Tag Archives: literature

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.

Or if you’re reading this post by email, click here to view online, to listen to the podcast from this post.

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!

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: If you’re like me (until recently) you’re intrigued by podcasts, but you don’t know how to listen or subscribe. It’s very easy, really. Really. Instructions here.

Or for an amusing short how-to video made by Ira Glass of This American Life, click here.

If you want to listen to more than one episode, and to have it all in a handier way, on your phone or tablet, it’s better to subscribe. Really, it’s easy.

Again, be sure to subscribe and listen and subscribe on iTunes so you never miss an episode. And if you enjoyed it, please tell your friends and give us a rating or review. Listeners really respect the views of other listeners, so your response helps people find good material. (Not sure how to review? Instructions here; scroll to the bottom.)

HAPPIER listening!

Revealed! Book Club Choices for March

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:

Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An outstanding children’s book:

Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle

Buy from WORD; BN.com; Amazon.

An eccentric pick:

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

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?

In a few weeks, I leave on my book tour and that means…lots of time for reading! I love to read on airplanes, but it’s crucial to have a great book. I’ve been poring over my book list, to decide what to take. High stakes. Any great suggestions?

So if you’re in San Diego, LA, Plano/Dallas, Denver, San Francisco, Princeton, Washington DC, Wellesley, New Haven, NYC, Cedar Rapids, Doylestown, Toronto, or London, I’m headed your way. Please come, tell your friends! A lot of these events take place in bookstores…and you just can’t spend too much time in bookstores.

Happy March, and happy reading.

How Laura Ingalls Wilder Got a Rebel To Learn His Lessons

I’m a huge fan of children’s literature (in fact, I’m in three reading groups where we read children’s and young-adult literature), and Laura Ingalls Wilder has always had a special place in my heart.

So I was thrilled when I found out that her book Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography, was being published. I raced through the book last week; so fascinating. For instance, it turns out Nellie Olsen was an amalgam of three annoying girls.

I was particularly struck, however, when I read a scene that also appears in These Happy Golden Years. Which I know like the back of my hand, by the way.

Laura is fifteen years old, and teaching school, where one of her pupils is Clarence. He’s older than Laura, very smart; “he was quick in speaking and moving…[and] had a way of speaking that was almost saucy.” He misbehaves occasionally, but the bigger issue is that after the first few days, that he refuses to study, and tells her “It’s no use trying to learn such long lessons.”

Laura is frustrated, because she knows that he could learn the lessons if he tried, but he won’t.

When Laura asks her parents for advice, Ma says, “It’s attention he wants.” Now that I’ve figured out the Four Tendencies, I disagree. I think Ma was nearer the mark when she also observes, “Better not try to make him do anything, because you can’t.” (If you want to read about the Four Tendencies–Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, and Rebel, or take the Quiz to determine your own Tendency, go here.)

From the description, I’d say that Clarence is a Rebel. He can’t stand for someone to tell him that he must do something; when he hears this, he resists, even though he’s a smart kid who wants to learn.

But when Laura changes her approach, he changes.

When Laura gives others their assignments, she tell him, “This doesn’t mean you, Clarence; it would make your lesson far too long…How much do you think you can learn? Would three [pages] be too much?”

In this way, she does two things. First, she leaves the choice to Clarence, and gives him freedom. Rebels want to act from choice and freedom.

Second, for Rebels, the impulse “I’ll show you!” is often very strong. They tend to respond to a challenge. When she suggests that he can’t master three pages, he thinks, “I’ll show her.”

The Pioneer Girl version shows this dynamic even more dramatically. There, Laura reports that she said, “‘Is that too long Clarance? Perhaps it is and better take only to here. I really don’t think you could learn so far as I first said,’ and he would exclaim, ‘Oh yes I can teacher.’ He had now gotten to the point where he would add a little more to my first suggestion and learn it too, to prove that he could.”

Within a week, Clarence has caught up to the other pupils.  He studied at night to master the material.

It’s very useful to understand the Four Tendencies, because Rebels — and Upholders, Questioners, and Obligers — really have very different perspectives on the world. If we want to be persuasive, if we want to work and live harmoniously with other people, it’s helpful to understand their ways of seeing things.

Ah, how I love Laura Ingalls Wilder! The end of my book Happier at Home is an homage to her and her brilliant work. Of everything I’ve ever written, I must say, the last few pages of Happier at Home are definitely among my favorites.

Have you ever found a way to communicate with someone — so that a point of conflict vanished? It’s not easy to see the world through someone else’s eyes.