Revealed! Book Club Choices for July. Happy Reading.

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

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 or habits:

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner

Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O’Brien

Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Buy from WORD;; Amazon.

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 want a little more explanation of why I picked these books, I do provide slightly more context in the book club newsletter.

If you read last month’s recommendations…what did you think? Daily Rituals; Jane-Emily; and The Design of Everyday Things. All so good.

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  • Natalie

    I recently re-read Mrs Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, great book, and then discovered there was a sequel which I hunted down.
    I must say I totally disagree with you about not telling us what these books are about. I am never motivated to buy a book just by the name alone. I would love a short blurb so we at least have some idea. How do other people feel about this? Has anyone ever read a book they’ve never heard of by the recommendation here without knowing any more about it? Is it just a Gretchen thing, or do other people like the mystery too? I read a lot of books, both for work and for pleasure, so I already have a long list of “must read” and it usually takes something more than just a title to get me to add another one.

    • HEHink

      If I’m curious enough, I can always look up the title on Amazon or Barnes & Noble and read one of their blurbs. I don’t really have a problem with that choice being left to us readers.

    • judy

      I like information about a book before I read it.

    • Name

      I feel it is a BOTH. Agreeing with Gretchen that the more I hear about a book often turns me or even the book description sometimes. However, with some description I could better decide and not have to add the extra step of looking them each up. But of course it helps if we click on the links below the book suggestions for a quick glance at the book description.

  • KJ

    I loved Mrs Frisby as a kid. Now I may have to re-read it.

    • gretchenrubin

      You will love it EVEN MORE as an adult. It’s so good.

  • Vero Salisbury

    I am reading The Design of Everyday Things, and about 2/3 of the way through. This is not the type of book I would generally read, so I appreciate the recommendation. It is quite eye opening to discover that there are people out there thinking deeply about designing things–to make them easy, pleasurable and simple to use. Hmmm, wish the designers of microsoft word had read this book.

  • Cheryl

    I also am a fan of kid lit. I took a university course in children’s lit back in the ’80’s.(that’s how old I am) Hunted down other books by the same authors, many times. And, I don’t think your choices are eccentric at all.

    • gretchenrubin

      My selection of children’s books aren’t eccentric – they’re all outstanding books, widely acknowledged to be outstanding. But I would say that my eccentric picks are sometimes very eccentric. I really give myself free rein!

  • Pam

    I feel the same way. I would like SOME idea what the book is about, though I would still search it out on Amazon.

  • elizabeth

    i have read Crossing to Safety twice– in my twenties and—later! Loved it both times, but I had a completely different reaction to the story and the characters the second time around.

  • Chris

    Great picks this month. I love Fight Club and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh… so I guess I’ll start with Crossing to Safety 🙂 Am I strange for not considering Fight Club eccentric, but simply awesome?

    • gretchenrubin

      By “eccentric,” I mean, “it’s not for everyone.”

      Fight Club is awesome, but I don’t think it’s for everyone.

      Though of course Crossing to Safety and Mrs. Frisby aren’t for everyone, either…

  • Heidi Waterhouse

    I am with you Natalie. I am less likely to pick up a book if I just know the title or the author. I need to know a little bit about it in order to decide if I want to read it or not. It seems like the books I read for work, I almost never hear what they are about. That tends to make me not want to read it. However the books for pleasure, I usually see what they are about and am way more likely to read it.

  • Pagechurner

    I just finished Crossing to Safety. It was stunning, and I enjoyed every delicious word. The writer in me wanted to change the final sentence just a bit, but otherwise it was a winner.

    Regarding Natalie’s comments, yes I will buy a book on a friend’s recommendation and yes I also agree with Ms. Rubin that hearing about a book makes me want to read it less. We who are not the authors don’t do the stories justice with our pedestrian descriptions. I have read 4 of her recommendations, and I found 3 to be worthwhile. The fourth was a good book, just not to my taste. Even with this one “no”, Ms. Rubin has built some credibility around her recommendations, so I wonder less whether I’ll enjoy something she suggestions. There’s some excitement in the mystery of “what’s next?”, and I focus on that more than I do, “will I like it?”.

    • gretchenrubin

      I’m so pleased to hear that you enjoyed the book – and other selections.