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The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search…

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness (2017)

by Paula Poundstone

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11444150,696 (3.67)7



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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love Paula Poundstone's comedic voice. Not only is she funny, she is genuinely moving. Both those traits are in this book of autobiographical experiments, which is both fun and slightly plaintive in its lament for the shortness of life and our inability to translate hard-won life experience into a real theory of living. I heard her wonderful voice in her writing and was happy to be taken along for the ride as she explored experiments in living both logical and absurd. I couldn't help but unrealistically hope that she would find an simple, easy, logical theory of happiness, but (spoiler alert!) nothing is an uncomplicated as it seems.

If only she could somehow have magically incorporated interrogating an audience member into the book, it would have been an perfect Paula Poundstone experience. I do highly recommend it. Read it when you sincerely want to think about how to make your life happier, but you also want a funny, lighthearted friend to talk you through it, just in case things get weird. ( )
  saraswati27 | Sep 15, 2018 |
Couldn't have asked for a better audio book to have with me on an busy road trip with my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren. With very little time and opportunity to pick up a book, listening to Paula Pounstone give her take on the pursuit of happiness amidst the chaos only children can inflict made my moments of alone time happy. ( )
  Christina_E_Mitchell | Aug 1, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Won this in the early reviewers giveaway.
I have always enjoyed Paula Poundstone on television, and wanted to like this book. It took me several tries to get going on reading this for some reason.
Parts of it were very funny and it read as if I could hear Ms. Poundstone saying it. But it seemed to never really get moving.
It is set up as a series of experiments by Ms. Poundstone to find the secret of happiness.
Every chapter is an experiment, and is broken up into sub headings like Theory, Qualitative Observation, Analysis, etc. the first few chapters seemed overly long and the many little breaks seemed to be the reason I couldn't get into this. It didn't flow smoothly. Towards the end of the book the chapters were shorter and seemed to read better.
All in all this was funny if you are a fan of Paula Poundstone, but it wasn't quite as light reading as I expected. ( )
  hredwards | Jul 27, 2018 |
There are "experiments" here but mostly there is reflection on Ms. Poundstone's life and her exploration of what brings the most happiness into her life, told with the quirky observational humor with which she has made her living. As a fellow adoptive mother, I was particularly clued into the things she shared about her challenges with her children and I found the conclusions of Ms. Poundstone's experiments particularly telling - the volunteer work she did in care centers gave her the most lasting happiness, along with other activities focused on the relationships she had with others. ( )
  tjsjohanna | Jun 23, 2018 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

(I read only the first chapter before my wife took the book from me, so this is a preliminary review only.)

Paula Poundstone is a solid comedian, but the book is much less about jokes. Is it funny? Yes. But it's not a laff-a-minute riot; it is a serious exploration of self and family and possible paths to happiness.
  thmazing | Jun 4, 2018 |
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Is there a secret to happiness?
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"A hilarious story of jumping into new experiences with both feet and a surprisingly poignant tale of a working mother raising three kids"-- "'Is there a secret to happiness?' asks comedian Paula Poundstone. I don't know how or why anyone would keep it a secret. It seems rather cruel, really ... Where could it be? Is it deceptively simple? Does it melt at a certain temperature? Can you buy it? Must you suffer for it before or after? In her wildly and wisely observed book, the comedy legend takes on that most inalienable of rights--the pursuit of happiness. Offering herself up as a human guinea pig in a series of thoroughly unscientific experiments, Poundstone tries out a different get-happy hypothesis in each chapter of her data-driven search. She gets in shape with taekwondo. She drives fast behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. She communes with nature while camping with her daughter, and commits to getting her house organized (twice!). Swing dancing? Meditation? Volunteering? Does any of it bring her happiness? You may be laughing too hard to care. The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness is both a story of jumping into new experiences with both feet and a surprisingly poignant tale of a single working mother of three children (not to mention dozens of cats, a dog, a bearded dragon lizard, a lop-eared bunny, and one ant left from her ant farm) who is just trying to keep smiling while living a busy life. The queen of the skepticism-fueled rant, Paula Poundstone stands alone in her talent for bursting bubbles and slaying sacred cows. ... She is a master of her craft, and her comedic brilliance is served up in abundance in this book. As author and humorist Roy Blount Jr. notes, 'Paula Poundstone deserves to be happy. Nobody deserves to be this funny.'"--Jacket.… (more)

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