Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Whatever Makes You Happy” as Want to Read:
Whatever Makes You Happy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Whatever Makes You Happy

2.83  ·  Rating details ·  336 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
In this novel about the pleasures and pains of a woman's midlife crisis, Sally Farber finds herself unmoored as she searches for definitions of happiness from Aristotle, Freud, Charles Schulz, her mother, and others.
Hardcover, Large Print, 359 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Thorndike Press (first published 2005)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Whatever Makes You Happy, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Whatever Makes You Happy

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jun 30, 2010 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
Jan 03, 2016 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
Jul 10, 2008 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
May 25, 2007 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.
Katherine Rowland
Jan 12, 2016 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
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.
May 16, 2010 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.
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
Nov 11, 2015 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
May 15, 2008 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:

Mar 02, 2014 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
Jun 08, 2011 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.
Aug 18, 2008 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.
Apr 21, 2016 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 03, 2009 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 07, 2010 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.
Amy B
Feb 01, 2008 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!!!
Jun 22, 2011 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 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.
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.
Sep 14, 2010 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.
Feb 05, 2010 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 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.
Dec 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women just looking to pass the time
I love this book! I can't wait to find out what she does next. In some ways I feel like I can relate to her. I mean at times I feel trapped into a routine life.
Joyce Douglas
Feb 24, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hedonism....and that is all I have to say on that subject
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Didn't like the protagonist or the book, but it generated a great discussion in book club about the meaning of happiness and whether we were all happy.
Jul 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ficton
Book Club read
Oct 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like Sally a lot more than I probably should.
Marie Buccellato
What makes you happy? Read the book & you'll be surprised at the answers
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Landing on the Sun
  • Daughters of the Revolution
  • Somebodies and Nobodies: Overcoming the Abuse of Rank
  • Always Grace
  • French Quarter Fiction: The Newest Stories of America's Oldest Bohemia
  • The Forever Year
  • Nightmare in New Orleans (Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: Super Mystery, #30)
  • How Far Is the Ocean from Here
  • Jewels for a Crown (Victorian Serenade #3)
  • P.S.
  • East Side Story
  • Cursed from Birth
  • 100 Words Almost Everyone Confuses and Misuses
  • Luck and Circumstance: A Coming of Age in Hollywood, New York, and Points Beyond
  • Maid to Murder (Pennyfoot Hotel #12)
  • The More I Owe You
  • Soul Mining: A Musical Life
  • Men, Love & Sex: The Complete User's Guide for Women
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.

Photo cour
More about Lisa Grunwald

Fiction Deals

  • Mercy Among the Children
    $14.99 $1.99
  • Take Me with You
    $4.49 $1.99
  • The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty
    $7.49 $1.99
  • The Traveler's Gift: Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Little Giant of Aberdeen County
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Her Sister's Shoes (Sweeney Sisters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • The Rock Harbor Collection: Without a Trace, Beyond a Doubt, Into the Deep, Cry in the Night, and Silent Night (Rock Harbor #1-5)
    $5.99 $1.99
  • A Thousand Tomorrows (Cody Gunner, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Shoeless Joe
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Death in Venice
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Blonde
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Ever After (Lost Love, #2)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Rescue
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Lords of Discipline
    $17.99 $1.99
  • The Sheltering Sky
    $10.99 $1.99
  • Gena/Finn
    $13.99 $1.99
  • A Charles Martin Collection: When Crickets Cry, Chasing Fireflies, and Wrapped in Rain
    $14.99 $3.99
  • Remember Tuesday Morning (9/11, #3)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • The Scavenger's Daughters (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Under the Udala Trees
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Streets Have No King
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Passion
    $11.00 $1.99
  • This Dark Road to Mercy
    $10.24 $1.99
  • The Language of Hoofbeats
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Not Perfect: A Novel
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Seekers (Kent Family Chronicles, #3)
    $17.99 $1.99
  • Don Quixote
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Essex Serpent
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Storycatcher
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Domestic Violets
    $9.24 $1.99
  • The Devil Wears Prada
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Half a Heart
    $4.99 $2.49
  • The Keeper of Secrets: A Novel
    $9.24 $1.99
  • A Garden of Earthly Delights (Wonderland Quartet, #1)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • The Golden Notebook
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Life of Christ
    $11.99 $1.99
  • The Good Mother
    $5.74 $1.99
  • The Palest Ink (Tales of the Scavenger's Daughters Prequel)
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Go: A Coming of Age Novel
    $4.99 $1.99
  • As Close to Us as Breathing: A Novel
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Just a Drop of Water
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Child in Time
    $8.99 $2.99
  • Lowcountry Stranger (Sweeney Sisters Series Book 2)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • The Man in 3B
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Enemy Women
    $9.74 $1.99
  • Save Me
    $9.99 $2.99
  • Better Nate Than Ever (Better Nate Than Ever #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Time Bomb
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Heat and Light: A Novel
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Reunion
    $9.99 $2.99
  • The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles)
    $16.99 $1.99
  • Stay Up With Me
    $5.99 $1.99
  • The Loser
    $10.99 $1.99
  • The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.
    $9.99 $3.99
  • The Map and the Territory
    $8.99 $2.99
  • You Know Me Well
    $7.09 $2.99
  • Father's Day
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Skeletons at the Feast
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Even Now (Lost Love, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street: A Novel
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Moonlight Palace
    $3.99 $0.99
  • This Bright Beauty
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Intervention (An Intervention Novel)
    $9.99 $1.99
  • Star Sand
    $3.99 $0.99
  • Secrets of Nanreath Hall
    $11.74 $1.99
“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
More quotes…