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Rosemary Schmidt
Author
The Happy Clam
The Happy Clam picks up where Rose’s last book left off. If Go Forward, Support! was all about staying a child as long as possible, this book is all about being an adult. Started many years ago and finished in 2020, with the world on the brink of a global pandemic, this book’s messages of hope and happiness are perhaps needed now more so than ever before. The Happy Clam scales the realms of happiness - physical, intellectual, emotional, relational, spiritual - bringing together findings from across the fields of psychology and philosophy. Why happy clam? Just as clams are filter feeders, taking in what’s in the passing current, Rose has stitched together these findings into a delicately-crafted mosaic rich in hope and inspiration. The book shares deeply personal experiences infused with both humor and gravity in the face of loss.
Plot/Idea: 9 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 9 out of 10
Character/Execution: 9 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot/Idea: The Happy Clam presents the reader with a lifetime's worth of wisdom regarding happiness, changing one's perspective, and generally how to achieve a more content and comfortable existence. Schmidt is honest and vulnerable with the reader regarding her own struggles, and provides advice backed up both by scientific studies and anecdotal evidence. During a time when the whole world is feeling quite down and lost, a book such as this is welcomed with open arms.

Prose: Schmidt has a way of meandering through her thoughts cohesively and eloquently. Although her ideas blend together to a degree, they do so in an intentional fashion, stitched together with facts, citations, quotes, poetry, and recipes.

Originality: The Happy Clam is a self-help book about finding one's inner happiness and contentment – a topic that has been well traveled. However, Schmidt has the ability to tread these waters with a unique perspective, and successfully manages to take a tired subject and breathe new life into it.

Character Development/Execution: The typography of the book is pleasant to look at, with the poetry, recipes, and other non-prose elements formatted thoughtfully and in an organized manner.

Date Submitted: December 02, 2021

Reviews
Schmidt synthesizes what she has learned from her fifty-plus years of life and years of others’ research in this self-help guide on happiness. Focusing her efforts on subjects such as healthy lifestyle choices, mental health, change, creativity, and love, Schmidt covers a lot of ground in this quick read, ranging from personal lives to the workplace, arguing that “injecting some playfulness, some fun, into our workday routine can also be just the thing to get us out of a rut and jump start some creativity.” In The Happy Clam’s final quarter, Schmidt’s style changes from research-based self-help to inviting personal memoir, as she shows how her own life aligns with the advice, information, and inspiration she laid out in the earlier chapters. Poems and family recipes supplement the work and keep the spirits high.

Though she favors academic research, drawing on peer-reviewed data to make her case for achieving happiness, her prose is often conversational and informal, her tone that of a assured, reflective friend or coach as she acknowledges truths like “Granted, some days it may feel like we are bailing the ocean, but it doesn’t mean we should stop trying.” The research is admirably wide-ranging, and it lends welcome persuasive weight to her clear-eyed, practical advice (“Want to be more empathetic? Read fiction”) about changing a mindset, expectations, and how starting with simple, easy changes can make a big difference in one’s life.

As she blends memoir with self-help, Schmidt discusses elements of her and her loved ones’ lives–experiences from work and childhood–that have taught her about happiness. Throughout, she revealed herself as insightful and funny, charming and wise, qualities that, along with the rigor of her presentation of research, ensure The Happy Clam stands out from the pack of self-help books on happiness. She is realistic and positive in the same breath, illuminating how “elusive happiness” can seem attainable to readers.

Takeaway: A quick, thorough, inviting self-help book on ways to seek, find, and maintain happiness in adulthood.

Great for fans of: Sonja Lyubomirsky’s The How of Happiness, Meik Wiking’s The Little Book of Hygge.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: B+

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