Ebook review: Happiness…as a Second Language: A Guidebook to Achieving Lasting, Permanent Happiness by Valerie Alexander

The opera house in Copenhagen is a spectacular building in a magnificent location. Standing in front of that edifice in the evening sun the view is one of the best in Denmark. The waterfront is delightful and the relatively ancient buildings that serviced this market harbour cut a very fine profile and contrast nicely with the royal palace and the marble church. Now opera is not really my thing, although I have never really tried it, so I must point out that my trip to the opera was to see a musical that was lifted from self indulgent seriousness by the energetic genie. He stole the show and put the fizz into an evening’s entertainment.

About the author: “Valerie started her career in the Silicon Valley in the late 1990s, where she worked on some of the most important transactions of the decade as a securities lawyer, an investment banker and an Internet executive.
From 2000 to 2001, she returned to Indiana to care for her mother, and in her absence the Internet bubble burst, leaving her no choice but to move to Los Angeles to write and direct movies.
As a screenwriter, Valerie has worked with Joel Schumacher, Catherine Zeta Jones, Ice Cube and others. Not satisfied writing scripts that never got made, she co-wrote, produced and directed the award-winning short film, Making the Cut, as well as numerous commercials and public service announcements.
Valerie received her B.A. from Trinity University and her J.D. and M.S. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. In the spring of 2010, she returned to Berkeley Law to teach the legal ethics seminar, “Representation of Law in Film,” and she continues to lecture at colleges and film schools across the country with her entertaining talk, “How Women Can Succeed in Hollywood (Despite Having Female Brains).”
Valerie lives in Los Angeles with her husband, writer and producer Rick Alexander, and their ill-mannered German Shepherd, Pepper.”
From the dust cover: ”The Ultimate Happiness “Textbook” for Everyone! Happiness as a Second Language teaches happiness step-by-step, in the same manner as one would learn a new language. Each chapter builds on the concepts and exercises in the previous one, starting with the most basic lessons, progressing through the intermediate stages, and finally graduating to the more advanced concepts. The writing is simple and straightforward, the instructions easy to follow, and the sample situations familiar, touching, often heartbreaking and sometimes hysterical. Reading this book is the first step in your journey towards a lifetime of happiness. Some of the work may seem hard, but with time and effort, you can be fluent in Happiness.”
My Ebook review: In a sense I am a collector of ebooks and books on this subject and there are several well known examples of books that attempt to aid the reader along a path towards a happier and more fulfilling life or lifestyle. The key and critical feature that separates the excellent from the mediocre in my perspective is the ability of the author to depict their credibility and knowledge without seeming overly narcissistic. Valerie Alexander creates a link to the reader by starting out with being open about a tough period in her life. Her CV is clearly impressive and she is an intelligent person with a good deal of experience and this finds its way into her writing in the form of an easy style, anecdotes, quotes and of course a novel approach to teaching happiness.
The underpinning metaphor of this work is given in the title, happiness is a language just as any other and needs to be learned stepwise and with effort. What we get is a well executed essay on the concept. The important part of learning a language is the fact that it is broken down into constituent elements and we are encouraged to learn these and work on these individually as the whole comes together.
The author comes across as a credible teacher of happiness and the method has charm and merit because it has appeal and because anyone who has learned a language will see the pattern.
Does it work? I have not put in the effort to be able to say at this stage. I will say that it really should work if the reader follows through. As an Ebook it is well written, engaging and thought provoking and it got me to say “I am happy!” to ‘her indoors’ and once the shock had dissipated I was left trying to explain myself but it did bring a smile.
Another question might be does this Ebook sit well on the Kindle alongside Carnegie? The answer is definitely yes. In the same way that the Copenhagen skyline is a tapestry of the old and the new there must be space made for Alexander’s work in the tapestry of a full collection. For some it will contain their genie.

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