We have a very diverse range of interviews on the general theme of happiness. The psychologist Jonathan Haidt tackles the subject straight on, as does Anthony Seldon with recommendations for books on how to be happy. Jessica Pryce-Jones looks at happiness at work and Vanessa King chooses her best books on happiness for children.
Kieran Setiya discusses the mid-life crisis and Renata Salecl looks at misery in the modern world. Leo Hollis looks at why cities are good for you. The experimental psychologist Elaine Fox discusses optimism and how it can be good for you if grounded in reality, while the journalist Oliver Burkeman chooses books to help you with happiness through negative thinking. He argues that “many of the techniques that claim to enable us to achieve happiness don’t work” and that “happiness is impossible to aim for directly”. Ellen de Bruin chooses her best books on the contentment of Dutch women and happiness, arguing that they enjoy more freedom than their French sisters.
Rabbi Lionel Blue chooses his favourite books, with choices as diverse as Pilgrims Progress and Mills and Boon and explains the importance of love and why he likes a happy ending.
Paul Thagard and Jonathan Haidt both choose The How of Happiness by Sonja Lyubomirsky and Haidt and Jessica Pryce-Jones both choose Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. Lyubomirsky uses tools of experimental psychology to understand what makes people happy. As Thagard says, her findings “may not be shocking, but they’re very interesting and very useful”. Gilbert’s book looks at how humans make poor choices not only as consumers, but also in other areas of their lives. Pryce-Jones remarks, “the book is a reminder that happiness is complicated and complex and that our brains are flawed.”
Most of us want to be happy, and yet it’s hard to achieve. Jonathan Haidt, psychologist and author of the classic The Happiness Hypothesis, talks us through five books, old and new, to better understand happiness.
What is happiness? Why does happiness matter? Vanessa King, lead psychologist at the charity/non-profit Action for Happiness, discusses how developing ours and our children’s happiness skills can have benefits for our own lives and for society as a whole.
You won’t become happy by trying to achieve happiness so why not embrace the full repertoire of human emotions? Guardian columnist Oliver Burkeman recommends the best books on negative thinking.
The CEO of iOpener, a human asset management consultancy, explains how you can increase happiness and thus productivity in the workplace. She picks five essential reads for bosses and employees.
The Dutch science journalist takes a light-hearted look at national stereotypes: why Dutch women are happy, and what it means to be blonde. She picks the best books on Dutch women.
To learn how to live well we must look to the past, says social philosopher Roman Krznaric. He recommends five books, from Thoreau to Orwell, that inspire us to live more adventurously.
It’s an observable phenomenon that the gap in life satisfaction between the very young and the very old with those in their 40s is equivalent to that associated with getting a divorce. Kieran Setiya, the MIT philosopher and author of Midlife: A Philosophical Guide, chooses the best books to counsel you through this difficult period.
Philosophy is sometimes assumed to be a dry, academic subject but it also has much to say about how we live, love and relate to each other. Emrys Westacott chooses the best books on philosophy and everyday living.
The Slovenian philosophy professor decries the tyranny of choice and says we now expect long life, a beautiful body, sexual and job satisfaction. But the idea that we can perfect ourselves dooms us to failure and misery
Half of the world’s population live in cities, and more are moving in. Urbanist Leo Hollis explains how city living makes us smarter and more creative, why slums are set to grow, and what the future of the city holds.
Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed
by Lori Gottlieb
Seculosity: How Career, Parenting, Technology, Food, Politics, and Romance Became Our New Religion and What to Do about It
by David Zahl
The Second Mountain: The Quest for a Moral Life
by David Brooks
In Search of Silence
by Poorna Bell
This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom
by Martin Hägglund
The self-help genre is sometimes dismissed as simplistic or over-earnest. But, at their best, self-help books offer powerful insights into how to live. Oliver Burkeman, the Guardian columnist and author of The Antidote, recommends five of the best self-help books published in 2019.
The psychologist and professor of cognitive neuroscience, Elaine Fox, reveals the benefits of positive thinking—if grounded in realism. Some of us may be genetically predisposed towards pessimism, but can overcome it.
The author who gave us The Happiness Project passes on tips for happier living, with a little help from Samuel Johnson, Benjamin Franklin and a nun with humour on her mind.
Finding meaning in life is not the same as finding happiness, argues Canadian philosopher Paul Thagard. He picks the best books on the meaning of life.