Definitely a 5 star read!!! ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Last spring, my neighborhood’s Book Club chose “Happiness for Beginners” for the monthly pick. At the time, I was hugely pregnant and had a bad case of pregnancy insomnia. So, most of my reading occurred between the hours of 1am to 4am. Despite the lost sleep, those hours reading this book were ones I looked forward to!
Here’s the skinny: newly divorced, 32 year old Helen is convinced by her annoying younger brother to join a 3 week outdoor expedition in Wyoming to “find herself.” Helen’s serious and logical personality is at total odds with this leap of faith trip. To make matters worse, her brother’s best friend, Jake, is also going. He’s always had a crush on Helen and she is sure he will get in the way of her mission. She tolerates his presence but quickly realizes that he may be vital to her self discovery success- both physically and emotionally.
Childhood trauma, familial relationships, self love, being brave despite being fearful- these are all themes explored in “Happiness for Beginners” and I loved it! There are so many reasons to love this book, but here are a few of my favorites. (I promise, no spoilers!)
5 Reasons I love “Happiness for Beginners”
- The character development! Helen is the typical type A personality and even if that isn’t you, the reader can totally identify with her. From past pain to her current struggle to figure out her life, we all experience trauma that shapes us and makes us who are. And we all experience that ebb and flow of loving ourselves and, at the same time, hating our quirks and traits. Jake was also such a great character. Wise beyond his years, Jake’s approach to life is one that I think all readers wish we could emulate- to squeeze out of life every experience you can. Each character was so relatable and grew in their own way. Katherine Center does such an amazing job developing each member on the wilderness trek and you grow to love them all, even the annoying ones!
- The emotions! I realize not everyone loves an emotional story but this book really brought the feels! Helen and Jake are dealt some really tough hands and I didn’t expect to feel such empathy for these characters. I can’t say too much but expect a whole range of emotions in this book: I laughed a lot, I cried, I was inspired, I was mad as hell, and I marinated in some wonderful life lessons (see #5)!
- The setting! 3 weeks in the wilderness, packing in and packing out, sleeping under the stars, deciphering maps, applying first aid while miles from civilization, etc. “Happiness for Beginners” is the perfect summer escape book…that you can read from the comfort of your own home! I think everyone has thought about doing something crazy (like a wilderness survival trek) but few do it. So we all get to live vicariously through Helen and still sleep in our cozy beds at night. Win win!
- The writing! Katherine Center is an artist with the written word. I can’t wait to dive into her other books, especially her new one being published in July (What You Wish For)
- The wisdom! This book is a surprising powerhouse of wise and profound life advice. Here are a few of my favorites:
“The more you register the good things, the more you will think about and remember good things. And since all you have left of the past is what you remember -it changes the story of your life.”
“It’s sadness that gives happiness its meaning.”
“The most important thing to remember is that getting what you want doesn’t make you happy. Happiness is more about appreciation than acquisition.”
Genre: Fiction, Chick-Lit
Violence: None. Mild descriptions of injuries that occur in the wilderness
Sex: There is some “almost sex” toward the beginning of the book.
Language: Yes, some.
Do yourself a favor and check this book out!