Hector is a Parisian psychiatrist who has a bit of a crisis of psychiatric faith; his patients and their trivial complaints have begun to wear on him. The novel Hector and the Search for Happiness by Francois Lelord is the story of Hector’s travels around the world (China, Africa and the United States). From each experience he learns something more about happiness. His list includes, “Making comparisons can spoil your happiness” and “Happiness is doing a job you love.”
This follows the study-of-happiness trend set by Eric Weiner’s travelogue, The Geography of Bliss – (see previous blog post).
And more recently, Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way. Dan Buettner, like Weiner, searches the world (Denmark, Mexico, Singapore and others) for secrets to happiness. San Luis Obispo, California is singled out as a city that made conscious decisions about favoring pedestrians, no smoking zones and building a greenbelt years ago. This has produced a healthier, happier city (ranked first in well-being according to a recent survey).
No excuses then for being down in the dumps, when there’s a wealth of research telling you how (and where) you can be happy.
This book is written by a dog. Granted, a very special dog — a golden retriever named Trixie. And even though Trixie passed away in 2007, she is still, remarkably, writing books. Of course, it probably helps that she was owned by bestselling author Dean Koontz, who may still have a little something to do with her success. In fact, Koontz states that the Trixie page on his website is one of the most visited features.
Trixie has inspired several books, including A Big Little Life, in which Koontz wrote about his relationship with his beloved pet. But she’s also inspired some new children’s books, such as I Trixie, Who Is Dog , the rights to which have recently been purchased in order to create a new family comedy show. But her speciality is definitely books such as Life is Good or Bliss to You, which are written in dog-speak, as is if Trixie is narrating the story. Though for the most part, this is utterly charming, I’ll warn any ex-English teachers out there (myself included) that dogs apparently do not always use correct syntax. Still, the book is warm, funny, inspirational and short –you can easily find bliss in one short sitting — making it an ideal gift for dog-lovers come Christmas time.
One other reason to support these books: since Trixie originally served as a Canine Companions for Independence (before she went to live with Dean and Gerda) all royalties are donated to this organization.
If you’re a fan of public radio, you’ll love the audio version of this “travelogue of ideas.” Eric Weiner is the reader; as an NPR reporter, he knows how to edit his stories so they make for compelling listening, as well as reading.
To research The Geography of Bliss, Weiner decides to visit countries that rate at the high and low ends of various happiness indexes. The journey, of course, is more interesting than the goal, and we are immersed in the cultures of Iceland, Bhutan, Holland, Switzerland and others. Weiner, with his dark sense of humor, never takes himself or his quest too seriously and makes for a very accomplished narrator. What is the happiest place on earth? You’ll have to read or listen yourself.