Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eden and Happiness

It's kind of a relief when I don't love a book. Sometimes I worry that I don't have very discriminating tastes because I so often LOOOOOVE whatever I'm reading. So when I finish a book and think, "meh. It was all right," a little part of me wipes my forehead and says, "phew!"

Eve, by Elissa Elliot is a good book, but it did not wow me or knock my socks off. It was an easy and quick enough read, but it will not stick with me. The story of the first woman (well, really, the first family), it had the potential to be an extraordinary book, not just good. Starting on Eve's deathbed and then flashing back through her years in Eden and her family's life in exile, the book bounces back and forth between several narrators and that's part of how the book lost me. I love a book with multiple narrators. But not when the book is titled for one character and subtitled: A Novel of the First Woman.

It is persnickity, I know. But it irritated me that I expected to read an entire book from Eve's perspective and in her voice, but instead I read a few chapters from her point of view and exponentially more chapters from the various voices of her daughters.

I was also disappointed that Elliott never touches the subject of Lilith, Adam's "first wife." According to lore, Lilith makes several appearances in Adam's life and it seemed to me like potentially fabulous fodder for Eve's drama. But nope. Not a mention, unless I was nodding off at some point and missed it, (which, to be fair, I read at night and sometimes I am a bit noddy--I'm not dissing Elliott).

There is plenty of existential angst and marital angst and sibling rivalry angst and mother/daughter angst and how-to-exist-peacefully-with-those-non-Edenite-city-dwellers angst, and it's interesting. And I know I shouldn't blame the book for not being what I expected it to be. But I kind of do.

I'm also reading:

Gretchen Rubin's Happiness Project is the memoir of one woman's quest to spend a year of her life searching for and more fully appreciating the happiness in her life. It's inspired me to go through the next 12 months, one (or 3) "resolution" at a time, in an attempt to live a more mindful and happy life. It's not phenomenal literature, a tiny bit dry at points, but the subject matter and the journey is inspiring and I'm loving it.

In my search for a greater understanding of happiness (per the Happiness Project thing), I've decided to read different books about happiness--happiness in different cultures, raising happy kids, different philosophers' thoughts on how to live a truly happy life. No worries, I'm not looking to find some sort of "how to be happy" self-help recipe. I'm just curious what the idea of happiness means to other people.

Eric Weiner's book, The Geography of Bliss, is an entertaining journey. A self-proclaimed "grump," Weiner travels the world to find, as he says, "the happiest place on earth." For a grump, he's pretty freaking hilarious (although he is pretty sarcastic, which is the grump's sense of humor, after all). He visits a variety of countries, interviews citizens about how happy they are (or aren't) and picks apart the myths of happiness in each place.

I've been looking at this book since it was published and I'm so glad that I found it in my library and that, yay!!!, it fits into my happiness project, thereby making it, clearly, a MUST read! Yay!

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