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Happiness TM

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,047 ratings  ·  274 reviews
When one of those irritating self-help books actually gets it right, then unnatural and worrying times are just around the corner. While the rest of the country is joining the new HappinessTM cult, Edwin (the wiry, grey-suited, low-level editor at U.S. publisher Panderic Press) is in trouble. A cartel of drug, alcohol, tobacco, and drug-rehab bosses have a contract out on ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 15th 2003 by Canongate UK (first published April 17th 2001)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,047 ratings  ·  274 reviews

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Aug 26, 2016 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 rehashes and
Apr 14, 2009 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
Jun 27, 2007 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 spec
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 dec ...more
Sep 27, 2016 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
B. M.  Polier
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 t
Sep 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Guillermo Galvan
Sep 04, 2012 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.
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
Jun 16, 2015 rated it liked it
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 (
Jan 17, 2011 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
Marilia Chaves
Feb 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"There, stacked high on his desk, was a tower of paper. Thick slabs of manuscript. Slush. Unsolicited, unagented, unloved. This was where dreams came to die. Book proposals, cover letters, entire manuscripts – they gathered like so much detritus on the desks of publishers everywhere.”

My favorite kind of book: a story about book publishers and the making of titles. A laugh out loud portrait of our industry. Highly recommended for editors everywhere.
Alice Mc
May 18, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting premise but actually quite boring. I lost interest about halfway through but ploughed on as it was a bookclub read. The writing style is satirical and there are some vaguely amusing bits but it just wasn't gripping at all.
May 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
He suddenly felt weary, weary beyond words. This morning he had been happy. Cranky, bitter and weighed down with life, but otherwise generally happy. He had been in a groove, or at least a very comfortable rut. His life, such as it was, fit together. But ever since this morning, ever since that manuscript landed on his desk, it was as though everything had begun to unravel. The end of the wharf and the deep waters beckoned…

A quintessential editor finds a self-help book on his desk one morning and prese
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 boo
Phreia Von Woolfgaard
Would the world not be a better place if everyone was happy? This book uncovers what would happen if this exact thing occurred via a self-help book that actually WORKS! Anyone can read it and find their happiness. But is there such thing as too much happiness? This is a question that the main character Edwin (a completely fed up editor) must come to terms with, solve, and reverse. A very funny story. Would be a great summer read.
Meagan Houle
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What would happen if someone wrote a self-help book that actually worked? ... The collapse of society, that's what.
Ferguson sets about exposing and mocking the pretensions of writers; the ruthlessness of publishers; the idleness and incompetence of editors; the folly of the wider world. Within the first chapter, you'll already have a sense of his sardonic approach, one which he maintains through most of the book. You can tell, though, that Ferguson is good-natured about the whole thing. He is n
From my 2009 Bookcrossing entry: Very enjoyable story! I liked the cynical worldview of the main character. Also, a book that mentions both Oliver Reed and untranslatable words makes me happy.

I also appreciated the bittersweet ending, although I confess that I'd been rooting for (view spoiler). But that wouldn't really fit the tone of the book -- ok, it'd be a huge cop-out -- so it's good that the author didn't g
Nov 17, 2010 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 t
Mar 05, 2010 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 re
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one crazy ass book. A clever premise, good writing and ridiculousness all come together to make a thoughtfully funny read. What would happen if we lost our drive to succeed, if we were content with where we are and what we have? How would this affect the economy, the environment and our relationships? You’ll have to read it.
Jun 24, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I think it must be the most sarcastic and cynical book I've read. In any other situation I would probably have hated it, but it made my feeling of loss go away without leaving behind this thinking in a fairy-tale that the books I usually read do. Yeah life sucks and then you die. This book certainly does make you think about the meaning of it all.
Helen J.
It was ok... I didn't find as much humour as I expected but a great idea for a story - a self help book that works and changes the world for the worse! I liked the last few chapters the best when it all became more interesting and just a bit more real.
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
What a fun read! I loved the story, the plot, the wry humour and the very satyrical take on the self-help books industry. Happiness also reminded me of books by Max Barry (Jennifer Governement, Syrup and Company), which I love. I'll make sure to watch out for books by Will Ferguson in the future!
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Started off very snarky and funny, loved the satire on writers and publishers, but fell off toward the end when it was all plot.
Sep 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brilliant concept and an entertaining read.
Jason Bovberg
An excellent premise, well written and fun ... but it seems to play out by the numbers, almost as if the premise drags the novel's characters behind it.
Tracey Shelton
Sep 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book very interesting in its exploration about the human "right" to pursuit of happiness and whether it is a fruitless pursuit. Very funny book!
Read up to page 107, leafed through the rest.
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Happiness Review 1 1 Oct 18, 2018 11:25PM  
What's the Name o...: [s]A Book about a self-help editor who finds a book that changes the world [s] 7 142 Nov 05, 2012 12:47PM  

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Will Ferguson is an award-winning travel writer and novelist. His last work of fiction, 419, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour a record-tying three times and has been nominated for both the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His new novel, The Shoe on the Roof, will be released October 17, 2017. Visit him at
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