Tag Archives: book club

Want to Read Books that Show Examples of the Four Tendencies? Revealed!

Revealed! My book club recommendations for August.

Newsflash: I’ve decided to change the way I suggest books for this book club. Instead of suggesting three books each month (one about happiness and human nature; one work of children’s literature; one eccentric pick), I’m going to provide a reading list once a quarter, on a particular subject.

For instance, I’m looking forward to providing a list of some of my favorite books about color, favorite memoirs, favorite books about other people’s happiness projects…the list goes on. If you’d like to suggest a theme for a list, just email me.

For instance, I had so much fun compiling my list of my 81 favorite works of children’s and young-adult literature. These lists will be shorter than than list, however.

You can still get the book club suggestions by email, by signing up for my “book club” here.

As I may have mentioned, my book The Four Tendencies hits the shelves on September 12.

So, to get you in the mood to read about the Four Tendencies, or if you can’t wait until September to immerse yourself in the subject, here’s a list of books that illustrate the Four Tendencies.

It’s important to note that we can never judge someone’s Tendency from his or her actions; we must know the reasons behind that action. For instance, Questioner refuses to do something because “why should I?” while a Rebel refuses because “you can’t tell me what to do.”

Nevertheless, I’ve included some memoirs by people who were close to someone of a certain Tendency. Such accounts aren’t as dispositive as having an account by that person himself or herself, but I do think that sometimes, a person gets to know someone well enough over time that a portrait really does capture a Tendency.

Also, even if you’re not interested in reading about the Four Tendencies, each one of these books is outstanding. So I recommend them wholly apart from their relevance to the Four Tendencies.

Upholder

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling — in this legendary series, Hermione Granger is such an Upholder, with the strengths and weakness of that Tendency.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik — Will Laurence is an Upholder, and Temeraire is a Questioner. It’s interesting to see how the two Tendencies work together. Warning: it’s a book with dragons, which is either your kind of thing, or not at all your kind of thing.

Questioner

Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson — a fascinating portrait of a QUESTIONER/Rebel. (As I explain in The Four Tendencies, people often “tip” in the direction of a Tendency that overlaps with their core Tendency. So while my husband is an example of a QUESTIONER/Upholder, Jobs is a QUESTIONER/Rebel.)

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronteon the very first page of this classic novel, Jane’s hateful aunt Mrs. Reed literally calls her “Questioner” to explain why she finds Jane annoying: “Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners.” (I had to look up “caviller”; it means “one who quibbles.”)

Obliger

Open: An Autobiography by Andre Agassi — a brilliant self-portrait of a textbook Obliger who is also a tennis star.

Here But Not Here: My Life with William Shawn and the New Yorker by Lillian Ross — it’s not Ross, but Shawn, who is convincingly portrayed as an Obliger.

How Not to Hate Your Husband After Kids by Jancee Dunn — an engaging memoir about the challenges of marriage by an Obliger married to a Questioner.

Rebel

Life with Picasso by Francoise Gilot — Gilot’s fascinating portrayal of her life with Picasso shows his Rebel Tendency. (The image above shows Gilot and Picasso at the beach.)

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen — Lady Bertram is a thorough Rebel; she’s also a good example of how Rebels may appear proper and conventional — until closer consideration reveals that they do only what they want to do.

The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton — I wrote a giant portrait of Merton as a Rebel, which got cut down to a few paragraphs in The Four Tendencies. He fascinates me. Rebel as Cistercian monk!

Happiness: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham — in this brand-new memoir, the author writes about the challenges when her daughter grows sick and needs a bone-marrow transplant. Along the way, Harpham’s thoughts and actions show her Rebel Tendency.

I’m always looking for books (and movies, television shows, street signs, anything!) that illustrate the Four Tendencies. So if you have any to suggest, please send them my way.

Happy August, and happy reading! I do love summer reading.

Revealed! The Making of a Scientist, Happy Summertime Adventures, and the Frustrations of the Push-Pull Door.

Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

— one outstanding book about happiness or habits or human nature

— 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.

Now, for the three book-club choices.  (I couldn’t find my copy of the Norman book, and it was checked out of the library, so I took some liberty with the photo.)

Drumroll…


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

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

I love books about people coming into their vocation, and often, scientists write the best books of this kind. Also, every once in a while, when I read a book, I conclude, “This person’s mind works in a completely different way from mine. They are making decisions, making observations, and doing things that are beyond what I could imagine.” This is one of those books. Thought-provoking and engaging.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.


An outstanding children’s book:

Gone-Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright

Usually, I don’t recommend more than one book by an author. But I decided to break this rule, because A) I love Elizabeth Enright’s books so much and B) they do fall into two distinct sets. I’ve already recommended The Saturdays, the first book in the brilliant Melendy series, and I just can’t resist recommending Gone-Away Lake, too. Two cousins discover a lake that dried up when a new dam was built so that the old resort houses were abandoned. But two wonderful old people, a brother and sister live there, and entertain the children in all sorts of adventures. Club house, island shack, bog flowers, goats, hidden treasure, and so forth. I’ve read it a million times.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.


