Tag Archives: literature

Frequently Asked Question: How Do I Read So Much?

I have a new habit that I truly love: every Sunday night, I post a photo on my Facebook Page of all the books I’ve read that week. Doing this gives me enormous satisfaction.

Because of my also-fairly-new habit of quitting any book I don’t enjoy, if you see a book in the photo, it means that I enjoyed it enough to finish it.  No matter when I started a book, I post its picture for the week that I finished it.

Some weeks I read very little; some weeks, I read a lot. I often read several books at one time (a habit I picked up from my husband).

On weeks when I’ve read a lot, people often ask, “How do you read so much?” Some people have even accused me of…not telling the truth. Which I find hilarious, I must say. If you look at the books pictured, you can just tell that I’m telling the truth.

But here’s the thing: I have no idea when or how I read.

I feel like I have no time to read. In fact, when I was working on Better Than Before, I tried to keep a time log to track when I read. And somehow, I could never manage to pull that off.

I did come up with all sorts of habits to help me read more. I stopped finishing books I don’t like, as mentioned; I do “Study Reading” every weekend; I put reading time on my schedule.

But still, I feel like I’m never reading.

I do know that I get more reading done when I’m traveling.

And I read more when I’m going through one of my periodic obsessions — such as my recent obsession with May Sarton’s journals, or memoirs of people about their dogs, or the novels of Sharon Shinn (still working on that one).

And my reading is also influenced by my writing. I read a lot more when I’m in the research phase for a book; on the other hand, when I’m doing heavy writing or editing, I tend to read less, or to read less challenging books.

I’m not trained as a speed reader, but I must read fairly fast.

I check out books from the library, and I think that helps me keep up my pace; I feel like I have to keep pushing ahead, or they’ll become overdue.

Unlike many people, I almost never read much before I turn out the light. By the time I’m in bed, I’m ready to go to sleep. However, I love to read in bed at any other time of day.

I keep lists of books that I want to read, so I often have an almost panicky sense of wanting to read more, more, more.

For me, reading a book often counts as a “billable hour” –when  it’s a book that supports my writing or thinking, it doesn’t count as pure leisure. It’s easier to justify reading during the work day when that’s true.

So I don’t have a very satisfying answer to the question. I’m unsatisfied by my answer to that question. When the heck do I read? I feel like I never read, and yet I see that yes, books do get read. It’s a real mystery to me.

What are your secrets and tricks for getting more reading done? I’d love to know. And if you want to read more about reading more, here are 13 tips for getting more reading done. You may also enjoy Daniel Pennac’s 10 inalienable rights of the reader.

 

Revealed! Book Club Choices for February. 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! Drumroll…

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

Here Is New York by E. B. White

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An outstanding children’s book:

Baby Island  by Carol Ryrie Brink

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An eccentric pick:

Orlando: A Biography by Virginia Woolf

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 recommendations…what did you think?

Do You Ever Get a Huge Pleasure Just From Looking at a Particular Object? What?

“The rack stood as if it had been there forever across the landscape and lit by the sun with its long shadow behind it, and in harmony with every fold of the field and finally turned into a mere form, a primordial form, even if that was not the word I used then, and it gave me huge pleasure just to look at it. I can still feel the same thing today when I see a hayrack in a photograph from a book, but all that is a thing of the past now…so the feeling of pleasure slips into the feeling that time has passed, that it is very long ago, and the sudden feeling of being old.”

Per Petterson, Out Stealing Horses

Podcast 38: Do You Hate Being Told What to Do? Maybe You’re a Rebel.

It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

Update: For our upcoming Very Special Episode, Holiday edition, we want to hear from you: What is your Try This at Home for staying happier, healthier, and more productive over the holidays? It can be a challenge. So let us know what works for you — for dealing with family, for traveling, for managing temptations, anything. We can all learn from each other.

Today is the fourth in the series of four episodes that we’re devoting to the Four Tendencies.  In last week’s episode, we talked about the Obliger Tendency; this week, it’s Rebel.

To find out if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel,
take the Four Tendencies quiz here.

Try This at Home: Try to come up with a motto for your Tendency.  Fun!

Strengths and Weaknesses of Rebels:  How to identify and take advantage of the strengths, and counter-balance the weaknesses, of the Tendency.

Striking Pattern of Rebels: Whenever a Rebel is in a long-term relationship, whether romantically or at work, it’s almost always with an Obliger.

Another striking pattern: While Rebels want choice and freedom, some Rebels are drawn to areas of high regulation, such as the military, the police, and the clergy.

Listener Questions: “What are some strategies to use if you have a Rebel child?” “How do Rebels manage their inclination to rebel against themselves?” Plus a Rebel weighs in about how she sticks to her good habits.

The Rebel author I mention is Geoff Dyer. I highly recommend his book Out of Sheer Rage: Wrestling with D. H. Lawrence as a self-portrait of a Rebel.

Elizabeth’s Demerit: Elizabeth needs to get her car serviced.

Gretchen’s Gold Star: I’ve started a new habit: on my Facebook Page, each Sunday evening, I post a photo of all the books I’ve read that week. I love to shine a spotlight on books, and I get a lot of satisfaction from thinking, “Look at what I’ve read.”

Call for comments, questions, observations!

We’ve spent four weeks talking about my Four Tendencies framework for human nature. It has been fascinating. We’ve had so many terrific responses that we’re planning a round-up episode. So if you have more questions or comments, send them in!

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 The Everyday Gourmet, and get up to 80% off. Limited time.

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Happier Podcast #38: Are you a rebel?

We love hearing from listeners

Tell us — did you come up with a motto for your Tendency?

If you’re intrigued by the Four Tendencies, and want to be notified when my handbook on the subject hits the shelves, text me at 66866 and enter the word “tendencies,” I’ll add you to a list to be notified when it’s ready. You can also sign up here.

There are lots of ways to share your responses or questions:

 

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HAPPIER listening!

Revealed! Book Club Choices for November. Excellent Reading.

First, a moment of self-book-promotion — feel free to skip.

I’m excited, because the Better Than Before Day-by-Day Journal just hit the shelves. Part resource, part tool, part keepsake — it will help you change your habits. To watch a short video where I show the book and describe its design, go here.

Now, for the recommendations! 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! Drumroll…

 

A book about happiness, good habits, or human nature

Plant Dreaming Deep by May Sarton (a journal)

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An outstanding children’s book:

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. (I was astonished to realize that I haven’t yet recommended this book, one of my all-time favorites. Also the inspiration for some of the best writing I’ve ever done in my life, on the last page of Happier at Home.)

Buy from IndieBound; BN.com; Amazon.

 

An eccentric pick:

Pure Heart, Enlightened Mind : The Life and Letters of an Irish Zen Saint by Maura O’Halloran

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 recommendations…what did you think?

And please, send me your recommendations! Recently a reader told me about a a Noel Streatfield book that I’d somehow missed, and another reader gave me many science-fiction entries for my library list. I love getting suggestions.