Tag Archives: literature

Revealed! Book Club Choices for September 2015. Such Good Books.

Pardon this moment of book self-promotion: For many people — at least in this part of the world — September marks a time of new beginnings. In my book, Happier at Home, I write about how I did a project from September through May, to make my home a happier place. If you, too, feel like September is the other January, you might like the book. What a joy it was to write! Learn more about the book here.

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 visit the library! Drumroll…

The Diary of Anne Frank

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:

What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell — Note: This book is definitely young-adult, not for children.

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Buy from IndieBound; 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 recommendatioms…what did you think?

Like Me, Are You Haunted by Reading People’s Final Journal Entries?

Lately, I’ve been somewhat obsessively reading Thomas Merton’s journals.

It was very eerie to read the final entry in his journal — which, of course, he had no idea would be his last. And that got me remembering other final journal entries from authors I love.

From Thomas Merton:

Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. In a little while I leave the hotel. I’m going to say Mass at St. Louis Church, have lunch at the Apostolic Delegation, and then on to the Red Cross place this afternoon.

The Journals of Thomas Merton, vol. 7, December 8, 1968, Bangkok (Merton died on December 10, 1968, while at a conference, from an accidental electric shock from a fan with faulty wiring)

From Virginia Woolf:

A curious sea side feeling in the air today. It reminds me of lodgings on a parade at Easter. Everyone leaning against the wind, nipped & silenced. All pulp removed.

This windy corner. And Nessa is at Brighton, & I am imagining how it wd be if we could infuse souls.

Octavia’s story. Could I englobe it somehow? English youth in 1900.

Two long letters from Shena & O. I cant tackle them, yet enjoy having them.

L.  is doing the rhododendrons…

–The Diary of Virginia Woolf, vol. 5, March 24, 1941, Sussex (Woolf drowned herself on March 28, 1941)

Most haunting of all, from Anne Frank:

…I just can’t keep it up anymore, because when everybody starts hovering over me, I get cross, then sad, and finally end up turning my heart inside out, the bad part on the outside and the good part on the inside, and keep trying to find a way to become what I’d like to be and what I could be if…if only there were no other people in the world.

The Diary of Anne Frank, August 1, 1944, Amsterdam (Frank was discovered and arrested on August 4, 1944, and died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in late February or early March 1945)

From Flannery O’Connor:

This isn’t a journal entry, but the final letter written by Flannery O’Connor.

Dear Raybat,

Cowards can be just as vicious as those who declare themselves–more so. Dont take any romantic attitude toward that call. Be properly scared and go on doing what you have to do, but take the necessary precautions. And call the police. That might be a lead for them.

Dont know when I’ll send those stories. I’ve felt too bad to type them.

Cheers, Tarfunk

Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being, letter to Maryat Lee, July 28, 1964, Georgia (O’Connor died on August 3, 1964, of complications from lupus)

It’s a very solemn moment, coming to the end of a journal that I know was ended by death. Although the person writing it doesn’t infuse the words with special meaning, they seem to take on power from being the last.

For me, these entries serve as reminders to be grateful for my ordinary life, for the unremarkable routine that might be cut off at any moment.

This kind of memento mori may seem a bit grim — but I find it very helpful. I always struggle to remember how thankful I am for my everyday life, and this helps.

How about you? What practices help you to remember to be grateful for your ordinary day?

The 10 Inalienable Rights of the Reader — Agree, Disagree?

Today is List Day, or Tip Day, or Quiz Day.

This Wednesday, back by popular demand: the 10 inalienable rights of the reader.

A thoughtful reader pointed out a wonderful list written by French author Daniel Pennac, in The Rights of the Reader.

As someone who loves to read–practically to the exclusion of everything else–I love this list.

The 10 Inalienable Rights of the Reader

1. The right not to read
2. The right to skip
3. The right not to finish a book — this was a habit I cultivated as part of my research for Better Than Before. Now I have so much more time to read the books I love.
4. The right to re-read — I love to re-read
5. The right to read anything
6. The right to “Bovary-ism,” a textually transmitted disease (the right to mistake a book for real life)
7. The right to read anywhere
8. The right to dip in — my husband got me started on the practice of reading multiple books at once
9. The right to read out loud — my younger daughter reads aloud to me every night, such a wonderful tradition
10. The right to be silent

If you’d like to see the list as illustrated by Quentin Blake, look  here.

