Book Review: The Happiness of Pursuit

9780385348843I thought I’d follow up today’s post on enthusiasm by blogging about a book I REALLY enjoyed. This one is fun and encouraging and a little bit absurd–pretty much a description of all the best nonfiction.

The Happiness of Pursuit is a new book by Chris Guillebeau, author of The $100 Startup. He shares about his quest to visit every country in the world before he turned 35, but rather than drawing this out endlessly in chapter after chapter of self promotion, he does something more interesting: he uses some of his personal experiences as a springboard to discuss other people’s epic quests, and what having a “quest” can add to the enjoyment of life.

What I particularly appreciated was that even though none of the quests he chronicles appeal to me personally, I was utterly captivated by the stories. I’m not THAT big a travel buff; I can’t imagine running a 5k, let alone an ultra-marathon; and while I enjoy seeing the occasional bright-red cardinal fly through our yard, I wouldn’t chase it across the street let alone across the world.  But by drawing on what each person GAINS from having a quest in their lives–extreme travel, distance running, competitive bird watching–Guillebeau makes these specific, personal quests relatable. And he makes you wonder what a quest might look like in your life, which is a fun thing to ponder.

I like this quote from ultra runner Bryon Powell:  “I tell people that when you find something you believe in, you should put everything you’ve got into it. Once you make the leap, be patient…very patient and persistent. Do work your butt off for a couple of years if that’s how long it’ll take for you to get there. Easy projects aren’t quests, they’re holidays from real life. Any real trial will challenge you to the core. Acknowledge that and fight like hell to keep working through it!”

I recommend this book to anyone who likes to be inspired, and for those who like to travel to distant worlds from the comfort of their couch :)

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.