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Happiness for Beginners

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  16,846 ratings  ·  2,158 reviews
A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It's supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother's even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can't imagine how it will be anything ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by St. Martin's Griffin
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 ·  16,846 ratings  ·  2,158 reviews

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Katherine Center
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
Okay--Accidentally clicked on the rating area and wound up giving my own book 2 stars. So then I had to go back and give it FIVE. Of course! But now it looks like I'm going around reviewing my own books. Which I guess I am--but only by accident. I DO give it five stars, though!! :) My favorite of them all. ...more
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Omg! I had such a love/hate relationship with this book but I loved it so much more! I'm so glad I read it for one of my book groups or I might have missed it! I did get this through the library Overdrive but I have since put the paperback on my Amazon wishlist.

Sometimes there are just those books that get to you. It might not be the whole book, it might be bits & pieces. It was just that for me. There were parts that got to me that I want to insert into my own life. Just little bits that I can
Susan's Reviews
One of the best reads of this decade for me, featuring an unforgettable, gutsy heroine and an equally endearing, swoon-worthy hero. What more could you ask for? You have to read this book!

I laughed uproariously so many times while reading this book! At first, I was worried: there is an extremely well written steamy scene very close to the beginning of the book (I had to switch my a/c on - in October!) Hmm, I thought, was this going to be yet another predictable genre romance?

Nope! Center's vivid
Apr 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A much-needed escape!

A year after her divorce, Helen decides to take a risk and go on a three-week life-changing wilderness survival course. What she didn’t count on was that her younger brother’s best friend, Jake, was also going on the same trip. What she REALLY didn’t count on was falling for Jake.

Although this book is a love story, the focus is more on Helen’s growth and coming into her own. I loved Helen’s character; she is likable and relatable. She has substance! Jake was super sweet and
Susanne  Strong
5 Fanfreakingtastic Stars!!!

“Happiness for Beginners” is the Best Katherine Center Novel Ever!
(If you haven’t read this one yet, trust me - you must get your hands on it!).

“Happiness” has absolutely everything you could ever possibly want in a novel. Heart, soul, emotion (lots and lots of emotion, cue the tears) witty banter (cue the hysterical laughter!) phenomenal writing and characters you can’t help but love.

The characters I’m referring to? They will steal your heart, just like they stole
Katherine Center is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!
She writes straight from the heart and always manages to touch the soul.

Helen needs a re-boot to her life after a divorce leaves her alone, without an anchor. With the encouragement and a loving kick in the pants from her younger brother, she signs up for a wilderness trek. One with an intriguing claim…you may not make it out alive!

Her younger brother’s best friend Jake is coincidentally signed up for the same adventure. Poor Hele
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christy by: Jennifer Kyle
Shelves: 2016-audios
5 stars!

 photo EF851F43-874F-42B1-847B-E19FD9219CDE_zpsqppzg8e8.jpg

“Don’t be a Helen.”

Happiness for Beginners wasn’t just a story, it was a journey. This author will take you on a journey of epic proportions. It’s witty, fun, and fantastic.
I wanted to amaze everybody, including myself. My own personal campaign of shock and awe.

Helen Carpenter has just made the list as one of my favorite heroines ever. This thirty-two-year-old divorcee decides after a year of being alone, she needs an adventure. So she goes on the adventure of a l
4.5 stars rounded to 5 bright, very bright stars

P.P.S. OK, I am back, exactly one year after first posting this review on May 30, 2019 and awarding 4.5 stars. See my P.S. at the bottom of the review. The reason I am back is that after one year, I still think about this book and harbor very fond memories for the characters and the messages of the story. I am now sure it will be making my “ All Time Book Hall-of-Fame“ as I lie on my death bed sometime far in the future. I’ve come to the conclusion
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it

“Happiness is more about appreciation than acquisition”

This is a “sort of” prequel to Katherine Center’s “soon to be released” book-“What You Wish For” as you will meet Duncan Carpenter, who has a starring role in that book, and his sister Helen Carpenter, who has the starring role in this one!

After getting divorced, Helen feels LOST.

Her brother much younger brother Duncan talks her into signing up for a Wilderness Survival Course, in Wyoming, despite the fact that she is NOT very outdoors
Melanie A. *mostly on hiatus*
Aug 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melanie by: jenny
Shelves: library, contemporary

My first Katherine Center read, and it was a winner!

