Book Talk: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Book Talk: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine CenterHappiness For Beginners by Katherine Center
Published by St. Martin's Griffin on March 2015
Genres: Adult Contemporary
Format: Paperback
Source: Library





Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”



Helen is 32, has been divorced for a year and just really wants to get her crap together and bounce back from this. When her younger brother, by 10 years, suggests a 3 week wilderness survival expedition she jumps on the opportunity as a way to get her life back on track and prove she can still be happy and strong after all this. What she doesn’t know is that her brother’s best friend, who she’s known since they were younger, is also going which Helen is not happy about because she wanted to be anonymous on this trip while she worked on her life. And when she gets there? The group is definitely not made up of the people she expects but they end up teaching her a lot about herself.

a2I need to start a 3 good things notebook — reminds me of something two of my friends did back and forth for quite a while!

a4This book had been raved about by a bunch of my friends — specifically Estelle and Anna. I am happy to report that I LOVED it. It was just what I needed to read right now where my particular headspace was at. It was funny but really hit these serious notes about growth and change that resounded within me so deeply. I found myself really reflecting about life while reading this and even after finishing it.

I loved the characters from the main ones to the more minor ones in her wilderness group.  JAKE JAKE JAKE ILU, man! They made me laugh and made me think. I feel like *I* learned a lot from them. I LOVED the romance as it wasn’t super typical. I totally shipped it. TOTALLY. And I also really loved the setting — I’m not the MOST outdoorsy girl but I do love the outdoors and I loved how we saw the wilderness and the beauty which contrasted with how grueling this program was.

I could go on and on about how excellent this book is and what I specifically liked about it but I want to touch on Helen’s journey because where I’m at right this moment? It hit me right in the feels. I am so the person who thinks I need to like Eat, Pray, Love my way out of a funk and change my life and BECOME HAPPIER.  I am all about FINDING MYSELF. I wouldn’t have signed up for a crazy outdoor thing like this but I am SO this type of person. I just always get caught up in thinking I need this life-changing experience to CHANGE or to grow/find myself/get out of my rut and be happy… when really, as Helen finds out, we can learn, cultivate happiness and grow in smaller ways (as well as these grand ways) when we shift our thinking about what happiness really is and how we can find it. I also am the type who gets really disappointed when said HUGE THING doesn’t produce the results I expected. I just SO understood where Helen was at to even contemplate doing this wilderness program so her journey resonated with me the whole way through. It kind of shook me at the core how entangled I felt in her journey.  I felt so proud of her and all she learned.

 There were some things about the book that were kind of predictable but it didn’t really affect how I felt about the book because of how much it entertained me and how much I feel like it really hit me on a personal level. The other thing is I SO wanted more wilderness stuff but it wasn’t like a problem if that makes sense?


factors+ writing, characters, FEELS, plot, setting,
–  Nothing (even though some teeny tiny things bothered me but not enough to dock rating!)

Re-readability: Oh yes!
Would I buy a copy for my collection? Planning on it! I had a library copy and I can’t wait to reread and dogear the shit out of this!

a5readers wanting a good mix of lightness and hard-hitting emotions, people who like to read about and think about happiness, maybe people who are in their late 20’s and early 30’s because I SO related to her in some of the struggles faced at that age (but obviously you can read this at ANY age, “chick-lit”/”women’s fiction” lovers, really anyone honestly especially if you want to be inspired, fans of Wild (albeit a bit lighter of a feel)

a8Happiness For Beginners was just what I needed to read right now! It perfectly blends adventure, romance, humor and hard-hitting emotional life stuff and I couldn’t put it down as someone who has this insatiable desire to Become Happier/Change My Life/Break Out of My Rut. It’s funny and heart-wrenching and so romantic. Loved watching Helen’s  physical and mental journey and I got so much out of it!

review-on-post-itreview Happiness for Beginners


a8j* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
*If you haven’t read it, does it feel like something you’d be into?



