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3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  2,563 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
An emotional balancing act of Herculean proportions, Will Ferguson's debut novel is somehow both caustically cynical and touchingly humane. Its message: there is no happiness without sadness. The pursuit of happiness is all--actually attaining it, if that were even possible, would be death. When Edwin de Valu, an editor at Panderic Press, finds What I Learned on the Mounta ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 17th 2001 by Penguin Canada
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Aug 28, 2016 Snotchocheez rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

As much as I enjoy quirky satire, few books have consistently made me laugh--and think--like Will Ferguson's 2001 unexpected (albeit a wee bit dated) delight Happiness(TM), a book that hilariously yet poignantly eviscerates Americans' consumerist bent and the pursuit of happiness at any cost. He focuses his sights on the publishing world: specifically the Random Houses and HarperCollinses and Simon & Schusters responsible for churning out Self-Help books (everything from fad diet re
Apr 25, 2009 Rumi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book on a whim. It was hardback, categorized under "Psychology" and it had its price dropped from $24 to 9 leva (which is about $4.50) I liked its name and cover so I took it. Later on, I remembered the last time I did that: I was unpleasantly surprised by a chick-lit with no literary value whatsoever. The sole reason I chose that book was its title - "Wish Me Sunflowers", which, I later discovered, was a huge mistranslation. (Really, what does this have to do with "Remember Me"?!) ...more
Apr 26, 2012 Sasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys redemption, wit, and foriegn verbage.
Hate overly buzzed-out-on-bliss New Agers constantly trying to choke you with Depak Chopra and Conversations with God? Tired of colon clensings, mediums, crystal chakra aligning, "only thing positive", doped out on wheat-grass leisure class America?

Me too.

Read this book. It's hilarious, it's realistic (in the most outrageously allegorical way), it's snappy and ugly, it's pissed off and dejected, it's decadent and insecure. It's hellbent on showing that real life is grand and spectacular, even if
Ron Charles
Forget the problem of evil. The problem of goodness gets all the attention lately. Nick Hornby took a stab with "How To Be Good," a comic novel just out in paperback that shows the destruction of an average family when Dad devotes his life to charity. Carol Shields's recent "Unless" pursues essentially the same plot, but this time, it's the daughter who disrupts life with her decision to drop out of college and pursue virtue. And now, let's all give a warm Monitor hug to "Happiness(TM)," a zany ...more
Sep 27, 2016 Toni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very funny and witty book about a low-level editor at a fictional Publishers in NYC, that gets handed a huge paper manuscript, that turns into the world's most phenomenal Self-Help book of all time. How this all happens is the hilarious and somewhat suspenseful story within. Problems occur however, when everyone stops smoking, drinking, eating, etc. and the world economy starts to tank! Who's going to find the real author, oops; and stop the wild circus ride?! Edwin de Valu, that's who! The lo ...more
Here is the reason that this book is so wonderful: (Quoting a passage from the book as long as I don't get slapped with a huge fine for copyright infringement)

"And let's keep the total length of the book to 356 pages exactly. That's the average for current bestsellers. So make sure it comes in exactly - what did I say? Three hundred and fifty six pages. Okay, Edwin?"

(At which point I stop reading and think to myself, I wonder if... and then I proceed to turn all the way to the back of the book a
Jennifer Rayment
Wry and funny and quite frankly just bloody marvelous. Perfect for anyone involved in any way in the creating, marketing and selling of books. And bang on commentary on the self help book market! It is absolute perfection.

Thoroughly enjoyed the Caveat Emptor, the alternate ending (which quite frankly will be truly appreciated by most Canadians - well except for maybe those from Quebec). Ok and got a kick about the line with Stephen King in Bett's Bookstore (which I have been to)

Favorite Quotes

Belinda Lorenzana
Nov 06, 2008 Belinda Lorenzana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Belinda by: Érika Zaragoza
Shelves: narrativa
Una novela disfrutable, muy divertida. Sin embargo tiene algunos huecos que no decido si son asunto de verosimilitud. Ciertos conceptos no me resultaron convincentes:

¿Por qué Edwin y el señor Mead son inmunes al "poder" del libro? ¿Qué pasó con los intelectuales?, ¿también se fueron de pesca?, ¿eran inmunes también? ¿Qué no era May una persona inteligente? Las personas inteligentes no leen superación personal (y si lo hacen, no se dejan lavar el coco).

