This book was sent to me by Two Roads in exchange for my honest opinion.
01.11.2018 / Two Roads (Hodder) / Non Fiction / Hardback / 288pp / 978-1473688230
Target Audience: Readers who want to connect with the world on a personal level and broaden their minds about what it could take to truly be happy and content. Those who appreciate the world and how other countries function on a sociological and culture level.
About The Atlas Of Happiness
From the bestselling author of The Year of Living Danishly, an entertaining, reassuring and useful trip around the world, discovering the secrets of happiness from 30 countries.
A round the world trip through 33 international happiness concepts, from the bestselling author of The Year of Living Danishly, Helen Russell.
– Feeling terrified of that upcoming job interview? Take inspiration from the Icelanders and get some Þetta reddast, the unwavering belief that everything will work out in the end.
– Lost your way in life? Make like the Chinese and find your xingfu, or the thing that gives you real purpose.
– Too much on your plate? The Italians can help you learn the fine art of dolce far niente, aka the sweetness of doing nothing at all.
– Overwhelmed by busyness and disconnected from nature? The Swedish have a solution – just find your smultronställe, or ‘wild strawberry patch’, your perfect escape from the rest of the world.
From Australia to Wales, via Bhutan, Ireland, Finland, Turkey, Syria, Japan, and many more besides, The Atlas of Happiness uncovers the global secrets to happiness, and how they can change our lives.
Beautifully illustrated throughout, The Atlas of Happiness will be the perfect cheering Christmas gift of 2018.
The Atlas Of Happiness is a thoroughly enjoyable, vibrant and charming excursion through the many global approaches to happiness and contentment. Helen Russell has travelled far and wide to gather insights into what attitudes, behaviours, activities and ideas various countries attribute to their nations happiness. Exploring how each nation defines the happiness of the people and the means in which they encourage and cultivate good moods within their cultures; how they also acknowledge the absence of happiness as well.
There is a compelling amount of information here and I had a great time visiting each country with Helen and finding out what kind of approaches each culture take on improving the population’s state of mind. If anything it made me somewhat envious of other countries who have more of a focus on the soul of their community other than material gain and or just surviving just another day (like me). Ultimately though that jealousy did turn swiftly into admiration for those who take the time to encourage or adapt their lives to include more peace and satisfaction. It was definitely a kick up the bum that I didn’t know I needed.
Over the course of 30 short chapters we visit a wonderful variety of destinations (and people) that all have unique concepts and mindsets when it comes to happiness. Places such as Bhutan, who prioritise and maintain happiness over personal gain country wide. Finland, who practice Kalsarikännit (basically drinking in your pants). China and their Xingfu which leads them to living a good, meaningful life. And Spain’s Tapeo & Sombremesa, which essentially means to eat plenty and talk loads. I could list all of the essences that HR caught perfectly in these pages as they are all very fascinating, even England’s chapter had cheerful notes, exemplified of course by Julie Andrews.
There is such a wide variety of circumstances to be explored here. Countries rely on unity, competition, nature, openness, remembrance, grit, food, drink and dancing (to name but a few) to maintain a place of pride, happiness and peace with the world. The Atlas Of Happiness is a truly uplifting read. If I had to pick the chapter I related to the most it would be a combination of Japan’s Wabi-Sabi and Thailand’s Mai Pen Rai, appreciating and accepting the world as it is instead of wondering what it could be. I liked the way that after several pages in each country, Helen Russell neatly sums up how to assimilate a few of their practices into our own lives. I am tempted to get a few framed to put around the house because they are incredibly insightful and positive, especially for a grumpy Englishman like myself.
I enjoyed Helen Russell’s views on life and celebrating the positive (we have come a long way) whilst acknowledging the negatives, with all the quirks and cheek that accompanies such observations. HR’s writing is insightful, concise yet packed with meaning. Russell isn’t just reiterating content, it is personal and subjective with multiple view points. There is enough research, sociological, economical and political information and emphasis too for those who are that way inclined. The writing provides just a snippet of a view into many different cultures but I left each chapter with endless possibilities swirling around my noggin.
I was charmed, amused, moved and invigorated by HR’s words, the stories she shared and the essence of positivity that was spread evenly across this book. Even the poorer countries have incredible views on happiness, something to hold onto to not only get through the day but enjoy and enrich it in any way possible. So yes I will be trying to be more adaptable, to remember the past fondly, invest in people more, fix my broken vases with gold glue, to go forest bathing to bring down stress levels and return home to drink in my pants. It is easy to be so narrow minded in today’s world but if I take one thing away from this book it is that happiness is achievable on your own but it is far more successful over tapas or Gemütlichkeit (an activity that is good for the soul).
The Atlas of Happiness is a must read. It is actually a must buy because the hardback itself is colourful, inviting and satisfying to pick up and warrants plenty of re-reads. This book truly is a much needed reminder to people that there is a big wide world out there filled with other individuals who also want more happiness in their lives. Exciting times. Give The Atlas Of Happiness an Australian ‘Fair Go’ and enjoy the journey because the people of Iceland are right, reading is the way to go and it definitely contributes to my happiness.
About Helen Russell
Helen Russell is a journalist and the bestselling author of The Year of Living Danishly and Leap Year.
Formerly editor of MarieClaire.co.uk, she now lives in Denmark and works as a Scandinavia correspondent for the Guardian, as well as writing a column on Denmark for the Telegraph and features for The Times, The Observer, Grazia, The Wall Street Journal and the Independent.