Hector and the Search for Happiness – Francois Lelord

The BookDepository

 Translated from the French by Lorenza Garcia

Hector and the Search for Happiness is a short, quirky book about one man’s search for happiness.

Hector is a young psychiatrist who decides to travel around the world finding out what makes people in other countries happy. As he learns about their feelings he makes notes, developing a set of rules which he uses to find happiness within himself.

The writing was very simple, almost child-like and the entire book can be read very quickly. 

I think my main problem with this book was that it wasn’t really a novel. It had much more in common with a self-help guide, a type of book that I avoid. Perhaps I’m just lucky enough to already know that the secret of happiness relies on strong relationships and not material wealth, but I felt I gained nothing from reading this book.

I found the lessons to be patronising and there were several points when I wanted to throw this book across the room.

Lesson no. 12: It is harder to be happy in a country run by bad people.

and possibly even more annoying:

Lesson no. 22: Women care more than men about making others happy. 

I think this book will appeal to fans of Mitch Albom and self-help guides, but I found it to be overly sentimental.

It seems as though I’m the only one that didn’t enjoy it….

It was very sweet and I think it had a number of good lessons in it. Medieval Bookworm

 ….has a genuine edge to it, with on-the-button observations about human beings and the way they think and behave. Vulpes Libris

…. it is warm and insightful, and it cleverly avoids the pitfalls of silliness and sentimentality. Fleur Fisher Reads

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  1. Verity says:

    Hmm…I keep seeing this and thinking that I’d like to read it – one from the library perhaps then…

    1. Jackie says:

      Verity, That depends on whether you like self-help books :-)

  2. Iris says:

    I have to admit that I’ve seen the cover of this book everywhere and it has made me very curious. Like Verity, I think I’ll try to get it from the library sometime (I doubt they’ll have it though).

    And I would definitely want to throw the book against the wall with lesson nr. 22.

    1. Jackie says:

      Iris, Good luck getting a copy from the library – I hope you don’t end up throwing it against a wall!

  3. Stujallen says:

    a strange book by the look ,i like verity and iris may see if its in my library as it looks like an evenings read ,all the best stu

    1. Jackie says:

      Stu, Yes, it is a very quick read and you can easily finish it in one sitting. I hope you enjoy it more than I did.

  4. Well, I have a copy and I’ll pick it up and see what I think (this review has probably made me more inclined to do so quickly; I had intended to read it last month).

    1. Jackie says:

      Claire, I’ll be interested to see your thoughts on this one – I don’t think it will take you long to decide whether it is for you or not :-)

  5. Amy says:

    Great, honest review. Definitely not a book for me. I very much dislike those self-help type books that are overly patronizing and simply dispensing common sense or ridiculously stereotypical statements (like the women care more).

    1. Jackie says:

      Amy, SNAP! It seems as though we have a similar feeling towards self help books!

  6. Sandy says:

    I think the beauty of books like this are that they cause you to stop your busyness and remember to smell the roses and appreciate the little things. It is easy to forget.

    1. Jackie says:

      Sandy, It is great that they make you want to smell roses – they make me want to scream with frustration!

  7. Michele says:

    I hate that when it seems that I’m the only person on this earth that did or did not like a certain book. I’m starting to think I’m getting cranky in my old age, LOL.

    1. Jackie says:

      Michele, I often find myself being the odd one out. I don’t think it is age related – I am just very fussy in my book taste! :-)

  8. Jenny says:

    If only there were an emoticon for a lip curl. I don’t like it when books pretend to be stories and then get all preachy, though I guess everybody draws the line on that in a different place (viz. CS Lewis).

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenny, How about :-~ ?!! It seems as though I draw my line a lots closer than others :-)

  9. Jessica says:

    I did read a couple of the other reviews and decided then this books really wasn’t for me. I like large doses of doom and gloom please ;) seriously though self help is completely not my thing, nothing wrong with them ust not my thing

    1. Jackie says:

      Jessica, LOL! A publisher asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing a book yesterday and I replied that I needed something a bit more harrowing!

  10. Shannon says:

    Ha ha! I loathe self-help books! I’m so glad I saw your review because I think someone else said it was good. Seems more obnoxious to me. I would never read Mitch Albom – it wouldn’t be fair to him cause I’d just tear it apart. Same goes here. (Jenny’s idea for a lip-curling emoticon is a great one!) Thanks heaps Jackie!

