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A Short Guide to a Happy Life Hardcover – October 31, 2000
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"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
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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Top Customer Reviews
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."
Quindlen talks about leading a balanced life and not making work one's entire focus--she says "you cannot be really first-rate at your work if your work is all you are." and "Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work."
Her thoughts on mortality, which Donald talked about in his review, are powerful-- and applicable to all of our lives.
I certainly think Quindlen herself is a first-rate writer and thinker, and thank her for the valuable lessons in this book.
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
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....Basically, without awareness of mortality, we would
continue to waste our lives in pursuit of things that are not really,
after all, so important. This is what makes this a five star book
that you should read immediately . . . and remember for all the
remaining days of your life. It will make a wonderful gift for those
you love, and help bring you closer together.
Let me quote just once
more: "Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering
mica in a long stretch of gray cement." What a shame it would be
to miss one of those moments. If you skip this book, you will have
missed one, I'm afraid.
The message is powerfully reinforced by the
many beautiful black and white photographs of nature, companionship,
and youth in the book. Be sure to enjoy them, as well.
have finished reading this book, sharing it with others, and changing
your priorities, ask yourself a new question: If I only had today,
what would I do differently? Then ask that question every morning.
You'll be glad you did. So will we all.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Show up.. Be there..take ownership of your life