Friday, November 18, 2022

Friday Feature: Happiness is a Book About Happiness

 This spring, I get to teach positive psychology again. The last time I taught the class, we were mid-pandemic and I structured the class to fit our hybrid class set-up. The first time I taught it, two years prior, we were face-to-face, with not the slightest inkling of what was to come. 

Now what?

I don't expect you to answer that, nor will I answer it here. Suffice it to say that I'm reviewing both syllabi and deciding how I want to do things this time around. Much remains to be planned, but one thing I decided to do involves books, which is how this whole process ended up on my blog.

In my early semesters of teaching, I ended each course with an activity that was a cross between book club and book report. I selected books intended for a general audience but related to the topic of the course, had my students each choose one to read, and we spent our final exam period discussing them. 

I'd nearly forgotten that I used to do this until I pulled out my original syllabus for my positive psychology course and immediately decided I'm bringing book club back.

The first step, of course, was to embark on the selection process. I started with the books I previously used, but quickly decided there were others I liked better. When I read The Happiness Project (Gretchen Rubin) with my first year seminar students, for example, it always got a warm reception (as my current FYS fellow frequently reminds me), so I thought I'd add that to the list.

The next step became finding other books that seemed to make good companions for the Rubin book, as well as offering different perspectives. After checking out my bookshelves and Kindle samples, as well as doing a few Google searches, I ended up with this short list:

  • The Upside of Stress (Kelly McGonagle)
  • The Happiness Advantage (Shawn Achor)
  • Bittersweet (Susan Cain)
  • Happier Hour by Cassie Holmes
The bottom two are new additions, leaving me with one book too many, given the time I have available. 

So, you know what comes next, of course. I get to (re-) read them and decide which ones make the cut (though I'm pretty sure I know which one will be trimmed). Meanwhile, if you've read any of them and want to make a case for keeping (or cutting) it, let me know. 

I can always use a second opinion. Or an excuse to read something new.

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