Aciertos: el tono pesimista, el sentido del
Sep 10, 2011 Rachel rated it it was amazing
Loved it.
And I think working at chapters just made it more enjoyable. Being faced with so many...too many self help books and their readers, I felt like I could relate to Edwin. At times I couldn't help myself but break into hysterics over some little quip.
The underlying themes were quite sad and heavy. How we are destined to be unhappy and discontented and constantly search for satisfaction and, in fact, that is what makes our world go round...yet, as I was reading, I felt comforted by that.
Molto, molto divertente, caustica e piena di trovate la prima parte, peccato che verso la fine l'autore si conceda qualche lungaggine (e qualche predica) di troppo, e il ritmo e lo humor ne risentano.
Feb 17, 2016 Evalunasylva rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: romance, bp, rb, 2016
Não achei piada nenhuma e senti-me ludibriada pela sinopse que prometia "uma divertidíssima sátira" e usou palavras como "hilariante"... Onde?!?
Some clever stuff, genuinely funny at times, but the story drags on a little and the "end of the world" stuff is maybe a bit of a letdown.

To summarize, a self-help book actually works and mostly solves everyone's problems, but the protagonist realizes that the world is left in this kind of purgatory and that being content and satisfied with all things in life isn't natural or even desirable. The main point is that the pursuit of happiness is what drives us, not the actual happiness (TM). This is
Este livro, que pode parecer ser de auto-ajuda, é na realidade uma sátira a todos os livros do género e à industria envolvente e relata-nos o que aconteceria se realmente existisse um livro desses que funcionasse. O efeito que isso teria.
Acaba por focar aspectos importantes da sociedade actual e consegue fazê-lo de uma forma engraçada.
Há quem o tenha achado hilariante, eu só achei uma leitura leve. Contudo é só a minha perspectiva ;D
Não foi tão bom como eu pensava que seria após ver várias críti
Mar 05, 2010 Yedy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: self-help book fanatics and to those who do not believe in it
I chanced upon this book while browsing at a bookstore and when I read Anthony Bourdain's praise about this book at the front cover, I knew I have to have this. I am a big fan of satirical form of writing and this book does not disappoint me.

Happiness is elusive and everyone seems to be in search of it and just when you thought that this book is all about it, you are wrong. This novel would show you what would happen in the event that a self-help book about finding happiness would really work. W
Nov 17, 2010 Valissa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Troublemakers grow up to become priests and politicians and social reformers. They are always meddling in other people's lives. Hellraisers don't meddle. They rage and roar, and they celebrate life and they mourn its shortness. Hellraisers destroy only themselves, and they do it because they love life too much to fall asleep."

"To the written word! To characters who exist only on the printed page. To characters who exist only in books and aren't even aware of it - who exist only on the printed p
Jan 17, 2011 Emily rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A cynical, satirical novel about what would happen to the world if self help books actually worked. The book pulls no punches making fun of every aspect of the self-help and enlightenment industry, not to mention big publishing houses, marketing, and office work in general. It's an entertaining read but very bleak humour and the ending felt a little flat and anticlimactic. Although this book seems to have won the "Stephen Leacock award for humour", I would actually recommend the author's earlier ...more
Feb 13, 2007 Kitty-Wu rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La historia de "Happiness" parte de la publicación de un libro de autoayuda que se convierte en el éxito editorial del milenio, ya que consigue la Felicidad para todo el mundo. ¿Qué sucede entonces? Obviamente la sociedad capitalista se viene abajo y.....

Crítica del mundo editorial, de los libros de autoayuda y de los valores de las sociedades actuales (especialmente, de Estados Unidos), todo ello impregnado de un gran sentido del humor.
Ismael Galvan
Sep 09, 2012 Ismael Galvan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Crazy, stupid, funny book. I hella enjoyed Ferguson's sarcastic sense of humor and ridiculous story. A commentary on our plastic culture and crappy books. There was a portion of the book that lost a little steam so I couldn't give it 5 starts but besides that it was a great read. I'd love to burn one down with this guy.
Sep 21, 2012 Sahar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I've read a lot of books and this is my favourite book of all time. I read it in one sitting! It's so underrated and really difficult to find but give it a chance, I promise you'll love it!
Read up to page 107, leafed through the rest.
Nov 20, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a fun read. It's a fast, cynical and thoughtful apocalyptic story. What is the basis of our humanity? This book has an answer: It's not mindless happiness, but the sense of adventure.
Nov 29, 2016 Jon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Started off very snarky and funny, loved the satire on writers and publishers, but fell off toward the end when it was all plot.
Alberto Lavecchia
Oct 13, 2016 Alberto Lavecchia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Una divertente storia della pubblicazione di un libro fenomenale che potrebbe cambiare la vita di ognuno di noi. Un protagonista la cui vita precipita in maniera rocambolesca ma che non perde mai dignità e soprattutto ironia. Una storia geniale, un libro da leggere
Janna G. Noelle
Jul 01, 2015 Janna G. Noelle rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
This is a book I would never have chosen on my own to read, if for no better reason than the fact that it’s satire. The trouble with satire is that if you and the author have differing opinions on what's funny, you're pretty much setting yourself up for disappointment.

