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Hector and the Search for Happiness: A Novel

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Overview

Now a major motion picture starring Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer
 
The international bestseller with more than two million copies sold
 
?Once upon a time there was a young psychiatrist called Hector who was not very satisfied with himself. . . . And so he decided to take a trip around the ...

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Overview

Now a major motion picture starring Simon Pegg, Rosamund Pike, Toni Collette, and Christopher Plummer
 
The international bestseller with more than two million copies sold
 
“Once upon a time there was a young psychiatrist called Hector who was not very satisfied with himself. . . . And so he decided to take a trip around the world, and everywhere he went he would try to understand what made people happy or unhappy.”

Hector travels from Paris to China to Africa to the United States, and along the way he keeps a list of observations about the people he meets. Combining the winsome appeal of The Little Prince with the inspiring philosophy of The Alchemist, Hector’s journey around the world and into the human soul is entertaining, empowering, and smile-inducing—as winning in its optimism as it is wise in its simplicity.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This trite debut follows a psychiatrist named Hector as he attempts to understand "what made people happy." At a crossroads professionally and personally, Hector resolves to take a trip, first landing in China, where he reconnects with an old friend and encounters Ying Li, with whom he spends a night. He also meets an old monk who offers a bit of happiness-related wisdom. Having suffered disappointment in his relations with Ying Li, Hector next heads to Africa, where he makes the acquaintance of a drug lord with a depressed wife, is kidnapped, and learns that "it's harder to be happy in a country run by bad people." Next up is the "big country where there were more psychiatrists than anywhere else in the world" and a meeting with a professor of "Happiness Studies." Lelord, a psychiatrist, writes in the simple prose you'd find in a children's book, and this stylistic choice quickly becomes irredeemably grating. Though the book is an international bestseller, it is far less a novel than a maudlin self-help guide that substitutes pat aphorisms for development. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In this first novel, which achieved best-seller status overseas, a psychiatrist named Hector takes a trip around the world to find out what makes people happy and to define what happiness is. From China to Africa, he talks to many people, and every time he learns something instructive about happiness, he writes it down in a notebook. Then he verifies his list with a Professor of Happiness and discovers that he has indeed figured it out—mostly. Lelord, a French-born psychiatrist and author of several self-help books, has written this story as if speaking to a child—he's presenting a simplified version of Hector's (and his) adventure. The book, part of a series, reads something like Crockett Johnson's Harold and the Purple Crayon, but the overall effect is charming, clever, humorous, and insightful. VERDICT Adults and teens will both enjoy this rulebook for happiness; recommended.—Joanna M. Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Lib.
Library Journal
Lelord's internationally best-selling debut novel was first published in France in 2002. It is a parable centering on Hector, a young Parisian psychiatrist who, disheartened by his patients' misery, sets out in search of the secret to happiness, traveling to China, Africa, and, eventually, the United States, i.e., "the country that has more psychiatrists than any other." He returns to Paris wiser and, indeed, happier. The fable is presented in a deliberately simple style recalling Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's The Little Prince. Narrator James Clamp's precise British diction is perfect for the occasionally pedantic text, whose detailed scenes are revealed with often delicious irony and humor. Highly recommended. [A film adaptation of the Penguin pb, which was described as being "charming, clever, humorous, and insightful" (LJ 9/15/10), is currently in development; Lelord's next Hector book has already been signed by Viking.—Ed.]—Nann Blaine Hilyard, Zion-Benton P.L., IL
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143118398
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Series: Hector's journeys Series
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 82,942
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

François Lelord has had a successful career as a psychiatrist in France, where he was born, and in the United States, where he did his postdoc (UCLA). He is the co-author of a number of bestselling self-help books and has consulted for companies interested in reducing stress for their employees. He was on a trip to Hong Kong, questioning his personal and professional life, when the Hector character popped into his mind, and he wrote Hector and the Search for Happiness not quite knowing what kind of book he was writing. The huge success of Hector, first in France, then in Germany and other countries, led him to spend more time writing and traveling, and at the height of the SARS epidemic he found himself in Vietnam, where he practiced psychiatry for a French NGO whose profits go toward heart surgery for poor Vietnamese children. While in Vietnam he also met his future wife, Phuong; today they live in Thailand.

François Lelord’s series of novels about Hector’s journeys includes Hector and the Search for Happiness, Hector and the Secrets of Love, and Hector and the Search for Lost Time.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2014

    Pleasant read, if not amazing

    Moves along nicely, and provides a pleasant read before bed. I'd likely have appreciated it a bit more if the author didn't use as many euphemisms roundabout ways of saying things, though.

    Am glad that I bought and read the book; just not five stars happy.

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  • Posted November 8, 2012

    Fantastic! I absolutely loved this book! Hector is a psychiatri

    Fantastic!

    I absolutely loved this book! Hector is a psychiatrist and constantly hears that his patients are unhappy. He decides one day to find the secret to happiness. Hector sets out on a journey that takes him around the world in search of happiness. He keeps a notebook with what amounts to bullet points of what makes people happy in hopes that he will find a solution to happiness. A very inspirational read.

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  • Posted August 4, 2012

    inspirational without being obnoxious. everyone should read this

    inspirational without being obnoxious. everyone should read this if they're going through a hard time or just want another perspective about life.

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  • Posted May 23, 2011

    Good.

    A nice read that's simple and light. Looking forward to Lelord's next Hector adventure, titled Hector and the Secrets of Love.

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    Posted January 15, 2012

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