The Perpetual Page-Turner

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. I hadn’t even heard about this book! But it sounds like the EXACT type of read I need right now. I haven’t had the best couple of months lately, and have been in this awful funk that I can’t seem to shake… And since university is starting again in two weeks I can’t do some crazy project like I’d normally do. I am all about finding myself, and love to explore and travel. Next summer I’ll be walking the Camino to Santiago de Compostella.

    I don’t know if you know the movie The Way, but I saw this movie two years ago and ever since seeing it I’ve been wanting to walk the camino. And last year a friend decided to go with me, so we’ve set the date and are training our butts off to walk it next summer. It’ll be tough, and I know that there are going to be moments that I want to quit, or wonder why the hell I thought it was a good idea, but I’m all about the journey of getting to Santiago de Compostella. I want that experience, I want to meet new people, see new things, and above all the chance to find myself during the months I’ll be walking.

    I guess from what you just described, this book made me think of all that 🙂 So I’m going to try and pick this book up. It seems like a great read, one that’ll do me good!
    Thanks for the review!

    • Oooh your adventure sounds awesome next summer!!! I cannot WAIT to hear all about your adventure when the time comes! I think you’d dig this book!

      omg I haven’t seen The Way but it’s been in my Netflix dvd queue! MUST WATCH IT SOON THEN.

  2. I was also going to suggest The Way but see Iris above me already did (and also IS WALKING THE CAMINO? holy crowww girl, that’s awesome). It’s such a good movie. My parents were watching it once when I was home and I sat down to watch 5 minutes of it and then ended up watching the whole thing.
    This book sounds amazing and I need to get my hands on it. I love travel books and hiking books and all that jazz of finding yourself – I really SHOULD read WILD by Cheryl Strayed (have you read that one?) so maybe I’ll read both. 🙂

    • I haven’t read Wild yet but I have it on the TBR! And yay definitely going to watch The Way soon. I think I would have liked a little more of the wilderness stuff in this but it didn’t detract if you know what I mean? I mean, it was a huge part of it but I would so have been down for more details!

  3. Wow. Such high praise! I definitely need to read this book. Great review.


    I mean, okay, as soon as I saw you marked it beyond fave, I wanted to read it, but everything else sounds good. Becoming happier is something I’m really trying to work on right now (and it’s kinda tricky). I mean, I know intellectually that I get way too upset and thrown off by things that are not a big deal, but it’s also REALLY difficult in the moment to be like “no, this isn’t a huge issue and I don’t need to let it make me mad/sad/whatever.” So yeah, this book sounds like it could be really important for me right now, while also being an amazing story.

    I would so never have paid attention to this book if I hadn’t seen it here because from the cover I thought it was some cheesy self-help book. :-p

    • I hope you love it!!! And omg yes I feel you on the trying to be happier thing. It’s like I could wake up in a good mood, get on Twitter and see something that irriates me and I let it ruin like most of my day. I can’t just let it GO and go forth being happy. It sours me. Even though I KNOW the thing is not a big deal in the grand scheme and it’s so stupid to waste energy on it.

      haha I so thought the same about this book until I saw others rave about it!

  5. I’m glad you liked it! I so loved it too! I added a ton of quotes to my quote notebook during this read!

  6. I have not heard of this book yet (I don’t know much about adult fiction) but it seems like a totally me book right now, I too have this way of thinking about an “eat, pray, love” kind of moment to change things up and make everything right. Will definitely check out!

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets in that mentality! I don’t know why I do it! Hope you enjoy this if you read it!!

  7. I checked this one out at the library because of this. It sounds pretty great, thanks for sharing!

  8. This sounds like such an awesome book. I love the outdoors and I always feel the need to do something like what is described – some sort of important adventure. I really want to read this now after the praise!

  9. This looks great, reminds me of Wild a little bit! Haven’t heard of it before, so now I’m excited for this!

  10. I’ve been eyeing this up for a while now and this review has completely sold me! x

    Megan /

  11. Great review, Jamie. One day when I can read whatever I want again I might have to pick it up since it seems like EVERYONE has been loving it.