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Whatever Makes You Happy

2.82  ·  Rating Details  ·  308 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
A Literary Guild Featured Alternate

What does it take to be happy? How happy is happy enough? And what does "happy" mean, anyway? So asks Sally Farber - wife, mother, daughter, friend, working woman, and lover - in this wise and funny novel about a woman's search for happiness in some of the right, and a few of the wrong, places. The answer emerges, in the end, from a surp

Hardcover, Large Print, 402 pages
Published September 23rd 2005 by Thorndike Press (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 559)
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Jan 12, 2016 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I read it quickly. It's mildly entertaining. What I liked most about it was the information about happiness. I wish Grunwald had written The History of Happiness, the book her protagonist, Sally, is writing, instead of this novel. If she had, it would have been a four-star book. As a novel, though, it has no depth. Sally is unhappy, she doesn't have much of a reason to be, and there isn't really a conflict. The characters are okay, but there really isn't a plot. If it weren't for th
Jun 30, 2010 Nicole rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The premise was interesting: an author writes about the history of happiness while struggling to find it herself. However, the main character, Sally, just didn't have a reason to be unhappy. Sally has a wonderful husband, she adores her children and being a mother, she has a best friend and a successful career. So, why would she be unhappy? Okay, some women just are. But when Sally decides to have an affair with a conceited artist that she knows is using her, I was confused. Sally's reason for t ...more
Jul 10, 2008 Darci rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book with a predictable plot line about a writer trying to figure life out. Not exactly a never-been-done-before sort of thing, but what makes it worse than average is that it's boring and not well-written. Sally is writing a book about happiness and ironically, the passages from her book are really... boring. No wonder she's feeling like it's not taking off. I agree with other reviewers, I think it's a completely dumb idea that a new man (who isn't even presented in a very appealing w ...more
Apr 21, 2016 Brenda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although this book did not get many 5 star reviews, this book really spoke to me. I think most women at some point in their lives stop to wonder if their life path has led them to happiness. And what is happiness? The author deals with many definitions of happiness and helps readers to think about the many facets of happiness. Loved the book and read it in one day.
Nov 24, 2015 Meredith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I checked this book out on a whim because I'll be 40 soon and sometimes I wonder if I'm going through a midlife crisis (but I think it's more that I'm bored or not wanting to do the things I need to do).

The main character in the book is also about my age and going through a "Is this really my life?" moment. She's struggling with her latest book assignment, her kids are off to camp for the summer so she feels guilty about that, she and her husband are just kind of there, and her mom expects her t
Mar 02, 2014 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know what to say. I think this ladie's morals stunk and her "its okayness" to do the things she did were rotten.

An author is trying to write a book on the History of Happiness. Looking at her life you'd think she would be that...happy. She married the love of her life, has 2 beautiful girls whom she adores but feels like maybe in writing this book and facing midlife crisis she's not sure she really knows what happiness is. She has an affair with an artist and I was left to believe she ne
Karen Bergreen
I think I would have given this more stars had I not loved Henry House so much and wanted to repeat the experience.

this would actually be a great book group discussion because happiness is the main themer here and what defines it is certainly an interesting question. the story is less interesting than her writing, which is eloquent.
Aug 15, 2007 Carley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2007
A book about a woman who has the love of her life, two healthy children and has a successful writing career and is unhappy and spends the most of book cheating on her husband. Why write a book about that? And why publish it?
Kelly Doherty
I wanted to like this book. It was predictable in a comfortable way. But ultimately the protagonist is the kind of woman I do not enjoy. And not because of her actions. She was just too self important.
May 18, 2010 M rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought Irresistible Henry House was so good that I went and took out three of Grunwald's other books AND THEY ARE ALL LOUSY.
Katherine Rowland
Jun 01, 2016 Katherine Rowland rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Is it possible to have a chick lit book without someone having an affair? I was drawn to this because of the mention of a character who is an author working on research for a book about happiness. Sadly, there was far less time spent in talking about any of that than there was in the main character deciding--despite a husband so flawless and devoted as to be completely unbelievable--that having an affair will make her happy. Uh, really?

There just wasn't enough of anything to make this book an e
Tennessee O'Donnell
It took me a little bit to get into this book,
so a bit slow to start off. I did find the bits about the character "Author Sally Farber" researching and writing facts about happiness just a tad repetitive. Although I enjoyed this book the more I read along. I think it is actually quite a deep and reflective book about being happy within yourself, accepting our paths or understanding what is involved to change it. Sometimes you do have to make decisions for yourself without taking in how it will
May 21, 2008 Kendra rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While writing a book about happiness, author Sally Farber is experiencing a happiness crisis in her own life. A little too predictably, she has to have an affair to figure out what she wants. The book is occasionally interesting and thought-provoking, but having read enough journal articles to last me a lifetime, I find it annoying to have my fiction peppered with faux-academic snippets about philosophy and research. My eyes glazed over for pages at a time.

