What I Read This Month: May 2019

Books Gretchen has read May 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.

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?

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.

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.

Autobiography of a Face by Lucy Grealy — I’ve read this memoir before, love it. If you’ve read Ann Patchett’s Truth and Beauty, this is the memoir by her friend Lucy.

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.

How Proust Can Change Your Life by Alain de Botton — A re-read. I’m gearing up for my Summer of Proust, which starts June 1.

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.



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