    1. Jackie says:

      Shannon, I have foolishly read 2 Mitch Albom books, although the second was forced on me by a book group. There are a lot of similarities between this book and his – they just aren’t for me.

  11. I don’t think one can shove all self-help books into the same category, there are some extremely good books out there which help folk through serious illness, relationship breakdowns and other life events when sometimes friends find it difficult to empathise or know what to say/what not to say. I do think there is a place for such books, the ones which are genuinely helpful although I can’t seem to summon up the same benevolent attitude when it comes to misery memoirs!

    However, I don’t think Hector is for me either – the very mention of Mitch Albolm made me shudder. I did try to read that book he wrote about meeting folk in heaven – I felt quite bilious after 10 pages and gave up! Still, one man’s meat is another man’s poison etc etc… ;-)

    Did you read the book for a publisher, Jackie or was it your own choice? It just doesn’t strike me as the type of book which you would usually choose…hark at me, I’ve only been following your blog for a short while and feel like I know your tastes! ;-) Apologies in advance if that was presumptuous of me.

    1. Jackie says:

      Teresa, Good point. I guess I’m referring to self-help books about how to be happy, not guides to illness etc. I don’t have a problem with other people reading them, especially if they find them useful, they just drive me mad.

      Bonus points for spotting this was an unsolicited review copy! To be fair I have seen this book EVERYWHERE and was curious about it. If I had spotted it in a library I’d have probably picked it up because I have seen so many glowing reviews. It is nice that you seem to know my taste in books already. I’ll try to stick to books of my choosing in the future :-)

  12. Kathleen says:

    Definitely NOT for me, I abhor self-help books!

    1. Jackie says:

      Kathleen, At least you can strike this book off your TBR list.

  13. LizF says:

    Your reviews are refreshing and it’s about time someone debunked the whole ‘inspirational’ book thing!
    If the rest of the book is like the two examples you quoted I think I would have put it in with the compost heap never mind throwing it across the room!

    1. Jackie says:

      Liz, LOL! I would never have thought putting something on the compost heap was the worst fate, although I suppose being eaten by worms is quite bad :-)

  14. Bina says:

    I´ve heard some good things about this book, enough to make me think about getting it from the library. But I really don´t like self-help books or too sentimental ones. I read one or two Mitch Albom books and found that they were practically identical and too sentimental and corny.

    And wow, those lessons are ridiculous! Too bad, the cover looked fun enough :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Bina, It is an eye-catching cover. I think this book is very similar to a Mitch Albom book, so if you didn’t like one you wouldn’t enjoy the other either.

  15. Jenners says:

    Sounds like a good premise poorly executed!!

    1. Jackie says:

      Jenners, I’m not sure – I don’t think I like the premise ;-)

  16. Thank you for this review! Like a few other commenters, I’d seen this around and although it didn’t really appeal to me off the bat, it was enough to make me think, “Should I be reading this?” Now I can safely say I don’t think it’d be for me, either.

    1. Jackie says:

      Lija, It is always nice to know a bit more about a book that is everywhere :-)

  17. CDLC says:

    Why are you all giving opinions if you haven’t read the book? How can you say ‘it’s not for me’ without reading it? I took it on holiday to read, after reading “Wedlock’ I thought something light would be appropriate. It was just what I needed. Simple,easy,funny,interesting,just what I needed at that moment, on holiday.

    1. Jackie says:

      CDLC, Thank you for commenting on my blog for the first time!

      Most of the people commenting on this post are regular readers of my blog. They have been following me for a while and so know my taste in books well. Most have a similar taste in books to me and so will often not enjoy a book if I didn’t.

      It is great to hear that you enjoyed it – I’m sure that a lot of people will love it too. I hope that I have provided enough information for others to be able to say whether or not it is the sort of book they’d enjoy.

      1. I also think that most of us have such enormous TBR piles that we need some help deciding what to read and what to skip. Once we’ve found other bloggers whose opinions we trust, it’s enough to help us make the decision one way or another. Obviously if I’d really been looking forward to this I would have read it anyway.

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