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The Optimist: One Man's Search for the Brighter Side of Life

2.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  116 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
When it comes to bad news, we've never had it so good.
Laurence Shorter is feeling anxious. Every time he opens a newspaper or turns on the radio he finds another reason to be tearful. It's time to make a change. It's time to be optimistic!
His plan is simple:
1. Learn how to jump out of bed in the morning.
2. Secure personal happiness.
3. Save the world.
The Optimist char
...more
Paperback, 330 pages
Published May 1st 2009 by Canongate Books (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 223)
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Helen King
Dec 10, 2015 Helen King rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: advice
This book caught my eye at the library - I'm not sure if I would have heard of it, or read it otherwise (interesting that all other reviewers made similar excuses for reading it - maybe we're slightly embarrassed?) Anyway, it's based on an interesting idea - what makes people want to 'jump out of bed' each morning with enthusiasm and positivity/ And he goes off to meet with positive, optimistic people (I think, really - it's hard to tell if all the interviews with famous people are completely tr ...more
Jim
May 18, 2009 Jim rated it liked it
Let’s get a couple of things straight here before we start. I would never have brought this book in a month of Sundays. Had I seen it lying on one of the 3 for 2 tables in Waterstones I wouldn’t have given it a second glance. Had I seen it marked down in a bargain bin in Bookworld for 99p I wouldn’t have bought it. The only reason I read it was because I was sent a review copy.

The main reason I wouldn’t have picked the book is that it’s about optimism and I’ve always considered myself a dyed-in-
...more
Andrea
Aug 14, 2008 Andrea rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: my boyfriend
This is one man's search for the secret of optimism. He was feeling low all the time, and decided he needed that jump out of bed feeling. He travelled all over the place, interviewing people who claimed to be optimists.

I spent a lot of time telling the boyfriend (while I was reading) that "I'm an optimist, it's other people who get me down," are not the words of an optimist (this would be the boyfriend, not Laurence Shorter).
Sam
Feb 22, 2015 Sam rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, biography
It seems weird to be negative about a book about optimism seems kind of odd but I was rather disappointed and let down by this book. It had the potential to be a really good book as the author got to interview a large number of amazing people who have achieved so much and yet he managed to make it seem mediocre. He also managed to forget the main purpose of the interviews he undertook and his aims to find that little something (the jump out of bed factor as it became dubbed) and instead just wro ...more
Brian Edgar
Mar 04, 2015 Brian Edgar rated it liked it
This is an odd book, half way between a critique of self help therapies and a novel about one man's journey to self awareness.
It is quite didactic and at times cynical of our ability to sort our stuff.
I would like to read a novel where the character has a revelation or insight that changes the outcomes for the character. At the end of the book I was not certain anything had changed.
I listened to it an audiobook while I resowed the lawn.
I wonder if the events really happened to the author?
Emma Cooper
Jan 13, 2010 Emma Cooper rated it did not like it
I won 'The Optimist' from the First Reads section, and it arrived this morning. As I read through the first chapter I was convinced I'd read it before. I thought, perhaps, that I'd read some of it in an extract in one of the online newspapers or something. But by the time I reached chapter 6 I realised I'd read this book before.

It appears that it was first published at this time last year, and they're bringing out a second edition now, hence it's inclusion in First Reads. But, I have to say, the
...more
Jo
Jan 19, 2010 Jo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The author, Laurence Shorter, set himself the challenge of defining and understanding optimism. In doing so, he met famous people recognised for their optimism or achievements, spiritual gurus, and ordinary folks leading extraordinarily positive lives - and had a few grounding conversations with his Dad along the way. The narrative starts in London but crosses continents to South Africa, India and the US. The interviews with each adherent of "positive belief" are relatively short and the book ha ...more
A Yusuf
Oct 02, 2012 A Yusuf rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oggie
Mar 16, 2014 Oggie rated it really liked it
Shelves: self-spiritueel
Entertaining book to read: funny - maybe sometimes even 'too funny' - and a nicely intertwined story of his personal life and his project to analyze and spread optimism. For him at the end things seem to fall in place, but I still struggle with this man who stayed alive at sea because of his optimism: you never hear from the ones that were just as optimistic but perished.
Mercedes
Mar 30, 2011 Mercedes rated it liked it
On the whole this book is a really entertainment read. I clicked with the main character right away. (Although I have a feeling that this book wasn't supposed to come across as a work of ficton, I read it as such). I like the way that Laurence believed he was going to save mankind and create world peace, starting with Iran. My only problem is that there were a few parts that were too wordy and I had trouble following along with his ideas, thankfully something funny would quickly come along to ke ...more
Kimberly
May 24, 2013 Kimberly rated it liked it
At the start this book seemed painfully forced and facile. I couldn't connect to the protagonist or his feelings in any way and it all felt deliberately obtuse without being funny.