I did, however, like this part a lot:

Marie Buccellato
What makes you happy? Read the book & you'll be surprised at the answers
Joyce Douglas
Feb 24, 2015 Joyce Douglas rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hedonism....and that is all I have to say on that subject
Dec 01, 2015 Nicole rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I don't know why I bothered finishing this one. It was terrible. The main character is completely unlikeable. The plot is ridiculous. And it's so shallowly written.
Hmmm....I don't think life works this way. It seems there are no consequences for her actions but that not's how things work. I wonder where she is 10 years after the story's end.
Aug 19, 2008 Mikkee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got FURIOUS with the character in this book. She used age old excuses about "deserving" something and nearly ruins many lives. I don't think I have felt this angry at a character in a long time.

I think the author touches on some good themes in the perspective of happiness, but she ended the book a bit abruptly. I don't think you can end a book with someone just walking away from a bad decision and life just returns to the same it was before for all involved.
May 18, 2014 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kinda disappointing. The Irresistible Henry House was waaaay better.
Jun 08, 2011 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The main character in this book drove me crazy. She could see all the good things in her life, but still chose to turn away from them, and risked losing everything good in her life. The other thing that drove me crazy is she had plenty of opportunites where she felt like she should and yet she turned her back on it. I hated that she was able to face the woman who's husband she was having an affair with and felt no guilt. That drove me crazy.
Amy B
Feb 01, 2008 Amy B rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book wouldn't have been too bad except I was a little unhappy about her affair!! Like women who have been married 'x' amount of years need to have an affair to find happiness. Weird. Especially when the 'other man' seemed to me like a slug more than anything. I didn't buy it....the idea that is. Have the book and if you want to borrow it, let me know!!!
Feb 07, 2010 Janna marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I got this out of the library just a few days ago and flew through it! It's an interesting combination of a novel with some research peppered through it. I learned - loosely - about some interesting research being done on happiness. It's a bit strange because she fictionalizes some of the research, but it is largely based on fact. It's a sweet and engaging story.
Stephanie Moseley
I think Grunwald is a an interesting writer, and adds a certain depth to h er writing which the reader does not always expect, but certainly adds to the enjoyment of the reading.
This was a thoughtful and fun introspection of defining happiness, if that is possible. The characters were well developed and believable
Nov 03, 2009 Jessie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was about a woman trying to find her identity, by the end I'm not sure if she found it. But she had an affair in the process while decieving her wonderful, understanding husband. It just didn't sit right with me, but still a page turner, I kept waiting for it to all blow up in her face.
Feb 05, 2010 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sally is trying to write a book that defines happiness. In addition to very interesting characters who are also searching for happiness, the author offers fascinating research on the definition of happiness. I enjoyed searching for the meaning of happiness with Sally and I think you will too.
Dec 04, 2011 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am loving every single book of Lisa Grunwald's. This one was so, so good, and had some really great insights on what constitutes a happy life. I'm bummed that the cover of this book is so silly because the book is SO not!! Very, very, very good.
Sep 14, 2010 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this a few years ago and really like it, but it didn't hold up as well upon re-reading. Story about a bored writer/wife/mother who, while writing a book about the history of happiness, searches for the missing piece in the wrong places.
I enjoy Lisa Grunwald's writing much more than I liked this book. Wasn't crazy about Sally's personal struggle with happiness but did enjoy her research and the tidbits she shared in the search for writing her book.
Jun 26, 2011 Meredith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A thought provoking novel and easy read romance novel all rolled into one. Romance is not my usual genre but I have been trying to step of of my comfort zone a bit. This was definitely a great book to do that with.
Jun 16, 2008 Sandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a cute, quick read about 3 British moms who decide to interfere in the lives of their 3 bachelor sons by going to live with them unannounced for one week. I enjoyed it and it waas good airplane reading.
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Lisa Grunwald is the author of the novels The Irresistible Henry House, Whatever Makes You Happy, New Year's Eve, The Theory of Everything, and Summer. Along with her husband, Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler, she edited the bestselling anthologies Women's Letters and Letters of the Century. Grunwald is a former contributing editor to Life and a former features editor of Esquire.

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“But 'contentment'. Is that happiness? Or is that only resignation wearing a funny hat?” 2 likes
“There is a strong connection between our ability to use our hands in useful work, and our ability to find happiness in daily life... daily repetitive tasks (are) the compulsive calmness that infuses our pedestrian chores with poetry. - Annie Modessitt” 2 likes
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