The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happinessby Paula Poundstone

Hardcover, 288 pages, Audiobook
Published May 9th 2017 by Algonquin Books
4.5 Stars


My Review: Paula Poundstone has a memorable voice, so when I selected this audiobook, I was quite thrilled that she also narrates it. It made it very enjoyable. Besides that, her experiments in happiness had me giggling out loud many times. I did not know anything about her personal life, but I could see my kids in the anecdotes she told. Her kids are a hoot and act like normal kids everywhere, especially when it comes to the way they react to their mom. She is amazing in taking a normal life event and telling it in such a witty way that will have you laughing. She is also very good at self-deprecating humour. She does a great job of getting the listener to laugh at some of her simple mistakes and bigger gaffs without making it seem that you are laughing at her. I enjoyed seeing how many “Heps of Happiness” she received from each of her endeavours. I think the one I laughed at the most was the Lamborghini experiment. It was not a long book, only about 7.5 hours but I would have listened to more, I liked it a lot. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys comedy, especially if you like Paula Poundstone.

Synopsis: “Is there a secret to happiness?” asks comedian Paula Poundstone. “I don’t know how or why anyone would keep it a secret. It seems rather cruel, really . . . Where could  it be? Is it deceptively simple? Does it melt at a certain temperature? Can you buy it? Must you suffer for it before or after?” In her wildly and wisely observed book, the comedy legend takes on that most inalienable of rights—the pursuit of happiness.

Offering herself up as a human guinea pig in a series of thoroughly unscientific experiments, Poundstone tries out a different get-happy hypothesis in each chapter of her data-driven search. She gets in shape with taekwondo. She drives fast behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. She communes with nature while camping with her daughter, and commits to getting her house organized (twice!). Swing dancing? Meditation? Volunteering? Does any of it bring her happiness? You may be laughing too hard to care.

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness is both a story of jumping into new experiences with both feet and a surprisingly poignant tale of a single working mother of three children (not to mention dozens of cats, a dog, a bearded dragon lizard, a lop-eared bunny, and one ant left from her ant farm) who is just trying to keep smiling while living a busy life.

The queen of the skepticism-fueled rant, Paula Poundstone stands alone in her talent for bursting bubbles and slaying sacred cows.

Like George Carlin, Steve Martin, and David Sedaris, she is a master of her craft, and her comedic brilliance is served up in abundance in this book. As author and humorist Roy Blount Jr. notes, “Paula Poundstone deserves to be happy. Nobody deserves to be this funny.”