One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Read more...
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One Sunday afternoon, as she unloaded the dishwasher, Gretchen Rubin felt hit by a wave of homesickness. Homesick--why? She was standing right in her own kitchen. She felt homesick, she realized, with love for home itself. "Of all the elements of a happy life," she thought, "my home is the most important." In a flash, she decided to undertake a new happiness project, and this time, to focus on home.
And what did she want from her home? A place that calmed her, and energized her. A place that, by making her feel safe, would free her to take risks. Also, while Rubin wanted to be happier at home, she wanted to appreciate how much happiness was there already.
So, starting in September (the new January), Rubin dedicated a school year--September through May--to making her home a place of greater simplicity, comfort, and love.
In "The Happiness Project, " she worked out general theories of happiness. Here she goes deeper on factors that matter for home, such as possessions, marriage, time, and parenthood. How can she control the cubicle in her pocket? How might she spotlight her family's treasured possessions? And it really was time to replace that dud toaster.
Each month, Rubin tackles a different theme as she experiments with concrete, manageable resolutions--and this time, she coaxes her family to try some resolutions, as well.
With her signature blend of memoir, science, philosophy, and experimentation, Rubin's passion for her subject jumps off the page, and reading just a few chapters of this book will inspire readers to find more happiness in their own lives.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-05-28
- Reviewer: Staff
In her earlier book The Happiness Project, Rubin dedicated each month for a year to a theme (friendship, work, etc.), each accompanied by “a handful of modest resolutions.” In this sequel, spanning September through May, Rubin narrows her focus to strategies “to feel more at home, at home.” A goal for her for September was to glean more happiness from her possessions by arranging and spotlighting meaningful possessions and getting rid of meaningless stuff. Resolving to cultivate a shrine, Rubin transformed areas of her apartment into places of super-engagement such as painting wisteria climbing the walls of her tiny office. In October, Rubin’s thoughts turned to her 16-year marriage, and she started kissing her husband more often, took driving lessons to share motoring responsibility, began thanking him for tackling chores, and focused on being cheerfully accommodating. Other months concentrated on parenting, time management, body-related resolutions, parents and siblings, and neighborhood. Although it lacks the freshness and originality of her earlier book, this perceptive sequel offers elegant musings about the nature of happiness combined with concrete ways to make the place where we sleep, eat, and watch TV truly a home. Illus. Agent: Christy Fletcher, Fletcher & Company. (Sept.)
Bring happiness home
It seemed that Gretchen Rubin said everything there was to say about happiness in her 2010 blockbuster, The Happiness Project, in which she spent a year creating and testing theories of happiness. But it turns out there was one facet of happiness left for Rubin to plumb: that within your own four walls.
The wonderfully thought-provoking Happier at Home isn’t about making your home prettier or less cluttered—although Rubin does devote some time to ridding her home of “things that didn’t matter, to make more room for the things that did.” Rather, she spends nine months focusing on what she considers the aspects of home that impact happiness: possessions, marriage, parenthood, interior design (meaning self-renovation, not Home Beautiful), time, body, family, neighborhood and now.
Rubin’s forays into happiness are so riveting because she masterfully blends the science of happiness with her own personal experience and offers tools to embark on your own project. She makes you want to jump into your own happiness project before you even finish the book.
Rubin does sometimes veer into a sort of eccentricity that some readers may find hard to relate to. In her chapter on body, she builds what she dubs a Shrine to Scent: a silver tray bearing a collection of unusual perfumes and air fresheners. Her bigger point is that Proustian memories evoked by the senses can bring happiness. But to me, a Shrine to Scent seems a little silly, just one more thing in my house I’d have to dust.
In the end, the purpose of Happier at Home is exactly that: finding what makes you happier in your home, your neighborhood and your marriage, even if it’s not what would make anyone else happy. And if you’re happier, chances are those around you will be, too.