bright red title on white background with spilled bowl of red cherriesThis book got featured in a couple of Friday cat pictures here at Mad Times. A friend at work suggested the book based solely on the author’s smart ass sense of humor. But more about that later. The book is not really a self help book. It’s more of a description of what psychologists know about what makes us happy and what keeps us from being happy. There are 388 footnotes in this book and almost all of them refer to a specific experiment conducted to measure some aspect of human happiness. (Lest that scare you off, let me say that I only know this because they’re end notes and so they were all in one place to be added up. I only read the first footnote in the book which helpfully assured me that I wouldn’t be missing much more than references if I didn’t read any of the others.) So the book isn’t an opinion piece, it’s closer to a friendly survey of the literature.

I don’t remember the specific points Gilbert makes in the book. Part of that is because I read it sporadically and failed to take any notes along the way. But I’m afraid I have to lay some of the blame for my lack of retention on the author’s (and editors’) shoulders. Remember the smart ass sense of humor? It really is pretty funny. The problem is that the jokes don’t generally serve the subject matter very well. His examples are colorful, but the glitz overshadows the message. I wish I had taken notes because I think I could benefit from some reflection on his points about the ways in which we fail to accurately predict what actions will make us happy. But to get back there now I’d basically have to reread the book and I can’t quite dredge up that much interest. Maybe my work friend took notes and will share.