The Optimist: One Man’s Search for the Brighter Side of Life

Laurence Shorter

The Optimist: One Man’s Search for the Brighter Side of Life

3.5 out of 5 based on 3 reviews
The Optimist: One Man’s Search for the Brighter Side of Life


Classification Non-fiction
Genre Society, Politics & Philosophy, Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Paperback
Pages 320
RRP £10.99
Date of Publication January 2009
ISBN 978-1847670618
Publisher Canongate


The Financial Times

Jacob Lloyd

The self-mocking narrative prevents the book from degenerating into a self-help manual... and it makes for an entertaining read. Shorter is a witty writer – he says of the late Harold Pinter: “Once you have your own adjective, it’s generally accepted that winning the Nobel Prize is a matter of mere formality.” The Optimist won’t convert confirmed pessimists but it is engaging enough to make you question negative habits – and perhaps restore a little faith in humanity’s future.


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The Sunday Times

Matt Rudd

I started drinking when I reached “Stage Four Optimism”. On my third glass, as a Chinese psychologist espoused the idea of tragic optimism (“admit that life is tragic but maintain hope that the future will be better”), I started thinking, “Just dump the hippie, Laurence, and have a beer.” Which is ridiculous. Ridiculous to be reading a book called The Optimist and feeling the urge to cheer up its author. Nevertheless, there are moments of great lucidity amid the moping. Shorter meets people so profoundly, annoyingly happy that you want to reject your materialistic existence, whisk your kids out of formal education and go and live in a wood.


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The Observer

Simon Gardfield

Shorter is a snappy writer - fast, compelling, sympathetic and seemingly honest - but his book is a one-gag stand-up routine that places the rewards of a quick fix above the pleasures of deeper self-discovery. He wants to be an achiever like the people he interviews, but he settles for the possibility of his quest turning into a TV programme. The Optimist is not a useful book, and not an hilarious one, but it may make you feel temporarily better about the expansive global traumas of life.


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