What I Read This Month: April 2020

What I Read This Month: April 2020

For three years now, every Monday morning, I've posted a photo on my Facebook Page of the books I finished during the week, with the tag #GretchenRubinReads.

I get a big kick out of this weekly habit—it’s a way to shine a spotlight on all the terrific books that I’ve read.

As I write about in my book Better Than Before, for most of my life, my habit was to finish any book that I started. Finally, I realized that this approach meant that I spent time reading books that bored me, and I had less time for books that I truly enjoy. These days, I put down a book if I don’t feel like finishing it, so I have more time to do my favorite kinds of reading.

This habit means that if you see a book included in the #GretchenRubinReads photo, you know that I liked it well enough to read to the last page.

When I read books related to an area I’m researching for a writing project, I carefully read and take notes on the parts that interest me, and skim the parts that don’t. So I may list a book that I’ve partly read and partly skimmed. For me, that still “counts.”

If you’d like more ideas for habits to help you get more reading done, read this post or download my "Reading Better Than Before" worksheet.

You can also follow me on Goodreads where I've recently started tracking books I’ve read.

If you want to see what I read last month, the full list is here.

April 2020 Reading:

Wondering how I'm managing to get books from the library these days? When I began to suspect that the library would close, I checked out a giant stack and am still working my way through it.

Empty by Susan Burton -- In galley, will be published in June. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Full disclosure, this memoir was written by a friend—but that's not coloring my judgment. It's brilliant. About struggles with food, growing up, self-knowledge, identity...

The Face: A Time Code by Ruth Ozeki -- A short meditation on time, the face, the self.

Celia's House by D.E. Stevenson -- A listener suggested that I might like the work of D. E. Stevenson. A comforting, easy read.

Mrs. Coverlet's Magicians by Mary Nash -- I was thrilled when I saw this book make a quick appearance in the movie Marriage Story. I'd forgotten that I read it! A book I loved as a child. Wonderful.

Listening Below the Noise: A Meditation on the Practice of Silence by Anne D. LeClaire -- I usually love reading about silence, and this is a good book, but lately I find the subject less compelling.

They Loved to Laugh by Kathryn Worth -- An old-fashioned children's book, very didactic, my kind of thing.

The Waste Books by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg -- Aphorisms! Very thought-provoking. One of my favorites: "Man loves company, even if it is only that of a smoldering candle.”

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King -- A wonderful memoir and a useful guide to writing. A re-read.

Writers and Lovers by Lily King -- An engaging novel about early adulthood.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney -- A cheerful novel about New York City, life, work, and age.

Wow, No Thank You: Essays by Samantha Irby -- Hilarious, fascinating. I read the essay "The Worst Friend Date I Ever Had" on The Cut website, and immediately tracked down the book.

The Seeing Stone (Arthur Trilogy) by Kevin Crossley-Holland -- How had I never read this award-winning work of children's literature? A re-telling of the Arthur legend.

The Wonderful Garden, or The Three C's by Edith Nesbit -- And how had I overlooked this (admittedly unsung) novel by the brilliant children's writer E. Nesbit? Now, for you real kidlit lovers who can follow me in this string of associations... The also-brilliant children's book writer Edward Eager always pays tribute to E. Nesbit in his novels, so that any children reading one of his books will find their way to hers. And his novel Magic or Not, I suspect, is his way of re-telling The Wonderful Garden. And I must say, I think his version is the better one—though I did enjoy this book, too.

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo -- One of my children's literature reading groups chose this book. It reminds me of The Velveteen Rabbit or The Doll's House. More didactic—boy I do love didactic fiction.

Pantone: The Twentieth Century in Color by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker -- A wonderful book about color and color trends in the twentieth century. Beautifully illustrated, scholarly with a very light touch.

The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory by Torkel Klingberg -- If you're curious about why your brain feels overstuffed, here's a book for you.

Scent: The Mysterious and Essential Powers of Smell by Annick Le Guérer -- An academic book. I skimmed it to focus on the parts that interested me, which were very interesting. It happened to include a lot of material about how people viewed the role of scent during various plagues.

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