Monday, July 1, 2013

The Happiness Project - by Gretchen Rubin

A few years ago I did a year long project called "My Year of Reading 'Year Of' Books" during which I read books of the sort of "stunt lit" genre that Rubin writes in her year-long quest to become a happier person. She does a fair amount of research about how to be happy and takes action on it, keeps track of her own progress with a chart, and keeps her own blog throughout. As with the other "year of" books I read, the author does see changes in herself, and in this case, becomes a happier person. She does recognize that it does take a lot of work to be happy.

One thing I noticed while I was reading so many "year of" books was that they so often referred to each other, or more interestingly, unintentionally referred to similar themes or lessons. And so it was with Rubin's book. She specifically mentions two books that I read during my "year" (Julia and Julia by Julie Powell; and The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion) and also discovers what A.J. Jacobs did in his Year of Living Bibically about "fake it 'til you make it" - essentially smiling even though you don't feel happy. Both Rubin and Jacobs found that it did work to some extent.

Every once in a while, I lose a book that I'm reading, and therefore lose the bookmarks I had placed to remind me what I wanted to write in my blog (see my posts on The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Peace Like a River). Such was the case with this one. The difference here was that I was reading The Happiness Project as an e-book. I had downloaded it from my public library, and then after I'd read about 3/4 of it dropped my iPad in the driveway. I was able to replace the machine, and all my apps were transferred, but the two books I had downloaded onto "Overdrive" were gone. I was able to download them again without incident, but, alas, all the bookmarks were gone. Fortunately, I had also made some notes in blogger, so I can readily write about the two most significant library bits of this book. Most importantly this is the first non-fiction book I've read in which romance blossomed at the library: Rubin met her husband at the library when they were both in law school. And, almost just as important, Rubin writes poetically about how happy the library makes her
Returning from vacation made me appreciate my beloved library anew. This library, just one block from my apartment is perfect: a beautiful building, open stacks, internet access, a terrific children's section, and a quiet study room in which to do my writing...I'd been going...several times a week for seven years - but my brief absence reminded me how much I loved it...
It seems that whatever else I may have marked about libraries would have paled next to these.

Read more about Rubin's project and find out how to conduct your own "happiness project" at

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