Hector is a London psychiatrist who has a seemingly perfect life: a perfect job, a perfect girlfriend, following the routines every day. Until one day in the middle of a session with a patient, he is forced to think about the question whether he is actually happy with his life. Since he cannot truthfully answer that question with a clear YES he decides to go on a trip around the world to find out what makes people happy.
His journey leads him from Shanghai, where he befriends a rich business man, to a buddhist monastery, to Africa where he visits an old friend and helps out in his clinic and to many more stops all over the world. He meets a lot of interesting people and gets even more different answers to the question “What is happiness?”
His journey ends in America, where he visits his ex-girlfriend, whom he never quite managed to forget. However, she is happily married and a mother now. She makes him realize that she is not what will him happy and she helps him see what he really wants from his life and what has to do to actually live it this way.
Although Hector and the Search for Happiness deals with a rather philosophical topic it is still a very easy read , because it has a very light air to it. It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry but most of all it’ll make you think about your life and about the question what happiness is for you. At least that’s what it did to me. If you happen to be fluent in French you might want to read the original “Le voyage d’Hector ou la recherche du bonheur” since it’s usually preferable to read it in the original language. Nevertheless I recommend to read this book no matter in which language. And I also strongly suggest that you watch the recently released movie starring Simon Pegg (Cornetto Trilogy, Star Trek) and Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl). It captures the feeling of the book incredibly well and Simon Pegg did an amazing job playing Hector.