Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Title: Happiness for Beginners
Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: March 24th 2015

Summary from Goodreads:
A year after getting divorced, Helen Carpenter, thirty-two, lets her annoying, ten years younger brother talk her into signing up for a wilderness survival course. It's supposed to be a chance for her to pull herself together again, but when she discovers that her brother's even-more-annoying best friend is also coming on the trip, she can't imagine how it will be anything other than a disaster. Thus begins the strangest adventure of Helen's well-behaved life: three weeks in the remotest wilderness of a mountain range in Wyoming where she will survive mosquito infestations, a surprise summer blizzard, and a group of sorority girls.

Yet, despite everything, the vast wilderness has a way of making Helen's own little life seem bigger, too. And, somehow the people who annoy her the most start teaching her the very things she needs to learn. Like how to stand up for herself. And how being scared can make you brave. And how sometimes you just have to get really, really lost before you can even have a hope of being found.


Happiness for Beginners balances heavy topics with light-hearted humor in a beautiful, adventure story.  Helen has been facing quite a tough year and decides she needs to leave her comfort zone and explore nature.  While I personally haven't faced some of her struggles I found Helen incredibly relate-able.  I immediately felt for her and was cheering her on.

Jake is hands down a favorite of mine.  Jake is a good guy, he is funny, quick witted, smart, and extremely like-able.  The interesting and unique relationship between Jake and Helen are all over the place. Even though Jake wants to help Helen, she is determined to find herself on her own.  She learns a lot about her strengths and weaknesses and what happiness means to her.  While Helen and nature do not always get along she preservers through her journey.

Helen befriends a range of other hikers, one suggests reflecting on three good/happy things and to train yourself to see the good in your day.  I loved the concept and I know its nothing new but it fit the story so well and made me pause to reflect on my own outlook on happiness.  The self growth, secondary characters, and humor made this story one of my favorite feel good books! 
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