A Short Guide to a Happy Life

by Anna Quindlen

Hardcover, 2000




Random House (2000), Edition: 1, 64 pages


From the New York Times bestselling author of Alternate Side, Anna Quindlen's classic reflection on a meaningful life makes a perfect gift for 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.… (more)


½ (172 ratings; 3.7)

User reviews

LibraryThing member 1morechapter
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
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This (extremely) short guide to a happy life by Anna Quindlen is a very quick read with quite a few nuggets of wisdom. Encouraged to get a ‘real’ life that we can enjoy in addition to our obligations, we are also treated to some outstanding photos of people doing just that. The book is so short that I’ll keep my review short as well.

Recommended for Quindlen fans and those needing a ‘Q’ author or a short non-fiction title for reading challenges.

2000, 50 pp.
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LibraryThing member laytonwoman3rd
Short, all right. And disappointing. Trite, almost. Yep, we're all going to die and we should stop to smell the roses. A pot-boiler, I suspect.
LibraryThing member mrstreme
This book is filled with Quindlen's wise words about living life - enjoying the journey and not just the destination. Take in the small things - hugs from your kids, birds flying against the blue sky, your spouse's smile - whatever seems small and insignificant are really the important parts of
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life. Quindlen wrote this as a commencement address to college graduates, and while she commented that she is not an expert in economics or academe, she is an expert at reminding us how human we all are. Together with her words, this book is filled with beautiful black-and-white photography that captures life's little moments. At fifty pages, this small book lifted my heart and soul. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially fans of Anna Quindlen.
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LibraryThing member realbigcat
This is the second small book I have read by Anna Quindlen. She has a very unique and straight forward take on life. Her books are short but she manages to say a lot in a few pages. I found this book inspirational and her points of view were "right on". I would read this book over and over when
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feeling down. It will help you get the right perspective on life.
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LibraryThing member susanheim
I like Anna Quindlen but all I could think in the fifteen minutes that it took me to read this book was, "She must have needed a little quick cash." This is basically a be thankful for life pep talk, perhaps an old commencement address she gave, spread out over fifty or so pages with about half of
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those pages devoted to greeting card style sentimental pictures. Really. It would be good in a guest bedroom because it is such a quick read, if only I had a guest bedroom!
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LibraryThing member debnance
Energizing little book about the power we have to create a happy life for ourselves. I must remember these lessons.
LibraryThing member Chris177
This book reads like a graduation commencement speech. It is short, sweet and to the point. Its message is clear, “Live life while you have the chance, for it will be over all too soon!” The book is so short that it can be read in just one sitting and has many fun photos to go along with the
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LibraryThing member bexaplex
"A Short Guide to a Happy Life" is a trite column-slash-commencement speech about the author's appreciation of life after the death of her mother. You'd think a novelist would be able to summon some realistic detail about love and loss — if she can, it's not in this volume.
LibraryThing member dukefan86
This is a very quick read, full of advice like (paraphrasing) take in the view, leave the office, life's about the journey--not the destination. Commencement speech material. Nothing new, but I enjoyed the black and white photographs interspersed among the pages of writing.
LibraryThing member nancynova
Expanded commencement speech. Interesting that she repeated the same words as Bill Gates Sr (the microsoft guys's Dad) - "just show up for life"
LibraryThing member cougargirl1967
A wonderful book, I'll keep it in the front room so it'll catch my eye at the right time to read it again.
LibraryThing member Whisper1
While some may note this as trite and corney, I liked the simplicity of it all. The suggestion of turning off all phones and enjoying silence spoke to me. I've grown to dislike the sound of the phone, and the sound of people talking on their phones in public places. Somehow we are all running in
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place. I feel it when I enter the office building. As the elevator takes me up to the second floor, I feel a tad of tension, anticipating a busy day. Taking time to slow down is what I hope retirement brings.
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LibraryThing member whitewavedarling
I suspect this little book was only put out to catch fans' eyes and make some money, maybe as an easy Christmas gift/stocking stuffer or maybe just from long-time Quindlen fans. I honestly can't think of any other reason to make this very short, overly trite and simplified, purportedly wise little
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"essay" into a book by itself. So much of this little book is overly vague and didactic, it makes me far from inclined to ever touch another word by the author, if I'm being honest. I'm glad this was a gift--I'd hate to have spent money on it.
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LibraryThing member bookworm12
A lovely sweet reflection on life and how to embrace every day.

“Life is made up of moments, small pieces of glittering mica in a long stretch of gray cement. It would be wonderful if they came to us and summoned, but particularly in lives as busy as the ones most of us lead now, that won’t
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happen. We have to teach ourselves how to make a room for them, to love them, and to live, really live.”
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LibraryThing member JRobinW
This is a book I will read again. Her message is not only eternal, but one each human needs reminding of when caught up in the busy life of our world. I would recommend this to everyone. Because it is a short book, even a non-reader can appreciate her timely thoughts.
LibraryThing member JasonMehmel
An inspiring short essay beautifully packaged. Live for now, because you don't know much 'now' you'll have left.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

7.17 inches


0375504613 / 9780375504617
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