I don’t know about you, but I tend to gravitate towards things that provide escapism when I’m feeling low. Familiar books, Friends re-runs and Lilo and Stitch are just some of my ‘go-to’s.
At my last visit to the local library, I stumbled across Hector and the Search for Happiness.
Intriguing. I was on sick leave at the time and trying to eat up as much information about recovery from stress as I could – on my own personal search for happiness, I suppose.
This was a fictional story written by a psychiatrist, who’s also written the more traditional form of self-help books. I had time on my hands and nothing to lose, so I thought I’d see if this provided a jaunty new angle on our never-ending plight for happiness.
Hector is a psychotherapist – and he’s rather good at it. Only, one day, he realises that his patients are wearing him down somewhat. He’s losing sight of what it means to be happy (and haven’t we all done that at some point?). And how can you help people be happy if you don’t know what it is?
He decides to take some time off – and does so with great style. We follow him on a trip that takes him all over the world, meeting people of all walks of life who all contribute to Hector’s journey in wildly different ways.
Hector is a charming, impulsive and hugely likeable character, which makes for an entertaining and familiar reading experience. Reassuringly, he’s not without his flaws – and his hopeless fascination with women lands him in some morally questionable situations as the narrative progresses.
One of the main features I enjoyed about the book was seeing how Hector’s ‘Happiness is…’ list developed. The list grows with each of Hector’s experiences – some life-changing, some every day occurrences that you are likely to have experienced yourself. I liked that the book didn’t try to offer the reader some arbitrary, all-encompassing definition of happiness – how could it? – but instead, the many different facets of life and emotions that can affect our happiness.
It’s a quirky read, and while the writing style might be too simplistic for some, I found this made it more accessible – and a great option for when you don’t want anything too demanding.