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Lessons from Lucy by Dave Barry

Published by Simon & Schuster on April 2, 2019

Dogs are effortlessly happy. Joy is a default state. Humans too often ignore daily or even hourly opportunities to be happy, if only for a few moments. Humans should be more like dogs. And there you have one of the lessons Dave Barry offers, but with a lot more humor, in Lessons from Lucy.

Barry is 70; Lucy is 10; both are entering their senior years. Barry wrote the book, he says, to try to identify how his dog Lucy manages to be so happy and whether he can apply those techniques to his own life.

Barry meanders a bit, as is his style, before he gets around to imparting each lesson, some of which are only tangentially related to dogs, not that it matters. The funniest chapter (to me) explains why aging sucks, and the funniest line is that AARP is the last sound people make before they die. Barry also pokes fun at mindfulness, motivational events, scallops, the folly of outsourcing customer service to distant countries, people who don’t think about what they might want to order until they reach the front of a fast food line, and many other targets. For a bit of time in each of the seven chapters, he talks about Lucy, who sounds like a wonderful dog, much like all other dogs except possibly the little ones who need to be carried all the time (one of the many prejudices I have in common with Barry, whose books I like because he seems to be a lot like me, only funnier).

Lucy’s lessons are things like Make Friends Easily, Never Stop Having Fun, Be a Good Companion to the People You Love, Let Go of Your Anger, and You Do Not Need More Stuff to Be Happy. All of those lessons (and more) are illustrated with amusing examples of the ways in which Barry could make his life better, as well as amusing examples of how Lucy lives those lessons effortlessly. So this is sort of a self-help book (although Barry makes fun of self-help authors in an epilog), but it is really a light examination of how someone who is getting older might not be too old to think about how to live a better life. And who can teach better lessons about living a good life than an aging dog?


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