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MCLS Booklists

Don't Worry Be Happy

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Happiness and the Good Life
By: Mike W. Martin

Summary: “What is happiness? How is it related to morality and virtue? Does living with illusion promote or diminish happiness? Is it better to pursue happiness with a partner than alone? Philosopher Mike W. Martin addresses these and other questions as he connects the meaning of happiness with the philosophical notion of "the good life." Defining happiness as loving one's life and valuing it in ways manifested by ample enjoyment and a deep sense of meaning, Martin explores the ways in which happiness interacts with all other dimensions of good lives--in particular with moral decency and goodness, authenticity, mental health, self-fulfillment, and meaningfulness. He interweaves a variety of examples from memoirs, novels, and films along the way, connecting his discussion of the philosophical issues to related topics that interest all of us: virtue, love, philanthropy, suffering, simplicity, balancing work and leisure, and much more. Drawing on wide-ranging and robust evidence, Martin also makes the case that we need a "politics of happiness" whereby government would apply the results of recent "happiness studies" in psychology to public policy.”                                                                                 

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Bonjour, Happiness!: Secrets to Finding Your Joie de Vivre
By:Jamie Cat Callan

Summary: “French women didn't invent happiness. But they know a thing or two about joie de vivre--being alive to each delicious moment.As a young girl, Jamie Cat Callan was fascinated by her French grandmother. Though she had little money, Jamie's grand-mère ate well, dressed well, and took joy in simple, everyday pleasures. As Jamie journeyed through France as an adult, she gained more insight into the differences between French and American women. French women--whether doctors, shop owners, or housewives--don't worry about being thin enough, young enough, or accomplished enough. They age gracefully and celebrate their bodies. They know how to balance their lives--to love food without overeating, to work hard but not too much, to relish friends and family, and still make time for themselves.”

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I Married You for Happiness
By: Lily Tuck

Summary: “The tale unfolds over a single night as Nina sits at the bedside of her husband, Philip, whose sudden and unexpected death is the reason for her lonely vigil. Still too shocked to grieve, she lets herself remember the defining moments of their long union, beginning with their meeting in Paris. She is an artist, he a highly accomplished mathematician--a collision of two different worlds that merged to form an intricate and passionate love. As we move through select memories, real and imagined, the author reveals the most private intimacies, dark secrets, and overwhelming joys that defined Nina and Philip's life together.”

Review: A breathlessly mannered, affecting new work by National Book Award-winner Tuck (The News from Paraguay) tracks a Boston wife's random, reflective chain of thoughts as she sits at her dead husband's bedside. Philip, a senior mathematician at an MIT-sounding institution in Cambridge, Mass., goes into cardiac arrest as he naps before dinner. Nina, a painter, and his wife of 42 years, decides to spend the night alone with Philip's body in their Boston bedroom, drinking wine, and remembering. The couple met in the early 1960s in Paris; she worked at an art gallery and read Natalie Saurraute; he was a student, steeped in numbers, probability theory, and the uselessness of reason in trying to prove infinity, or that God exists-Ø la Pascal. Layered memories, somewhat pell-mell, build suspense: from Philip's honeymoon confession (never mentioned again) of the consequences of a drunk-driving accident in his youth, to Nina's secret abortion, the father indeterminate; and their only child, Louise, now in her 30s, harbors a troubling hostility toward her mother. In the end, the love Nina and Philip have for each other is unproven and unpredictable, except in these small, vital snapshots that make up two lives closely shared, and beautifully portrayed in this triumph of a novel. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.– Publishers Weekly

Also Available In:  Audio Book, Downloadable Audio

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14,000 Things to be Happy About: The Happy Book
By: Barbara Ann Kipfer

Excerpt: This book represents 20 years of recording all the little things that make me happy. Beginning in the sixth grade with a tiny spiral notebook, I graduated to larger notebooks and finally to a personal computer that today contains more than a million bytes' worth of word-pictures. Words, and the images they create, can be a great source of pleasure and inspiration. Sometimes, on a gray day, I flip through this collection to cheer myself up; often I use it to get ideas about what to cook for dinner or something fun to do with my son on the weekend. As you read through these pages, give yourself time to conjure up your own images--to reminisce, wish, and dream. I hope you will find, as I did, that happiness comes from noticing and enjoying the little things in life. A stream-of-consciousness list pajamas at breakfast reed-fringed lagoons seeing the moon rise the feel of a rug under bare feet sweet fresh corn and tender baby green lima beans, drenched with cream the "snuggle right in" feeling a lake catching the last flecks of sunlight coming in over the pines the position of your head as you bite into a taco shadows cast by shutters against shiny white walls Excerpted from 14,000 Things to Be Happy About: The Happy Book by Barbara Ann Kipfer All rights reserved by the original copyright owners.

