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The Optimist: One Man's Search for the Brighter Side of Life Hardcover – 13 Jan 2009

3.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday of Canada (13 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385664524
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385664523
  • Product Dimensions: 14.7 x 2.8 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,164,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"If you're feeling pessimistic about the year ahead, this book does cheer you up." (Sunday Times)

"Witty writer . . . restore[s] a little faith in humanity's future." (Financial Times 2009-01-10)

"Shorter is a snappy writer - fast, compelling, sympathetic and seemingly honest." (Observer 2009-01-25)

"Deliciously quirky and enormously funny, it brims over with the sort of joie de vivre that would brighten the darkest day." (Good Book Guide)

"Amusing and intriguing." (Mail On Sunday)

"Learning how Richard Branson remains eternally cheerful or how a Buddhist monk became known as 'the happiest man in the world' is pretty inspiring." (Metro)

"[An] anti-misery memoir." (Evening Standard)

"Funny and inspiring . . . a book that's a reason to be cheerful in itself." (Waterstone's Books Quarterly 2009-01-01)

"Shorter is a snappy writer - fast, compelling, sympathetic and . . . honest." (Observer)

"After depressing himself listening to the news, Laurence Shorter resolves to save the world and his sanity by reinventing optimism." (Sunday Herald 2010-01-10) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The hilarious story of one man's search for optimism - the perfect antidote to the January Blues --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Although, in the course of writing this book, Mr. Shorter has - often by lying about, or at best misrepresenting, his motives and credentials - gained access to and interviewed an extremely extensive, and eclectic, group of people.

Yet the book is less about the thoughts, opinions and insights he is given from these people, than his own, far less interesting, reactions to having 'pulled it off' and met them.

Some of the interviewees seem extremely eccentric, even vacuous, some come across as self-serving self-publicists, and some come across as wise and intelligent people with real insights into the nature of the sources of happiness, from whom I would love to have heard more. I suspect the choice of which interviewee belongs in which category will vary from reader; however all of them are far more interesting than Mr. Shorter himself - yet he devotes far more space to his own ill-formed musings than to the results of his own research!

Having discovered, early on, that he can find no interviewees to support his original presupposition, he does not form a coherent plan of investigation, but flits randomly from one idea to another, as his moods take him. This is not a book written by someone with something to say; it is a frantic search for ideas by someone who has decided 'to write a book'.

If this seems like a personal attack on the author, it is not meant as such. It is simply that by making himself, and his thoughts, the subject of the book, Mr. Shorter reduces one's reaction to his book to how well one warms to him personally. (This prossibly explains the wide variation in rating from other reviewers.
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Format: Paperback
I was won over by the accessbility of the writing and the endearing way in which the narrator contrasts the 'big' ideas with the challenges he faces in his own everyday existence. Laurence Shorter writes with assurance but is unafraid to to lay himself bare. I found by the end of reading the book it had managed to awake some pretty dormant positive attitudes and my outlook had noticeably brightened - a result that is surely worth a few quid of anyone's money?
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Format: Paperback
Laurence Shorter's ¨ The Optimist ¨ is a great read, one of those that I could not put down. The writing is funny and thought provoking at the same time. I found myself asking some rather deep and yet simple questions about life in general and the society we live in today. His spans the globe meeting all kinds of people, famous ones and regular everyday folks like you and I, the journey is most interesting and you will at least see some things in a new light. As one who has not bothered reading the paper and listening to the news for about a year now I have truly found that I do not need to!!!There is less clutter in life, less stuff to worry about,you can ¨wake up and smell the coffee¨ life is simpler, more enjoyable and I and my wife are much happier. Dare I say you will be less 'pessimistic' and more optimistic !! A definite recommended read, great job Mr.Shorter !!
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Format: Paperback
I read this book surprisingly quickly - recently I have had to wade through most books but this one interested me enough to keep me turning the pages. I came across the writer at a literary festival - browsing his book, The Lazy Guru, at the pop-up bookshop there, convinced me to attend his talk. Anyone who could write a short sentence per page, with a cartoonish illustration on the opposite page, and get it published, must indeed be a lazy guru I figured.
After the talk I bought a different book by the author - this one. It seemed to be better value and I wasn't disappointed. His quest for happiness and meaning in life is something most of us can relate to and his connections (which weren't explained but I am guessing are due to his family and Oxbridge background) meant that he had access to meetings with many illustrious people and opportunities to travel which are denied to most of us, while pursuing his quest. He had many interesting insights, which he has shared within these pages. Anyway, I am pleased he wrote the book and glad that I read it and I have now passed it on to my daughter to read - it is a sort of potted summary of optimism and how to attain happiness, along with the honest admission that he doesn't really have all the answers and of course, plenty of humour and a glimpse into his own personal life. A spoiler - at the literary festival talk I alluded to earlier were his very pretty wife and adorable baby son. So Laurence did find the thing he was looking for - hurray! - a family of his own. I am sure he realises by now that this too is just another step on the journey - but obviously for him (as for many of us) a very important step. I hope he plays with his son often...that sounds a bit weird but I know what I am saying! - just that happiness often visits in those moments. I hope Laurence continues to write and I will look out for him on stage/TV too.
Louise Gillett
Author of Surviving Schizophrenia, a Memoir
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I can't believe that some readers have rated this book as 1 star! I think this is exactly what Lawrence is talking about in his book. The bloke comes up with a great idea and then puts it into practice. He makes loads of brilliant points and manages to make us laugh and think along the way. The book challenges our current way of thinking while managing to avoid jargon and big words. It's awesome and I loved it

For people to score it as 1 or 2 stars says it all. As a society, we're stuck in a habit of being negative. Pessimism rules. It's a doddle to be critical. Energy vampires are infectious!

I'd advise anyone to read Lawrence's book and take it in the manner he intended. As a bit of light relief in a doom-laden society

PS, writing this review has made me happy!
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