Ostensibly a scientific exploration of happiness, Stumbling on Happiness is actually mostly about how bad people are at predicting what will and won’t make them happy, and why. Well-written, entertaining, and reasonably informative. A few thoughtless jokes of political objectionableness did not ruin it for me, though your mileage may vary.

The Wiseman books are both shallow and obvious, though with a few good bits. Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things is similar to Freakonomics – somewhat random essays attempting to explain the hard and soft science behind weird stuff – but in even less depth. Also, if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics, you’re already painfully familiar with much of the material.

The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles is a study of why some people are luckier than others, and how we can increase our luck. I will summarize the total content of the book, thus saving you from having to spend time reading it:

Luck is in the mind of the beholder. People who think they’re lucky are looking on the bright side. Also, they are extroverted and meet more people, thus increasing the chance of lucky chance meetings. If you want to become luckier, look on the bright side and get out more. There you go!

(I can never write that phrase without thinking of Sondheim’s Assassins (2004 Broadway Revival Cast), in which the demented assassin Charles Guiteau goes to his execution singing, “Look on the bright side.” That scene sums up what I believe is a quintessentially American form of toxic optimism. Sure, the mailman won the lottery.)
Ostensibly a scientific exploration of happiness, Stumbling on Happiness is actually mostly about how bad people are at predicting what will and won’t make them happy, and why. Well-written, entertaining, and reasonably informative. A few thoughtless jokes of political objectionableness did not ruin it for me, though your mileage may vary.

The Wiseman books are both shallow and obvious, though with a few good bits. Quirkology: How We Discover the Big Truths in Small Things is similar to Freakonomics – somewhat random essays attempting to explain the hard and soft science behind weird stuff – but in even less depth. Also, if you’ve read Malcolm Gladwell and Freakonomics, you’re already painfully familiar with much of the material.

The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles is a study of why some people are luckier than others, and how we can increase our luck. I will summarize the total content of the book, thus saving you from having to spend time reading it:

Luck is in the mind of the beholder. People who think they’re lucky are looking on the bright side. Also, they are extroverted and meet more people, thus increasing the chance of lucky chance meetings. If you want to become luckier, look on the bright side and get out more. There you go!

(I can never write that phrase without thinking of Sondheim’s Assassins (2004 Broadway Revival Cast), in which the demented assassin Charles Guiteau goes to his execution singing, “Look on the bright side.” That scene sums up what I believe is a quintessentially American form of toxic optimism. Sure, the mailman won the lottery.)
.

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