What I Read This Month: August 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.

August 2019 Reading:

Recollections by Viktor Frankl -- I love Frankl's masterpiece Man's Search for Meaning so much that I wanted to read this short memoir. Interesting.

Nemesis by Agatha Christie -- I'm not a big fan of mysteries, but during our August vacation, I happened to pick this up and read a few pages, and then I couldn't stop reading until I reached the end. Very enjoyable.

The Captive & The Fugitive by Marcel Proust -- Summer of Proust! I must admit, these weren't my favorite volumes, but still happy to read them.

Chasing Daylight: How My Forthcoming Death Transformed My Life by Eugene O'Kelly -- This was a re-read. A fascinating memoir written by someone who had a very short time to live.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb -- Fascinating! This book has generated a huge amount of buzz and rightly so. I was surprised to see myself mentioned—that was an odd experience.

A Swarm in May by William Mayne -- A very traditional English work of children's literature. I've read several books by Mayne at this point, I enjoy them very much. Very different from the children's literature of today.

Memos: The Vogue Years by Diana Vreeland -- I love the work and personality of Diana Vreeland, and I'm always fascinated by the specifics of other people's work processes, so I was thrilled to discover this gorgeous, illustrated book of her memos to her staff.

The Preacher's Wife:  The Precarious Power of Evangelical Women Celebrities:  by Kate Bowler -- A thought-provoking look at celebrity evangelical women. Elizabeth and I are going to interview Kate Bowler for the Happier podcast, and while her other book (see below) is more directly related to happiness, I found this book fascinating.

Everything Happens for a Reason (And Other Lies I've Loved) by Kate Bowler -- I'm a big fan of Kate Bowler's terrific podcast Everything Happens, so I wanted to read this memoir too, and also interview her for the Happier podcast. It's the story of how she's dealing with the diagnosis of stage IV colon cancer.

A Feast for the Eyes: The Story of Food in Photography by Susan Bright -- I'm very interested in the sense of taste, which of course leads me to food, and this is a gorgeous history of food photography. That may sound extremely niche, and it is, but wonderful to see.

Our Senses: An Immersive Experience by Rob DeSalle -- I'm interested in all five senses!

How to Play Madison Square Garden: A Guide to Stage Performance by Mindi Abair, Lance Abair, and Ross Cooper -- This short and practical book is aimed at musicians, but is an outstanding, helpful guide to anyone doing performance. I highly recommend it.

Time Regained by Marcel Proust -- Last novel in my Summer of Proust! I was happy to be done, but also sad to leave the intense, beautiful world of Proust. Farewell to the world of Combray, Balbec, and Paris.

The Ghost Stories of Muriel Spark by Muriel Spark -- I was talking to someone about ghost stories when I realized, "Hey, I love ghost stories." Plus I'm a huge fan of Muriel Spark. These stories are short and creepy.

A Theory of the Aphorism: From Confucius to Twitter by Andrew Hui -- I love aphorisms, epigrams, proverbs, paradoxes, koans, and teaching stories of all sorts. The aphorism is a very short form, but I seem to spend a lot of time reading them and about them these days. Send me your favorites, I'm collecting them. I read about this book in Adam Gopnik's review in the New Yorker: "The Art of Aphorism."

Last Aphorisms by JPJ -- I read about this mysterious collection in the book Short Flights. The self-published book is for sale, but who is JPJ? No one knows. I added several of JPJ's aphorisms to my collection.

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell -- I always feel lucky when I get to read a book before its official publication date. A fascinating, accessible examination of the miscommunications that can arise when we talk to strangers. We're going to interview Malcolm Gladwell for the Happier podcast, can't wait for that.