What I Read This Month: May 2021

Books Gretchen has read
For four 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! 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.

May 2021 Reading:

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be by Paul Arden (Amazon, Bookshop) — A very thought-provoking book about creativity. Jay-Z: Made in America by Michael Eric Dyson (Amazon, Bookshop) — I don’t know much about music, but this portrait of an American icon was fascinating nevertheless. The Wreckage of My Presence: Essays by Casey Wilson (Amazon, Bookshop) — A hilarious, surprising memoir by an actor whose work I love. Also, Kansas City connection. Super Senses: The Science of Your 32 Senses and How to Use Them by Emma Young (Amazon) — I love everything about the five senses, so of course I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book; it covers many of the senses that I don’t write about it in my book, but nevertheless find very interesting. Touching the Rock: An Experience of Blindness by John M. Hull (Amazon, Bookshop) — A very interesting and moving account of losing sight. Dark Harbor: Building House and Home on an Enchanted Island by Ved Mehta (Amazon) — About home, family, place, sight, sound, and much more. Three Rings: A Tale of Exile, Narrative, and Fate by Daniel Mendelsohn (Amazon, Bookshop) — Fascinating, ambitious, thought-provoking. Bringing Up Race: How to Raise a Kind Child in a Prejudiced World by Uju Asika (Amazon, Bookshop) — A practical and hopeful guide. You can read my interview with Uju Asika here. Why Startups Fail: A New Roadmap for Entrepreneurial Success by Tom Eisenmann (Amazon, Bookshop) — Fascinating and written with such clarity that it was easy for a non-business-type person like me to understand. Brat: An 80s Story by Andrew McCarthy (AmazonBookshop) — An absorbing memoir. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (AmazonBookshop) — New York Times Bestseller; named a Best Book of April 2021 by many publications. Profound memoir about the relationship between a mother and a daughter, identity and place, coming into a vocation, food and memory, and much more. Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative by Jane Alison (AmazonBookshop) — A very interesting look about forms of narrative. The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries (AmazonBookshop) — I’ve been meaning to read this book for years. Practical, informative, a great read. Train Go Sorry: Inside a Deaf World by Leah Hager Cohen (AmazonBookshop) — A very interesting memoir of a woman who spent much of her childhood growing up in New York’s famous Lexington School for the Deaf. Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill (Amazon, Bookshop) — Shortlisted for the Folio Prize, the Pen Faulkner Award and the International Dublin Award. One of the New York Times‘ best books of 2014. In the book Meander, Spiral, Explode, I learned the word “crot,” and this novel is written in crots. I love crots! One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amazon, Bookshop) — John Newbery Medal; Coretta Scott King Award for Authors. A book about three sisters, their difficult mother, and the eventful summer they spent together. Shadows of the Past by Sharon Shinn (Amazon, Bookshop) — I love Sharon Shinn’s work, and I raced through these short stories. Something of Myself and Other Autobiographical Writings by Rudyard Kipling (Amazon, Bookshop) — I can’t remember where I heard a discussion of this memoir—was it on a podcast?—but I was intrigued, so hunted it down to read. El Deafo by Cece Bell (Amazon, Bookshop) — 2015 Newbery Honor; 2015 Eisner Award for Best Publication for Kids. A graphic novel about growing up, grappling with hearing aids, dealing with friends and a crush.



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.