Sorry, I’m Late! Book Club Choices for January. I Forgot!

I’ve never done this before — I forgot to post my book club choices at the first of the month! A thoughtful reader sent me a reminder.

Better late than never, so here you go.

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 IndieBound,, or Amazon (I’m an affiliate), or your favorite local bookstore. Or my favorite, visit the library! Drumroll…


A book about happiness, good habits, or human nature:

The Journal of Jules Renard

Buy from IndieBound;; Amazon.


An outstanding children’s book:

Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian

Buy from IndieBound;; Amazon.


An eccentric pick:

Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn

Buy from IndieBound;; 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?

  • ErinInCA

    You should add The War that Saved My Life to your reading list. Middle grade historical fiction, also about two kids who are sent to the countryside during the Blitz. Fantastic! My 11-year-old, 9-year-old and I all loved it. I’m adding Good Night, Mr. Tom to my list!

  • Natalie

    Love Good Night, Mr Tom.

  • Felicity

    I also love Good Night, Mister Tom! I first read it as a 13 or 14 year old and as an English teacher, I have since taught it a couple of times to that same age group. They love it!

    • gretchenrubin


  • Sara Lyn

    I *love* “Troubled Waters.” I’m so excited to see this on the list!

  • Rachel

    Sharon Shinn is my favorite author. I have read just about everything she has written. She has a wonderful ability to create worlds I want to live in.

  • Laurie Calkhoven

    I had forgotten about Goodnight, Mr. Tom, now I want to read it again!

    Laurie Calkhoven, author of WOMEN WHO CHANGED THE WORLD.

  • michelle/nft

    Goodnight Mr. Tom is one of my most favourite books! I love how the book lays out serious topics without being patronizing to young readers. The BBC made a movie (probably just for TV) of it in the late 90s – it’s good too!

  • I don’t really mind if there’s a book description or long as the description doesn’t have a spoiler. I’m gonna check out Troubled Waters.

  • Sunny Walker

    LOVED Troubled Waters. Could not put it down! I also picked up Good Night, Mr. Tom only to have my tenant (really great 26 year-old renting a bedroom in my home, plus full kitchen privileges – he’s a chef) invite his girlfriend over who saw it and commented she’d had to read it in middle school and fell in love with it, bought it, has read it again several times, and (spoiler alert), “It’s so sad.”

    • gretchenrubin

      Great to hear! And it’s sad but (spoiler alert) also very happy.