A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen

Reviewed by Joanne K. Singleton, PhD, RN, CS, FNP
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"A Short Guide to a Happy Life" by Anna Quindlen

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The author, Anna Quindlen, a columnist and best selling author, begins this petite, but far from diminutive story,
by acknowledging her lack of credentials to offer advice in any particular field. As a novelist, she goes on to tell us that her work is "human nature," and that "real life" is all she really knows. And this is what her story is about, real life. The story – her own, of what she learned about life -- is simple, and the prose is beautifully written and embellished with photographs. This simply beautiful story is about recognizing and embracing one's own life.

A Short Guide to a Happy Life offers guideposts to help you "love the journey" called life. Ms. Quindlen tells us of her transformative experience at the age of 19, when her mother, who was 40, died of ovarian cancer. It was an awakening for her that changed the way she saw life. Although it was not a positive or happy experience, she describes the way she saw the world changing from black and white to Technicolor.

The author reminds us that there are experiences, good and bad, that have the ability to suddenly divide one's life into "befores" and "afters." As traumatic as these experiences are they also offer opportunities to see thing differently than one has before. Although much of what Ms. Quindlen has to say, has been said before, she seems to have a gift for weaving together snippets of advice, or what some might consider cliches, into a meaningful, easy, pleasant read.

About the Author

Anna Quindlen is the author of three best selling 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 columnist for Newsweek and resides with her husband and children in New York City.

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