While on vacation earlier this month I used my seven days of beach lounging to devour a giant stack of magazines and plow through three great books. Ahhh, vacation.
One of those books was "Hector and the Search for Happiness" by French author Francois Lelord. The book is loosely based on Francois' life.
In the book, the main character, Hector, is a psychiatrist in France. Though he is able to talk his clients off the ledge (and medicate them) he struggles with not being able to make them happy. Hector tries and tries to find ways to raise the happiness levels of his clients, but he finds himself hitting a wall.
This happiness issue becomes a burning question for Hector and he decides to take time away from his practice and travel the world to see if he can uncover a clearer meaning for happiness (and how to achieve it) by visiting other cultures.
The premise of the book alone is interesting, but as I was reading it I couldn't help but notice how all the sentences were short and concise, almost to a fault. In the beginning I thought the book might have lost some of its meaning in translation (it was originally written in French), but as the book went on I realized the brevity was intentional. Francois begins to write about very heavy issues and the short sentences help to keep the tone light enough for you to process what's happening without feeling depressed. This is a book about happiness, after all!
For me, the most fascinating part of the book is that Hector falls in love with a prostitute. While on his intellectual quest for enlightenment, he falls head over heels for an escort during his time in China. Throughout the book, as he travels the globe, Hector continues to think of this woman, despite being in a relationship with a woman back home in France. Even psychiatrists need a little moral guidance sometimes.
"Hector and the Search for Happiness" was a quick and enjoyable read. His discoveries about what make people happy turned my lips upward into a smile with every revelation. This would be an excellent book to read on the subway, as the commute can often fill a person with rage.
While searching for an image of the book cover I stumbled upon a post sharing that this book is being made into a movie! Actor Simon Pegg (best known for "Shaun of the Dead") will play inquisitive Hector.
What great books have you read lately?