Tag Archives: autobiography

Revealed! Three Book Club Choices for January. 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

Shop at IndieBound, BN.com, or Amazon (I’m an affiliate), or your favorite local bookstore. Or my favorite, visit the library!

For all the books I choose, I love them; I’ve read most of them at least twice if not many times; and they’re widely admired.

Bonus book this month: with Shea Olsen, my sister Elizabeth Craft has a new young-adult novel, Flower. The tag line? “She had a plan, then she met him.” Romance, temptation, secrets, and celebrity...how well I remember the phone call when Elizabeth first told about her idea for this book. And now it’s hit the shelves! Check it out.

Now, for the three book-club choices. Drumroll…

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

Absent in the Spring by Agatha Christie

I don’t read many mysteries, but for some reason I felt like reading Agatha Christie’s wonderful Autobiography. In it, she discusses the writing of Absent in the Spring — an unusual book for her, because it isn’t a crime mystery (in fact, Christie wrote it under a pseudonym, Mary Westmacott). It’s about a woman who’s stuck by herself for a few days while traveling, and with that opportunity for self-reflection, she realizes the fundamental ways that she’s misunderstood herself and the people around her. It’s a short, quick, very thought-provoking book.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An outstanding children’s book:

The Secret Language by Ursula Nordstrom

Nordstrom was an enormously brilliant, influential editor of children’s books. I’ve read Dear Genius, her terrific book of letters,  three times. She wrote this one children’s book herself, and she wasn’t satisfied by it — which is a shame, because I love it. It’s about Victoria, a young girl who goes to boarding school and makes a best friend there. How I love boarding school books,

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An eccentric pick:

All About Colour by Janice Lindsay

I’ve become obsessed with the subject of color. All about Colour is one of the most accessible, amusing, and thought-provoking discussions that I’ve read– many books about color are surprisingly dry. Lindsay has a very strong point of view (for instance, she objects to the popularity of white paint) which makes the book fun to read.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

If you want to make sure you never miss a month’s selections, sign up here for the book club newsletter.

Remember, if you want to see what I read each week, I post a photo of my pile of completed books on my Facebook Page every Sunday night, #GretchenRubinReads.

What books are you excited to read in 2017? I’m always looking for great books to add to my reading list.

Are We the Same Person Throughout Our Lives? Agatha Christie Thought So.

Do you agree? It’s a difficult question.

“We are all the same people as we were at three, six, ten or twenty years old. More noticeably so, perhaps, at six or seven, because we were not pretending so much then, whereas at twenty we put on a show of being someone else, of being in the mode of the moment. If there is an intellectual fashion, you become an intellectual–if girls are fluffy and frivolous, you are fluffy and frivolous. As life goes on, however, it becomes tiring to keep up the character you invented for yourself, and so you relapse into individuality and become more like yourself every day. This is sometimes disconcerting for those around you, but a great relief to the person concerned.”

–Agatha Christie, An Autobiography

Self-knowledge! In the end, any discussion of happiness always returns to the question of self-knowledge.

Relatedly, what’s your favorite Agatha Christie mystery? I don’t read mysteries, but I loved her autobiography, so want to try the mysteries. She wrote sixty-eight novels, where to start!

A Little Happier: Bill Clinton and Rob Lowe’s Son Give a Lesson in Happiness.

I don’t often read celebrity memoirs, but my sister Elizabeth and others told me that actor Rob Lowe’s Stories I Only Tell My Friends was terrific, so I decided to read it myself.

They’re right — it’s a great book. This episode, in particular, really stuck in my mind. Rob Lowe recounts:

On my last visit to the Clinton White House, I’m standing on the South Lawn with [my wife] Sheryl and the boys talking to the president before he hops onto Marine One. My youngest son, Johnowen, is holding his stuffed frog, Gwee Gwee, which he never lets out of his sight, under any circumstances. It has been his security blanket since he was an infant. But now, he takes it out of his mouth and hands his old, tattered from to the president.

“Well, look at this!” says the president. “Is this for me?” he asks.

Johnowen nods shyly. “For you,” he says in a small voice.

Sheryl and I look at each other in shock.

“Wow, Johnowen!” exclaims Matthew.

“Well, thank you, young man. I bet you didn’t know, but I collect frogs. Have since I was a boy like you….I’ll keep him nice and safe. You can come visit him at the Clinton Library someday.”

How about you? Have you ever been in a situation where you realized that the generous thing to do was to take?

I must admit I’m a little obsessed with this theme. I collect examples. It’s a paradox that fascinates me.

Thanks to my terrific sponsor: Squarespace. Start building your website and get your free trial today.  Go to Squarespace.com, and enter the offer code “happier” to get 10% off your first purchase.

Want to get in touch? I love hearing from listeners:

 

Happier listening!

Revealed! Book Club Choices for January.

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 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 or habits:

An Autobiography by Anthony Trollope

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

Dear Genius by Ursula Nordstrom

Buy from WORD; BN.com; 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? What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami; Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen; and The Official Preppy Handbook edited by Lisa Birnbach. So good!

These days, I can’t talk about books without making a pitch for my own forthcoming book, Better Than Before. I love all my books equally, but I do love this book.  As I’ve mentioned before: For book publishing these days, pre-orders give a big boost to a book. If you’re inclined to buy Better Than Before, it’s a huge help to me if you order it now. You won’t be charged, of course, until the book ships.

Happy 2015, happy January, and happy reading. I’m due for a trip to the library, and I just realized that it will be closed tomorrow…

What Andre Agassi Can Teach Us About Habits, Happiness–and Ourselves.

For yesterday’s weekly quotation, I quoted from tennis star Andre Agassi’s autobiography, Open.

It’s a fascinating book, on many levels (and I say that as someone who has no interest in tennis).

I’m always particularly interested when something sheds light on habits or happiness, and as I read the book, several observations stuck out at me.

First, Andre Agassi is an Obliger.

For my upcoming masterpiece, a book about how we make and break habits, I’ve written extensively about a framework, the “Four Tendencies,” that I’ve developed.

The framework helps to explain why people can make or break habits–or not. People fall into four categories, which describe how people tend to respond to expectations: outer expectations (a deadline, a “request” from a sweetheart) and inner expectations (write a novel in your free time, keep a New Year’s resolution).

Your response to expectations may sound slightly obscure, but it turns out to be very, very important.

In a nutshell:

  • Upholders respond readily to outer and inner expectations (I’m an Upholder, 100%)
  • Questioners question all expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense (my husband is a Questioner)
  • Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike
  • Obligers meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves

 

Agassi is a classic Obliger. He’s able to meet others’ expectations (his father’s demand that he excel at tennis, his girlfriend Brooke Shields’s desire to get engaged) but struggles to meet his own expectations for himself.

He also demonstrates “Obliger rebellion,” a striking pattern in which Obligers abruptly refuse to meet an expectation, or when they rebel in symbolic ways (Agassi rebels with his hair and clothes).

If you want insight into the Obliger perspective, this book is an outstanding resource. Agassi shows the tremendous energy and accomplishment that Obligers can bring to bear, and also the anger and resentment that can arise from Obligers’ feeling that they’re working towards others’ expectations.

For you Obligers out there, who have read the book, did it strike a chord with you? Did you identify?

(If you’d like to see me discuss each category in  a video, look here: Upholders, here; Questioners, here;  Rebels, here, and Obligers, here. If you want to hear when my habits book goes on sale, sign up here.)

Agassi insight #2 tomorrow!

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