Fortunately, at around the halfway point, the book became more serious and thoughtful and ultimately somewhat personal and poignant. If the front half of the book matched the back half, I would be recommending this to people. As it is, if you've started reading this and wonder if you should keep going, I'd say go for i
...more
Fatatat
Jan 16, 2010 Fatatat rated it liked it
This was quite an easy read. Because it's a monologue by a man about his experiences there's always an aspect of interest there but I'm not sure whether I would call him the ultimate optimist, He seamed extremely droll and at times depressed hardly waht you expect from 'the optimist' also quite a spiritual book but if you appreciate other peoples interpretations of life then deffinatley read it. If you're looking for a book that's optimistic about life, not sure if this is the one.
Blake Baguley
Dec 03, 2013 Blake Baguley rated it it was ok
I definitely feel shortchanged by this book, if not just flat out cheated. Sure, he has a witty sense of humour. But basically the book is shallow, pithy, self-indulgent and narrow-minded. How you can interview so many amazing people and fail to pull almost any worthwhile story from them whatsoever is an absolute mystery to me.

It's an easy read. And it constantly feels like he's verging on something or actually going somewhere... But he doesn't.
Rachel McQuoid
Jan 12, 2010 Rachel McQuoid rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
i got this book free on the good reads giveaway section

not in a million years would i have bought this book as ive already discovered that through and through im a pessimist and nothing will change that.

although i found bits of the book very witty and well written i throughly enjoyed the list at the start of the book.
it has changed my view a little bit of the reasons to be optimistic and i can see me reading this book again v soon!
Olivia Hill
Aug 27, 2012 Olivia Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As an optimist myself, I enjoyed reading "one man's search for the brighter side of life." Mr Shorter interviewed quite a number of well-known people in his search to understand optimism and establish its importance. It was akin to my degree in psychology where, in the end, I was left to make my own conclusions in a sea of differing opinions. The book was both illuminating and entertaining.
Rahul Pandey
This is all about author's search for finding optimism in his life.
He conducts several interviews with famous people around the world.
There are moments in the book which are seriously thought provoking but on an average author's fails to keep up the momentum throughout the book.
Read it if you have some spare time and but don't go with very high expectations.
Steve Wilson
After hearing the interview with the author, I was eager to dive into this book. The first half left me wanting more, but I became more interested once he left the UK and headed to California and India on his quest. It would have been nice to have an index to find his interviews with specific people. Some of the 'optimists' he met with were definitely quirky!
Nikki-ann
The title says it all... This book is about Laurence's quest for optimism. It isn't a small quest either, he meets & talks to all kinds of people.

The book is worth giving a go, but while I was interested to see how Laurence did with his quest, the book didn't really intreage me... It wasn't one that I couldn't put down.

Still, it's good to be optimistic!
Margaret
Aug 10, 2011 Margaret rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I would not run out and recommend this book to people. It was OK, but the issues were way too global and political, with only a hint of personal optimism. In the end, it was a round-about of the author's quest for finding true optimism without any real answers or "A-ha" moments. Generally, not what I expected. Disappointing!
Houseofsolace Emmanuel
I thought the book would be a classic but it really didnt do it for me. But its noteworthy that the author in his quest for answers and search for the truth, even bothered to make an effort.
All in all it passes as the ramblings of an philosophical traveller through the terrains of discovery.
Sarah
Jan 10, 2011 Sarah rated it it was ok
Some interesting interviews with some very odd/crazy/happily delusioned people, but didn't hold together overall, and ended up making some pretty obvious conclusions. It was frustrating having waded through the whole thing for such a weak conclusion. Would have made a great documentary.
Elaine Chang
Dec 27, 2010 Elaine Chang rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Katherine
Feb 17, 2013 Katherine rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
I couldn't finish this. It isn't a real investigation of the role optimism plays in society or the lives of individuals, and it isn't a genuine search for personal meaning. That would be fine if it were funny, but it isn't.
Luís Benedito
I had false hopes on this one, but I don't blame the author, he did a nice job although I though it could be more intuitive... Basically it is all about his investigation and his interviews
Justin Brunjes
Can't say that I finished it. I tried twice and never got past page 100...
Megan C
Oct 12, 2009 Megan C rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Eh, he was sort of all over the place.
Anne Forbes
Anne Forbes marked it as to-read
Jun 30, 2016
Charles Warner
Charles Warner marked it as to-read
Jun 26, 2016
Kadir Y
Kadir Y is currently reading it
Jun 26, 2016
Mark Hillman
Mark Hillman rated it really liked it
Jun 21, 2016
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