cover image The Spirit of Happiness: Discovering God's Purpose for Your Life

The Spirit of Happiness: Discovering God's Purpose for Your Life

T. Byram Karasu, . . Simon & Schuster, $25 (286pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-8903-0

Karasu, a practicing psychiatrist, begins where his recent book The Art of Serenity left off: he assumes that readers know that God loves them and that they now need to understand how to live godly lives. He offers several areas where people can and should strive to be godly: at work, during failures and tribulations, in marriage, in child-rearing, with friends and in community. The book draws heavily—and sometimes superficially—on the Bible as the most important source of wisdom for human growth. But readers may wonder at Karasu's shallow and selective use of the Bible, as when he highlights fundamental teachings as "God wants me to enjoy life" and "God wants me to speak from my heart." The book's gender-exclusive language ("man's holy purpose," "there is no salvation of man by man," etc.) is dated, an odd editorial decision given that so many readers of inspirational self-help books are women. Also surprising is the book's lack of relevant case studies and composite examples from Karasu's practice. Karasu's advice is sensible but generic; he makes blanket statements about human tendencies but does not give readers much to grab onto. Still, his observations about common emotional and spiritual pitfalls can be helpful, especially in the chapter on marriage. (Feb. 7)