It’s a new year and with it comes the usual list of books that will magically turn you into a wonderful, happy and amazing person. We’re here to change all that.
Down with happiness! Well, forced happiness at least. We want you to make your own decisions on how to live a good life. Our titles are designed to make you think about what might make a fulfilling life and maybe give you a nudge in the right direction.
So, step right up and try some of our reads specially designed to cure your ills:
Every Time I Find the Meaning of Life, They Change It, by Daniel Klein. We think the title says it all. As a young college student studying philosophy, Klein filled a notebook with short quotes from the world’s greatest thinkers, hoping to find some guidance on how to live the best life he could. He revisits his student notebook filled with quotes from the world's greatest thinkers and tackles life’s big questions from the vantage point of decades later.
The Most Good You Can Do: How effective altruism is changing ideas about living ethically, by Peter Singer. Internationally renowned philosopher Peter Singer presents a challenging new movement in the search for an ethical life, one that has emerged from his work on some of the world’s most pressing problems.
Altruism: it’s not all about you, but helping others can do you more good than you think.
The Antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking, by Oliver Burkeman. How to deal with all the advice about being happy that’s actually making us miserable! In an approach that turns decades of self-help advice on its head, Oliver Burkeman explains why positive thinking serves only to make us more miserable, and why ‘getting motivated’ can exacerbate procrastination.
See, we told you we were against happiness!
Travels with Epicurus: A journey to a Greeek island in search of authentic old age, by Daniel Klein. Why be stressed when you can age gracefully? Klein travels to a place where people seemed to know the secret to a long, happy and healthy life: Greece. He takes a library of his favourite philosophers and observes other septuagenarians and octogenarians, and contemplates his own life, particularly seeking out wisdom from renowned hedonist Epicurus.
From that journey comes a sincere and humorous book on ageing and an Epicurean way of living.
Marry Him, by Lori Gottlieb. Not the most obvious choice for this list, but bear with us.
Funny, confronting and very real, Marry Him is Lori Gottlieb’s account of her search for a partner and the adjustments she had to make to her own expectations in order to find happiness.
When Lori Gottlieb found herself forty and still single, she came to an uncomfortable realisation. If so many of her friends were very happily married to ‘good enough’ guys, the type of men who might not make you weak in the knees but made great partners and fathers, maybe she had been looking for the wrong man. Could her Mr Right have been, well, right in front of her all along?
The Ethics of What We Eat, by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. Our food choices and how they are linked to health, animal welfare and the environment. The authors raise questions about people’s everyday food choices and challenge us to think before we buy. After all, we must eat. On what should conscientious consumers dine? And what is all this stuff doing to our health?
What Singer and Mason discover about food choices and their links to human health, animal suffering and environmental degradation will shock and challenge you. Containing essential information on ethical yet practical shopping and dining, The Ethics of What We Eat will forever change the way you look at food.
In Praise of Ageing by Patricia Edgar.
Ageing is something to look forward to—so start celebrating it.
Australians are staying healthy and living longer than ever before. Yet rather than focusing on the productive, rich, varied lives older people lead we dwell on the burden of ageing. In Praise of Ageing tells the stories of eight people who have lived well into their nineties and beyond. These people will inspire you, entertain you and motivate you to be connected, interested, risk-taking and inventive. They will challenge your preconceptions. And they will convince you that fifty is now the start of the second half of life and not the beginning of the end.
The Novel Cure, by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkind.
Sick? Tired? Lost your job? Take one dose of literature and repeat until better.
The Novel Cure is an A–Z of literary remedies that offers a cure in the form of a novel for all kinds of ailments of the mind and body, and life’s general ups and downs. Whether you have stomach flu, low self-esteem or are just stuck in a rut, this book will recommend a novel to help ease your pain.
And there it is, our anti-happiness list. So really, stop trying to be perfect, go out and read some books. Any books. Maybe some of ours—ours are pretty good.
Have a wonderful new year,