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The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness

by Paula Poundstone

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
While I think this book had some good parts that were in fact funny I found a little of this book to be disheartening. I can't pin point oh this specific chapter was it or this style of writing but it just came off like it was forced. I like the ideas of the experiments and how they all didn't bring happiness as I think that would have totally thrown me off which gave it a more realistic approach as I could see myself doing some of these things and having similar results if I did them with my own happiness. If you are a fan of Paula then you will, for a good part, enjoy this book it definitely has her signature sense of humor wit in it which is what attracted me to the book in the first place. At least worth the library rental if on the fence about it. ( )
  rayneofdarkness | Jun 27, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
There may be no quirkier comic out there than Paula Poundstone. She has a delivery and an act that is more dependent on the audience than it is the planned content. Not that her planned act is not good (mayhaps great). But she is at her best when reacting.

That may be why translation of her style into a book is such a struggle. In her first endeavor, “There’s Nothing In This Book That I Meant To Say”, she solved this problem by using her various psychological issues (OCD, ADD, etc.…I think those are the right ones) rather than fighting them. She would start with a historical figure and, next thing we all knew, she was talking about life – hers, ours, and everything in between.

It worked.

For this book, she uses a similarly artificial device. (Not artificial in a bad way, just a trick to frame the conversation.) Each chapter is divided into ways she tries to achieve happiness. Exercise, movies, the internet, dancing, driving a fast car – a plethora of expected and unexpected attempts to find how they impact the achievement of happiness.

Of course, calling these “experiments” is a bit much. I’m not saying she didn’t do these things (and, in some instances, she obviously tried the specifically for the book). However, just as with the previous book, it is all a construct for talking about life.

The problem is that this approach does not work as well as that used in the first book. Now, before anyone gets all “how could you?!” all over me (or starts raining me with praise for finally catching on – Poundstone is not everyone’s cup of tea), this isn’t saying the book is bad. It’s just that the first one set what may well be impossibly high and possibly unreachable standards.

I didn’t find myself having as many laugh out loud moments. And, although both books have an intense autobiographically aspect to them, at times this one did not work as well as the prior one.

Picking on a book for being too true to the subject (as I may have just done) is insane. And I only bring it up to point out the differences between this and the previous book.

Let me clarify. This book is funny. It is an interesting premise. And the “experiments” lead to some interesting revelations about Poundstone and about us. And it is fun to read. And it is funny.

All that being said, if you are not a fan of Paula Poundstone, this book will not make you one. However, if you are not a fan, you probably have no business thinking you can just join in on the party, because she will always be what she is – one of the funniest comics we have, and one who will always provide an interesting spin on any topic. And, if you are not a fan, then don’t clog our airways. And for those of us who understand and appreciate her genius, in spite of anything I may have just said that came off too negative, this book gives all of us another opportunity to join in the fun any time we want. ( )
  figre | Jun 26, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I received a free copy of Paula Poundstone's "The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness" through LT's Early Reviewers program. I requested it because I generally find Poundstone to be one of the funnier personalities on "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me."

There were definitely some funny bits in the book, but that is tempered by the fact I absolutely detested the way Poundstone talked about her children -- especially her oldest daughter who seems to be particularly singled out. I hope that these stories are embellished for dramatic effect and that her daughter doesn't mind all this information about herself listed in a book. ( )
  amerynth | Jun 25, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
If you happen to have a weak bladder, or pee when you laugh, I highly recommend investing in some Adult Diapers/Depends. Also, while reading, refrain from eating/drinking as you may have your lunch come out of your nose from laughing/choking. Embarrassing bodily functions aside, this book was much more than just humorous. In her search for the elusive and transitory more than momentary happiness, the author invests her time (and money) into a series of experiments and chronicles the mixed results. Her reflection of said results presents itself in short stream-of-consciousness type burts full of self-deprecating wit and charm. I think what she found out is that the key to happiness is in accepting who you are- warts and all. In that, she has not only succeeded, but given us a hilarious read full of descriptions so vivid I cannot un-see them. This book reminded me that it is okay to fail, and that learning new things can be very beneficial, and funny, as long as those things do not cause you to need a lobotomy. ( )
  ZeStY10708 | Jun 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love Paula Poundstone. I have seen her in person (at the Aladding theater in Portland, Oregon), I love listening to her on NPR's Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me show, and I really enjoyed reading this book!

In it, she describes various things she does to try to find happiness. She tries to get fit. She tries backpacking with her daughter. She tries getting connected on the computer. She tries driving a fancy car. She tries volunteering. I really appreciate how honest she was. Many of things did not provide much happiness at all, and other things provide a lot of happiness. Some of the things provided momentary happiness, and other things gave her longer lasting happiness.

One of my favorite things is how she uses her cats to describe the amounts of happiness she finds or doesn't find - heps and balous. I'm going to pay attention to how many heps and balous of happiness I find in my own life. ( )
1 vote lisalangford | Jun 21, 2017 |
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