Thursday: Real Life Reading

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin, 2009

This month, among other things, I resolved to finally start writing articles on MediumI know…. Not the most earth-shattering news is it… but for me it’s a semi-big deal because I am setting myself the challenge of writing 6 days a week, and actually doing it.

Again.. nothing earth-shaking in this except when you are the person saying you’ll do it and then you realise… holy moly… what the heck did I just commit myself to?


It’s Thursday and I fondly remember Thursday as being the day when, in 3rd grade, I got to go to the reading class… IN THE SIXTH GRADER’S ROOM!

I was always so excited to do this because they were reading books I really liked and because in true 1960’s style, there was a “reading corner” and I could sit on the carpet squares surrounded by big pillows, reading quietly for 45 minutes. It was heaven.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, or who had ever been alive.”

– James Baldwin

Why am I telling you all this?

Because I’ve decided to make Thursdays, my “book report” days on Medium. Yup! You heard me right, every Thursday I’ll be adding a review of a book I’ve read and hoping that you all will jump in and contribute your own thoughts and ideas and opinions (hint… especially if they contradict my own!)

Book Report #1

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. 2009

It may have been written almost a decade ago but this book, which I finally pulled from my office shelf on Monday, is still a timely read for anyone looking for ideas about kick-starting positive change in their own life.

The Good

What I loved about this book is that it is buoyant. Rubin gives an account of her year working to become happier and her observations of her experiment are interesting and yielded some practical examples of things that I would be willing to try in my own life.

It’s set up by months, with her topics for each month laid out in the way recipes are often laid out. It makes it easy to browse the book for quick ideas for myself and I liked that.

Rubin also writes a conversational narrative about her experience doing each months’ projects. She touches on the research that helped her form the topics and then leads us into a friendly description of how it went, what she observed and what she learned over the course of each month.

I felt myself being drawn into the reading the way I might be drawn into a “beach read”, it’s light and fun even when she is describing the recognition of her own self-proclaimed failings.

The Bad

While I did take exception to several times when Rubin’s gender-bias slips into her writing, I think she does a really great job of giving a personal slant on what could have been merely a self-help book of ideas.

By “gender-bias” what I mean is that there are certain statements she makes, that to me feel almost totally untrue. They are based on either her own beliefs or some research she read, that says that “both men and women find relationships with women to be more intimate and enjoyable than those with men”.

I’ll be honest- when I read that sentence I got mad enough to put the book down and yell, “that’s such bullshit!” Which startled my dog so much she opted to head towards the door and her bed outside on the porch.

I don’t think that’s a true statement. It not something that is true for me, and maybe it’s true or not true for you. Just a head’s up- don’t let that kinda thing keep you from reading the book, it doesn’t happen often. And yes, it does happen occasionally. Let’s write it off to 2009 ideas shall we? LOL

The Wonderful

AKA: my honest and unadulterated feelings about the book.

What I most liked about Rubin’s book was how she made me feel while reading it. She shows the messiness of her life and the fun and wonderful stuff as well. I can honestly say that while some aspects made me feel like I could never live up to her (very wonderful sounding) life, other areas I totally felt like I was “winning” the life comparison for whatever reason.

yes.. I know it’s never good to compare myself to anyone but heck… I’m human and we all do it from time to time.

On the whole it was a fun read, an interesting one because it gave me some new ways to think about life and about how I can increase my own happiness level. It’s always great getting someone else’s take on life and even though her life is really different from mine, ie, kids, hubby, NYC published writer….. there’s also the thing that we are human and we all deep down can help each other see new ways to be happier, healthier and love life more deeply.

What do you think? Have you read the book?

Browsed it? Fanned the pages on your way to the adventure shelves?

I’d love to hear what others think so put yer nimble fingers on your keypad and add your thoughts.