What I Read This Month: July 2019

Books Gretchen has read July 2019
For more than two 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 now 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. 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.

July 2019 Reading:

Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer — This book is quite unlikely: a laugh-out-loud guide to grammar. It’s terrific. Don’t skip the footnotes. Thinking Aloud by Simon May — I love aphorisms, and this collection caught my eye. One that struck me: “What cannot be taught always needs the greatest learning.” Please send me any of your favorite aphorisms, proverbs, epigrams, Secrets of Adulthood, etc. I’m collecting them! The Guermantes Way by Marcel Proust — Summer of Proust continues! Sodom and Gomorrah by Marcel Proust — More Proust, volume 4 of 7. Remembrance of Things Past is properly considered a single novel, so I’m thinking of them as a whole, rather than evaluating each one. Wrapt in Crystal by Sharon Shinn — I’m a huge fan of Sharon Shinn’s work, and somehow I’d missed this one. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde — I’ve probably read this book five times; I love it. It’s a funny experience—it’s like seeing Hamlet—so many lines are so familiar, and I forgot they came from this novel. One thing I particularly love about it? The aphorisms. Oscar Wilde is one of the best aphorists ever. For instance, I’m haunted by this line: “There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others would pick them up.” (Note, in Dreyer’s English, he reminds the reader that it’s the PICTURE of Dorian Gray not the PORTRAIT of Dorian Gray.) Short Flights edited by James Lough and Alex Stein — More aphorisms. Here’s one, by Lily Ackerman: “The early bird gets the worm. The early worm dies.” Flour Babies by Anne Fine — An award-winning children’s book about a classroom of boys assigned to take care of sacks of flour as their “babies.” The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson — I loved Nelson’s book Bluets (which I read as part of my color obsession), and I’m very interested in the structure that Nelson uses. Thought-provoking; original. A Very Easy Death by Simone de Beauvoir –Brief, poignant account of her mother’s death. Dining with Proust by Jean-Bernard Naudin, Anne Borrel, and Alain Senderens — I spotted this in the library and couldn’t resist checking it out—discussion, photographs, and recipes, all about the food in Proust (there’s a lot of food). Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane — Someone recommended this novel to me, so I picked it up and am glad I did—all about a woman who realizes she’s lonely and decides to reconnect with old friends. Plus trees. (Trees really seem to be having a moment, don’t they?) The Nose: A Profile of Sex, Beauty, and Survival by Gabrielle Glaser — I’m fascinating by the sense of smell, so very interested in this book about the nose. Signposts to Elsewhere by Yahia Lababidi — More aphorisms! My favorite from this collection: “A good listener helps us overhear ourselves.” Taste What You’re Missing: Surprising Stories and Science About Why Food Tastes Good by Barb Stuckey — I loved this book! A fascinating exploration of taste, by someone who is a “food inventor.” The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker — More on the subject of taste and flavor, with the argument that the food of today contains fewer nutrients than it used to, and the consequences of that. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny — I was stuck in an airport for many hours, and I knew I could count on Louise Penny for a great, absorbing read. Very enjoyable. Portrait of My Body by Phillip Lopate — I love essays! If you have any great collections to suggest, please let me know. I spend a lot of time in that section of my library. Intelligence in the Flesh by Guy Claxton — I skimmed this one—parts were very interesting to me, parts weren’t. All about the connection of brain and body. How the Body Knows Its Mind by Sian Beilock — An interesting look at the interrelationship of mind and body. Presto! How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales by Penn Jillette — I disagree with many of his conclusions and beliefs, but very much enjoyed the book—very funny, and a terrific portrait for how a Rebel can embrace habit change, to adopt a very specific way of eating. The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon by Christine Flanagan — I love Flannery O’Connor’s work, and I love learning about writing well, so I was absolutely fascinated by this exchange of letters that reveals a great deal of the thought behind O’Connor’s revision of her work.



Like what you see? Explore more about this topic.

Interested in happiness, habits, and human nature?

Sign up for our weekly newsletter “5 things making me happy”.

Subscribe to Gretchen’s newsletter.

Every Friday, Gretchen Rubin shares 5 things that are making her happier, asks readers and listeners questions, and includes exclusive updates and behind-the-scenes material.