One More Theory About Happiness: A Memoir [NOOK Book]


Paul Guest was twelve years old, racing down a hill on a too big, ancient bicycle, when he discovered he had no brakes. Steering into anything that would slow down the bike, he hit a ditch, was thrown over the handlebars, and broke his neck.

One More Theory About Happiness follows a boy into manhood, from the harrowing days immediately after his accident to his adult life as a teacher, award-winning poet, and soon-to-be husband. With wit, courage, and an unstoppable drive to ...

See more details below
One More Theory About Happiness: A Memoir

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$10.99 price


Paul Guest was twelve years old, racing down a hill on a too big, ancient bicycle, when he discovered he had no brakes. Steering into anything that would slow down the bike, he hit a ditch, was thrown over the handlebars, and broke his neck.

One More Theory About Happiness follows a boy into manhood, from the harrowing days immediately after his accident to his adult life as a teacher, award-winning poet, and soon-to-be husband. With wit, courage, and an unstoppable drive to live a life of his own creation—stemming in part from his remarkable parents, who insisted he return to school only days after arriving home from the hospital—Paul makes peace with his paralysis. As he grows older, he transforms it with his art, cultivating his lifelong gift for language into a searing poetic sensibility that has earned him praise from the highest ranks of American letters (“Wonderful”— John Ashbery; “Astonishing”—Jorie Graham; “Fierce and unnerving”—Robert Hass).

An unforgettable story—shatteringly funny, deeply moving, and breathtakingly honest—One More Theory About Happiness takes us from a body irrevocably changed to a life fiercely cherished.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Paul Guest was a normal 12-year-old, fascinated with the old firecrackers his grandfather kept in a jar. He'd break them up and set fire to the rupture, creating showers of sparks. The day after he graduated from grade school, he borrowed a bicycle, lost control, and flipped it. Lying on the ground, unable to feel his body below his neck, what he thought was blood running from his nose was, in fact, spinal fluid.

Guest would never again have the use of his arms or legs. Even so, he says he was lucky: "If I couldn't lift my arms I could breathe. I could feel... I no longer had to be, or even could be, who I once was. What I once was. I was broken. And new."

One More Theory About Happiness is among the rarest of books: humbling, heartbreaking, and suffused with joy. Guest must learn to navigate the rest of his life in a wheelchair. An immobilizing halo is screwed into his skull. There are diapers and suctions; basic bodily functions are no longer private; the simplest daily tasks require help. Yet every agony is met with hope, each humiliation with dignity, moments of despair banished by an extraordinary capacity for gratitude.

If you've never laughed and cried at the same time, Guest's book will change that. His language is pure poetry, and his simple, amazing grace redefines that world-weary word, "hero".

"In these lyrical, searing pages, Guestmanages to break our hearts and put themback together again."—Ann Hood, author of The Red Thread

Kirkus Reviews
In fulfilling the promise made in his third collection of poetry (My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge, 2008, etc.), Guest produces a memoir chronicling the life-altering accident that robbed him of an active childhood. When the author was 12, he lost control of a bicycle and flipped over the handlebars, breaking both arms and shattering two neck vertebrae. His hospital experience, related in surreal, fever-dream tones, became a harsh amalgam of "catastrophe and convalescence." Guest was told he had only a slim chance of ever walking again and should resign himself to living indefinitely as a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic. Nausea, indigestion and infections mattered little compared to the full-body paralysis that sent him to a rehabilitation facility in Atlanta, where he was fitted into a fiberglass vest and a steel traction "halo" for nine weeks, an alternative therapy that proved ineffective. Befriending 17-year-old Josh and others boosted his self-esteem much more than the "libidinal hazing" of awkward sex-instruction videos that were showcased nightly within the facility. Eventually, nerves healed and partial sensation returned to his extremities, but not before an excruciating neck surgery. Finally returning home, he faced rides on the "short bus," a string of eccentric assistants and the excitement and challenge of the female sex. Young adulthood was a mixed bag. The author was callously mugged in an elevator yet found true emotional release in crafting volumes of poetry, teaching and blissful physical intimacy. Never mawkish or grim, Guest's lyrical narrative ability tempers the heft of his experience, but the tender age at which he endured this grueling ordeal resonates onevery page. Inspiring and courageous. Agent: Betsy Lerner/Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency
Publishers Weekly
Paralyzed in an accident at age 12, poet Guest (My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge) skips the maudlin and the sentimental in this simply-told story of growing up and finding success despite tremendous obstacles. With a poet's economy and grace, Guest narrates his journey from accident and diagnosis (a "severely" bruised spinal cord, "overwhelming" chances he won't walk again) to surgery and physical therapy, to high school, college and graduate school navigated via "sip and puff" wheelchair. Along the way he provides grateful commentary on the standard trials of growing up, including dating and finding his calling, as well as his experiences publishing his first book of poems, Exit Interview. Hopeful but refreshingly direct, Guest's memoir is not simply an inspirational account of overcoming disability, but an insightful, vivid account of an outsider finding his place.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dallas Morning News
“[Guest] tells his story in short scenes that break to white space before they might prompt pity. He zigzags before we might hold him up as an example, a symbol...His memoir voice is gentle and matter-of-fact. His details are astounding and unforgettable.”
Los Angeles Times
“Guest remembers; gently, carefully, painfully, each new milestone from the accident forward. He is blessed with a sharp sense of is an effervescent book: irrepressible, buoyant.”
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“[A] graceful and unflinching account....a remarkable journey that Guest, who possesses a dark sense of the absurd and an eye for the vulnerability of both the injured and the whole, presents in scenes that run the gamut from the horrific to the sublime.”
USA Today
“Lean, arresting . . . With zero gush and sentiment, [Guest] conveys [a] quiet heroism . . . Guest is an unconventional and provocative observer of himself. And of us, the ‘able-bodied.’ ”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
“[A] tightly written, candid memoir...[Guest] unearths a poet’s faculty for succinct, smart description, narrating his own life in this memoir as a surprisingly dispassionate observer.”
New York Times Book Review
“Guest writes more directly than ever before about his paralysis.... Guest’s work, which cannot redeem his brokenness or ours...makes something beautiful out of it. And that is enough.”
“Far from a saccharine ‘triumph of the human spirit,’ Guest’s memoir is marked by his winning humor and bare-naked honesty, distilled into poetic prose....alert[s] us to the amazing ability of the human body and mind to reconcile with an unbearable reality.”
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061992520
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/4/2010
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 208
  • File size: 578 KB

Meet the Author

Paul Guest

Paul Guest is the author of three poetry collections, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, which won the 2002 New Issues Prize in Poetry; Notes for My Body Double, which won the 2006 Prairie Schooner Book Prize; and My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge. The recipient of a 2007 Whiting Award, he lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Excellent read

    Not exactly a memoir in my opinion but nonetheless a compelling read. I felt as if i was left wanting more which i guess is the intent of any author. Many great stories have been left out........maybe a part 2 .....perhaps? I recommend this book emphatically to all!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)