I’m in three book groups where we discuss children’s literature (no actual children attend), and I have a room in my apartment where I showcase my collection of beloved books

GRETCHEN RUBIN is the author of several books, including the New York Times bestsellers Better Than Before, The Happiness Project, and Happier at Home. Her books have sold nearly three million copies worldwide in more than 30 languages. On her popular 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”). Her podcast was named one of iTunes’ “Best Podcasts of 2015” and the Academy of Podcasters “Best Podcasts of 2016.” Fast Company named Gretchen to its list of “Most Creative People in Business,” and she’s a member of Oprah’s “SuperSoul 100.”

What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
I frequently give the book A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander. I’m not a visual person, but this book taught me to see the world around me in an entirely new way. It’s a brilliant way of analyzing experience and information. It’s haunting.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
I invested in three desktop computer monitors. I was afraid that having more than one monitor would make me feel overwhelmed and scattered, but in fact, having three monitors has dramatically increased my focus and efficiency while processing information. I can easily look something up while I’m writing, or copy information from the Internet into a piece I’m writing, or answer an email when referring to a document.

In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
I’m now a zealous low-carb eater. I quit sugar as well as high-carb foods like flour, rice, and starchy vegetables. At last, my sweet tooth has vanished—such a relief! Changing that habit made an enormous difference in my health and also in my sense of well-being.

I was persuaded to adopt a low-carb approach to eating when I read Gary Taubes’ book Why We Get Fat. I read that book, and overnight, I changed just about everything about the way I eat. For instance, these days, my daily breakfast is three scrambled eggs (with the yolks) and some form of meat (bacon, turkey, whatever’s in the fridge).

What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I’m a giant raving fan of children’s literature and young-adult literature. I’m in three book groups where we discuss children’s literature (no actual children attend), and I have a room in my apartment where I showcase my collection of beloved books.

I made a list of my 81 favorite works of children’s literature—what a joy it was to make that list! If I had to list just three books, I would cheat and list the names of three authors who’ve each written many books that I love: the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder; the Narnia books by C. S. Lewis; and the His Dark Materials books by Philip Pullman.

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