What I Read This Month: September 2019

Books Gretchen has read September 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.

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’ve recently started tracking books I’ve read.

If you want to see what I read last month, the full list is here.

September 2019 Reading:

Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School by John Medina — Lots of interesting insights and information about how the brain works.

All Gall is Divided: Aphorisms of a Legendary Iconoclast by E. M. Corian — Aphorisms! (Which I’m collecting. Send me any good aphorism, proverb, Secret of Adulthood, koan, etc.)

Life Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler — I read this terrific memoir because a thoughtful reader said she thought Chelsea Handler was a Rebel. Oh yes. Here’s a post I wrote about that issue.

Vision and Art: The Biology of Seeing by Margaret S. Livingstone — A beautiful book with great information about sight.

The Kin by Peter Dickinson — More Peter Dickinson! He’s got tremendous range. This trilogy was about cavemen.

The Two Kinds of Decay by Sarah Manguso — I love Sarah Manguso’s work. This short memoir is haunting.

Essays and Aphorisms by Arthur Schopenhauer — More aphorisms!

Skin: A Natural History by Nina Jablonski — Skin, because I’m studying the five (?) senses, and skin matters for touch.

Echo in Onyx by Sharon Shinn — How I love the work of Sharon Shinn.

Short Circuits: Aphorisms, Fragments, and Literary Anamolies by James Lough and Alex Stein — More aphorisms!

The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore — This is an absolutely fascinating look at the business of experience. I’ve become very interested in this, because of my interest in the senses.

Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought by Barbara Tversky — More on the senses, more about experience, how action influences thought. Interesting.

The Last Pirate: A Father, His Son, and the Golden Age of Marijuana by Tony Dokoupil — A riveting account of a complicated relationship with a difficult father (who is also a major drug smuggler). A portrait of a time and a relationship.

The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind by Seth S. Horowitz, Ph.D — Fascinating! More reading about the senses.

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino — I love essays so couldn’t wait to read this. Side note: Tolentino seems to be a major lover of children’s literature.

Touch: The Science of Hand, Heart, and Mind by David J. Linden — A great book about touch.

Little Labors by Rivka Galchen — A strange, fascinating little book. I expected it to be aphorism-adjacent, which it’s not, but it’s terrific.

Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard — I’m back on a Knausgaard kick. Once I read a little of his work, I want more, more, more.

Summer by Karl Ove Knausgaard — More!

Winter by Karl Ove Knausgaard — But now I’m done. I read Spring out of sequence a while ago so I’ve read this quartet. Hmmmm….I wonder when is his next book coming out?

Chess Story by Stefan Zweig — Short, beautifully written, thought-provoking. My book group is reading this book.

Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half Truths: Selected Aphorisms by Karl Kraus — Aphorisms.

The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms by Nassim Nicholas Taleb — Boy it’s possible to read a lot of books of aphorisms in one month. Good for morale.

Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields — Interesting. I love quotations, I love reality, I love unconventional prose styles. So I’m the target audience for this.

Bright Young Things by Scarlett Thomas — I so admire the work of Scarlett Thomas. How could I pass up a book about six young people stranded on a deserted island? No kidding, that’s truly the subject of this novel.

Echo in Emerald by Sharon Shinn — More Sharon Shinn. Now I’ve read two out of the “Echo” trilogy.

Chasing the Sun: The New Science of Sunlight and How it Shapes our Bodies and Minds by Linda Geddes — Absolutely fascinating. Elizabeth and I are going to discuss the importance of sunlight in an upcoming episode of Happier.

Ongoingness: The End of a Diary by Sarah Manguso — More Manguso. I’m very interested in unconventional formats, so this was of great interest to me.

The Hand: How Its Use Shapes the Brain, Language, and Human Culture by Frank R. Wilson — I’ve become extremely interested in the HAND. I think this is the first of many books that I will read on this subject.

The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good by David J. Linden — When we think about the senses, we think about pleasure and pain. It’s a lot more fun to think about pleasure.

Do you have any books to recommend about…

  • the five senses?
  • aphorisms?
  • children’s literature?
  • essays?
  • or anything, really



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.