Book Review: The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

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Simply stated, The Happiness of Pursuit is a book about quests. It tells the story of many different people and the quests that they undertook which defined and changed their lives in ways that they never imagined possible. Some quests were humble, and the quester was able to reach their goals from the comfort of their own home, like the man who finished MIT's famous Computer Science curriculum (an intensive four-year program) in just one year. Or the woman who endeavored to teach her family about other cultures by preparing one authentic and well-researched meal a week from every country around the world. Other quests took the questers to far-flung regions of the world, like the woman who broke many world records in bird-watching by traipsing through the jungles of Madagascar and Brazil. Or the author himself, Chris Guillebeau, whose quest was to visit every country in the world, despite various travel bans, visa issues, and quite frankly, a rather poor sense of direction.

But the book also walks the reader through the process of finding and defining a quest. From the guidelines that make a quest a higher calling, rather than a simple goal, to the common themes found in many people's quests, and even what to do once your quest is finished. Guillebeau explores the entire process of a quest and the unique difficulties that come with each step, and advises the reader through each of them, using several key examples that recur throughout the book. I didn't choose this book quite on purpose, and I had several other books in mind for my first book review post. However, this book quite literally chose me, as it was on sale only a few days after I had started to flesh out my plans for this blog. So I bought it, began to read, and realized just how perfect it was as a beginning. Although this blog doesn't quite fit the definition of a quest as the book defines it, I think that it could eventually lead me to my ultimate quest (is that a little corny? Probably), and that sense of the unknown is at once completely terrifying and exhilarating.

But enough about me. I think it worth at least a footnote that this book is INSANELY quotable. Barring the fact that Guillebeau often uses quotes in his writing (everything from Homer to Obi-Wan Kenobi), I spent the first few chapters underlining practically every other sentence! Then I realized that I would never get through the darn thing if I kept up like that, so I read on. The other thing I wanted to mention is that the "book" is only 80% of the actual pages, and the appendices have even more golden nuggets of awesomeness! If you read this book, do yourself a favor and read them too.

Finally, Guillebeau has his own website, but he was so overwhelmed by the responses he got while researching for this book that he set up a whole separate website specifically for questers! If you're on a quest, or wondering where to start, the community and resources there could be just the thing you need to get you started on your journey.

So do you have a quest? Thinking about starting one? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear from you.