What I Read This Month: November 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 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.

November 2021 Reading:

Twilight: Losing Sight, Gaining Insight by Henry Grunwald (Amazon, Bookshop) — A re-read; a short, thought-provoking memoir of losing the sense of sight.

Silent Night by Sue Thomas (Amazon, Bookshop) — A fascinating memoir of the author’s life and in particular, her work doing lip reading for the FBI, which was the basis for the TV show Sue Thomas: FB Eye.

The Bell by Iris Murdoch (Amazon, Bookshop) — A terrific novel; I sense an Iris Murdoch kick coming on.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles (Amazon, Bookshop) — Another great novel.

Have Dog, Will Travel by Stephen Kuusisto (Amazon, Bookshop) — I love the memoirs of Kuusisto, and this is my favorite — about his experience getting his guide dog Corky.

The Hole in the Moon and Other Tales by Margaret St. Clair (Amazon, Bookshop) — I have no recollection of how I happened to acquire this collection of stories, but I really enjoyed them. Kind of “Twilight Zone-y,” which I love.

The Invisible Kingdom: Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourke (Amazon, Bookshop) —  Candid, profound, moving.

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury (Amazon, Bookshop) — I really liked this collection of short essays on creativity.

Orwell’s Roses by Rebecca Solnit (Amazon, Bookshop) — For pure writing mastery, George Orwell is one of my very favorite writers of non-fiction, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book.

Song Without Words: Discovering My Deafness Halfway through Life by Gerald Shea (Amazon, Bookshop) — An astonishing account of living with hearing loss.

Planet of the Blind: A Memoir by Stephen Kuusisto (Amazon, Bookshop) — Did I mention that I love the memoirs of Stephen Kuusisto?

After Julius by Elizabeth Jane Howard (Amazon, Bookshop) — A haunting novel told from the perspective of several different characters over three days.

At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor (Amazon, Bookshop) — A novel of character and observation, which I love. And a twist, which I also love. (I should note that I’ve been listening to the excellent Backlisted podcast, which inspired me to read Howard and Taylor.)

The Scent of Magic (The Five Senses Set Book 3) by Andre Norton (Amazon) — The main character in this fantasy novel uses her sense of smell as one of her chief magical powers, so of course I had to read it.

Return of the Thief (Queen’s Thief, 6) by Megan Whalen Turner (Amazon, Bookshop) — Oh, how I love the work of Megan Whalen Turner. A kind friend stopped me on the street to say, “I saw you post that you’d finished the Queen’s Thief books, but there’s one more!” I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this novel.



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