If you’re interested in more ideas about “Reading Better Than Before,” you can download my one-page list of suggestions here. It’s funny–I wrote several of these one-pagers, and I thought that Working Better Than Before,” “Eating Better Than Before,” and Exercising Better Than Before would be more popular than the one about reading. But go figure! Reading is the most popular, from what I can tell.

What do you think  of the list? Anything you’d add–or with which you disagree?

Revealed! Book Club Choices for June 2015.

Before I get to the fun of recommending some good books to read for May, here’s a quick bit of book-self-promotion: Father’s Day is coming up on June 21. If you’re looking for a good gift for a father in your life, may I suggest…you guessed it…Better Than Before.

Most of us have habits that we want to make or break, and Better Than Before explains how to do that. Really!

If you’d like a signed bookplate to make the book more special, request it here (U.S. and Canada only, sorry, mailing costs). But request that soon, because I can be a little slow. Want more info? Excerpt here. Audio clip here. Discussion guides here.

Also, over the years I’ve noticed that many people give my biography Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill as a Father’s Day gift. Turns out I’m not the only one fascinated by Churchill.

Now enough about me and my books (!) — on to the fun part. Three terrific books for June.

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:

How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:

The Good Master and The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy (yes, I cheated by listing two, but I couldn’t pick between the first book and the sequel)

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

Memoirs of Hadrian by Marguerite Yourcenar

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?

Lately, I’ve been doing some good reading on airplanes and in hotel rooms, while I’m on tour for Better Than Before.  I always over-pack both physical books and e-books when I travel, because I’m so afraid of having good reading time with nothing to read.

Happy June, and happy reading! So many good books…What’s on your summer reading list? Send me your recommendations! Though my library list already has 207 books listed.

Podcast 13: Stop Reading a Book, a Know-Yourself-Better Quiz, and the Trap of Free Stuff.

Time for the next episode of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Always game to talk about her clutter issues, Elizabeth reports on the status of her closet, in the aftermath of our special clutter-clearing in episode 10. For better and after closet photos, look here. (Boy, I love before-and-afters.)

Also, many listeners responded to tell us how they “treat themselves,” which was the Try This at Home for episode 9. Excellent treats!

This week:

Try This at Home: Stop reading a book if you don’t enjoy it.  (If you want more ideas for reading better than before, check out this one-pager.)

Better Than Before Habit Strategy: This is the “Four Tendencies” Framework, which tells you whether you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel. Take this Quiz 170,000 people have taken it. I’m an Upholder; Elizabeth is an Obliger. As I mention, if you want to start an accountability group, here’s the starter kit.

Listener Question: “Do you have any tips about staying happy while slogging through dating?”

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth fell prey to the allure of free stuff. Of course, it’s true, that some people would have been thrilled to get those items–and that free stuff is a problem that’s also a luxury. Absolutely. But for Elizabeth, taking the free stuff was a happiness mistake. Here are two photos: what she intended to buy, and what she brought home.

facecreamfacecreamwithstuff

Gretchen’s Gold Star: Having “weekly adventures” with my teenage daughter. I talk about this at some length in my book Happier at Home.

As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors! Check out The Great Courses for a wide variety of fascinating courses. Special offer for our listeners: go to thegreatcourses.com/happier to order from eight of their bestselling courses, including Practicing Mindfulness: an Introduction to Meditation, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

Also, thanks to Framebridge.com — a terrific way to get your art and photos framed, in a super easy and affordable way. Use the code HAPPIER at checkout to get 20% off your first Framebridge order. This ad includes a fun bonus flashback to the Closet-Clearing episode!

Want to get in touch? Email: podcast@gretchenrubin.com. Twitter: @gretchenrubin and @elizabethcraft. Call: 774-277-9336 (774 HAPPY 336).  Facebook Page. Or comment right here.

And we would love to hear from you — whether you stopped reading a book that didn’t interest you, whether it was helpful to know your “Tendency,” your questions, and any other comments.

To listen to this episode, just zip to the bottom of this post and hit the red “play” button.

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Want to know what to expect from other episodes of the podcast, when you listen toHappier with Gretchen Rubin?” We talk about how to build happier habits into everyday life, as we draw from cutting-edge science, ancient wisdom, lessons from pop culture—and our own experiences (and mistakes).  We’re sisters, so we don’t let each other get away with much!

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