February 18, 2009

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert

BOOK: Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
1 Star, DNF

I can't do it. I give up.

I really, really wanted to like this book. I really, really wanted to read it and become enlightened and gain understanding into how my mind works. I gave myself weeks to see if I could come back to it and find it any easier to read. It just did not happen.

Stumbling on Happiness has received oodles of praise and was on the New York Times Bestseller List. Fans have raved over the way Gilbert explains happiness from a scientific standpoint and how educated they feel about themselves after reading this book.

I, on the other hand, found the book to be informative, yes, educational, yes, but far from "fascinating", as author Malcolm Gladwell (Blink, Tipping Point) describes it. It was very tedious. The most minute detail was scrutinized. Even though it is promoted as a book for the "layman", I found it to be better suited for the psychology major.

Gilbert goes into detail about blind spots to prove his point about realistic representations by the mind. He discusses linguistics for a dozen pages to prove his point about corrigibility. I think that the book was far too scientific for me to get excited about it. A more talented writer could have taken the information Gilbert wanted the reader to understand and put it into a more succinct explanation.

There were positive points to it. There are always positives to a book. Sometimes they are hard to find, but they are there. I think the topic of this book is interesting and I think Gilbert has enough expertise in the area. I also think that the book had a good layout- in that it had nice sized chapters, the paragraphs were not too long (a pet peeve of mine) and there were graphs and images to break it up as well as to help illustrate points.

Overall, I felt Gilbert's book was like reading a paper in a scholarly journal. I am sure people who enjoy this type of reading find Gilbert's book lively and insightful. For those who want to understand the process of determining what happiness is and is not without feeling they are in a neuroscience course, will find the book tedious and hard to focus on.

I did not finish this book, or even come close to it, so I am not adding it to my books read list or using it in any challenges. Maybe I am not at a point right now where I can digest the plethora of scientific specificity that Stumbling provides. Gilbert will have to Stumble without this reader.


  1. You're now on my blogroll! Thanks for the email. Your site is lovely!

    I also now follow you on Blogger.

  2. I don't need tedious, so I think I'll skip this one.

  3. I know exactly how you feel. I haven't read this one but I felt the exact same way about Jared Diamond's "Collapse" and Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma." I really wanted to like both of those books and I found the subject matter fascinating. Yet, something about the style of writing put me off every time. I've given up on "Collapse" but I still have hope for "Omnivore's Dilemma." I'll give it a year or two before I give it another go though.

  4. Yea!!!! I finally got in to comment. Something was wrong with the link. You've posted all this great stuff and I wanted to say hi :)
    I'll pass on this one. Don't you hate it when it is too hard to finish a book. Life is too short to keep going when you just can't get into it!
    Have a Great Day, Rebecca!

  5. NovelMenagerie- Great! Thank you! I am excited to have you as a follower. Your blog is great. :)

    Bermudaonion- Yes, tedious does not begin to cover it.

    Baddict- You will have to let me know if you ever finish Omnivore's Dilemma! And thanks for the warning about Collapse. If it is indeed like this one, I better pass on it.

    Chic- Thank you for continuing to try. I don't know what the problem has been! Let me know if the problem persists. And you are right. Life is too short to make yourself read a book that makes you think, 'They cut down a tree for this? What a waste!'


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