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Be Happy Without Being Perfect: How to Break Free From the Perfection Deception
By: Alice D. Domar and Alice Lesch Kelly

Summary: Do you think you would be happier if only you could lose weight, be a better parent, work smarter, reduce stress, exercise more, and make better decisions? You're not perfect. But guess what? You don't have to be. All of us struggle with high expectations from time to time. But for many women, the worries can become debilitating--and often, we don't even know we're letting unrealistic expectations color our thinking. Here, health psychologist Dr. Domar shows you how to break free from the perfectionist trap, with action plans that teach you how to: assess your tendency toward perfectionism in all areas of your life; set realistic goals; alleviate the guilt and shame that perfectionism can trigger; manage your anxiety with clinically proven self-care strategies; and get rid of unrealistic and damaging expectations.--From publisher description.

Review: “According to psychologist and Harvard Medical School assistant professor Domar (Self-Nurture), "everything is never perfect, and if you expect it to be, true happiness and contentment will always be out of reach." To teach women to create reasonable expectations for relationships, careers and their bodies, the authors offer quizzes to determine how much perfectionism is influencing readers' lives and interview women struggling with perfectionism. In a three-part process, readers are encouraged to identify, challenge and restructure detrimental thoughts. For example, a woman who decides her neighbor is a more creative parent than she is because the neighbor sews exquisite Halloween costumes should tell herself, "We all have strengths and weaknesses," and "I do some things better than she does." The authors also offer step-by-step techniques to tame the perfectionist beast, such as meditation, yoga, mini relaxations and journaling, and advise readers on setting realistic exercise and eating goals. Although much of the advice, written with journalist Kelly, is obvious and easier said than done, it's also sound and detailed and provides a good starting point for perfectionist readers.” Publishers Weekly

Author Website: Alice D. Domar, PhD
Alice Lesch Kelly

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The Great Eight: How to be Happy (Even When You Have Every Reason to be Miserable)
By: Scott Hamilton, with Ken Baker

Summary: An Olympic gold medal figure skater shares stories from the skating world, personal challenges, and divine miracles, and reveals eight secrets to finding hope in a life filled with challenges, difficulties, and career-ending odds.

Also available in: eBook

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The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death
By: Jill Lepore

Excerpt: Introduction In 1860, the year Abraham Lincoln was elected president, a lanky, long- nosed, twenty-three-year-old Yankee named Milton Bradley invented his first board game, played on a red-and-ivory checkerboard of sixty-four squares. He called it the Checkered Game of Life. Play starts at the board's lower left corner, on an ivory square labeled Infancy--illustrated by a tiny, black-inked lithograph of a wicker cradle--and ends, usually but not always, at Happy Old Age, at the upper right, although landing on Suicide, inadvertently, helplessly, miserably, and with a noose around your neck, is more common than you might think, and means, inconveniently, that you're dead. "The game represents, as indicated by the name, the checkered jour- ney of life," Bradley explained. There are good patches and bad, in roughly equal number. On the one hand: Honesty, Bravery, Success. On the other: Poverty, Idleness, Disgrace. The wise player will strive "to gain on his journey that which shall make him the most prosperous, and to shun that which will retard him in his progress." But even when you're heading for Happiness, you can end up at Ruin, passed out, drunk and drooling, on the floor of a seedy-looking tavern where Death darkens the door disguised as a debt collector straight out of Bleak House : the bulky black overcoat, the strangely sinister stovepipe hat.1 The history of games of life contains within it a history of ideas about life itself. The Checkered Game of Life made Milton Bradley a brand name. His company, founded in 1860, survived his death in 1911, the Depression, and two world wars. In 1960, to celebrate its centennial, the Milton Brad- ley Company released a commemorative Game of Life. It bears almost no resemblance to its checkered nineteenth-century namesake. Instead, Mil- ton Bradley's antebellum game about vice, virtue, and the pursuit of happi- ness was reinvented as a lesson in consumer conformity, a two-dimensional Levittown, complete with paychecks and retirement homes and medical bills. In Life, players fill teensy plastic station wagons with even teensier pink and blue plastic Mommies and Daddies, spin the Wheel of Fate, and ride along the Highway of Life, earning money, buying furniture, having pink and blue plastic babies, and retiring, if they're lucky, at Millionaire Acres.

In the 19th century, a Milton Bradley version of the British board game the Mansion of Happiness (known in recent decades as Life) became an enduring staple of American homes. The game raised in a playful way three perennial questions: how does life begin? what does it mean? and what happens when you're dead? With her characteristically sharp-edged humor and luminous storytelling, Harvard historian and New Yorker writer Lepore (New York Burning) regales us with stories that follow the stages of life ("begin[ning] with the unborn and end[ing] with the undead") in an attempt to explore how cultural responses to the questions have changed over time. This journey takes us to unexpected places: for instance, the practicality, politics, and ethics of breast pumps, and cryogenics as a form of resurrection. Through these stories, Lepore shows that as fertility rates changed and as life expectancies rose, the history of life and death, long viewed as circular ("ashes to ashes, dust to dust") became more linear, incorporating even secular ideas about immortality. Lepore's inspired commentary on our shared social history offers a fresh approach to our changing views of life and death. Publishers Weekly

Also Available in: Audio Book
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Spontaneous Happiness
By:Andrew Weil