Though I would classify it as more chick-lit than romance, I devoured this story. The author's writing flowed so effortlessly, and she created a wonderfully memorable character in Helen.
I didn't belong here, which would have been okay if I'd been able to tell myself there was somewhere else - anywhere else - that I did belong.
I loved that Helen's search for herself didn't come across as cheesy or contrived. Because it easi
Mar 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
When I picked up the audiobook Happiness for Beginners, I didn’t get far. Not because it was bad, it just wasn’t the right time for the book and me to connect. But then I found out that Happiness for Beginners was actually connected to the author’s new 2020 release, What you Wish For. And that was reason enough to bump it up on my tbr, and give it another try.

And I’m glad I did!

A couple years ago I read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail and really enjoyed the topic. After I was
Julie Ehlers
Mar 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
I wanted to read this novel because its oft-used plot--a person who's been through a difficult experience decides to go on an Outward-Boundish trip as a form of renewal--has always appealed to me. I knew it was going to be some light reading, and that's what I was in the mood for at the time.

What I didn't quite expect was just how predictable this book was going to be. Everything about it was so obvious--when the main character mentioned that she kept a list of all her goals tucked inside her b
Dec 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This was such an excellent and inspiring story and everything I was looking for in the previous travel books I’d bought but ended up not liking. This story was about overcoming your fears, being content with the person you are today, and finding happiness in little things. Add to that a stupidly cute romance with plenty of humour and a survival story in the middle of the mountains, and you’ve completely got me hooked.

Helen was an extremely likeable protagonist. She wasn’t perfect in the slightes
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

I actually have an unread ARC of Katherine Center’s newest release, but it seems like that was a big turd for most of my friends so I’ve been terrified to read it. And despite my heart telling me . . . .

My brain thankfully has been pretty persistent in reminding me that I’m kind of a Grade A Asshole and I need to lower my expectations before diving into that one.

Unfortunately Happiness for Beginners didn’t help minimize my fangirl
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.25 challenge yourself stars

I really like how Katherine Center creates realistic and relatable characters. In this book, we have Helen Carpenter, she’s been divorced for a year and she wants to tackle and accomplish something new! She signs up for a hard-core hiking/camping wilderness experience that she thinks will do the trick and she’s determined to earn a certificate as one of the top 3 students.

Somehow her younger brother’s best friend has also signed up for the camp, so they end up sharin
Connie G
Helen was emotionally recovering from a miscarriage and a divorce. She felt like she needed to do something new and challenging, and joined a wilderness-survival course in the mountains of Wyoming. Along the way she learns to appreciate the good points of a diverse group of people, and connect spiritually to nature. She also starts noting three good things that happened every day. The more you remember good things, the happier and more positive you will feel.

I have to admit that carrying a 70 po
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Personal growth, happiness, healing, humor, and love, with a wilderness adventure thrown in; this book was all that and more. I highly recommend this brilliant novel to women's fiction fans. Now I'm off to read all of Katherine Center's other books! ...more
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Brenna by: Erin
This book completely owned me. I picked it up to read one chapter before bed to see if I was into it and it's less than 24 hours later and I cannot wipe the grin off my face. This is definitely a new top favorite!

Helen is 32, has been divorced for a year, and decides it's time to get her life back. The night before leaving for a three week wilderness adventure she runs into her brother's best friend, Jake. She finds out he is also going on the same trip and he ends up weasling a ride with her. H
[~Ami~]♥Sexy Dexy♥
4 stars

I really liked this. I thought there was quite a few 5 star worthy face grinning moments. I felt like the adventure could have been more dangerous or life threatening than hiking. A few things at the end I was a bit let down by and maybe in another book I would have been annoyed by one or two things. But in the end I really wanted them together. Helen was awesome in a funny but bitchy kind of way. I really enjoyed it and it's one of those books I'll be happy to read again.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ah, what a wonderful read it was!... I started reading early this morning thinking to go through couple pages to start the day and... I just put the book down a few minutes ago... Nothing done around the house, nothing done - full stop, but I don't care, it was such fun to read!

I should note, this is my second book by this author and it was picked purely to make sure that I'm not a fan of Katherine Center. Well, turned out, I am!..

Helen is divorced, not particularly sure where in life she is hea
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
5 glowing, laughing,crying, wonderful, all-time-favourite stars
I loved, LOVED, loved this book so much! I had to create a new Goodreads shelf for it: all-time-favourite!