An eccentric pick:

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman

This book examines — no surprise — the design of everyday things, and after I read it, I never looked at a store door the same way. Why do some doors make us want to push, and others, to pull? So much so, in fact, that the store has to put a handwritten sign on the door, telling us to do the opposite of what seems natural? Why do we sometimes put the mail in the refrigerator? Why are tea pots often so hard to use? Never fear — if you look at the Table of Contents for this book, it looks very dry and boring, but the book itself is fascinating and accessible.

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.

If you have any great suggestions for summer reading, send them my way.

Revealed! Books for June: a Talented Spider, an Unusual Perspective, and Health Hijinks.

Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

— one outstanding book about happiness or habits or human nature

— 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.

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


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

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs

This book contains a lot of very helpful information about how to be healthier — and it’s also hilarious and absurd. It’s a very fun way to learn about various ideas and trends in health. If you want to get healthier this summer, Drop Dead Healthy will inspire you. I think about this book just about every time I wash my hands or eat kale.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.


An outstanding children’s book:

Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

I’m staggered to realize that I haven’t yet suggested one of the towering classics of children’s literature, the immortal Charlotte’s Web. It’s an extraordinary book, from the very first, unforgettable first line: “‘Where’s Papa going with that ax?’ said Fern.” Terrific characters, like Charlotte, Fern, Wilbur, and of course Templeton the Rat. Gorgeous, profound, but be warned, it’s also sad…when this book was read to me as a child, I cried for two days. But beautiful tears.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.


An eccentric pick:

Thinking in Pictures: and Other Reports from My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin is an eminent animal scientist, and she also lectures widely on her experience with autism. Grandin provides an absolutely fascinating look into how she sees the world differently from non-autistic people, and how grappling with those differences has influenced her work and her life.

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.

If you have any great suggestions for summer reading, or books about children going off to college, send them my way.

Revealed! Books for May: Featuring Coal Miners, Hedgehogs, Foxes, Scarecrows, and Tin Men.

Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

— one outstanding book about happiness or habits or human nature

— 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.

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


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

The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell

I love the non-fiction writing of George Orwell. So clear, so insightful, so thought-provoking — and often, so unexpected. This book is an examination of the nature of work, poverty, and self-reflection. That description may make it sound dry, I realize, but it’s not; it’s a masterpiece.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.


An outstanding children’s book:

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Yes, I agree, the movie is wonderful, but the book is also terrific — and as is always the case, differs from the movie in significant ways. I love all the Oz books, so don’t stop with the first one, but keep going! Other favorites of mine include Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, Ozma of Oz, and Glinda of Oz. But I love them all.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.


An eccentric pick:

The Hedgehog and the Fox by Isaiah Berlin

I don’t understand much of this short book, but I find it very thought-provoking. I’ve read it a few times, and although I can’t follow Berlin’s argument very closely, it always stimulates my own reflections. And I love the reference in the title to the fragment from the Greek poet Archilochus: “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” I drew on Berlin’s discussion of that phrase for my book about habit change, Better Than Before, in which I made many divisions like “Are you a hedgehog or a fox?” “Are you an Abstainer or a Moderator?” “Are you an Abundance-lover or Simplicity-lover?” “Are you a Sprinter or a Marathoner?”

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.

Lately I’ve been in the mood for memoirs. Any great ones to recommend? Or books about color, of course.

Revealed! Three Excellent Books for April: How to Influence Others, a Romance, and an Art-Filled Memoir.

Because nothing boosts happiness more than a great book, each month, I suggest:

— one outstanding book about happiness or habits or human nature

— 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.

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


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

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

This is an absolutely fascinating book about persuasion — how do we persuade other people, and what do they do to persuade us? It’s written in an accessible, interesting way, and is one of the rare books that truly transformed my way of seeing the world around me.

 

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.


An outstanding children’s book:

Flower by Elizabeth Craft and Shea Olsen

Of course I can’t resist recommending the excellent young-adult novel by my sister. The tag line is “She had a plan, then she met him.” There’s romance, temptation, secrets, family drama, best friends, college applications, extravagant gestures, celebrity...delicious. If you enjoy listening to Elizabeth on the Happier podcast, you might get a kick out of reading her book.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.


An eccentric pick:

Another Part of the Wood: A Self-Portrait by Kenneth Clark

I love memoirs, and I loved reading this self-portrait of Kenneth Clark, the museum director, art historian, and presenter of the blockbuster TV series Civilisation. I especially love reading memoirs by people who describe why they love their work so much.

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.

I continue to read book after book on the subject of color — it’s odd to find myself fascinated by this highly specialized topic. It’s definitely contributing to my desire to collect giant sets of colored pens and colored markers — which I can now use in the coloring book I created! The Happiness Project Mini-Posters: A Coloring Book with 20 Hand-lettered Quotes to Pull Out and Frame hit the shelves this week. It shot to  #1 in Adult Coloring Books (a surprisingly large category) which made me very happy.

Lately I’ve been in the mood for memoirs. Any great ones to recommend? Or books about color, of course.