What I Read This Month: February 2020

Books Gretchen has read

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.

February 2020 Reading:

Countess Kate by Charlotte M. Yonge — I really enjoy Yonge’s adult fiction so wanted to try this children’s book.

Life Is in the Transitions: Mastering Change in a Nonlinear Age by Bruce Feiler — A fascinating and deeply researched examination of how we can navigate inevitable personal disruptions for more growth and creativity.

Make it Scream, Make it Burn: Essays by Leslie Jamison — I love the work of Leslie Jamison (see below) and I love essays so couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book.

A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland — After I started it, I realized that I’d already read it. I love memoirs, journals, and novels about people living in silence and solitude.

Sister Age by M.F.K. Fisher — Fisher is such an interesting and unexpected writer. I never know quite what to expect.

Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind by Scott Barry Kaufman and Carolyn Gregoire — An interesting look at the body and creativity.

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life by Twyla Tharp — This was a re-read, I love this book. Very practical and concrete about her own creative practices.

Symbol & Magic in Egyptian Art by Richard Wilkinson — Spending time in the Egyptian Wing for my Metropolitan Museum Experiment made me want better to understand the iconography and hieroglyphics I was seeing.

Art as Therapy by Alain de Botton and John Armstrong — Interesting.

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel A. van der Kolk — In the space of two weeks, two people recommended this book to me. A fascinating look at the body and trauma, very wide-ranging.

I’ll Have What She’s Having: My Adventures in Celebrity Dieting by Rebecca Harrington — I laughed so hard reading Harrington’s piece “Mommy Can’t Talk Right Now—She’s Dopamine Fasting” that I immediately tracked down her book. Like Harrington, I often use myself as a guinea pig for theories, so this is just my kind of thing.

How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like by Paul Bloom — A re-read. I’m working on my Quitting Sugar project, as well as my project about the body, and this book was relevant to both.

Tinker Dabble Doodle Try: Unlock the Power of the Unfocused Mind by Srini Pillay — I’m poking around in the subject of creativity, and am a big believer in the power of the unfocused mind. (See my Met Experiment.)

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez — I’ve been meaning to read this blockbuster YA novel for a long time, so was glad that my children’s/young-adult literature reading group chose it for our next meeting. I couldn’t put it down.

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander — Also a re-read. More on creativity.

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson — Ditto.

Would I Lie to You?: The Amazing Power of Being Honest in a World That Lies by Judi Ketteler — An interesting reported memoir about the power of honesty—not surprisingly, a surprisingly honest account.

How We Learn: Why Brains Learn Better Than Any Machine . . . for Now by Stanislas Dehaene — A friend recommended Dehaene’s work, and I found this book so interesting that I immediately got my hands on his other work.

The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath by Leslie Jamison — More Jamison. Darn it, now I’ve read all her non-fiction. Next up: her novel The Gin Closet.



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