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A Short Guide to a Happy Life

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  5,351 Ratings  ·  510 Reviews
From the author of Blessings and Still Life with Bread Crumbs, Anna Quindlen’s classic reflection on a meaningful life is the perfect gift for graduation, or any occasion.

“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, th
ebook, 64 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Random House (first published October 31st 2000)
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Feb 12, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't read or browse through self-help books much. You get to a certain age, however (42, in my case) and, if life deals you a bad hand (over and over...and over again), the questions grow and the answers become elusive or impossible to grasp.

Some on-line article or magazine mentioned this little book--talk about drifting through a day! I can't recall where I read about this. I got it from the library. Whoever wrote about it was right, it takes less than fifteen minutes to read. And while it's
alison cross
this book was first realized as a speech given at by Ms. Quindlen at my college commencement. in the past 10 years i have read and re-read these words that i still recall so fondly. the experiences in my life have allowed me to see the intelligence and honor in anna's words; the worth of success that is measured in no other terms than the family that surrounds me; and the nummber of times a day i can smile for no reason whatsoever. it is a constant source of strength and a reminder that happiene ...more
Aug 10, 2010 Lucy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2010
Oh my, what a waste of 20 minutes. This book is full of cliche after cliche. Glass half empty type stuff. I learnt nothing except to avoid this author in the future. You are better off listening to Monty Python's 'Always Look On The Bright Side of Life'... more mentally stimulating than this 'guide'.
This world would be a much better place if people who read books like this would look beyond their initial "cliché" reaction, and actually thought about why counsel like this becomes so commonly heard. Perhaps because it reflects a deeper truth to which we should pay attention? As Quindlen says "You are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life." That being true, then counsel such as hers (whether original or not) that helps us to see what will bring happiness and joy to ourselves ...more
Eunice Moral
Jan 07, 2016 Eunice Moral rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Such an inspiring book! I'm happy to have read this during the darkest hours of my life! Thank you Anna Quindlen for this amazing book. I highly recommend it to someone who is missing out a lot on his life and to those who feel like the world is closing in on them.

Show Up. Listen. Try to Laugh.
Jun 07, 2013 Roxanna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Short and sweet. If you are familiar with Anna Quindlen's work, she doesn't disappoint here. Her voice comes through clearly and consistently. Her perspective is non-judgmental and approachable. She punctuates herself so simply, I am always left surprised such an order of words could initiate a deep internal conversation for me. "It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit."

She doesn't spend the time talking about those who are happy vs. those who aren't and why- which is what
Nothing terribly new if you are used to thinking purposefully about not taking life for granted, but a good reminder from a good writer, nonetheless.
Sep 17, 2015 Amit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychology
Some excerpts,

1. Show up. Listen. Try to laugh.
2. You cannot be really good at your work if your work is all you are.
3. Get a life, a real life. Not a manic pursuit of the next promotion.
4. Turn off your cell phone. Keep still. Be present.
5. Get a life in which you are generous.
6. All of us want to do well, but if we do not do good too then doing well will never be enough.
7. Knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God gives us. It is so easy to exist rather than to live… Unless you k

Anna Quindlen's little book is, indeed, short. I read it in about 15 minutes. It's a sweet book that probably started as a blog post and morphed into a tiny, happy book with photos. This is good, practical advice to find treasures in every day life. Like this:

I think of [my life:] in all its small component parts: the snowdrops, the daffodils; the feeling of one of my kids sitting close beside me on the couch; the way my husband looks when he reads with t
Sep 12, 2011 Brette rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anna Quindlen is one of my favorite author's and she has kept her position with this story story. She won me over my Junior year of high school in AP Lit when we read How Reading Changed My Life and it was true, reading had changed my life.

In this book she takes the time out to explain how we; the earth, as a whole forget how to live in the moment. We're always striving for the next best thing, or something else that will make us more happy than what we already have, when in reality we could fu
Lori Rosendahl
Mar 13, 2013 Lori Rosendahl rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really think this short book is a big waste of money. I received it this weekend as a birthday gift. I read it in one short setting as it is only about 45 pages long, mostly pictures. I did not think there was anything of value here. I guess the message is "be grateful for what you have"? She should feel grateful that anyone would throw down $13 or more for this. Please don't waste your money. There is little to no content here.
Oct 01, 2015 Dorota rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm currently reading another Anna Quindlen's book, but since this one became available I picked it up from the library and read in 15 minutes and then re-read it. It's tiny, just a few pages.

People wrote some negative reviews about it. Said that it was full of clichés. Maybe. But then again, this book was really Anna Quindlen's graduation speech, printed and decorated with some cute photographs.
And there are so many self-help books and guides to a happy living right now that it's really not eas
It is an unspoken rule of mine that self-help books are to be avoided at all costs. It just seems to me that there are just some things that cannot be helped with a book, and people presuming they can change or improve my life in 300 hundred pages or less is a bit disconcerting. Of course, that is just my opinion, and anyone is welcome to disagree with me. That being said, I gave A Short Guide to a Happy Life a chance, though not my usual choice of book, because it was very kindly gifted to me ...more
Kressel Housman
My one and only outing this Passover was to a little town in upstate New York called Sugar Loaf where a group of craftspeople live, work, and sell their crafts. The man who serves on the town's Chamber of Commerce also owns a little shop called "Be Positive," and he is the one who gave me this book. It was a pleasant enough read, but I didn't find the insights to be anything I didn't already know. That famous quote that "Nobody on their deathbed ever wished they'd spent more time at the office" ...more
Oct 16, 2009 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick 10-min read. Sums up all the wisdom you get from all the "life advice" books in a few short pages. The only thing I disliked were all the cutesy pictures every other page that distracted me from the text. I say skip "The Last Lecture" & read this instead, then go get a pedicure or take a nap with all the time you've saved...
May 22, 2015 Lorraine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: inspirational
Uplifting, inspirational....a vitamin B12 shot for spirit!
Sep 26, 2012 Sharon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Her perception of life changed dramatically when her mother died. She talks about life before and life after. My life changed when I was diagnosed with cancer and my perception has never been the same. Her words are positive and hopeful. Wise words to live by. A great way to spend 15 minutes of your life!
Jul 09, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: happiness
"Exhaust the little moment. Soon it dies. And be it gash or gold it will not come again in this identical disguise." -- Gwendolyn Brooks

