What I Read This Month: March 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.

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.

Wow, when I look back at books I read at the beginning of March, it seems as if I read them fifty years ago. A lot has changed in one month.

March 2020 Reading:

Hits and Misses by Simon Rich — Short comic essays. Lots of fun.

Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read by Stanislas Dehaene — A fascinating look at how we read and the development of the written word.

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls — A re-read, for the fourth time; this book was chosen by one of my children’s literature reading groups. How I love this book! Before I read it for the first time, a friend said, “You will cry many sad tears, and you will love it.” So true.

Mind Wide Open: Your Brain and the Neuroscience of Everyday Life by Steven Johnson — An interesting look at the brain and how it shapes our experience.

How to Drag a Body and Other Safety Tips You Hope to Never Need: Survival Tricks for Hacking, Hurricanes, and Hazards Life Might Throw at You by Judith Matloff — In galley. Valuable information presented in a light-hearted, accessible way. When I read it, the thought of a pandemic being one of the “hazards life might throw at you” hadn’t yet become a concern.

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson — More Johnson. An interesting exploration of how the human desire for play shapes culture. I’ve been thinking a lot about this, in relation to the senses. The things we’ve done for black pepper.

The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution by Denis Dutton — A fascinating, thought-provoking, controversial argument for why we love art.

Laughter: A Scientific Investigation by Robert R. Provine — I’m interested in the role of laughter, both as a tool of social communication and also as an expression of the delight in novelty.

The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master the Odds, and Win by Maria Konnikova — In galley. A fascinating memoir about learning to play poker, and the larger lessons of the undertaking.

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson — A wonderful children’s book; it reminded me of The Wolves of Willoughby Chase.

Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn — A re-read. I read this on the night that my daughter came home from college—peak COVID-19 anxiety. I love the work of Sharon Shinn!

The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbotson — More Ibbotson. This adult novel reminded me of A Little Princess, in the best way.

An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic by Daniel Mendelsohn — A profound, complex memoir about a son, a father, and reading The Odyssey together. Beautifully structured. Sometimes, as here, an entire book is written to get the reader to a place where the true meaning of the final page can hit with proper force. Masterfully done.

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall — A novel about two couples and how their lives intertwine over the years; reminded me of Laurie Colwin’s Happy All the Time.

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach — Hilarious, informative. Roach has a very original voice and way of handling scientific information. I plan to read everything she’s written.

Curious Behavior: Yawning, Laughing, Hiccupping, and Beyond by Robert R. Provine — More Provine. An interesting look at often-overlooked aspects of human behavior.



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