Bedtime Stories: Sept. 2017

  • September 26, 2017

What do book lovers have queued up on their nightstands and ready to read before lights-out? We asked one of them, and here’s what she said.












Gretchen Rubin:

Reading is my work and my play, my cubicle and my treehouse.

I have a few rules for reading. If I don’t enjoy a book, I stop reading it without guilt. That way, I enjoy my reading more and have more time to read books that I love. Also, whenever I’m traveling for work, I read only for pleasure, so I actually look forward to a long plane ride.

And I read whatever I feel like reading, even if it’s not related to a subject that I’m researching or seems a little…trashy. I read whatever I feel like reading. As Samuel Johnson said, “A man ought to read just as inclination leads him; for what he reads as a task will do him little good.”

I always make sure to have a huge stack of books waiting for me. I love to read, and I also love to re-read, and I never want to be without many excellent books from which to choose.

For re-reading, I’m halfway through Eugene Delacroix’s Journal. It seems a bit unfair that someone who was such a brilliant painter was also such an excellent writer. I also just re-read Marilynne Robinson’s Home. I’m slowly re-reading all Robinson’s novels — I admire them so much. I’ve also been dipping into Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary, one of my very favorite books.

I’m looking forward to reading N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season. I was ready to crack it open when I discovered that my husband had snuck it out of my pile and is now halfway through it. So I have to wait for him to finish until I get my turn.

I love libraries, and my nightstand is stacked with several library books. My number finally came up on the waitlist for Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me; I’ve heard so much about it. I also have a copy of Rachel Kadish’s The Weight of Ink, which was recommended very highly by a bookish friend.

I’ve become obsessed with the subject of color, so I can’t wait to dive into John Gage’s masterly Color and Culture. It’s an enormous book, so it will certainly not travel far as I’m reading it.

Another of my obsessions is biography. I’ve written two biographies myself — Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill and Forty Ways to Look at JFK — and both were also meditations on the nature of biography. So James Atlas’ The Shadow in the Garden is on my pile.

Another obsession? I love children’s literature and young-adult literature. Among many books of kid-lit that I want to read, I have a copy of Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon. My pile also includes Brett Martin’s Difficult Men. It looks good, but I can’t remember how I heard about it. Often, I put books on my to-read list without remembering to note why I want to read it or who recommended it — which gives a certain grab-bag spirit to my reading.

So many books to read! There’s nothing that I enjoy more.

[Editor’s note: Gretchen Rubin will be discussing her new book, The Four Tendencies, with Chris Guillebeau at Sidwell Friends in Washington, DC, tonight at 7PM. Click here for info.]

Gretchen Rubin is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestsellers Better Than BeforeThe Happiness Project, and Happier at HomeOn her popular weekly podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin, she discusses good habits and happiness with her sister, Elizabeth Craft; they’ve been called the “Click and Clack of podcasters.” Fast Company named Gretchen to its list of Most Creative People in Business, and she’s a member of Oprah’s SuperSoul 100.

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