The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying To Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen RubinSelf-Help
Self-help is a new genre before, one I hadn't needed and didn't particularly want to try. However, the buzz generated over this book captured me. I read reviews and interviews with people who said the book changed their way in some profound and meaningful way.
I have one question to ask those people: How?
The book is divided into 12 different chapters, one for each month of the year whereby the author dedicates that month to changing something in her life: career, marriage, children etc. Overall, it sounds like a great idea. However, the "advice" generated in the book is alarming. Her big marriage advice was to treat her husband "nicer". If you are shallow enough to not already treat your spouse nicely, I doubt your marriage will be saved by the book. As for children...apparently, the lesson is don't let their whining annoy you. As a mother of two, good luck with that and that came with the program, so suck it up. The whole book just seemed so ridiculous to me. I can't think of one piece of advice I gleaned that wouldn't be so obviously apparent for anyone with an ounce of self-reflection.
What bothered me most of all about this book is the obvious attempt just to sell. The author is very clear about her purpose in writing to be just to sell books. So, in this book, she gathered all her blog entries from other readers and tacked them in. Not all the entries were relevant or interesting and it just felt like an attempt to make the book thicker. There are also lots of quotes and "studies" about happiness, more obvious attempts to fill the pages with something relevant. The title kind of got my goat, too. A year trying to fight right? Can't recall an instance where the author was really focused on anything other than her own selfish pursuits. Read Aristotle? Not a chapter in the book so I'm not sure how it made it to the title other than to make the book seem more worthy.
You want some happiness? Save the money you would normally spend on this book and look elsewhere. Buy yourself a latte, a bouquet of flowers, take your spouse or boyfriend out for a hot dog, buy a stranger some balloons...