October 26, 2014
A Field Guide to Happiness by Linda Leaming
Bhutan, a country that many have heard about but few have really given in-depth study to. Which is amazing considering their practices as a country. Measuring how well they're doing by happiness rather than money. But it's a country worth getting to know and so this memoir/lessons book is one that opens the door a little wider on Bhutan.
A Field Guide to Happiness is part memoir, part lessons in how to live life happier. That's not to say that you have to move to Bhutan to achieve the things outlined in this book, it just shows how the author learned these lessons in life while living in the country and following their way of life. Each chapter has a small lesson and ties into an experience or story from the author's personal life.
I never really felt as if I actually knew the author or her husband. Which is strange because she did describe both of them, but it wasn't in-depth and I just didn't feel any kind of connection. And the people of Bhutan were just described in general ways, there was never much of a chance to get to know any of them in-depth as individuals, just as a collective. She wasn't mean or unkind in her descriptions, just brief, and you can tell she really does love her adopted country.
The whole book can be described as brief. I get that it was supposed to be in snippets as a lesson format to impart some of the wisdom she learned in Bhutan, but it just felt like large journal entries that were mixed with a self-help book. The writing was clear, good even, but again, that sense of connection just wasn't there for me. I don't know if it was the format or the briefness of the chapters, but I just couldn't bury myself into it. On the positive side though, I like that for her lessons she tried to include snippets of her life in Bhutan. Especially the descriptions of how the people of Bhutan share and the way they treat property there. Everyone is striving to be a better person (in general) and that's a commendable way to live.
I enjoyed the book mostly but wish it would have been something I could have immersed myself in. I think anyone who enjoys self-help, discovery memoirs will probably enjoy it though. I would definitely consider reading the author's other book on Bhutan.
A Field Guide to Happiness