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
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.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B+