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The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  814 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Learning how to be exalted by the everyday is the most important lesson we can possibly learn. In Catherine Gray's hilarious, insightful, soulful (and very ordinary) next book, you may learn to do just that.

We're told that happiness is in the extraordinary. It's on a Caribbean sun lounger, in the driving seat of a luxury car, inside an expensive golden locket, watching su
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Aster
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Average rating 4.12  · 
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Stacie Danielle
Jan 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m working hard on improving my mental health this year after coming to a point in my life where I can no longer sustain this level of stress, anxiety, anger and ill health. I’ve started with The Chimp Paradox but wanted a lighter read to read alongside. This was a total chance purchase after a trip to Waterstones and a scan of the latest hardbacks. I think it was fate!

Some things I am changing now I have read this book:
- I’ve started a ‘gratitude diary.’ It’s lovely to appreciate the little t
Lawrence Patterson
Aug 06, 2020 rated it liked it
I had this nagging query whilst reading this book - is this really worth the time and effort after all I am a male and quarter of a century older than the author. How do I relate to someone trying to convince me from another generation and a different sex.. However it was self evident that Catherine had come to conclusions that I myself had identified over the last ten to fifteen years and whilst a good chunk of the book revolves round the lifestyle of the female of the species there was a good ...more
Mar 30, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm going to start by saying I really loved Catherine's other books and wanted very much to love this one..but I just didn't enjoy it as much. Now, there may be a valid reason for this - it may be that I already take joy in the ordinary and am a fairly happy and satisfied person, but I was unconvinced by the book. It felt in parts like a rejash of her other books, and in other parts just felt like essays that weren't really connected. I feel sad that I didn't "get" it but we can't always like ev ...more
Dec 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5-5⭐️ read for me, I absolutely loved it! A great re-affirming reminder of how we should embrace more of the ordinary in our lives from where we live, our career, our bodies, relationships to tech. This is a recommended read for when you think life should be filled with extraordinary moments and why we seek this way of life when in actual fact neuroscience and psychology bucks these myths and that a life of ordinary is in itself extraordinary. I’m not a re-reader (very often) but I will 100% r ...more
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
LOVE IT !!! I had dreams come true and everything I ever wanted and then it became, what next ? I got low and longed for more more more and to occupy my wondering saddening mind I wanted a book. I saw this and like the universe wanted me to read it, it stood out like a shining beacon. I LOVE this book. It was like a perfect thing at the perfect time and it felt like it was written for me but I'm assuming if I feel this and Catherine wrote this, its more than just us two. EVERYONE needs to read t ...more
An easily accessible and utterly enjoyable book packed with simple and doable ideas that have the potential to change your life. Written in a light hearted style but with enough substance to stop it being throwaway fluff I found this book to be incredible useful in suggesting ways to stop reaching for happiness in the extraordinary but finding it in the ordinary, everyday, humdrum stuff. Wise, whole-hearted and joyful this is a book that everyone could benefit from reading.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book, through a strikingly relatable tone and numerous personal and honest examples, gives a simple yet effective message for how to live your life with a bit more positivity. Its suggestions are down to earth and useful, promising a way to change your mindset rather than a utopian better life.
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I read this as a book for a book club. But it won’t surprise anyone who knows me that this book is right up my street.

Finding pleasures in the everyday is something I’ve been trying to do for a few years now. I fall out of the habit from time to time but have been doing a daily gratitude practice again since before Christmas. I also have a jug of notes with small pleasures written upon them that I can revisit whenever I need them. The majority of them are small and ordinary. This book reminded
Ashley (Ashreadslondon)
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
The concept of this book - re-enchanting the everyday - is completely and utterly fabulous. Catherine analyses, summarises and presents a wealth of compelling research in support of the book's main thesis which is that, the best kind of joy is to be found in the everyday moments of our everyday lives. I really loved the concept and the manageable way in which the book breaks it down into a variety of specific segments for example 'ordinary living' and 'ordinary loving'. I think this book will of ...more
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A delightful take on life in the modern day. I finished reading feeling much more satisfied with the life I had - a lovely feeling when reading non-fiction which so often sells on telling us we should change.

Thanks Catherine for making me much happier with my ordinary life.
Jun 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
The further through this book I got the more I enjoyed it.
Feb 22, 2021 rated it liked it
Nothing groundbreaking but great to be reminded of the beauty in simplicity.
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wow... once again Catherine Gray has spoken directly to my heart and my psyche with such beauty and clarity, I’m just so pleased I found this information at 30 and not a moment later.
Eve Dangerfield
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
I loved the previous two, but wasn't really feeling this one. I still haven't completed it. It might just be me though, I still adore CG's style and voice, but it's been ages and I must admit defeat. ...more
Tom Flay
Jan 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
I loved The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober so picked this up thinking it would be along the same lines, but unfortunately it was too much along the same lines. It felt like the format had been duplicated from the former and pasted into the latter and the words kind of flung in around it.

I really wanted to enjoy The Unexpected Joy of the Ordinary but for me it was just too wordy, like it was trying to fill itself up with words to create enough pages for a book.
Moh. Nasiri
Your brain is always searching for bad news.

Do you often find yourself focusing on what you don’t have? Imagine that you’re in a performance review with your boss. She praises your hard work, social skills, and professionalism. However, she also mentions that you sometimes lack confidence. And now the end result is you come out of that meeting feeling deflated.

