Happiness isn't a myth, but Jennifer Michael Hecht's The Happiness Myth: Why What We Think Is Right Is Wrong (Harper San Francisco, Apr.) makes a convincing case that in light of what has made people happy throughout history, we buy into some strange myths about how to get happy. The author of Doubt: A History casts doubt upon and even dismisses happiness myths that are unhelpful or destructive. This book is remarkable because of Hecht's refusal to accept conventional beliefs and her willingness to examine even the strangest and most illegal paths to happiness with an audacity that I can't help comparing to Freakonomics. She casts a critical eye on fitness, longevity and nutrition while refusing to dismiss money, drugs and sex as happiness techniques. Beyond being a sassy and entertaining history of happiness culture and rituals, this book gives you some courage and inspiration to go a little bit further in your own pursuit of happiness. We might not have Greek festivals anymore, but we do have gay pride parades, the Super Bowl and Star Trek conventions.
Volume 254 Issue 14 04/02/2007