According to Hector and the Search for Happiness, there exist five families of happiness:

"First, two families of exciting happiness and two families of calm happiness.

Exciting happiness is joy, celebration, travelling, being in bed with a woman you desire.  The second family of exciting happiness is doing a job you like, wanting to attain a goal.  This could be in your work, but also in sport or gardening or even thinking about a complicated calculation if that's what you like.

And then there are two families of calm happiness.  The first is simply feeling contented and wanting that to last.  That's when you make comparisons and discover that you're happy as you are by comparison with others or with your own past.  Or when you don't compare yourself with anything at all!

The fifth family of happiness... It is happiness that comes from others: friendship, mutual love, caring about other people's happiness or unhappiness, feeling useful to others."

The skinniest book at the top of my stack contained the most accessible life lessons.  Sure, it's simplified and boiled down to an almost saccharine, artificial essence but it made its point very clearly and succinctly.  I'm currently working on those five families; I wouldn't say that I've conquered any of them at all.  To be 50% of the way on all five families at one time would be wonderfully fulfilling.  But, as Hector also learns, it is a mistake to think that happiness is the goal.  Which is the hardest family for you to get a grasp of?

The Spellman mysteries are rather entertaining and good, clean fun; I'm going to pass these books on to my younger sister this weekend.  I'm a sucker for a good mystery series.  Last year it was Mrs. Pollifax and the year before it was the Bryant and May mysteries.  When I was a pre-teen, my dad bought me the complete works of Sherlock Holmes and I have never turned back since.  The main character in the Spellman series is Izzy Spellman, a late 20s, early 30s private investigator working in San Francisco.  Nothing is ever as simple as it seems with Izzy and her knack of putting a suspicious spin on everything in life complicates her personal and professional life.  I've rather enjoyed getting to know Izzy and her family - there are three more books in the series I haven't read so be sure to look for them in upcoming "Recent Reads" posts.