Staff Picks


On our shelves in New Adult Non-Fiction:

Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness

Written by Ingrid Fetell Lee, this is interior design from an artist’s point of view. An artist who has paid attention to what details universally bring joy into a person’s life. She has chapters on color, light, texture and more with amazing real life examples. Small changes can have dramatic results on the environment you live and work in. From Publishers Weekly,  “Backing up her insights with research from psychology and neuroscience, Lee identifies 10 “aesthetics of joy”: energy, abundance, freedom, harmony, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, celebration, and renewal. She relates energy to “vibrant color and light,” finding an example in the renewal of the Albanian city of Tirana, at one time plagued by crime and decay; four years after the mayor began painting buildings in bright hues, citizens had reclaimed their city. For the surprise aesthetic, characterized by “contrast and whimsy,” Lee draws an example from her own life, remembering shaking with nerves before a boardroom presentation when she noticed that a buttoned-down, gray-suited executive was wearing rainbow-colored socks. He caught her gaze and smiled, a “small, unexpected burst of joy.” She finds the transcendence aesthetic at play in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, where 500 hot-air balloons are launched each year. This book’s extended passages of analysis might be daunting for some, but Lee’s vignettes are engaging and a reminder that “every human being is born with the capacity for joy.”

The author also gave a Ted talk: Where joy hides and how to find it.