Review: Weil's enormously successful blend of mainstream and alternative therapies has earned him the reputation as guru of integrative medicine. Here, he develops a guide to help patients beat back the blues. It couldn't come at a more opportune time. One in 10 people in the U.S., including children, takes antidepressants. Weil dissuades readers from expecting perpetual happiness, suggesting his program aims for "positive emotionality"-a far better destination than the roller-coaster ride between bliss and despair. He makes his case with what is becoming a signature formula: take the Western medicine your doctor prescribes, and then bend the "biomedical model" to incorporate alternative therapies, including supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and herbal remedies; meditation and other "spiritual" strategies. He reiterates "limiting information overload" as an integral part of the program. Despite plugging his Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine-and predictable endorsements from patients who've hopped on the bandwagon-this is more than a New Age prescription for contentment. Weil's revelations and insights from his own lifelong battle with depression lift this guide from a hip and clinical "how to" to a generous and heartfelt "here's how." Publishers Weekly

Also Available in:
Audio Book, Large Print
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Hector and the Search for Happiness: A Novel
By: Francois Lelord

Summary: A young pyschiatrist called Hector takes a trip around the world to try to understand what makes people happy or unhappy.

Review: 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. Publishers Weekly

Also Available in: Audio Book

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Too Much Happiness: Stories
By: Alice Munro

Summary: Tackling a variety of themes, such as love, loss, and redemption, author Alice Munro delivers a masterfully crafted collection of short stories.

Munro's latest collection is satisfyingly true to form and demonstrates why she continues to garner laurels (such as this year's Man Booker International Prize). Through carefully crafted situations, Munro breathes arresting life into her characters, their relationships and their traumas. In "Wenlock Edge," a college student in London, Ontario, acquires a curious roommate in Nina, who tricks the narrator into a revealing dinner date with Nina's paramour, the significantly older Mr. Purvis. "Child's Play," a dark story about children's capacity for cruelty and the longevity of their secrets, introduces two summer camp friends, Marlene and Charlene, who form a pact against the slightly disturbing Verna, whose family used to share Marlene's duplex. The title, and final, story, the collection's longest and most ambitious, takes the reader to 19th-century Europe to meet Sophia Kovalevski, a talented mathematician and novelist who grapples with the politics of the age and the consequences of success. While this story lacks some of the effortlessness found in Munro's finest work, the collection delivers what she's renowned for: poignancy, flesh and blood characters and a style nothing short of elegant.

Also Available in:
Large Print, Audio Book, eBook, Downloadable Audio

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Happiness Key
By: Emilie Richards

Meet four women who think they have nothing in common except the oyster-shell road that runs between their ramshackle beach cottages on a spit of land called Happiness Key. When her husband is sent to prison, pampered Tracy Deloche is left with twenty-five acres of Florida Gulf Coast sand, five tumbledown beach houses and no idea how to start over. An exile in a strange country, Janya Kapur has left her wealthy, close-knit Indian family for an arranged marriage to a man she barely knows. Plainspoken Wanda Gray is tired of watching her marriage fail, so she takes a job guaranteed to destroy it-if her husband cares enough to discover what she's doing. Since her daughter's death, widow Alice Brooks has grown forgetful and confused. Her son-in-law and granddaughter have come to stay, but Alice isn't sure she's grateful.When the only other resident of Happiness Key dies alone in his cottage, the four women warily join forces to find his family. Together, they discover difficult truths about their own lives and the men they love and uncover the treasure of an unlikely friendship. Meet four women who think they have nothing in common except the oyster-shell road that runs between their ramshackle beach cottages on a spit of land called Happiness Key.

Review: A divorcee is handed a swath of Gulf Coast Florida real estate in Richards's slow if involving latest. After Tracy Deloche's ex-husband lands in federal prison, she takes control of his Happiness Key development, which consists mostly of a handful of ramshackle cottages. Her tenants-Wanda Gray, Janya Kapur, Alice Brooks and Herb Krause-are misfits, but when Herb dies, Tracy goes on a quest to find his family that ends up forcing her to bond with her tenants in ways she never thought possible. In the meantime, the mismatched crew learns that in helping each other, they are really helping themselves. This quintessential beach read is full of intrigue, romance, comedy and a splash of mystery, and while it could be shorter and faster paced, the women at its center-and the problems they face-are fully believable. They deserve a better plot

Also Available in: eBook
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Secrets to Happiness: A Novel
By: Sarah Dunn

Dunn charts several New Yorkers' lives in this snappy novel. The spotlight most often falls on Holly Frick, a 35-year-old divorcee whose egg walls "are taking on the consistency of tissue paper as we speak." A writer whose cheeky first novel bombed, Holly now resides low enough on the TV totem pole to be cranking out after-school dreck with her gay pal Leonard. Meanwhile, her best friend, Amanda, is cheating on her husband, and Holly adopts Chester, a cute little dog with cancer whose hopeful approach to life mirrors Holly's. While Holly's love life follows a formula-familiar trajectory, Amanda's romantic flailing ensnares Holly, and Chester's destiny takes an unexpected turn that means big changes for both of them. Although cliches pop up (the supergay friend, a $1,200 purse splurge), the energetic and witty prose speeds along the narrative. It's smarter than the usual single-in-the-city fare, and funnier, too. Publishers Weekly


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