12 Jan '19
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What I Read This Month: December 2018

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.

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 in November 2018, the full list is here. And if you’re interested in seeing my year in books, check out this list on Goodreads.

December 2018 Reading:

The Pleasure Garden by Leon Garfield — I heard about this book in Philip Pullman’s book of essays, Daemon Voices. Very unusual, engaging, odd.

Normal People by Sally Rooney — I astonished my friends by getting my hands on this book before it was published in the United States. My library, New York Society Library, managed to get the U.K. version. Engrossing. Now I want to read her first book, Conversations with Friends.

Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell — Great, funny essays (I do love essays). Stay tuned for an episode of “A Little Happier” where I talk about Vowell’s essay about goth.

The Ropemaker by Peter Dickinson — HOW HAD I NEVER HEARD ABOUT PETER DICKINSON? I only learned about him from a Pullman essay (see above) and he’s already a new favorite author of mine. Brilliant. And he’s written so much! This is going to make 2019 a great reading year, I think. Along with Summer of Proust.

A Winter’s Promise by Christelle Dabos — First novel in a young-adult series that was a huge hit in France. Terrific, but now I have to wait for the sequels to be translated into English.

Provence, 1970 by Luke Barr — A very interesting snapshot of a moment in time, place, and food.

Queen Victoria’s Stalker by Jan Bondeson — My friend Amanda Foreman gave a lecture in which she mentioned that a boy had hid himself in Buckingham Palace during Queen Victoria’s time, and I was so curious about this incidence that I read this book about the boy. A bit random, I know.

The Mouse and His Child by Russell Hoban — This was a choice for one of my children’s literature reading groups. A sweet story. I do love Hoban’s Frances books more, I must confess.

Tulku by Peter Dickinson — More Dickinson. I LOVE this book and keep thinking about it. Even better than The Ropemaker. A very unusual children’s book. I’m going to suggest that my children’s reading group choose it. Much to discuss. I’m tempted to re-read it already.

The Hot Young Widows Club by Nora McInerny — A fascinating consideration of the question: how do you survive grief? It inspired me to listen to her podcast, Terrible, Thanks for Asking.

Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe — So many people told me that they enjoyed this book, but it seemed like such a thin premise that I resisted it for a long time. I’m very glad I read it. Wonderful portraits, and genuinely funny in its writing.

Staying Fat for Sara Byrne by Chris Crutcher — Did I hear about this young-adult book from Pullman, too? Possibly. A great story about a challenging friendship.

There’s a Word for That by Sloane Tanen — A gripping, hilarious novel about dysfunctional family dynamics set amid Hollywood and London fabulousness. I love a family story.

What have you read that’s been particularly terrific lately? I’m in the mood for essays, so send me any suggestions. Plus of course I am working my way through all of Peter Dickinson.

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