BOOK REVIEW: The Happiness Project – by Gretchen Rubin

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Title: The Happiness Project
Author: Gretchen Rubin
Genre: Non Fiction, Self Help, Memoir
First published: December 29th 2009
Finished reading: December 16th 2015
Pages: 315
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“One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself.”

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I normally quite enjoy reading memoirs, but honestly I’m really not that into self help books. I decided to pick up The Happiness Project anyway since I got a free paperback copy at a book exchange earlier this month. I actually quite enjoyed the first part… The idea of investing time and start a project to bring more happiness to your life sounds interesting, but unfortunately reading about Gretchen Rubin‘s own experience started to turn into something annoying after a while. I mean, she pretty much already had a great life before the project: an according to her handsome and succesful husband, two healthy little girls, a job she loves and a great home in NY. I don’t mind her wanting to be happier, but she did come over as a bit hypocrite in some chapters. I know some people see her as a great example, but I personally would have preferred reading about someone with a bigger and more genuine challenge. As far as the prose: it shows that Gretchen Rubin did a lot of research for her project and I liked that she incorporated blog comments in her chapters. Do I agree with everything she said? No. But I do believe the right person might benefit from at least part of her message.

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Gretchen Rubin was taking the same city bus as she always did when she had the realization that “the days are long, but the years are short”. She also realized she wasn’t as happy as she could be and wasn’t focusing enough on the things that really matter. Hence the happiness project was born, where she wanted to try and focus on improving a different aspect of her life each month. Every chapter tells the story of her adventures during a specific month, giving advice and contemplating both the good and bad parts. Novelty and challenge turn out to be powerful sources of happiness, money can help buy happiness when spent wisely and small changes can truly make the biggest difference… All those conclusions and more can be found in the happiness project.

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Gretchen Rubin had some very interesting ideas in her book, but I can’t say I agree with all of them nor do I think her already almost perfect ‘before’ situation is the best example of a ‘proper’ happiness project. Everybody has the right to be happier and I’m not saying she was wrong doing the project OR writing about it, but I didn’t like her tone in some chapters. Would I recommend this read? Only if you like self help books and are interested in the theme.

BOOK REVIEW: The Time Keeper – by Mitch Albom

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Title: The Time Keeper
Author: Mitch Albom
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Fantasy
First published: September 4th 2012
Finished reading: October 7th 2015
Pages: 224
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“With endless time, nothing is special. With no loss or sacrifice, we can’t appreciate what we have.”

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I’ve had Mitch Albom‘s work on my radar for a while now, but I was hesitant to pick it up because I normally don’t really enjoy religious stories. The Time Keeper has been recommended to me various time though and I was promised this story was mostly spiritual/inspirational, which I can say is correct now I’ve finally read it. The Time Keeper is an intriguing story about the man who first invented time and how it evolved over six thousand years, and it really makes you think about how important time seems to be nowadays. It truly is an inspiring story that is also very well written. The only complaint I might have is that the ‘today’ characters, Sarah and Victor, just felt too superficial and I couldn’t really connect to them. But it is also clear that Mitch Albom mostly wrote this novel to make us think about the importancy we give time and how it can affect our lives in a negative way. I would definitely recommend this read if you enjoy the genre!

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When the first man succeeds in measuring time and invents the first clock, he is punished and becomes Father Time. He is banished to a cave for six thousand years and forced to listen to the voices of those asking for more time… When his soul is almost broken, he is hiven his freedom under one condition: fulfill the mission of teaching two earthly people the true meaning of time. Only then he will be able to return to his loved ones… He returns to our world and starts a journey to find the two people that he is supposed to teach. One wants to give up on life, while the other wants to live forever… Will he be able to show them the true meaning of time?

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The Time Keeper is without doubt a very interesting read with a strong message. I wasn’t convinced by some of the characters, but the chapters with the man that invented time, Dor, are excellent. This Mitch Albom novel is a quick read and very well written, and I would definitely recommend it if you normally enjoy these kind of reads. It definitely makes you see things in a different perspective!