What I Read This Month: January 2021

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 track books I’ve read.

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

And join us for this year’s new challenge: Read for 21 minutes every day in 2021!

The year of 2020 was a tough year, so as a treat, this 2021 challenge is a delightful challenge. If you read for 21 minutes per day for 365 days, that’s 7,665 minutes, or almost 128 hours of reading. You can read a lot of books in 128 hours!

A surprising number of people, I’ve found, want to read more. But for various reasons, they struggle to get that reading done. #Read21in21 is meant to help form and strengthen the habit of reading.

January 2021 Reading:

Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly (Amazon, Bookshop) — I love essays, and I loved the idea of “micro-memoirs.” A very interesting structure.

The Corner That Held Them by Sylvia Townsend Warner (Amazon, Bookshop) — A fascinating historical novel where nothing much happens at a Benedictine convent in the late 12th century through 1382.

K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee (Amazon, Bookshop) — A wonderful YA novel that shows that if you tell a classic story in a fresh way, it’s as compelling as ever.

Circe by Madeline Miller (Amazon, Bookshop) — Indies Choice Best Adult Fiction of the Year Award; Red Tentacle Award, American Library Association Alex Award, and Elle Big Book Award; shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. People have been telling me forever to read this book—I loved it. I’ve been reading a lot of things classical lately, not sure why.

The Informed Air: Essays by Muriel Spark (Amazon, Bookshop) — I love the work of Muriel Spark so was very eager to read her essays.

Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones (Amazon, Bookshop) — Pen/Hemingway Award for Best First Fiction Finalist, shortlisted for National Book Award. A thought-provoking collection of short stories—I’ve found myself reflecting back on several of them. Really creates a sense of place.

Secrets by Nancy Hale (Amazon) — A wonderful novella about a family, a place, and a time.

The Case for Keto: Rethinking Weight Control and the Science and Practice of Low-Carb/High-Fat Eating by Gary Taubes (Amazon, Bookshop) — We interviewed Gary Taubes in episode 308 of the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast. As I write about in my book about habit change, Better Than Before, Taubes’s work changed my life (and my father’s life).

Little, Big: Or, The Fairies’ Parliament by John Crowley (AmazonBookshop) — Winner of the World Fantasy Award and Mythopoeic Fantasy Award. I heard about this book because it was recommended by Ted Chiang, and I love the work of Ted Chiang. I was astonished that I’d never heard of this novel before, let alone read it; it’s exactly the kind of thing I like. A true fairy tale for adults.

The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde (Amazon, Bookshop) — The American Library Association’s Gay Caucus Book of the Year Award. Short, powerful, meditative.

Winterkeep by Kristin Cashore (Amazon, Bookshop) — I’m a huge fan of Cashore’s work so have been eagerly awaiting this novel.

Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America by Rich Benjamin (Amazon, Bookshop) — A fascinating look at demographic change, real estate, and racial attitudes in the United States.



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