You spend the rest of the night focusing on your shortcomings. But what about all the good things your boss said? Well, you hardly give t
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to pick up this book because of its title. I think that recognizing all the small things in our lives with appreciation and a sense of wonder is what can cultivate a life filled with more serenity and less strife. If we wait around for huge events before we express and feel gratitude, then we're stuck with being discontent maybe 80% of the time.

I listened to this book on audio book, so I was blessed to hear the author's own voice and hear emphasis placed where she intended it to be while s
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Book Four of 2020
The unexpected joy of the ordinary was a complete and utter joy. This wonderful, insightful and life affirming book was part of my @iamawildwoman_ subscription this month and I could not be more grateful to have recieved it.
As the title suggests it is about celebrating all things ordinary and finding joy in what we have. The sheer volume of research and references included in this book are incredible. This isn't just what the author Catherine Gray thinks, it's backed up with s
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
[Audiobook review] I absolutely loved listening to Catherine's The Unexpected Joy of Being Single last year, and was super excited to hear she had a new book coming over Christmas. This is the first book other than Harry Potter that I've so keenly pre-ordered, and I regret nothing!

As always, Catherine is an amazing narrator and wordsmith, finding the accessible midpoint between serious psychology and fun pop culture references. She's insightful, real, encouraging and provides an interesting pers
John Alshukri
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Amazing book.. one of the most important book in the 21st century. Nowadays, social media and technology rises our expectations by implementing that we are on the age of “Extraordinary” and It’s really frustrating some time.
Finding the joy in regular life activities is more satisfying. I really enjoy drinking coffee on my bed on the morning and just watching the sky through my window.
Nevertheless, I enjoy expensive trip when I can afford it but that usually come with the cost of additional anxi
Ahmed Khalifa
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
All my life, I always feel like I have to move up a level. Doing the "ordinary" things was not enough for me, as I always wanted more (career progression, be better at sports, meet more people, travel to more places, etc.). So the title of this book caught my eye.

I've read Catherine's other book and I've always liked her style of writing, which combines witty languages, funny anecdotes, relatable stories and personal experiences, combined with neuroscience research to back up the benefits of doi
Aug 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this, although I read it in a few sittings, which was ok as it makes the messages easier to digest. I certainly related to a lot of this and the personal anecdotes and the evidence base make it all seem real and practical. It’s not really a self help book with ideas about how to appreciate the ordinary, but it’s one person’s journey through that. Personally I found Buddhas Brain more useful from a self-help point of view, but this backed up my own opinion that happiness is a choice we ma ...more
Feb 10, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a good (obvious) pandemic audiobook. At times it felt like you were listening to your clever friend who read a lot of articles on a subject regurgitate all the cool things they learned. Which is fine. Though she quotes this one professor so much I kept thinking, maybe I should be reading their book instead. I found Gray's insight into gratitude the most helpful. It's not about big sweeping daily thoughts like a roof over your head or food in your belly, but really detailed moments from e ...more
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I love Catherines books and I think this one speaks to me in particular it was just so relatable for me and my ordinary life and my urge to alway try to make it extraordinary and the pressure which comes with that. I think what this book is really saying is be present and enjoy the little things. What I love about Catherine is she backs all of her writing up with evidence so there are always studies to delve into if you need more. I think the chapter on screentime is transformative for me, it fe ...more
Abi Jones
Mar 20, 2021 rated it liked it
I loved the message of this book. What we have now is once what we always wanted. It’s not a very complicated or groundbreaking idea to appreciate the ordinary things in life but I still found it an enjoyable and relaxing read. I loved how it offered an alternative to the ‘feminist hustle’ books I’d usually read with a less angry approach to life, ie. working on relationships and not believing the grass could be greener elsewhere, not aspiring for more and more promotions because that’s what you ...more
Helen Mangan
Jan 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've just finished this book & really enjoyed it. This reads like a chat with a down to earth, funny but wise friend, musing on life's simple pleasures we might not even register, without any high falutin' self help '"happiness is a choice, take it or leave it" type jargon. The author Catherine Gray has been on a long road to recovery & she is sharing with us some insights that have brought her through tough times, no lists or rules, just relatable personal exeriences & observations, including q ...more
Lynne Stoppard-jones
More than a self help

This book gets better as you read on as if it settles down to an easy honesty which explains the highs, instead of lows, of ordinariness in all its forms.
A satisfying read which affirms much and many of ones own thoughts. It also includes sound ways of thinking positively, yes instead of negatively, but not in a prescriptive way, in a very realistic way.
It is credibly written and worth a second read because it is warmly written and creates feelings of ‘..I’m good & Im ok’.
Mar 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
If you like Matt Haig's work, you'd like this one. Catherine's rather raw, and blunt recollection of the last two decades of her life are resounding in a way that you do not expect. It is not a book, but rather a short collection of snippets, and musings to which she construes Odes to the simple things in life. I have really struggled with my mental health over the last few years, and this really helped me go back to the basics, to find joys in the simple things in life, to strive for contentmen ...more
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was the right book at the right time. It’s an examination about how being ordinary is the best place to be, and how the ‘better and more’ mentality is toxic. It was a much needed reality check and a great new perspective on life. The only issue I had was the author’s occasional snide comments relating to politics which were unneeded and alienating to any reader who does not share her political views. I did roll my eyes on a few occasions.

That aside, this is a really good read and a book I
Liam Keogh
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Some very good material, well presented with stats and research to make it clear.

At times can be a little twee, a few too many asides, but this is in keeping with the tone of the book as a friendly accessible work.

Wasn't a huge fan of the final chapter as it included fewer stats and studies as other chapters. And perhaps because it wasn't as relevant to me. Some very strong sections overall though, and important lessons that would be valuable to most
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