I read this book at the recommendation of a good friend who believed that because much of the action takes place in a publishing house and because I'm interested in pursuing traditional publication, the fit was natural. The story's
Sep 23, 2016 AJ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Funny premise. But the characters are so thinly sketched that they can't hold up the plot. Not to say that the author doesn't write well in the sense of being readable, however it's only amusing (if you laugh easily, better yet, really easily, this might be for you). If the characters were more than two-dimensional, this would have more bite. Instead, about a quarter or one-third of the way through, I no longer had reason to care.

Jun 23, 2015 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I hated, hated, hated this book. I only finished it so I could write a proper review about how much I hated it.

"Happiness" the book is utter crap. (A favorable blurb from a celebrity appears on the cover. I think less of that celebrity than I did before.) If anyone ever gives you this book, rest assured that they either secretly hate you, or have terrible taste in literature, and in each case the solution is the same: never talk to that person again.

The premise of the book is that someone--named
Jan 04, 2010 Brittany rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: If you've read 1984, read this for a totally backwards view
Recommended to Brittany by: Sarah
How I Came To Read This Book: My friend Sarah lent it to me in the early days of our KLM book-sharing initiative.

The Plot: Edwin is, for lack of a better term, a schlub. Hacking it out as a book editor resigned to going through the ‘slush’ pile, Edwin wants to make a difference in the world, and unwittingly does so when he picks up a 1,000 page nightmare of a self-help book promising endless wealth, perfect bodies, and undying happiness. The book becomes an unwitting phenomenon and soon everyon
Simon Mcleish
Jan 31, 2013 Simon Mcleish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published on my blog here in May 2003.

It is easy to ridicule the self help book; every Christmas parodies just as forgettable as their subjects appear to take advantage of the seasonal sales of humour before disappearing in their turn. Happiness TM (a great improvement on the original title of Generica) is not this kind of parody; instead, it is a novel about a self help book.

The central character, Edwin de Vallu, works as an editor in a soulless American publishing house. He is in ch
Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes

Imagine a self help book that actually worked resulting in an end to all of humanities problems. What would happen to our world if everyone’s woes were immediately resolved and there was no longer any conflict of any kind for 97% of the population?

Will Ferguson is the author of 12 books, written in a number of different genres, which include literary fiction, satire, and travel adventure. Happiness is a satire and has received several literary awards. The story is to
eleonora -
Sep 04, 2012 eleonora - rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, preferiti
Mettiamo che non abbiate mai comprato un libro solo per la copertina, ma poi vi capiti di essere a dieta ferrea e di vedere un libro con ben sei cioccolatini in copertina di cui due al cioccolato bianco, uno fondente e gli altri tre al latte. Il titolo è "Felicità", voi collegate la felicità ai cioccolatini e pensate che forse della dieta non ne avete poi tanto bisogno. In più è dell'universale economica feltrinelli, con quelle belle strisce oblique sul bordo superiore e con le traduzioni solita ...more
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Will Ferguson (born William Stener Ferguson) is a Canadian writer and novelist who is best known for his humorous observations on Canadian history and culture. His success as a writer can be attributed to an innate ability to view Canada much the same way an outsider would, as described in his debut book, the ironically named Why I Hate Canadians. Ferguson talks about this in a recent CBC radio in ...more
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“The two most important phrases in the human language are "If only" and "Maybe someday". Our past mistakes and our unrequited longings. The things we regret and the things we yearn for. That's what makes us who we are.” 62 likes
“Obviously, he needed to kill Bubba, but how? The man was a trained prison guard twice his size. The tax auditors had been easy. Mr. Ethics had slapped them to death with their own attaché cases. And even then, his neighbours had chipped in to help him hide the bodies. "A tax auditor, you say? No problem. Let me get my spade.” 10 likes
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