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A Short Guide to a Happy Life Hardcover – October 31, 2000


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"O's Little Book of Happiness"
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (October 31, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375504613
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375504617
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (224 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"I'm not particularly qualified by profession or education to give advice and counsel," confesses author Anna Quindlen, as she begins this tender little instruction book. "It's widely known in a small circle that I make a mean tomato sauce, and I know many inventive ways to hold a baby while nursing, although I haven't had the opportunity to use any of them in years."

It is precisely this commonplace form of wisdom that make readers trust and respect Quindlen. She uses her candid, heart-to-heart narrative voice along with her novel-writer descriptive skills to show readers how good we have it: "Life is made up of moments, small pieces of mica in a long stretch of glittering gray cement." Later she urges readers to "Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the backyard with the sun on your face." The format smacks of "gift book," with an abundance of pleasing, artsy photographs. Don't be ashamed to fall for the packaging, though. This is one of those books that could remain in the living room for years or in the family for generations. --Gail Hudson

From Booklist

The beloved Newsweek columnist on how to get a life. Little as well as short. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

I read this enjoyable book in about 10 minutes.
Jennifer
That early loss changed Ms. Quindlen's perspective on life, and she thinks it will eventually and should now change yours, too.
Donald Mitchell
The only thing that keeps me from giving this book 5 stars is that I find this little book really a bit too little.
C. N. Seong

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

289 of 297 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on November 4, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Tuesday I was at the bookstore when it opened to buy this book. I bought a copy for myself and one for my daughter, then went to sit on a bench overlooking the ocean to read it.
This tiny gem of a book contains many thoughts that are just common sense until you see them written down. Then they become points to ponder, to think about and mull over in your mind and heart. Which is exactly what I did after finishing...I sat and looked out at the sea, thinking about what I had just read.
Much of the text of this book was part of a commencement address that Quindlen was to give at Villanova. She released the speech after she cancelled and I have been told that it was so well-received that she was asked to put it into book form.
This is a book to savor and to read over and over again and to give as a gift to a loved one. I plan to return to the bookstore to buy several more copies.
Some of the thoughts in the book:
On life: "there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul."
On being a mother, a wife, and a friend: "I show up. I listen. I try to laugh."
On being charitable and good to others: "if you do not do good... then doing well will never be enough."
And on living for today: "I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.
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229 of 237 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a great little book. It seems like we all know what the aurhor is saying but we need a gentle reminder each day. If you are looking for a gift for a loved one, I would recommend that you buy this book and the book An Encounter With A Prophet and combine the books as one gift. Little is the only negative about the entire book. I wish there was more of it
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122 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Most books take the vantage point of the author being an expert in the
subject or a celebrity. A Short Guide to a Happy Life claims to come
from neither foundation, even though the Ms. Anna Quindlen will be
well-known to many for her best-selling books and Newsweek
columns.
Instead her perspective in this book is a humble and common
one, that of someone who experienced what we will all experience in
due course, but at an earlier age -- the loss of her mother to ovarian
cancer when her mother was 40 and the author was 19. That early loss
changed Ms. Quindlen's perspective on life, and she thinks it will
eventually and should now change yours, too. "Do you think you'd
care so very much about [your career] if you developed an aneurysm one
afternoon, or found a lump in your breast while in the shower?"

She describes her qualifications for describing the happy life,
"I am a good mother to three children. I have tried to never let
my profession stand in the way of being a good parent."

"I am a good friend to my husband."
"I am a good
friend to my friends, and they to me." ....
Now that you have
the perspective, what is Ms. Quindlen's prescription for you:
"Get a life in which you are not alone." "All of us
want to do well. But if we do not do good too, then doing well will
never be enough."
The simplicity and ordinariness of that
perspective gives it a power and eloquence that the expert and the
famous person cannot command.
But what was remarkable for me was
the insight that she shares with us, that I would never have developed
on my own....
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71 of 77 people found the following review helpful By Jeff Benson on November 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
A beautifully written essay (combined with exquisite black-and-white photos) about what's really important in life ("It's so much easier to write a resumé than to craft a spirit"). It's very short; it's the kind of book that can be read in one sitting. However, it's also the kind of book that SHOULD be read over and over again. Highly recommended for anyone who's grown tired of the urgency addition that pervades the normal American lifestyle.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Adelman on November 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having lost my beloved 12 year old son to brain cancer, I am always drawn to authors who have faced adversity & loss in their own lives. Anna knows in her heart of hearts how to look at the sky for beauty and hope, so she can teach us something....which she certainly does in this wonderful little book. She gives new meaning to the words "get a life"...how to use our losses to help us see the real beauty of each day. I shall certainly buy this book for my college-age daughter. Thanks, Anna!
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 20, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have always liked Anna Quindlen's writing, but this book was truly disappointing. There is not much more to this tiny book than "you should get a life, and appreciate it." Over half the pages are unoriginal stock photos (and black and white at that).
If you want a little book filled with truly thought-provoking advice on living a happy life, I highly recommend "Open Your Mind, Open Your Life" by Taro Gold.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


More About the Author

Anna Quindlen is the author of three bestselling novels, Object Lessons, One True Thing and Black and Blue, and three non-fiction books, Living Out Loud, Thinking Out Loud and A Short Guide to a Happy Life. Her New York Times column 'Public and Private' won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992. She is currently a columnist for Newsweek and lives with her husband and children in New York.

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