Book Review: The Happiness Revolution

by @edent | ,

Maybe I'm an old grump. But this book did not make me happy.

It starts off bad - then gets worse. We begin with a series of incorrect assumptions. Apparently, there's no antonym for Doomsday (Errr, how about "Rapture"?) and apparently no one ever investigates why a hospital is performing well (ummm... Yes they do!) and no one is ever described as "stark raving happy" (hello mania! Hello full-of-joy!). Oh, and we were all much more social before apps were invented by the iPhone 🙄

No doubt there's some actual science behind all the tips and tricks - but the publishers have convinced the authors that maths is scary and should be shunned from a science book.

The authors say that it is easy to accuse them of dumbing down. Well, it is easy because it is true. The first 10% of the book is taken up with them saying how wonderful the book is. It is exhausting reading about how pleased with themselves they are. The tone of voice is full of unasked for exclamation marks and italics.

I found myself skimming the endless tedious anecdotes, it feels like being trapped in a lift with Alan Partridge telling you why there's no point in going to India when you can just visit Ipswich (I swear I am not making this up). There are some basic science errors - like claiming that humans old age used to be mid-30s; which confuses life expectancy with life span.

Once we get into the book proper - about a quarter of the way through - there are some footnoted reference for those who prefer to dig a little deeper.

It's here where the book begins to offer some concrete advice and practical steps for increasing your happiness.

If you can slog through the bonhomie, there are some reasonable tips. But it feels like this could have been a couple of blog posts or motivational posters.

It's full to the brim with trite clichés and cherry-picked inspirational quotes. The final third is just allegories. Pointless poundshop parables.

I feel unhappy crapping all over someone's hard work. As I say, there's obviously some research behind this. But the chummy tone was immediately off-putting to me, and the relentless shaggy-dog stories make it a frustrating experience.

There are loads of pop-science books which sneak their vegetables of truth under the mashed-potatoes of comfort, but this book attempts to serve veggie-nuggets of self-help soaked in honey, dipped in sprinkles, covered in chocolate, deep-fried in maple syrup, dusted with sugar, wrapped in candyfloss, and served on a marshmallow.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy, I guess. The book is available now:

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