Review: ‘Happy’ by Derren Brown

The best non-fiction books are ones which state the obvious, whilst presenting it in an entirely different light which changes our view on an issue. So, when the illusionist Derren Brown explores a feeling we’ve experienced on many occasions during our lifetime – happiness – one would be forgiven for thinking we know all about joy, feeling good and how to be positive. However, Brown approaches such an intriguing topic with refreshing insight, sincerity and the occasional dash of humour – making us question something we thought we’ve understood for years.

Throughout the book, Derren takes a whistle-stop tour of the many things which affects happiness – from fame to grief to anger. The magician constantly refers to what history tells us about being happy, often referring to Stoicism and easy-to-use techniques for readers to adapt in their everyday lives. Constantly, Brown rubbishes current self-help manuals about happiness, instead offering a simplistic alternative.

Whilst the author’s main messages are clear, the only downside is that it is not a book to be enjoyed in bitesize chunks. Unfortunately, the gap caused by my second year at university has led to me taking several months to finish this book, but as mentioned previously, this has not stopped me from understanding the main tone of Happy.

It’s a book which can be seen as being the second part of Brown’s recent stage show, Miracle, which tapped into the idea of us having the power to rewrite our own life stories. It’s this theatrical performance style – which sees Derren present philosophical and psychological ideas in a sympathetic tone – that is transferred into this book.

Warm, inspiring and uplifting, Derren Brown’s Happy is an eye-opening exploration of a sentiment we always thought we understood – until now…

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