Ask the Author: Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin, five-time bestselling author, discusses The Happiness Project along with her latest book Outer Order, Inner Calm.



Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporter

Gretchen Rubin is the author of five bestselling books, including The Happiness Project. The Happiness Project was published on December 29, 2009. On Sept. 29, Rubin gave a lecture to University of Iowa students about The Happiness Project and her latest book Outer Order, Inner Calm. Rubin was her own test subject while writing The Happiness Project, as she completed a yearlong experiment to see if she could make herself happier. Each month she dedicated herself to a specific theme, whether it be work, love, or energy. Within the month she would create resolutions aimed at achieving her goal, she then compiled all her findings into her book. Outer Order, Inner Calm discusses how,  for many people, outer order contributes to inner calm.

DI: What drew you to write these sort of self-help books?

Rubin: With my first book, The Happiness Project, I had asked myself the question, what do I want from life? I thought well, I want to be happier, but I realized I didn’t spend any time thinking about if I was happy, or if I could get happier. So, with that, I was like ‘Oh, I should do a happiness project.’ I went to the library and got a giant stack of books, and as I did more and more research, I got more and more interested in the subject. I think I became interested in happiness for myself, and then I just got deeper and deeper into it.

DI: When you sit down to write, what are some things that you think about?

Rubin: I’m very subject-driven, so I’ll become really preoccupied with the subject. The book that I’m writing now is all about the five senses and how they can give us a feeling of vitality and happiness. First, I was very interested in color, then I became interested in the sense of smell. I started doing tons of research about the five senses and at some point, I was like, ‘Wow, maybe there’s a book here.’ I became incredibly excited; ‘What’s this book going to be? What do I need to learn?’ So, I’m always going through reading and taking notes. Then it starts taking shape as a book and I start adding more observations and plugging in all the pieces so that it starts to make sense.

DI: Do you plan on writing more books centered around The Happiness Project or are you going to go on a different path?

Rubin: I’m working on a book right now about the five senses, and that’s very much related to happiness. So, it’s not that I would never leave the subject of happiness, but it’s so fascinating that every time I come to the end of one book, I’m already really interested in a new angle that I want to investigate and explore. At this point, I don’t see beyond it, but I could imagine that it could happen at some point.

DI: What is your favorite book and why?

Rubin: I cannot choose. I love so many books of all different kinds. I love nonfiction, I love memoir, I love fiction, I love children’s literature, I love science fiction. I do not love mysteries, which is unusual since those and thrillers are so popular. If you say to me, ‘What is a book I think everyone should read?’ I would say Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I love, love, love that book, but I have other books that I love with all my heart just as much so I cannot choose, it would just blow my circuits to try and pick one.

Facebook Comments