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Summary

Random House presents the audiobook edition of Happy, written and read by Derren Brown.

Everyone says they want to be happy. But that's much more easily said than done. What does being happy actually mean? And how do you even know when you feel it?

Across the millennia, philosophers have thought long and hard about happiness. They have defined it in many different ways and come up with myriad strategies for living the good life. Drawing on this vast body of work, in Happy Derren Brown explores changing concepts of happiness - from the surprisingly modern wisdom of the Stoics and Epicureans in classical times right up until today, when the self-help industry has attempted to claim happiness as its own. He shows how many of self-help’s suggested routes to happiness and success - such as positive thinking, self-belief and setting goals - can be disastrous to follow and, indeed, actually cause anxiety. 

This brilliant, candid and deeply entertaining audiobook exposes the flaws in these ways of thinking and in return poses challenging but stimulating questions about how we choose to live and the way we think about death.

Happy aims to reclaim happiness and to enable us to appreciate the good things in life, in all their transient glory. By taking control of the stories we tell ourselves, by remembering that ‘everything’s fine’ even when it might not feel that way, we can allow ourselves to flourish and to live more happily.

©2016 Derren Brown (P)2018 Random House Audiobooks

Critic reviews

"Deeply informative, moving, wise and full of love." (Alain de Botton) 

What members say

Average customer ratings

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

A philosophical chat with a smart, charming buddy

"Happy" is a survey of applied philosophy. like Derren himself, it's very intelligent and approachable. But unlike his TV specials and stage shows, it's not especially memorable.

The value of this book depends heavily on where you stand. I'm quite familiar with philosophy and already on board with Stoic ideals, so this provided a pleasant review, but nothing groundbreaking. For some, this book may be life-changing.

In any case, the audio format is key. Derren's charismatic intellect resonates through his reading, and I think much would be lost in a text version.

Note: Derren, if somehow you read this, they definitely did muck up the cover.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Life changing

whether you are new to philosophy or an avid consumer of thoughts about thoughts, you are guaranteed to be delighted

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Love this book. Loved it.

I was expecting much much less from this book and maybe if all of life is about expectation management than that is why I'm so happy with it, but I think it is more than that. The author takes on way more than a superficial journey through the major schools of philosophy and most of the big names in the history of thinkerswho have written about happiness, how to achieve it and what it is. While his main focus is on the Stoics and cognitive behavioral therapy, which admittedly I have a penchant for, he does not simply leave it there. Derren justifies and supports his ideas as to why he believes in these approaches and then rounds them each out with additional commentary. In the end we are left with a picture of life that is not boring, nor requires deep suffering and neither does it subscribe to the philosophy that we must always be happy like a AAA battery and that we can control things that we cannot control. Very simply the book was eminently reasonable, practical and I might also say quite funny and Derren's delivery due no doubt to his years of practice on the stage. Overall a simply wonderful wonderful book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Good enough

A brilliant mix of psychology, philosophy, and Derren Brown’s unique and intelligent interpretation of human society.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Derren, try some drugs.

Happy is a nice way to feel, if feeling nice is what you're trying to do.

Derren can't help but try to control the world, even if only by constructing a worldview in which control is maintained through self-reliance. He's afraid of the true unknown, the question of what if there is no true order, and thus, no self and no reliance. It is the inevitable "truth," but Derren cannot risk facing it. If he could, he would find the beauty beyond happiness. Watch "The 13th Floor." Take mushrooms alone. Read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." They all tell the same story - if story is the metaphor you like. It is the story of the ever-arbitrary, Infinite Chaos. The only story that matters.

I love Derren, but he really needs to try drugs. Poor Rogan felt like he was talking to a sweet, innocent child. Come on, Derren. It's time.

As for the book, I'm glad Derren took the time to narrate it. So far so good.

3 of 24 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • D. Berzack
  • 07-01-19

A philosophical chat with a smart, charming buddy

"Happy" is a survey of applied philosophy. like Derren himself, it's very intelligent and approachable. But unlike his TV specials and stage shows, it's not especially memorable.

The value of this book depends heavily on where you stand. I'm quite familiar with philosophy and already on board with Stoic ideals, so this provided a pleasant review, but nothing groundbreaking. For some, this book may be life-changing.

In any case, the audio format is key. Derren's charismatic intellect resonates through his reading, and I think much would be lost in a text version.

Note: Derren, if somehow you read this, they definitely did muck up the cover.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kyle Downs
  • 26-12-18

Life changing

whether you are new to philosophy or an avid consumer of thoughts about thoughts, you are guaranteed to be delighted

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Louis Macareo
  • 24-12-18

Love this book. Loved it.

I was expecting much much less from this book and maybe if all of life is about expectation management than that is why I'm so happy with it, but I think it is more than that. The author takes on way more than a superficial journey through the major schools of philosophy and most of the big names in the history of thinkerswho have written about happiness, how to achieve it and what it is. While his main focus is on the Stoics and cognitive behavioral therapy, which admittedly I have a penchant for, he does not simply leave it there. Derren justifies and supports his ideas as to why he believes in these approaches and then rounds them each out with additional commentary. In the end we are left with a picture of life that is not boring, nor requires deep suffering and neither does it subscribe to the philosophy that we must always be happy like a AAA battery and that we can control things that we cannot control. Very simply the book was eminently reasonable, practical and I might also say quite funny and Derren's delivery due no doubt to his years of practice on the stage. Overall a simply wonderful wonderful book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • GabbyVW
  • 10-12-18

Good enough

A brilliant mix of psychology, philosophy, and Derren Brown’s unique and intelligent interpretation of human society.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew Fisher
  • 15-11-18

Derren, try some drugs.

Happy is a nice way to feel, if feeling nice is what you're trying to do.

Derren can't help but try to control the world, even if only by constructing a worldview in which control is maintained through self-reliance. He's afraid of the true unknown, the question of what if there is no true order, and thus, no self and no reliance. It is the inevitable "truth," but Derren cannot risk facing it. If he could, he would find the beauty beyond happiness. Watch "The 13th Floor." Take mushrooms alone. Read "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." They all tell the same story - if story is the metaphor you like. It is the story of the ever-arbitrary, Infinite Chaos. The only story that matters.

I love Derren, but he really needs to try drugs. Poor Rogan felt like he was talking to a sweet, innocent child. Come on, Derren. It's time.

As for the book, I'm glad Derren took the time to narrate it. So far so good.

3 of 24 people found this review helpful