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.
Side note: this month I had an unusually high number of half-read books. It’s still sometimes a struggle to put down a book if I’m well underway, even if I don’t like it, because I want the “credit.” But over time, I’ve learned that I’ll get more reading done in the long run if I let go of a book that I don’t enjoy. Do you have this issue?
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.
May 2019 Reading:
A Grass Rope by William Mayne — I discovered Mayne through Philip Pullman. I very much enjoyed this work of children’s literature. If I remember correctly, it won a major award.
I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell — A fascinating memoir told through accounts of brushes with death.
The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit by Eleanor Fitzsimons — I love the work of E. Nesbit and was very interested to learn more about her very colorful life.
The Valedictorian of Being Dead by Heather B. Armstrong — Haunting, powerful memoir of depression.
Minding the Body edited by Patricia Foster — I’m very interested in the body these days, so how could I resist that title? Lots of great essays.
The Old English Peep Show by Peter Dickinson — More Peter Dickinson. More, more, more! This is one of his adult books. So far, I like the children’s books better.
Wings and the Child by E. Nesbit — A short memoir/meditation on the teaching of children that I learned about in The Life and Loves of E. Nesbit (see above).
I Was Looking for a Street by Charles Willeford — How did I hear about this book? I have no idea. A short memoir of a writer who, as a fourteen-year-old, left home during the Depression to ride the rails.
The Way to Write for Children by Joan Aiken — My children’s literature reading group picked the towering masterpiece The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and somehow I discovered that Aiken had written this short book. Love it.
Eye of My Heart: 27 Writers Reveal the Hidden Pleasures and Perils of Being a Grandmother by Barbara Graham — I stumbled across this book and noticed that many of the essays were written by writers I admire, so I picked it up.
M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton — One of my other children’s literature reading groups chose this book, and I’m going to miss the meeting, which is very disappointing because I very much want to discuss this book. I last read it in fifth grade, and I was surprised by how well I remembered it. Haunting, beautiful. I love it when, in a novel, action takes place both in the literal and the symbolic plane, and characters recognize and discuss the symbolic plane.
Three Houses by Angela Thirkell — Short, sweet, really evokes a certain bygone era. I love Thirkell.
Fair Play by Tove Jansson — This is a short, quiet novel (for adults) by the author of the Moomin books. The character Jonna is a Rebel; it’s a wonderful portrait if you want to see a Rebel in action.