Revealed! Book Club Picks for April. Happy Reading.

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

  • One outstanding book about happiness.
  • One outstanding work of children’s or young-adult literature. I have a crazy passion for kidlit.
  • One eccentric pick. This is a book that I love, but freely admit may not be for everyone.

I’ll post these recommendations here, or to make sure you don’t miss them, sign up for the monthly Book Club newsletter.

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:  E. O. Wilson, Naturalist. Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book: Rumer Godden, The Greengage Summer. Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick: Flannery O’Connor, Wise BloodBuy from WORD; BN.comAmazon.

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. So I won’t describe these books, but I love all the books I recommend; I’ve read them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely loved.

If you read last month’s recommendations…what did you think? Gosse’s Father and Son, MacDonald’s Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. Such good books!

  • Liz

    was raised on a steady diet of Rumer Godden but had completely forgotten her. Thank you for reminding me!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m on a bender of Rumer Godden lately. So good. Adult and children. And autobiography.

      • Lindsay Lumsden

        In this House of Bede is one of my very favourite books, so I got The Greengage Summer out of the library and did enjoy it – it seemed to me that she was covering some pretty controversial themes for the 1950s, especially if the book was aimed at teenagers. Thanks for the recommendation.

        • gretchenrubin

          Not only that, it was based very closely on her own childhood experience. Something very like that happened to her and her siblings.

  • peninith1

    Wise Blood–YES! Flannery O’Connor is so scarily counter-intuitive, she really reminds you that you probably just don’t get what God is up to and never will. And all this in the wildest way possible. I love her stories more than her novels, but she is brilliant all through, as an essayist as well.
    Rumer Godden: I love the one about the little girl in London, something about Sparrows–my Mom says this was her neighborhood when she was a child. Also loved Two Under the Indian Sun and The River.

    • gretchenrubin

      An Episode of Sparrows – just checked it out from the library!

  • Barb from CNY

    I already love your books and just about everything you write, but if I didn’t, that fact that you love Mrs. Piggle Wiggle would do it. Love, LOVE those books, I (at age 41 and with no children) re-read them every single year. They are the best childhood memory, and I love the older language used. Can’t wait to read the latest your latest suggestions!

    • gretchenrubin

      So HAPPY to hear from a fellow lover of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. They are so brilliant.

  • I *heart* E.O. Wilson!! Your suggestions will get me to re-read The Naturalist. But I hadn’t thought of it as a book about happiness………hmmm…but I’m thinking you are probably right about that. He is so solid, so positive (in the face of the crisis to our planet) — a wonderful and inspirational man.

  • Veronique

    Love, love ,love Flannery O’Connor she was such a gifted writer.

    • gretchenrubin

      If you love O’Connor, I highly recommend the book of her letters, The Habit of Being. I don’t often read collections of letters, and I LOVE that book.

      • Veronique

        Thanks so much! I have The Collected Works of Flannery O’Conner and have earmarked her letters as my next read as soon as I finish The House of Mirth. I like a lot of the children’s literature suggestions you make and wondered if you had heard of The Buckshaw Chronicles by Alan Bradley. He is a Canadian writer and the books are set in England. They are mystery novels with an 11 year old heroine.

        • gretchenrubin

          No, can’t wait to check them out! Thanks for the suggestion!

        • peninith1

          Flavia de Luce is one of my most favorite characters ever. I am a big fan of Alan Bradley’s series. Her imagination and her well-justified rage side-by-side with her fierce love of her family are so deeply true, even as the stories are such wonderful flights of fancy. Delightful.

  • This is going to date me, A LOT…But here goes – I remember being mesmerized in the 50s when my 3th grade teacher, Mrs. Morrisson read several of the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series to us! We only got a chapter a day when we came in from recess, so during Mrs. Piggle–Wiggle days we all made sure to be on time, lol!

  • Lori

    Rumer Godden is now one of my favorite authors! After reading the delightful The Greengage Summer, I purchased as many used books by her as I could find. I highly recommend them all: The Battle of the Villa Fiorita, An Episode of Sparrows, In the House of Brede, Two Under the Indian Sun, and A Time to Dance, a Time to Weep. Excellent author.