I recently wrote a review of Gretchen Rubin’s new book, “Happier at Home” for the Associated Press. Some of you may know Rubin from her bestselling self-help memoir, “The Happiness Project.”
I had read the first book and related to Rubin’s claim that she had slipped into a “midlife malaise.. and experienced a recurrent sense of discontent,” even though — on paper– she had everything going for her. Despite her loving, supportive husband, healthy children, successful career, and Manhattan home, she thought she should be feeling more joy, and less agitation.
The book followed her journey through a year of very conscious living, reported in organized, thorough detail. It offered some concrete, helpful suggestions for getting more out of the life you have. I was impressed by Rubin’s commitment, and appreciated her sharing her research to help others.
But the book kind of bored me.
Rubin is clearly incredibly smart and articulate, but this book did not make me laugh. I guess I really dig a sense of humor with my happiness.
Much like the first book, “Happier at Home” provides some tangible steps to increase happiness in many aspects of life, including family, possessions, and time management.
But there’s not one laugh. Not even a chuckle.
And at no point did I feel like maybe Rubin wasn’t completely in control of her every thought and movement. While she includes many personal anecdotes, her life seems too deliberate and sensible. Just once I would have liked to read about the time she took her top off in Whole Foods or cried when she burned the pancakes. Wasn’t gonna happen.
So I wrote what I think is a thoughtful and fair review, detailing her process and complimenting her helpful hints. Then I snuck in a line towards the end about her writing that wasn’t so sunny. It might have even affected her happiness.
I gotta keep it real, no?
Of course after the review was published and got picked up by many big national sites I felt waves of guilt. As a writer, should I be criticizing other writers? Am I a traitor to my tribe?
You be the judge. Read it here.
I’d love to hear what you think in the comments. I promise not to critique them!