Better Living In Pursuit of Happiness From Plato To Prozac (Viking) by Mark Kingwell, a Canadian philosopher and intellectual celebrity, provides an in-depth analysis of our pleasure-centric society and the concept of happiness in western philosophy. Although a philosophical treatise on happiness may sound like anything but fun, Kingwell's fluid writing style, sharp wit and candid autobiographical tales create an enlightening and often humorous read.
Among his many sound ideas are the distinction between hedonistic and eudemonistic (a term from Aristotle that means, roughly, the contentment attained by living a virtuous life) happiness, and the culture-jamming call to reclaim and rehumanize our notions of happiness from large corporations and advertising agencies. To his credit, Kingwell provides no get-happy-quick schemes, but he does stress the Socratic notion that happiness is a lifelong process involving continual self-examination. In today's world of instant/over-the-counter happiness, such thinking is quite refreshing.