The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

It’s Paula Poundstone, so yes, it’s laugh-out-loud funny on every page. But it’s a lot more: a fly-on-the-wall look at being the single parent of three kids, especially during the wonderful world of adolescence; tending a menagerie of sixteen cats and three ( maybe four?) dogs; and some actual insights into the various ways we pursue happiness (get fit! get organized! drive a Lamborghini!) and how they work out . . . or not. This book will give you bountiful balous of happiness, but you’ll have to read it to learn what that means.

- Banna

— From Banna's New Recs


“A remarkable journey. I laughed. I cried. I got another cat.”  —Lily Tomlin

“Paula Poundstone is the funniest human being I have ever known.” —Peter Sagal, host of Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! and author of The Book of Vice

“Is there a secret to happiness?” asks comedian Paula Poundstone. "I don’t know how or why anyone would keep it a secret. It seems rather cruel, really . . . Where could  it be? Is it deceptively simple? Does it melt at a certain temperature? Can you buy it? Must you suffer for it before or after?” In her wildly and wisely observed book, the comedy legend takes on that most inalienable of rights—the pursuit of happiness.

Offering herself up as a human guinea pig in a series of thoroughly unscientific experiments, Poundstone tries out a different get-happy hypothesis in each chapter of her data-driven search. She gets in shape with taekwondo. She drives fast behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. She communes with nature while camping with her daughter, and commits to getting her house organized (twice!). Swing dancing? Meditation? Volunteering? Does any of it bring her happiness? You may be laughing too hard to care.  

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness is both a story of jumping into new experiences with both feet and a surprisingly poignant tale of a single working mother of three children (not to mention dozens of cats, a dog, a bearded dragon lizard, a lop-eared bunny, and one ant left from her ant farm) who is just trying to keep smiling while living a busy life.

The queen of the skepticism-fueled rant, Paula Poundstone stands alone in her talent for bursting bubbles and slaying sacred cows.

Like George Carlin, Steve Martin, and David Sedaris, she is a master of her craft, and her comedic brilliance is served up in abundance in this book. As author and humorist Roy Blount Jr. notes, “Paula Poundstone deserves to be happy. Nobody deserves to be this funny.”

About the Author

Paula Poundstone is a popular panelist on NPR’s weekly comedy quiz program Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me!. She tours regularly, performing standup throughout the country. Poundstone was the first woman ever to share the stage with the President as host at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. She has had numerous HBO specials, starred in her own series on HBO and ABC, is included in Comedy Central’s list of Top 100 Comics of All Time, and has won an American Comedy Award. The National Spokesperson for the ALA’s United for Libraries Volunteer Network, she is also the author of There’s Nothing in This Book That I Meant to Say.

Praise For…

“A pure romp . . .  A deeply revealing memoir in which the pathos doesn't kill the humor—delivers more than it promises.”
Kirkus Reviews
“For readers who want a break from the current madness in the world and a good dose of Poudstone humor, this book will certainly provide.”
NY Journal of Books
“Smart, sweet, and laugh-out-loud funny balm for exceedingly stressful times.”
 “The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness is a remarkable journey. I laughed. I cried. I got another cat.”
Lily Tomlin
“The bravest and best improv comic of our time has now done the impossible and created a Work of Literature that has the wild hairy spirit of performance about it. Sort of like Emmy Dickinson & Her Sensational Cat Circus.  Or Hermie Melville & His Singing Whale. The whole family comes in for the price of one ticket and there is not a bad seat in the house.”
Garrison Keillor                                                             
“Reading Paula Poundstone's The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness, I laughed until I got fit, wired, earthy, organized, you-name-it. I'm happy now. I've discovered that the secret to happiness is to let Paula do all these things while I read her hilarious book about it.”
P.J. O’Rourke
"If you haven't met Paula Poundstone, I highly recommend that you get to know her now. I flew through her book and laughed at every page." 
Dick Van Dyke
“Paula Poundstone is hilarious.  She says that deep-rooted happiness requires a sense of purpose. I started reading this book because I knew it would make me laugh, and it did. I finished this book with hope, my own sense of purpose, and a renewed faith in people.”
Trisha Yearwood
“Paula Poundstone deserves to be happy. Nobody deserves to be this funny.”
Roy Blount Jr.
“Paula Poundstone never disappoints with her stand-up, and now she has written an informative and highly entertaining book which deserves to be read and discussed…and I highly recommend that it is.” 
Carl Reiner  
“Did someone finally do it?  Did Paula Poundstone discover the secret to human happiness?  I don’t want to give away the ending, but she did make me laugh a LOT, and even shed some tears. Read this book!” 
Pete Docter, screenwriter and director, Inside Out, Up and Monsters, Inc.  
“My God, this is a funny book! Bright shafts of the incomparable Poundstone wit come at you from every page. 
Dick Cavett, New York Times columnist and author of Brief Encounters
"Paula Poundstone is the funniest human being I have ever known. Everything she does, thinks, or says is hilarious.  She is made of funny.  If you chopped her into bits, each piece would be hilarious.  (But don’t.)  Air becomes funny having been breathed by her.  So, thus and naturally, this book is hilarious.  Even the punctuation is a scream. Buy it."
Peter Sagal, host, "Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!" and author of The Book of Vice

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781616204167
ISBN-10: 1616204168
Publisher: Algonquin Books
Publication Date: May 9th, 2017
Pages: 288
Language: English

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