Online Book Club: A Short Guide to a Happy Life

Anna Quindlen is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and bestselling author. A quote from her website reads:9780375504617_p0_v1_s260x420 "Almost every time I read one of her columns, I have the feeling that she has climbed into my head, pulled out my jumbled thoughts and rearranged them onto the page so that they make sense. She is clear and eloquent, opinionated and political. Devoted to both her family and her career, wildly successful in both. In short, she is everything I aspire to be."

At this point you may be wondering two things:

1) Why am I initiating an online book club post after a long hiatus from this column?

2) Why would I choose to highlight Anna Quindlen, an outstanding author but not known for writing any books that focus on teaching piano, using apps, or even music for that matter?

To answer the first question: Dorla Pryce, colleague and good cyber friend thanks to connecting at past NCKP conferences, asked if I was ever going to continue the Online Book Club and had some ideas for future books. Of course, this jolted me back to my original intentions and therefore, the book club is back in action. Stay tuned to hear more of Dorla's ideas!

Next, before we delve into books specifically for you the piano teacher, student, artist, professor, whatever your music profession, I thought it might be good to share a book that I received from my mother years ago that simply feeds the soul and offers a sound perspective. Let me explain...

What I notice is that I get caught up in my work-

  • as a piano teacher devoted to develop fine piano students and please parents
  • as a fellow colleague compelled to include cutting-edge lesson activities inspired by others around the globe
  • as a pianist and organist driven to practice towards perfection for each Sunday service
  • as a blogger challenged to write unique posts that intrigue, teach and inspire
  • as a Facebook friend eager to post a standout status update or comment
  • as a mom...
  • as a wife...I could go on and on.

Overall, it seems a great deal of my life is trying to do my best, but...never feeling like I quite make it to "my best."  Am I the only one that at times

  • feels insecure about achievements in this lofty music profession?
  • doubts teaching abilities when students seem to move backwards instead of forwards?
  • endures incredible blunders when performing?

I assume I'm not alone but we all know, in reality, these feelings are distorted and unfounded but can make one feel less than successful and yes, less than happy. That's why I'm recommending Anna Quindlen's book, A Short Guide to a Happy Life, as "I have the feeling that she has climbed into my head, pulled out my jumbled thoughts and rearranged them onto the page so that they make sense."  (I also like her book Being Perfect.)

So...welcome back to the Online Book Club at

Order your copy of  A Short Guide to a Happy Life and start reading. It won't take you long as this is a brief guide. As we all know, some of the best treasures are in small packages.

Here's a couple of questions to ponder. Write your answers in the comment section if you wish:

  1. Do you find yourself relating your happiness level according to your latest successes? Why or why not?
  2. What does Quindlen mean by "happy?"
  3. What experience have you encountered that helps you maintain the "happiness" Quindlen describes?
  4. What's your favorite quote?

Here' mine right now: "No man [woman] ever said on his [her]deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office [at the piano, at the computer, on Facebook...]." p46.

Book Club

Want to learn more about the brief history of the online book club at See the links below.

  • More book club details here.
  • To join, sign up here.
  • First discussion here. Theme: "We cannot continue to teach the same way we were taught"
  • Second discussion here. Theme: "What does the “finger” print of your studio look like?"


In case you haven't purchased a copy, here's a reminder of one more book that deserves a spot on your library shelf (in my opinion.)

Still contemplating? James Ramos, a highly respected colleague, teacher and incredibly active in the California music teacher associations sent me this note:

"Hi Leila, wanted to give you a heads-up that your book will be featured in my talk at the upcoming California Association of Professional Music Teachers (CAPMT) conference. I was very impressed by your book and will include it in my discussion of innovative ideas for music teachers."
Thank you, James. I can't wait to share what innovative project James is producing at the moment--blog forthcoming. In the meantime, order The iPad Piano Studio: Keys to Unlocking the Power of apps here..
iPad Revolution-Book-Comp-4 2


Leila's not all black and white