It is so easy to forget to live intentionally. Days rush by and we stop noticing our joy, the moments that bring us happiness. Quindlen reminds us to live life for every moment. To live life like a terminal illness where there is only so much time left. Life is short. Embrace it.

This is book is like a shot of happiness. In about 15 minutes, you can take in a fe
Oct 14, 2008 Beth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So if you have time to read this book review, I’d venture that you also have time to read this book. ;-) I read the whole thing while putting the kids down for a nap. No, not while they were napping — while they were getting ready to nap. (Granted, it does take forever to convince Logan to try to nap. He’s kind of growing out of them.)

This book is titled A Short Guide to a Happy Life, and Quindlen’s not kidding about the “short” part: fifty pages, all double-spaced with huge margins, many of tho
Jan 03, 2016 Judi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is indeed short--46 pages. This is my fourth time through it. It is very good advice. Quindlen was called home from college at age 19 to nurse her mother through terminal ovarian cancer, and her entire perspective on life changed for the better, though she would give up that experience if she could, of course. Excellent advice here about appreciating and living life joyfully; don't let your career be your life. Read and re-read!
Mar 19, 2013 MaryKay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
p.10 "It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit."

Get a life ... notice things ... be generous ...

p.20 "Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work."

p.42 “Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. 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 t
Jan 08, 2016 Ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love, love, love this. I picked it up at the library because it looked like a quick and interesting read, but it's really so much more. It's a celebration of all the little things in life, a reminder to slow down and savor the journey. Maybe it's because in the past two years, I've become a mother and lost my grandfather (one of the most important people in my life), but I have become a huge, cheesy advocate for making the most of your life and spreading the love around.
This would be a great gr
Mar 05, 2015 Lori rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Every day, I should - and could - read this very short reminder on how to keep the right perspective for overall health and happiness.
Jul 15, 2015 Tracie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I had read the reviews of this book on Amazon before I read it I would have given it a miss. Happily I did not. And since I read it first, then read reviews (while looking for a link to the book), I found them somewhat humorous.

A lot of readers complained that it was short. the title states, it is short. If I had paid $10 for it, maybe I would feel I spent too much. Interesting thing though--if you bought it in a store, you knew it was short. If you bought it online, you cou
Kayann Legg
May 26, 2014 Kayann Legg rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good book just to remind you of the one saying I made up in my life and really believe - Life is about moments. Books that remind you of that are always valuable. At first I thought this book was going to do what so many of these "reminding us to live life" books tend to do, which is to generalize those moments as the same for everyone instead of validating that everyones moments are different. She, of course, does tell you the moments that mean much to her but she ends on a great stor ...more
Norbert Preining
I am normally not reading any kind of guides on being happy, or how to lead my life, or all that. But a blog post on one of my favorite sites, Brain Pickings, somehow steered my interest. Planned as commencement address at Villanova University in 2000 by Pulitzer Prize winner Anna Quindlen (Author page, Wiki), it developed into a short essay. The commencement address was never held, due to conservative students rejecting liberal thoughts being uttered at the ceremony.

Easy and quick reading, I w
Sep 25, 2014 Jackie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough."
Keep Still... Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad p. 20-23

Life is glorious p. 23

2 blog posts actually, but the second one is not finished yet :)

"Think of life as a terminal illness, because, if you do, you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived." p. 45
Mar 13, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes less than 30 minutes to read, so the title is very appropriate. I can imagine this book sitting on my bookshelf for years to come and feeling the need to pick it up every once in awhile. Anna Quindlen shares her philosophy of life, which is clearly shaped by the fact that her mother died when Anna was only 19-years-old. Written as a commencement speech, her basic message to the graduates is to get a life. Create a life. Enjoy life and appreciate all the wonders it has to offer. T ...more
Jun 03, 2015 Antonia rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-how-to
One would find a better inspiration joining a yoga class instead of spending money on this book. Sorry, I would't even call it a book something that you read in less than 10 minutes. At least yoga class lasts longer.
Feb 04, 2009 ShaLisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My favorite part of this book was the photographs. Because of what I read about a child on a swing in another book (Gilead), I think I can say the child on the swing is my favorite page of the book.
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Anna Quindlen is a novelist and journalist whose work has appeared on fiction, nonfiction, and self-help bestseller lists. She is the author of eight novels: OBJECT LESSONS, ONE TRUE THING, BLACK AND BLUE, BLESSINGS, RISE AND SHINE, EVERY LAST ONE, STILL LIFE WITH BREAD CRUMBS, and MILLER'S VALLEY. Her memoir LOTS OF CANDLES, PLENTY OF CAKE, published in 2012, was a number one New York Times bests ...more
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“Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. 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 how to make room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.” 70 likes
“Don't ever forget the words on a postcard that my father sent me last year: "If you win the rat race, you're still a rat.” 27 likes
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