. Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 744-277-9336. Here’s the Facebook Page.

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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

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