I laughed A LOT...then I cryed a bit and then I laughed while I was crying. I learned to look at things a different, better way. And while I did I had the greatest time ever.

In the beginning I thought, this book is kinda funny, then I thought it is really good, then I thought it is amazing and when I thought it can't get any bett
Amelia Strydom
May 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn't read this book, I inhaled it! It certainly brought me lots of happiness - and more than a few tears. Katherine Center is a phenomenal author who writes lovable and real characters. The romance between Helen and Jake, her younger brother's friend, had me swooning! I read my first book by this author about 6 months ago and it's taking all my self-control to not read all her titles in one go. ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: women-s-fiction
Happiness for Beginners is my first book by Katherine Center and it will not be my last. Her way of storytelling just works for me. I immediately connected with Helen and was invested in her journey towards a new life and a new and improved Helen after her divorce.
I loved the overall theme of the story. Self discovery. Besides Helen I adored grandma Gigi, Helen’s baby brother Duncan and his best friend Jake.
The romance takes a backseat. This is Helen’s journey and I liked that. Her relationship
May 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
SUCH a feel-good, uplifting story. Happiness for Beginners had all the elements of chic lit story but went more in depth with the characters so that it read more like fiction.

We met Helen Carpenter a year after her divorce as she was about a embark on a soul searching trip of self-discovery. Why Helen chose to go on a dangerous wilderness tour I will never understand, but then I’ve never been what you would call an “outdoors-y” type. (I am giggling as I wrote that last sentence because anyone wh
Gina *loves sunshine*
Nov 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, audiobook
Giving this one a surprising 4 stars!! This book had 2 themes which I don't usually connect with - the divorced female finding themselves storyline and the older woman, younger man connection. So it was such a delight to say I thoroughly enjoyed this wilderness adventure!!!

Helen and Jake had an immediate connection and I happily buzzed along on their journey!! This is my second book by Katherine Center, safe to say she’s got my attention in the contemporary fiction genre!
Aug 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read, perfect for a day on the beach, which is exactly where I read it. Yes, it's a tad predictable but the humor and heart that the author gives her characters elevates it over a typical chick lit book. It's light, yet with some profound life lessons. I thoroughly enjoyed it! ...more
Jennifer Kyle
Apr 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
5 + “Don’t be a Helen” STARS

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Straight to my Favorite Shelf this novel goes with a bullet! The price tag had me hesitant because let’s face it anything over five dollars has me nervous and skeptical to try. Somewhere along the way I became so invested in the characters that nothing could stop me from fully immersing myself in this book.


The heroine is Helen Carpenter. She's a thirty-two years old bitchy-ish big sist
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I'm a pile of mushy goo, right now. I need to review this book because it is one of the best I've read. Pure reading bliss!

"To get stronger and toughen up. To care less. To rise up from the ashes of my existence like a really badass phoenix and give life the finger, at last."

The best way for me to compare my feelings on this gem of a book is: think of being in the woods and breathing in the crispiest breath of fresh air. Take it in, and send it back out. I felt that, I felt the freshness of the
T. Rosado


I've kind of read Center's books all backwards and haphazardly, but amazingly it's been the perfect approach to cementing her as an all-time favorite author. That's a big deal for me, because I really only have a few of those. I keep expecting one of her books to miss the mark, but it just hasn't happened yet.

As with every prior KC book, Happiness for Beginners was a battle for me to put down. This was a Bildungsroman type of story centered around a protagonist who decides to attend a


Genre: Romance – age difference, adventure
Cover: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Heroine: 7/10
Hero: 9/10
Humour: 2/10
Hotness: 1/10
Romance: 6/10
Extra book Details: Heroine POV; 1st person. Stand-alone.

Happiness is for Beginners was a nice change of pace for me. It's not solely based on the romance, I'd say, 50/50; 50% romance, 50% about the heroine finding herself.

Our heroine is a divorced 32 year old first-grade school teacher. After a year of wallowing after the breakdown of her marriage, she deci
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Katherine Center is the New York Times bestselling author of How to Walk Away, the upcoming Things You Save in a Fire (August 2019), and five other bittersweet comic novels. Six Foot Pictures is currently adapting her fourth novel, The Lost Husband, into a feature film starring Josh Duhamel, Leslie Bibb, and Nora Dunn. Katherine has been compared to both Nora Ephron and Jane Austen, and the Dallas ...more

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