Friday, April 22, 2016

Book Review: The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

Title: The Happiness of Pursuit
Author: Chris Guillebeau
Source: Blogging for Books

Amazon Summary:

When he set out to visit all of the planet’s countries by age thirty-five, compulsive goal seeker Chris Guillebeau never imagined that his journey’s biggest revelation would be how many people like himself exist – each pursuing a challenging quest.  And, interestingly, these quests aren’t just travel-oriented.  On the contrary, they’re as diverse as humanity itself.  Some involve exploration; others the pursuit of athletic or artistic excellence; still others a battle against injustice or poverty or threats to the environment.
Everywhere that Chris visited he found ordinary people working toward extraordinary goals, making daily down payments on their dream.  These “questers” included a suburban mom pursuing a wildly ambitious culinary project, a DJ producing the world’s largest symphony, a young widower completing the tasks his wife would never accomplish, and a teenager crossing an entire ocean alone - as well as a do-it-yourselfer tackling M.I.T.’s computer-science course, a nerd turning himself into real-life James Bond, and scores of others writing themselves into the record books. 
The more Chris spoke with these strivers, the more he began to appreciate the direct link between questing and long-term happiness -- how going after something in a methodical way enriches our lives -- and he was compelled to complete a comprehensive study of the phenomenon and extract the best advice.  In The Happiness of Pursuit he draws on interviews with hundreds of questers, revealing their secret motivations, their selection criteria, the role played by friends and family, their tricks for solving logistics, and the importance of documentation.
Equally fascinating is Chris’ examination of questing’s other side, including questers’ acute awareness of mortality, their struggle against monotony, and their wistful feelings once a quest has succeeded. What happens after the summit is climbed, the painting hung, the endurance record broken, the “at risk” community saved?  
A book that challenges each of us to take control – to make our lives be about something while at the same time remaining clear-eyed about the commitment -- The Happiness of Pursuit will inspire readers of every age and aspiration.  It’s a playbook for making your life count.

My thoughts:

I'm a dreamer by nature. I am the person who will reach for that pie in the sky, or believe that anything is possible.  Sometimes for me, the dream is all I need though - I am also very content by nature. This book however, was very inspiring. It makes you want find that one quest that you feel that you can't live without completing, to get up and visit all the countries of the world, or at least just cook dishes from each one (Sasha Martin).

Guillebeau had a calling to travel and see all the countries of the world - it was a need he couldn't ignore. Along the way, he met people or heard of people like him, who had personal quests that they just had to do, or they would regret not trying their whole lives. The family who rode their bikes from Alaska to Patagonia, the man who walked across the United States, they had to do these things, and not for any other reason than they wanted to. The book is chockfull of stories like these, real people, real stories. The teenager who sailed around the world on her own (Laura Dekker), the woman who lived in a tree for a year to stop illegal logging (Miranda Gibson) - but not all these stories involved just leaving your entire life behind. There were people like Robyn Devine, who wants to knit or crochet 10,000 hats, or A.J. Jacobs, who read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica in one year. These stories were fascinating to me. Who wouldn't want to have conversations with these people? I love to meet new, interesting people, and hear their stories. I think that is why I enjoy the blogging community so much.

This book does more than share these stories, it serves as a jumping off post for those who would like to begin their own quests, but don't know how to get started. There are resources and ideas listed throughout the book, as well as lessons and tips.

My only negative is that Guillebeau said in his book, "Hopefully, the sacrifice won't be huge, but the point is, right now, you could be doing something else instead of reading." That kind of rubbed me the wrong way, as someone reading and reviewing his book. There were actually a lot of other things I could have been doing, and not even part of a quest - but I was choosing to read his book. Just a small little thing really, and I understood his point but I took a slight umbrage to it.

There is a quest for everyone out there - big or small, near or far. Adventure is waiting within us, we just need to find it and go for it. I know that I will be starting my own personal quest soon - right after I decide what it is.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.


  1. I can see where this would be very inspiring- and it's amazing how everybody has their thing. Whether it's climbing Everest, or writing a book, or being a teacher or wanting to help. We all seem compelled to do something besides just exist. I know I have things I think I should do and hopefully I get to them!

    I'm actually really curious about this one now! :)

    1. Once I got past the idea that this book was not a memoir but more of a self-help type of book, I really liked it. I started reading it expecting more of a memoir, but I moved past that quickly. I did find it really interesting, all the different stories and even the advice on how to get started on your own way. :)

      I think it is really easy to get caught up in the everyday of our lives, and forget to act on dreams after we become adults - I am thinking if I start small I can do some of the things on my list. :)


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