I’ve been anxious to review this book since I first cracked it open in September. I found the book on Amazon, after a summer of working with a therapist myself trying to sort out my depression, and had the intention of ordering it but in September I decided to get it through interlibrary loan and the day it arrived through interlibrary loan I sat in my room and plowed through sixty-six pages without once glancing up to look at the clock. Why was a book on psychology so engrossing to me?
The answer is quite simple. In Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, Ariel Gore says the things that we all know but never say. She examines the dichotomies of womanhood so well and exactly how society infringes on a woman’s happiness. What makes this book so relate-able is that is is not a psychologist discussing these issues for other psychologists. Ariel Gore is a writer, mother, and romantic partner who goes through the same stresses that every woman does and she just happens to want to solve this question of happiness. She is writing for women like herself and not for those in the psychology field (though I would at least recommend they read the section about her daughter adjusting to college life).
I could go on to quote many examples of this book but I am going to let her preface say it all for you:
I must have been about nine years old when my paternal grandmother gave me the gift of a small glass bluebird. “It’s a symbol of happines,” she told me.
I turned it over in my hand. “Why?” I asked. I’d already learned that the color blue represented sadness.
My grandmother smiled at me and then frowned. “Ariel,” she said gravely. “You ask too many questions. A nice young lady doesn’t ask so many questions.”
I put the glass bluebird in my hip pocket.
“Now smile and say ‘Thank You,'” my grandmother instructed me.
I smiled and said “Thank you,” but I kept on asking too many questions.
This preface so brilliantly explains the point that Ariel is trying to make with her book. Mixed with equal parts: psychology, history, and autobiography this book examines what women need to be happy, why they can’t be happy, and why this status is not okay. Through interviews with psychologist, research in psychological studies, and keeping her own happiness journal with a few other women, Ariel Gore paints a picture of the little things in life that can make people happy and how to actively seek happiness.
I cannot express in words how much I love this book. Sure there are plenty of studies on happiness. Plenty of women who write about their own journey and trying to find happiness, but I think that Ariel provides a good mix of advice and anecdote in simple everyday terms. She looks back on her life, her current status, and takes her own steps to increase her own happiness in doing her research, while at the same time edifying readers with landmark psychological studies and point out their downfalls.
About halfway through this book I told my mother that I was considering buying my own copy to have on the bookshelf. She seemed eager to read it so I picked up a copy on my next trip to The Strand in New York City. Now having reached the end of this book I still maintain that every woman should read this book and then give it to the men in their lives to read. It’s a book that will open your eyes and change your outlook on life. Not in the preachy steps to happiness way that only gives the reader one path to follow, but in the form of an ideology that gives women room to “write their own script” as Gore calls it.
Having reached the end of this book I am sorry to have to return it to the library but I have also located some of the texts she references. Texts such as Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and Victor E. Frankl’s Man Searching for Meaning. I look forward to exploring some of the ideas that Gore discussed and seeing how her own research can help me improve upon my own life.
FINAL GRADE: A+ (I’d give it a higher one if one existed.)