Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Review: The Happiness Project (Gretchen Rubin)

Image found at Goodreads

Publisher: Harper, 2010
Notes: I took this book out of the library.

A brief summary: "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." (from Goodreads)

My thoughts: Prior to reading this book, I had read Gretchen Rubin's blog (also titled The Happiness Project) and read many of her peers' work online. I was fascinated by the idea of happiness studies, mostly because the idea of studying happiness seemed so random and scattered.

This book is a personal journey—a memoir—where Gretchen Rubin both enhances her blog's content and adds new material. Her family is mentioned by name and given character and personality. You get a sense of Gretchen's personality as the book develops as well. I can kind of relate to her; I'm a list-maker, a task-doer, someone who likes structure and order.

At the same time, I always felt that Gretchen's blog was too hokey. I felt like it was preachy, and at times it seemed to miss the whole point of happiness. Spontaneity and fun and laughter seemed planned, stinted, or stiff.

This book
isn't like that at all. But what I did find is that this book seems to speak more to the issue of mindfulness. Perhaps one of my 'splendid truths' is that mindfulness begets happiness. When a person is more mindful, he is more cognizant of his behavior and his actions.

I also think that this book sounds like a personal quest to feel right and to feel in control of one's own emotions and behaviors. I think the word 'happiness' makes cynics everywhere feel automatic scorn for the concept or the reasoning behind this book, but the undertaking is well-developed and actually quite interesting.

I find Gretchen to be an interesting and engaging narrator, though she certainly takes her happiness seriously. Even her lighthearted fun is quite serious in nature.

Rating: 5 stars


  1. I'm so glad that you loved it too!! I was emailing back and forth with her for a while! She's super nice and personable!

  2. Yeah, she's definitely really nice. Her book was super inspiring, especially having been a reader of her blog for a long time!

  3. I really enjoyed this book! There were many times while I was reading the book that I'd think, "I do that too!".

    In one chapter the author was talking about how when she was a kid she had art set but she was "waiting for a special occasion" to use her new crayons and paint. But her parents ended up giving the art set away because she never used it. But she didn't want to mess up the nice crayons. I do the same thing! Usually with new clothes though. I have quite a few new shirts and dresses in my closet that I haven't worn yet because I'm waiting for somewhere 'nice' to wear them.

  4. I'm glad you liked it, Jen! Yeah, I also do the same thing. But I've started to use these things more (with the exception of high heels, which are only special occasion shoes) because it's not worth it to keep them in the closet or on a shelf.