As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

December 26, 2011

THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, by Gretchen Rubin, 2009

Gretchen Rubin had an epiphany one rainy afternoon in the unlikeliest of places: a city bus. "The days are long, but the years are short," she realized. "Time is passing, and I'm not focusing enough on the things that really matter." In that moment, she decided to dedicate a year to her happiness project. (Goodreads)

Reviewed by Katie Langston, reader, writer, lover of bad movies

Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project is readable, thorough, thoughtful, practical, and fun.   It’s a “stunt” memoir – a category of non-fiction that’s emerged over the past few years, wherein authors undertake a certain adventure or goal for a pre-set period of time, then write about their experiences.  (Think Julie & Julia, The Year of Living Biblically, or Eat Pray Love.)
Each month, Rubin picked several resolutions that she felt would improve her happiness.  They were far-ranging: “go to sleep earlier,” “take time to be silly,” and “write a novel” are just three of the 47 resolutions she attempted.  It was interesting to read about the research and thought processes that went into identifying her resolutions – and enlightening to discover how well they did or did not work for her.

From a philosophical perspective, I thought she tried to do a little too much – my experience is that happiness isn’t so much about doing as it is about being.  I wondered if Rubin weren’t a little too scattered in her approach, and as a result touched on several things lightly, but never got all the way into the heart.

Still, this was never supposed to be – nor was it pitched as – a deep, spiritual probe into the nature of happiness; instead, it was exactly as advertised: a fun, accessible overview of lots of different happiness-boosting tips and tricks.  There’s a little nugget of wisdom in here for everyone – one of the best popular self-help titles I’ve read in a while.

Market: Non-fiction, self-help, memoir
Language: mild
Sensuality: none
Violence: none
Mature themes: none

Book formats:


Anonymous said...

I've gotta read this! Good thing I gave it to you for your birthday, right Katie? May I borrow it? :) Terrific review, friend.

Katie L. said...

It's definitely a good thing you gave it to me! :-) You may certainly borrow it, friend, as long as you don't mind my random notes in the margins. :-)