The Good-Enough Life

Happy New Year! To celebrate, this week's review considers striving for a 'good-enough' life, rather than one defined by greatness.

The Good-Enough Life

Alpert, Avram. Princeton, 2022
336p bibl index, 9780691204352 $24.95, 9780691204345

The Good-Enough Life book cover. White background with image of cracked bowl on the bottom of the cover.

This is an amazing and deeply inspiring book. Alpert (Princeton Univ.) employs a prose style that is wrought like fine gold jewelry. There is scarcely a page from which this reader does not wish to quote and share Alpert’s wisdom with others. But wait: to respond to the book in this way could be to fall precisely into the mind trap the author critiques, urging readers to examine the effects of the concept of “greatness” in all its manifestations (from self-care how-tos to shaping the fate of the Earth) in their own lives and how its pervasiveness affects other people. To always strive for greatness, Alpert argues, to wish for nothing more than to be at the top of the pyramid of wealth, power, or spiritual attainment, involves leaving billions of others behind. The wealth of those at the top may indeed one day contribute to miraculous changes in the way some people live, but meanwhile such wealth and the achievements it supports obscure the poverty and injustice of most people’s daily experience. Better, the author argues, to strive for a “good-enough life” for everyone on the planet, a life in which we can “reimagine the world as a place brimming with meaning, access, and creativity for all” (p. 38).

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers.
Reviewer: . R. Cornelius, Vassar College
Interdisciplinary Subjects: Environmental Studies
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Psychology
Choice Issue: Mar 2023

Enjoy this week’s review? Check out more reviews of related titles: