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Hector and the Search for Happiness Paperback – Bargain Price, August 31, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118390
  • ASIN: B004J8HWX2
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #941,534 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This trite debut follows a psychiatrist named Hector as he attempts to understand "what made people happy." At a crossroads professionally and personally, Hector resolves to take a trip, first landing in China, where he reconnects with an old friend and encounters Ying Li, with whom he spends a night. He also meets an old monk who offers a bit of happiness-related wisdom. Having suffered disappointment in his relations with Ying Li, Hector next heads to Africa, where he makes the acquaintance of a drug lord with a depressed wife, is kidnapped, and learns that "it's harder to be happy in a country run by bad people." Next up is the "big country where there were more psychiatrists than anywhere else in the world" and a meeting with a professor of "Happiness Studies." Lelord, a psychiatrist, writes in the simple prose you'd find in a children's book, and this stylistic choice quickly becomes irredeemably grating. Though the book is an international bestseller, it is far less a novel than a maudlin self-help guide that substitutes pat aphorisms for development.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Utterly charming...Hector and the Search for Happiness turns psychological research into a fast-paced, enchanting story. Lelord himself is a psychiatrist, and his interest in the human mind is infectious... Fans of Eat, Pray, Love and The Elegance of the Hedgehog won't want to miss this gem of a book."
-BookPage

"Unexpectedly cheering."
-The Independent (London)

"Even the most aloof, the most detached reader will be won over by this book."
-Cosmopolitan (Germany)

"A feel-good gem . . . Francois Lelord has created a 21st-century hero."
-Good Housekeeping (UK)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

That said it was a really nice book that I thoroughly enjoyed!
applebaum8
Written in a very simple manner, I found this book utterly charming.
Kristin
And for a book about happiness, it felt a little sad throughout.
Gigi Griffis

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Z. Barr on January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback
My name is Zach and I work as a loss prevention associate at well known chain of stores in the US. Over the past few weeks I kept noticing a book in our "bargain bin" titled "Hector and the Search for Happiness". On a whim I decided to buy it because I had recently finished all of the books I had received as Christmas presents and thought that the title was interesting.

Needless to say, I was on my lunch break and found myself devouring this book. Page by page I found myself not only loving the whimsical writing style but the simplicity of the character and his encounters. I have noticed that a lot of people have written negative reviews about this book because it seemed so childish...which I found amusing because who in the world can claim they are more happy than a child? Anyway, after reading the book I found myself reflecting more and more about the true meaning of the book which led me to a few conclusions. First of all, I believe this book was specifically written this way because most people dig far too deep into the issues that make them unhappy. If this book has taught us anything it is that happiness is solely reflective of the simplicity of happiness. Be happy about your friends and family, be happy about your ability to survive, be happy about the things that would make you happy if you weren't as fortunate as you are now, etc...I must have read at least 50 reviews that claimed the book was too basic and I think that all those people have unfortunately missed the point. Over-analyzing brings unhappiness. If you think in terms of simplicity, you will find that Hector's adventures are true for all of us. Sure, he dabbles in some questionable behavior throughout the book but what reader hasn't?
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By K Sprite VINE VOICE on August 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have totally mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, you have to really give some love to someone who writes a book about happiness. There seemed to be a lot of thought put into this book, genuine research with real scientists at UCLA who study what makes people happy, because it is somewhat of an art and skill that can be learned. So kudos to the author for writing a book that tries to share with us his the formula for happiness. And really, there are some good reminders in there for us. If you write down the list (that Hector keeps), which is a pretty simple list, you can pretty much keep remind yourself of when you are straying from thoughts and behaviors that keep you happy. Though some are intagible, like "Living in a country where the government treats you well." So, I compliment the author on his good intentions.

Ok, so why only three stars? I found the whimsical parable-like children's book style of writing to be completely inconsistent with the character's behavior. It seemed kind of charming and adorable at first, but then it got totally annoying. Especially since you'd be skimming along quite nicely, thinking it was a Universal tale with Universal themes (and thus the parable-like narration)and then next thing you know the author is sleeping with a prostitute. Of course, the character writes in such a naive tone that he didn't realize it was a prostitute - Oops! But I thought that was really jarring - especially since the main character, Hector, had a girlfriend at home when he did this. He went off and slept with another woman too, just because he could. I realize that he is a young French man, and that is what young boys can do in their quest for happiness, but it really didn't fit in with the tone of the book at all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Chel Micheline TOP 100 REVIEWER on February 8, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed this book, but I definitely wouldn't say it changed my life or impacted my levels of happiness in any real way.

Hector is a psychiatrist who decides to take a trip around the world to see how happiness is cultivated. Along the way he learns simple lessons from the people he comes in contact with- everyone from the fellow traveler who is no longer happy to fly in business class (a nice upgrade for most of us) because he's flown in first class too many times, the beautiful call girl in Asia who has lovely possessions but is unable to enjoy them because of the work she does, a businessman who is so obsessed with his job that he can't enjoy the fortune it brings him, monks in a temple who share simple philosophies on the every day, etc.

It was a sweet little book, to be sure, but definitely nothing I haven't read before. It's almost written like a children's book (the narrative and tone, *not* the content, although I liked the sly humor in which "adult" situations were described).

It's an interesting twist on the same theories of happiness that are bounced around by virtually every self-help author out there. But Hector was sweet and quirky, as was his travels, so it was all a new approach. Not the best book I have ever read, but I enjoyed joining Hector on his search for happiness.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. E. Handley on August 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wasn't really sure what to expect with this book, but it was decent. It was a quick read.
What I liked: It asked some "big" questions in simple terms. Hector was realistic in his thought processes. He wasn't entirely likable, but no one is if you see all of their flaws.
What I didn't like: Very simplistic. I know that was the point, but I thought it would be take a more in depth look at philosophy. That was my hope, at least. It also spoke of all his travels as "far away lands." I'm assuming this was so all the places were more relate-able and so as not to offend any particular country. It seemed a little ridiculous in some parts, though. You could obviously tell when he was talking about Africa or China. Not simply saying it out loud irritated me a little. Hector was written to be the "every man," but that's a lot to try to fit into just one character. I would have liked to see more development in the other characters, though I know that was not the point.

I will be reading Hector and the Secrets of Love: A Novel at some point, though. I'm hoping it's at least as good as this one.
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