A thought-provoking, if uneven, collection designed to clarify the true nature of happiness.



A compendium of aphorisms aimed at helping readers achieve contentment.

Byer’s debut attempts to differentiate between pleasure and happiness. According to the author, this distinction hinges on the notions that pleasure is basal, “the effect of our desires as an instinctive motivational process,” and that happiness is only possible when one’s “higher thinking” overrides those instincts. When one concentrates only on pleasure, he says, it results in stress and anxiety: “To become free we must control what controls us,” Byer writes, “and that is us.” To help readers achieve “higher thinking,” Byer offers a collection of 3,300 axioms, grouped around the key concepts of “Peace,” “Desire and Fear,” “Pleasure,” “Truth,” and “Wisdom,” among others. These axioms vary considerably in quality and impact. Some are bland statements of fact, such as “We seem to go through our lives without knowing why we do what we do.” Others are instructional: “We rationalize our desires by providing plausible but untrue reasons for our conduct.” Life, according to Byer, is the discovery of the relationship among nature, society, and ourselves, and “our truth is the ability to know that the cause of our discontent was us.” This epigrammatic approach makes the book compulsively readable. However, it also lends the collection an opaque quality that would have been considerably lessened if the author had elaborated more on his ideas. His opening discussion of the structural difference between pleasure and happiness, for example, is tantalizingly brief, and it will no doubt leave readers wanting more in-depth analysis and fewer tossed-off maxims.

A thought-provoking, if uneven, collection designed to clarify the true nature of happiness.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-96656-3

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Byer Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2018

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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