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.
You can also follow me on Goodreads where I’ve recently started tracking books I’ve read.
Looking back at the month, I see I did a lot of reading in the children’s/YA literature world and very little “work” reading.
November 2018 Reading
Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack! by M.E. Kerr — this is a terrific YA book that I hadn’t read since I was in my teens. It’s set in Brooklyn, so I could really envision where it takes place. From the title, you might think it’s a book about drugs, but it’s not.
Mrs. Caliban by Rachel Ingalls — short, very thought-compelling. And although it’s not like the movie The Shape of Water, it has a very similar plot. Weirdly similar. There’s a lot to think about with this novel.
Augustus by John Williams — I have to confess, everyone loves his novel Stoner but I didn’t finish it. But I love Williams’s other novels. It’s written as fragments of different kinds of documents, an approach I found extremely interesting.
The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Paterson — Paterson is one of the greatest masters of children’s literature. How had I missed this novel? Short, wonderful, set in old Japan, where the protagonist is an apprentice at a famous puppet theater.
Outline by Rachel Cusk — very interesting approach to the novel. I’m reading her trilogy out of order but that doesn’t seem to matter.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi — Boy I’ve been hearing about this book for months, so was glad finally to get the chance to read it myself. Fantasy, super-natural powers, fascinating world, gods returning, huge stakes. Just my kind of thing.
Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis — thought-provoking, very accessible, funny, lots of very honest reflections from her own life. Great for readers who struggle to make time for their dreams (or even to admit their dreams).
Remembering Denny by Calvin Trillin — for reasons not clear to me, I felt the urge to re-read this book. Really good. It’s interesting to see Trillin looking back at the ’50s from his time in the ’90s while we’re in the ’10s.
How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish — I love everything these authors write.
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson — somehow I’d missed this major work of YA literature. Very compelling.
Juliet’s School of Possibilities by Laura Vanderkam — a fable about how to stay focused on what matters most in life. I love fables, epigrams, aphorisms, koans, parables, teaching stories, so I was particularly interested in Vanderkam’s decision to express an idea through a story.
Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson — short, haunting. A wonderful evocation of a time in history, a place, and a stage of life. Now that I’ve finished it, I find myself recalling the characters and scenes at odd moments.
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert — wonderful. If you’ve read Diana Wynne Jones’s brilliant Fire and Hemlock, you’re especially ready for this book.
My Struggle: Book Six by Karl Ove Knausgaard — you’re either bored by Knausgaard or riveted by Knausgaard. I love these books and am puzzled and mesmerized by why that is. There are so many reasons it shouldn’t work, and yet it works supremely well (I find).
Daemon Voices by Philip Pullman — I love, love, love the trilogy of His Dark Materials, so I couldn’t wait to read Pullman’s collection of essays on story. It reminds me of C. S. Lewis’s essay collection On Stories, and I have no higher praise than that. Bonus: now I’m reading many books that Pullman discusses.
Looking back on the list, I realize I should set myself the task of reflecting on the similarities and differences in the work of Cusk and Knausgaard, and what that suggests about the state of literature today. Hmmmm. Maybe I’ll wait to see if someone writes a great article I can read on that subject.