Sunday, November 18, 2012

Book review: Happier At Home

Happier at home
Till now I have restrained myself from writing reviews on two of my favorite books: Harry Potter series by J.K.Rowling and Happiness Project from Gretchen Rubin. I don't wish to mar the experience of learning from them by writing a meager review. But here I am,ready to review the much anticipated second book by Gretchen Rubin, Happier At Home.

With both of Gretchen's books the involvement I have shown while reading is special. I do not merely read the books but I engage with each and every idea presented in the book. I have read the lines, marked the words, wrote down the quotes, experimented the ideas in my routine, prodded every book enthusiast to give it a try (success rate 60%) and realized that I am similar to Gretchen on many levels. I did not need a book to tell me how to live a happi life but when I picked up Gretchen's first book I felt words were given to my thoughts and actions. I was already having my own happiness project. I was enthralled to read that many of my thoughts and actions could be described in scientific lingo and that they were result proven experiments by many researchers. The book proved to be a treasure chest as I read quotes from great thinkers on the lines of my thinking. Gretchen gave the objective certainty to many of my trial and errors!

Not even an year had passed by since I read Happiness Project and Gretchen released her second book. I was excited like a child to lay my hands on it but couldn't, for the exorbitant price of the book and for the lack of Indian priced sales of the book. Finally I got a very happi deal from flipkart and got the book for myself. I read it straight for half a day with only interruption of a night sleep in between. Though I had read and reread the free promotional chapters online several times, I was still all smiles when I opened the first page. I was up for a plethora of ideas.

Though Gretchen had done a pretty much exhaustive work on happiness in her first book, I wasn't skeptical about the content of her second book yet again centered around happiness. I was sure she would bring in a lot more fresh perspective and experiments to her book and I am happy that she didn't disappoint me. Happier At Home is Gretchen's project of boosting happiness in her home at the expense of her own efforts and not by nagging her family members to jump into the bandwagon. With the beginning of September, a new school year Gretchen decides to start a happiness project until May. Gretchen covers nine themes for the nine month period of her experiment such as possessions, marriage, parenthood, interior design (more of inner self design), time, body, family, neighborhood and now. With a lot of introspection and research on human psychology Gretchen tries, fails and retries to boost her already happy life.

This book is definitely not a self help book but as Gretchen herself claims, it is a self helpful book. You can read this book as an account of a person's life or as a behavioral essay. Its far from being branded a self help book. The writing style is very crisp and given the background of her lawyer days, Gretchen presents her cases with ample quotes, anecdotes and supporting research results. The scholarly tint to the book is always subtle and never done conspicuously. As Gretchen speaks of her family, friends and life its difficult to not get that 'feel good' mood.

A book is not good if it only gives facts and awe while the reading lasts; instead, a book becomes a good book if it inspires it's readers to stretch themselves to learn better and do more. In this league, Happier At Home is definitely a very good book. I can't recommend this book enough to everyone. If you want to know what living in the moment means, what testing one's capabilities means, what stretching your limits means then this is the book for you. I end my recommendation with a quote:
"Happiness, knowledge, not in another place, but this place,
not for another hour, but this hour"
-Walt Whitman


  1. So you finally read the book. I would want to read it too !

    I read the first book after you so highly recommended it and I liked it. She has suggested simple modifications in day-to-day life for a peaceful living. I was already following a few things she suggested and that's how Gretchen strikes a chord with her readers.

    1. Yes finally I finished reading this :)

  2. I have heard about 'The Happiness Project' and now I guess I need to pick it up soon.