Revealed! Book Club Picks for June. 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: Pattie Smith’s Just Kids. Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book: Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden. Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

An eccentric pick: George Orwell’s A Collection of EssaysBuy 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? Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice, Barrie’s Peter Pan, and Frazer’s The Golden Bough.

  • peninith1

    So loved The Secret Garden–the children had such very strong personalities. My boys loved it, loved the dialect with Dickon and the wild critters, loved the mystery of it, the strangeness of being a child who expected to be dressed instead of dressing herself and so forth . . . . and of course the hidden garden and its secret. Super story, delightful to read as an adult as well.

  • Barbara

    I’ve just placed The Paradox of Choice on hold from our library…It does sound interesting. (I’m especially interested in the parts which explain that we tend to make decision making a trade-off and assign negative emotions rather than positive ones.)

  • PNW Gal

    Whooo-hooo! This has never happened before. I have actually read two out three. I am a big Patti Smith fan and thought that Just Kids would be great for even those who were not fans. Glad to see it as a pick. Last summer my mom read The Secret Garden to my daughter on a visit, my daughter read it by herself, and then asked me to read it to her and had my husband read it. I had never read it before. Delightful.

  • Frances

    Just ordered the Patti Smith book from my library. Have read the other two, and they’re great picks. Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” is one of the most important things written in the 20th century.

  • Terri K

    Gretchen, I picked up Happier at Home at the library the other day. I had not heard about you before seeing the book. Honestly, I was hoping for something specifically about orderliness at home, though I didn’t realize it until I started reading it. I want to tell you, sister to sister, that I think the reason you keep doing happiness project on top of happiness project is because you’re missing joy. At the risk of being misunderstood, I want to reach out to you and offer you the Gospel, the Good News, that God loves you and sent His only Son to die for you. You’re craving devout Catholicism, Gretchen. Peace, sweet lady. <3

    • Elizabeth C.

      Terri, I’m not sure this is the place to be “spreading the word.” Many people are perfectly happy NOT believing in an organized religion. This is a personal decision that each of us makes during our lifetime of questioning everything that we have been told by others. Apparently, you question nothing but just believe what your parents and the ‘church’ have told you. Try thinking outside the box, you might find something that YOU are missing.

      • jacki

        I’m not sure this is the place to be “spreading the word” either.
        However, why are you assuming this Terri believes everything she’s been told by her parents or the ‘church.’ You have no idea what sort of searching she’s done on her own to find her source of happiness and fulfillment. Perhaps, like CS Lewis, she has searched and thought long and hard to find her truth and found it in the church.

    • peninith1

      There are ‘many paths to the top of Mount Fuji’ — the solution that you have found may be right for you. It may be inappropriate for others. All you are doing here, frankly, is putting on the disguise of religion in order to be judgmental and dismissive. You are more likely to offend than convert with such tactics.

  • Carol White

    I will read The Secret Garden; but first I must finish The Happiness Project and Happier at Home. They are due back to the library June 5th!

    • gretchenrubin

      I hope you enjoy them BOTH.

  • Erin @ bookgirloz

    I have probably read The Secret Garden at least 6 or 7 times. It was always a favorite when I was a child and last year I reread it. I read Just Kids last month after borrowing it from my library. I didn’t know a lot about Patti and Robert but the book describes a beautiful if not flawed relationship between them. Great picks.

  • Carla

    Very interesting choices. I have fond memories of The Secret Garden & look forward to enjoying it again. The other 2 will be new for me but I always enioy your picks. Thank you for expanding my literary horizon yet again!

    • gretchenrubin

      So happy to hear you enjoy them!

  • Trish

    Hello, just ordered the Patti Smith book! I read the Secret Garden as a young girl and still have the hardback copy, off to dig it out! Thank you for your recommendations.

  • Julie Hunt

    Just bought all 3! Just Kids and Secret Garden on audio so I can listen in the car on the way to work, once my car cd is fixed, it made a choice to eat cd 4 of paradox of choice – apparently even cars struggle with choice 🙂

    • gretchenrubin

      I hope you will love them ALL.

  • Kirsten

    Oh Gretchen, the Secret Garden. I have just returned from a weekend away with dear friends to celebrate a milestone birthday. Their gift to me? The entire text of this childhood favourite framed. Including it in your June bookclub picks is too serendipitous for words!

    • gretchenrubin

      Love it.

    • disqus_K3TmDNLufg

      Kirsten, I just wanted to say that anyone who would received a print of TSG text as a gift from friends sounds like my kind of woman. You must be really awesome. And happy belated birthday!

      • Kirsten

        Thanks Aleisha. It’s the friends who are awesome.

  • Veronique

    I just finished reading a collection of George Orwell’s Essays, he was brilliant.

  • kim

    Just requested George Orwell’s essays from the library. Only one copy of the Patti Smith book is in the library and it’s checked out at the moment, and we own The Secret Garden. I hope to join in at least a couple of the reads/discussions.

  • BKF

    I love The Secret Garden! However, I really disliked Peter Pan. Apart from the inherent sexism, it was full of violence and the children were very selfish, and often heartless, and I felt sad for the parents. I am a big fan of Barry Schwartz and The Paradox of Choice….I read it often. I am trying hard to become a satisficer and a chooser!

  • Angela

    I’m reading The Secret Garden right now, but with a lot of other books. 🙂

  • Jean

    Just Kids is an warm story by an amazingly talented woman about her lifelong relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. As you read it, take note of how their devotion to each other nurtured their individual talents, as only true friendship can.

    Great pick!

    • gretchenrubin

      I hear Smith is writing a sequel. I can’t wait for that one, too.

  • Ren

    Fantastic! I was looking at the Secret Garden in a book store last week but resisted. Now I have an excuse to go back and get it!

  • Mel

    I started the Secret Garden this past winter and could not get into the book so I stopped. Maybe it is one you have to grow up reading. So this month I opt the Secret Garden for Howard Pyle’s “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.” 🙂

  • Grandma Honey

    As much as I love you Gretchen, I am a bit disappointed you didn’t tell us a little about these books. I was so excited when last month you said you would. I think if a poll were taken, more people would say they are less inclined to read a book that is recommended without any personal description. True, there are many reviews online of these books, but this is your blog and we come here to learn your take on things.

  • Jessica

    A Collect of Essays by George Orwell can be found online at Project Gutenberg

    • Jessica

      As can The Secret Garden in ebook format

  • Jackie Crawford

    I’m gonig to have to look in to these, as my book club is trying to decide on our next read. We just finished “Secrets of a Spiritual Guru” by Tamara Lee Dorris and we all loved it; you should check it and her website out, I read “The Secret Garden” a while ago but “Just Kids” looks like it could be a fun read! Thanks for the suggestions.

  • Brigitta

    Just finished Paradox of Choice. So illuminating, thanks for the recommendation! A perfect companion to your own wonderful books.

    • gretchenrubin

      So happy to hear you enjoyed it!