The Bookworm Sez: Dave Barry shares keys to happiness

The Bookworm Sez: Dave Barry shares keys to happiness

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The Declaration of Independence says those are things you get just for living here. But did you ever notice that the third one takes some work? You have to pursue happiness, but how can you chase something so ethereal?

Dave Barry has some ideas for you. And in his new book “Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster)” (c.2015, Putnam, $26.95, 225 pages), you’ll catch them.

Contrary to popular belief, money can buy happiness. The truth, says Barry, is that you “need a really large quantity of it.” And if you don’t have money, “you’re going to have to face the harsh truth: You need more beer.”

And yet, sometimes Barry wonders if he’s really happy, in the way he was when he was “young and carefree and basically an idiot.” He envies his daughter for the fun she has, just like he envies his Greatest Generation parents for the fun they made years ago. David Beckham, though: Barry envies him because he’s “considered to be the hottest man on Earth by essentially every woman on Earth…”

Including Barry’s wife, who’s a soccer writer for a major newspaper.

Not that he’s bitter about it…

Maybe happiness comes with a driver’s license. Barry’s daughter is awfully excited about that, even though “there isn’t anybody that the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t think can drive a car.” If it was left up to Barry, at any rate, Sophie would drive a 1961 Plymouth Valiant station wagon for awhile.

But seriously (if that’s possible here), our parents had much more fun than we’re having, maybe because “They were just not as into worrying as we are today.” In Brazil, they know what happiness is, whether their soccer team wins or not (preferably not “not”). Russians are people just like us — they love their families, they want nice things, they hate referees — and they certainly seem happy. On the other hand, happiness is not found on TV or through the American Dream, and it’s definitely not found in DIY stores.

Maybe happiness is found with family, past and present, near and far.

“If not, there’s always beer.”

Take a hike around any bookstore, and you’ll see that the Self-Help section is pretty good-sized. It can be difficult to know which book will make the most impact on your life, so why not make it easy for yourself? Just grab “Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster)” and call it even.

I’m kidding: this book will be found in the humor section.

Still, the point is that author Dave Barry will make you happy laughing at his rants and hilarious (but spot-on) observations about, well, just about everything from high school nerdiness to Vladimir Putin. Nothing’s safe from his gentle pokes – and that includes your heart, at the end of this book.

That’s typical, vintage, perfect Barry and fans are going to love it. If that’s you, then “Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster” is a book to pursue.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Email her at

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