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Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness Hardcover – January 19, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0374114893 ISBN-10: 0374114897 Edition: First Edition
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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The study of happiness has become serious business. Gore finds the fact that virtually all its exponents are male intriguing and, to counterpoint such male domination, offers a female perspective. Positive psychology, as happiness-study is often called, has ignored women’s issues, she says. She proffers her own system for truly comprehending the concept of happiness, especially women’s personal happiness, by maintaining a happiness journal recording the happiest moments of each day. She presents interviews with hundreds of women, including “a council of experts” consisting of artists, service workers, scholars, psychologists, and women’s health-care providers. The search for happiness, she suggests, is spiritual as well as material. She discusses everyone from Thomas Jefferson and Norman Vincent Peale to graphic designer Harvey Ball, inventor of the ubiquitous smiley face. She distinguishes between forced cheerfulness and depression, scrutinizes the growing gender gap in the happiness sweepstakes, and comments on the trend toward treating anxiety and sadness with medication. Thoughtful, funny, and inspiring, Gore is a down-to-earth guide to the elusive human quest for happiness. --June Sawyers

About the Author

ARIEL GORE is the author of numerous books on parenting, the novel The Traveling Death and Resurrection Show, the memoir Atlas of the Human Heart, and the guidebook How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (January 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374114897
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374114893
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #893,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ariel Gore is an award-winning editor, memoirist, journalist, and fiction writer. She teaches online at http://literarykitchen.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By All My Travels on April 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Bluebird" cannot be typecast. It is not a self help book, nor a flat essay.
It is a true, no nonsense exploration of what happiness truly consists of.
Ariel Gore, though extensive research, countless quotes from women around her, with deep intelligence and compassion, takes us through all the accepted notions of what happiness should be like, and what women were taught to expect from an early age. Halfway through the book, suddenly and with no warning, everything becomes clear. There is no fake optimism, forced emotion, or New Age one-ness in the pages of "Bluebird".
But reaching the end, between the lines of this incredibly sharp study, well researched and truly personal without indulgence, the reader feels a true uplift, a real feel for what it means to be happy. Behind the words, there is a precious jewel glistening in the shadows. Ariel Gore's revelation is straightforward: the jewel is ours, ours to keep, ours to enjoy. It was ours all along, its beauty somewhat hidden behind our various dissatisfactions and frustrations. "Bluebird" gives it back to us, as logically and simply as in giving us the solution to a mathematical problem. Definitely a must read for women of all ages.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Phoebe B. Hyde on February 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this mix of research and personal experience, Gore faults the Positive Psychology movement (Seligman, Csikszentmihalyi and others)for ignoring or underemphasizing the differences in male and female happiness, and how it's gained. Gore's own study of women's happiness--performed by collecting journal entries and forming "expert" panels of women-- is interesting, but only feels incisive and truly informative in the last quarter of the book. While I enjoyed reading Bluebird and find many of its insights useful, I often found myself wishing A.G. had either come down hard on the side of personal narrative, or hard on the side of research and investigation. Gore's highly readable middle ground loses some of the lyricism of memoir and the intellectual rigor of topically-driven nonfiction. I'd love to see her let her self-identified "nerdy" side loose on a topic like this. Nevertheless, a book I would give to friend and recommend; a book I'm glad someone has written.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Christina Bruni on April 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Ariel Gore's overreliance on women who are married and have kids was the prime drawback of this book for me. Also: her contention that depression is not a real illness that sometimes requires medication. Tell that to a person who is suicidal. Tell that to a person whose life became sunnier once she took an anti-depressant.

Overall: a good book.

Yet: what if you are a woman who feels society did not abuse you? What if you chose your own life from an early age and are quite happy with the results? Ariel Gore doesn't talk about this. I would've like to see more "experts" whose lives mirrored my own weigh in. I honestly couldn't relate to a lot of them even though I'm a woman.

Without the drawbacks I would've given it four stars.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Darin M. Shaw on January 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Women and happiness.

Ariel Gore weaves together the findings of recognized authorities (most of them men), commonly cited studies (most done on male subjects), the experiences of a hundred real women (imagine that!), and her own life experiences, to paint a picture of what women are up against in a search for happiness. Be they women of traditional values or feminists, married or single, raising families or running corporations, happiness can be equally elusive.

In eighteen years of pastoral ministry and counseling, few books have given me as insightful and honest a look into the heart of this matter as Bluebird. If you're a preacher, pastor, or counselor, and you want to understand the hand that the women you minister to are dealt by society, this book is a worthy read. I'll also recommend this book to the women in my congregation, that they might reject the psychology that has failed them and be encouraged: cultivating true happiness is hard work, but good work.

Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deb on September 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book made me happy. So happy that I read it twice.

A (wo)manifesto for happiness, _Bluebird_ tailors the newly emerging field of positive psychology to fit the rest of us--i.e., females. As Ariel herself explains: "This is a book about shaping our own realities--about better understanding our emotional lives so we might become more active players in their creation--so I think it's important to consider in what ways we create our realities. Because as it turns out, women's notions about personal happiness are all tangled up with our ideas about privilege, selfishness, and social responsibility."

And, Ariel's book helps us untangle ourselves from those ingrained societal ideas and scripts about happiness.

Sure--as the prolific research flying off the presses of positive psychology is showing--ingredients such as kindness, gratitude, meditation, relationships, inspiration, accomplishments, and metaphysical worthiness are essential for our happiness. But, as Ariel uncovers, even more crucial is being able to rejoice in the midst of suffering. In her own brilliantly illuminating words, Ariel concludes that:
"There is no 'happily ever after.' There is only meditation, action, change, friendship, idea, inspiration, creation.
We spin this light out of darkness."

Other crucial factors of happiness she discovers include having the courage to question the "scripts for happiness" and being able to cultivate a "a childlike curiosity coupled with a very grown-up understanding of self-respect and self-protection."

In contrast to other books on happiness, this one does not offer a one-size-fits-all script. Instead, it teaches us how to lose the societal scripts and create our own beautifully improvised life performances by tuning in to our innate preferences for joy.

Happiness is in the heart of the beholder.
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