Summary and book reviews of A Short Guide To A Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

A Short Guide To A Happy Life

by Anna Quindlen

A Short Guide To A Happy Life
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  • Published:
    Oct 2000, 112 pages

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Book Summary

"We have to teach ourselves now to live, really live...to love the journey, not the destination."   Quindlen guides us with an understanding that comes from knowing how to see the view, the richness in living.

"Life is made of moments, small pieces of silver amidst long stretches of tedium. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won't happen. We have to teach ourselves now to live, really live...to love the journey, not the destination."

In this treasure of a book, Anna Quindlen, the bestselling novelist and columnist, reflects on what it takes to "get a life"--to live deeply every day and from your own unique self, rather than merely to exist through your days. "Knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God ever gives us," Quindlen writes, "because unless you know the clock is ticking, it is so easy to waste our days, our lives." Her mother died when Quindlen was nineteen: "It was the dividing line between seeing the world in black and white, and in Technicolor. The lights came on for the darkest possible reason....I learned something enduring, in a very short period of time, about life. And that was that it was glorious, and that you had no business taking it for granted." But how to live from that perspective, to fully engage in our days? In A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen guides us with an understanding that comes from knowing how to see the view, the richness in living.

I'm not particularly qualified by profession or education to give advice and counsel. 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. I have a good eye for a nice swatch and a surprising paint chip, and I have had a checkered but occasionally successful sideline in matchmaking.

But I've never earned a doctorate, or even a master's degree. I'm not an ethicist, or a philosopher, or an expert in any particular field. Each time I give a commencement speech I feel like a bit of a fraud. Yogi Berra's advice seems as good as any: When you come to a fork in the road, take it!
I can't talk about the economy, or the universe, or academe, as academicians like to call where they work when they're feeling kind of grand. I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is really all I know.

Don't ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Salon

With her cloying new inspirational book, Anna Quindlen joins Martha and Oprah as the latest example of a secular savior.

Amazon - Gail Hudson

"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. --

Reader Reviews

Tony Brown

This book compelled me to write my own!
The advice in Anna Q's book is profound and immediate. If you liked this book, then you must check out "A Happy Guide to a Short Life - A Response to Ms Quindlen's Fine Book". It provides a sturdy framework for Quindlen's advice with a very ...   Read More

Peter Howard

I think this is a very good book, like a poem. It's just a very good book. I am reading it for my 4th grade summer reading and am doing a book report on this book. I also hope to interview the author soon. She is a neighbor of mine.

Sadman sam

This is a really great book now i am finally happy

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