A Short Guide to a Happy Life

A Short Guide to a Happy Life

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by Anna Quindlen
     
 

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From the author of Blessings and Still Life with Bread Crumbs, Anna Quindlen’s classic reflection on a meaningful life is the perfect gift for graduation, or any occasion.

“Life is made of moments, small pieces of silver amidst long stretches of tedium. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in

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Overview

From the author of Blessings and Still Life with Bread Crumbs, Anna Quindlen’s classic reflection on a meaningful life is the perfect gift for graduation, or any occasion.

“Life is made of moments, small pieces of silver amidst long stretches of tedium. It would be wonderful if they came to us unsummoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t happen. We have to teach ourselves now to live, really live . . . to love the journey, not the destination.”

In this treasure of a book, Anna Quindlen, the bestselling novelist and columnist, reflects on what it takes to “get a life”—to live deeply every day and from your own unique self, rather than merely to exist through your days. “Knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God ever gives us,” Quindlen writes, “because unless you know the clock is ticking, it is so easy to waste our days, our lives.” Her mother died when Quindlen was nineteen: “It was the dividing line between seeing the world in black and white, and in Technicolor. The lights came on for the darkest possible reason. . . . I learned something enduring, in a very short period of time, about life. And that was that it was glorious, and that you had no business taking it for granted.” But how to live from that perspective, to fully engage in our days? In A Short Guide to a Happy Life, Quindlen guides us with an understanding that comes from knowing how to see the view, the richness in living.

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Editorial Reviews

bn.com
In this treasure of a book, Anna Quindlen, the bestselling novelist and columnist, reflects on what it takes to "get a life" -- to live deeplyevery day and from your own unique self, rather than merely to exist through your days. "Knowledge of our own mortality is the greatest gift God ever gives us..."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375504617
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/2000
Edition description:
1ST
Pages:
64
Sales rank:
56,905
Product dimensions:
5.04(w) x 7.16(h) x 0.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

I'm not particularly qualified by profession or education to give advice and counsel. It's widely known in a small circle that I make a mean tomato sauce, and I know many inventive ways to hold a baby while nursing, although I haven't had the opportunity to use any of them in years. I have a good eye for a nice swatch and a surprising paint chip, and I have had a checkered but occasionally successful sideline in matchmaking.

But I've never earned a doctorate, or even a master's degree. I'm not an ethicist, or a philosopher, or an expert in any particular field. Each time I give a commencement speech I feel like a bit of a fraud. Yogi Berra's advice seems as good as any: When you come to a fork in the road, take it!
I can't talk about the economy, or the universe, or academe, as academicians like to call where they work when they're feeling kind of grand. I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is really all I know.

Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. That's what I have to say. The second is only a part of the first. Don't ever forget what a friend once wrote to Senator Paul Tsongas when the senator had decided not to run for reelection because he'd been diagnosed with cancer: "No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office."

Don't ever forget the words on a postcard that my father sent me last year: "If you win the rat race, you're still a rat."

Or what John Lennon wrote before he was gunned down in the driveway of the Dakota: "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

That's the only advice I can give. After all, when you look at the faces of a class of graduating seniors, you realize that each student has only one thing that no one else has. When you leave college, there are thousands of people out there with the same degree you have; when you get a job, there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living.

But you are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on the bus, or in the car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

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What People are saying about this

Liz Smith
This tiny Random House book was my favorite gift to give at Christmas. It is just wonderful and must be read by all the victims and paranoids on our list, as well as by those who are just down and despairing when the holidays roll around.

Meet the Author

Anna Quindlen is the author of three bestselling novels, Object Lessons, One True Thing, and Black and Blue. Her New York Times column "Public and Private" won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992, and a selection of those columns was published as Thinking Out Loud. She is also the author of a collection of her "Life in the 30's" columns, Living Out Loud; a book for the Library of Contemporary Thought, How Reading Changed My Life; and two children's books, The Tree That Came to Stay and Happily Ever After. She is currently a bi-weekly columnist for Newsweek and resides with her husband and children in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
July 8, 1952
Place of Birth:
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Education:
B.A., Barnard College, 1974
Website:
http://annaquindlen.net/

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A Short Guide to a Happy Life 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I like Anna Quindlen, but this book was dissapointing. I can't imagine why it's been successful other than brilliant marketing and the author's good name. Perhaps I just expected too much, but there is not much more to this little book than 'you should get a life, and appreciate it.' Over half the pages are taken up by unoriginal stock photos. If you want a little book filled with truly thought-provoking advice on living a happy life, I highly recommend 'Open Your Mind, Open Your Life' by Taro Gold.
sheltielover More than 1 year ago
I read this book when going through a tough time in my life. I had lots of questions about how my life was going and I was the only person who could answer those questions. A Short Guide to a Happy Life helped me sort through lots of debris in my life and find a path to happiness. I have given this book to many friends at tough times in their lives as well and I hope it has helped them as much as it helped me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Two great gift books for young adults: 1) this one is pretty good because Anna Quindlen has a knack for getting to the core of what matters in life. She writes simple but profound truth. and 2) Words to Live By (Emily and Kate Marshall) is great because we've got to tell young people what WE think is important. It's a guided journal you write in for someone. Quote Quindlen and others in it if you want, but add your own two cents. Very well laid out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ivm
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It's a quick read but contain many thought provoking statements. Reminds us to be grateful for what we have. It could be gone tomorrow.
JuneD More than 1 year ago
Easy and quick read. Worth reading again. Enjoyed it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This collection of advice and sentiments I enjoyed, however I wish I knew it was only a few pages long BEFORE I purchased it for $12 on my Nook! I realize the title says, "A Short Guide", but really this is no more than a thoughtful excerpt, and that should have been more clear, so "buyer beware"! Took a few minutes to read the entire guide!
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1Cryan More than 1 year ago
This is a short, easy to read book but has such awesome reminders about how precious is life and the people we share it with.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
inspirational
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I gave this book 4 stars because I have read others that I enjoyed more, such as Victoria Tunnermann's ESAMUEL. However, I would still recommend this one. I needed to make time for myself and take a breather, so to speak. This book helped me do just that, and reminded me of certain things I should have known.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It's a page turner, and an easy book to read in one sitting. I felt very content after this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm happy to have read this book because it made me feel happy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Like a simple proverb, this book is straight to the point, and gets to the matter, not wasting any words.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book reminds us that happiness is a state of mind and something we have some control over. I also enjoyed reading 'The Emotional Intelligence Quickbook' for some hands on strategies I could use to build happiness in my own life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a charming book. I felt happy as I read this book, so it works.