What I Read This Month: September 2020

Books Gretchen has read

For three 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’ve recently started tracking books I’ve read.

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

September 2020 Reading:

The Silver Arrow by Lev Grossman (Amazon, Bookshop) — A wonderful children’s book that reminded me of The Lorax and The Phantom Tollbooth.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig (Amazon, Bookshop) — Shortlisted for The British Book Industry Awards. A thoughtful memoir about the challenge of depression. Now I also want to read his new book The Midnight Library (Amazon, Bookshop) which is getting huge buzz.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (Amazon, Bookshop) — Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize; National Book Critics Circle Award. A classic. I hadn’t read it in many years, and it was even better than I remembered.

Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach (Amazon, Bookshop) — I’m working my way through Mary Roach’s work. Love it.

Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo (Amazon, Bookshop) — Booker Prize. A  gripping novel that creates a whole world of characters.

I. Asimov by Isaac Asimov (Amazon, Bookshop) — Hugo Award for nonfiction. I can’t remember why I happened to pick up this memoir; enjoyed it.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow (Amazon, Bookshop) — Over the Rainbow Project book list award. A haunting coming-of-age memoir.

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion (Amazon, Bookshop) — National Book Award; finalist for  the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize. This was the third time I’ve read this book—I went to look up a passage, then ended up re-reading the whole thing. It’s that good.

Beginners: The Joy and Transformative Power of Lifelong Learning by Tom Vanderbilt (Amazon) — In galley. A great book about the power of being a beginner.

Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz (Amazon, Bookshop) — Absolutely fascinating. I’ve been talking about this book ever since I read it.

Up Country by Alden R. Carter — A 100 “Best of the Best” ALA Best Books for Young Adults of the Last 25 Years. This was a re-read, I love this book. For one thing, it’s the story of being an Upholder child in a chaotic household.

The Colossus of New York by Colson Whitehead (Amazon, Bookshop) — A dreamlike meditation on New York City. Beautiful.

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (Amazon, Bookshop) –ABBY award. Romance, recipes, and magical realism…who could resist?

Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart M. Brown Jr. (Amazon, Bookshop) — A terrific book about the importance of play.

Colored People: A Memoir by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Amazon, Bookshop) — Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Award; Lillian Smith Prize. A wonderful memoir of Gates’s childhood, of his extended family and their West Virginia town.

Dig. by A.S. King (Amazon, Bookshop) — Michael L. Printz award. A complex, fascinating young-adult novel. Oops, I almost made an observation that would’ve been a spoiler!

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds (Amazon, Bookshop) — NAACP Image Award; Kirkus Award Finalist; Schneider Family Book Award Winner; Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book. More Jason Reynolds! I’m working my way through his entire list. I do love a book about city kids who go live with relatives in the country (see also Up Country, above).

Fool’s War by Sarah Zettel (Amazon, Bookshop) — A 1997 New York Times Notable Book. I love a twist, and this science-fiction novel has great twists.

Videocracy: How YouTube Is Changing the World with Double Rainbows, Singing Foxes, and Other Curious Trends by Kevin Allocca (Amazon, Bookshop) — Terrific, thought-provoking, and very accessible look at the YouTube’s influence.



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