Revealed! Book Club Picks for May. 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,, Amazon (I’m an affiliate of all three), or your favorite local bookstore. Or visit the library! Drumroll…

An outstanding book about happiness:  Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice. Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:  J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

An eccentric pick: Sir James Frazer’s  The Golden BoughBuy 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? Wilson’s Naturalist, Godden’s The Greengage Summer, O’Connor’s Wise Blood.

  • księgowa

    “Sometimes the devil tempts me to believe in God.”
    Stanislaw Jerzy Lec…

  • Thanks!

    I am am so glad that you “come out” as a reader of kidlit.
    I always admire people who admit to consume the culture that they enjoy rather than what others or social groups seem fit.

  • Jill Shelley

    I love your blog, I’ve read both your books, I’m continual inspired by you….however, I wish you would write even a few sentences about the books you recommend. If you could just tell us a little of why you recommend these books, I would be more inclined to read them.

    • gretchenrubin

      Thanks so much for your kind words!

      I feel that a) I often end up making people want to read a book LESS not MORE and b) there’s tons of info about books online, more than I could ever provide.
      But I see your point too. Next month, I’ll try just writing a bit to make a case for the books.

      • I too would like to read a few sentences about why you would recommend these books. I know that I can read reviews online but it is your opinion that interests me as a follower of your blog .

      • How about telling us why you love the books instead of a description? That way we sense your passion for them rather that form an opinion of them straight away.

    • Lynne

      The first thing I do if I hear about a book I might be interested in is go to Goodreads reviews.Don’t look at the ratings. Read the comments because they tell you the reasons they did or didn’t like the book. I always read through 10-15 reviews listed and get a really good overview from the comments whether it is a book I will enjoy or not.

      • Lynee, do you find the Goodreads reviews overly optimistic? I think gives a better sense, especially when they offer the side by side display of 5-star and 1-star reviews. If you’re ever looking for books hared by others I run which features guests sharing why they like something.

        • Lynne

          I’ll check it out. Thanks 🙂

  • Emac09

    Thanks for the reminder to read Peter Pan – I recently saw the stage play Peter and Alice in London (fabulous if it comes your way – fictional account of the meeting of the people who Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland were based on) and decided I should read it, but had forgotten until now. Will pick it up when returning my current library books.

    • gretchenrubin

      It is so good.

    • kellroo

      I have read both Peter Pan and Alice and Wonderland about 20 times to my 4 year old. They are her two favorites. She would love to see that play!

  • peninith1

    Peter Pan was a big favorite with me. And Cyril Richard (Ritchard?) was my favorite father / Cpt. Hook EVER.
    Here’s a sweet and touching story: a grad school professor’s 3-4 year old had difficulty sleeping and eating. His worried parents finally took him to the doctor, to whom he confessed: They had told him the family would be ‘flying to London’ for Christmas, and having recently seen Peter Pan, he took this quite literally. He had been in his room for several weeks trying very hard to fly at night, summoning all his happy thoughts. But he could not do it! A trip to the airport to see exactly how HIS family would be ‘flying to London’ happily solved this problem. This always makes me unsure whether to smile or weep. . . stories have SUCH power.

  • s_ifat

    thank you thank you. I wait every month for your picks, I love most of them 🙂 going to check the books out right now

  • mbsblue

    It would be helpful to have these titles in the email so they are handy at the bookstore. Thanks!

  • Ginger

    Gretchen – These latest suggestions reminded me to ask you if you’ve ever read Epic by John Eldredge? It’s a rather short book, but a really great explanation of story when it comes to religion and Christianity specifically. I’ve been meaning to suggest it to you for a while. I’ve thought of it several times as something you might like. (And as it’s been out a while, I just noticed it’s for sale for $2 on Amazon!)

    Funny, this small world of the internet, where people we’ve only “met” in books and blogs feel like friends we can think to suggest a book to!

  • Ainslie Beattie

    I am off to research these books – thanks for the suggestion…but I can’t help adding – if you love kidlit… have you read The Snow Merchant by Sam Gayton yet? I found it via this great blog about books that I read (and no I am not promoting anyone I know – just another fantastic blogger who lives and breathes kid lit!) will find the entry here – bet you will enjoy it!
    Happy Reading!

    • gretchenrubin

      I’ll check it out! Thanks!

      • Sharon

        Another kidlit recommendation; anything by Frances Hardinge, especially Fly By Night and Fly-Trap.

  • przewóz i transport zwłok

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  • Lucky Barb

    It was a jolt to realize I’d never read Peter Pan. Being so familiar with the story, it just got missed. I’m half-way through it now, and enjoying it thoroughly. I liked last month’s Greengage Summer, too. A bit more mature than some of the other kidlit picks. Finally, although I couldn’t get my hands on “Wise Blood” by Flannery O’Connor, I substituted her short-story collection, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”. What a talented writer! I was hooked from page 1. Thanks for your selections each month; I look forward to them

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so happy to hear that you’re enjoying (most of) the choices!

  • Dendy

    I realised that I had only read the abreviated version of Peter Pan to my own children ! Thank you for suggesting this book.

  • Heather N. Paxton

    Thank you for choosing Barry Schwartz’s book, The Paradox of Choice. I’ve probably given away eight copies, because I think it is such a brilliant book. You have the power to persuade a far larger audience to read it.

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