The first and only comprehensive examination of the universal but widely misunderstood practice of grudge-holding that will show you how to use grudges to be your happiest, most optimistic, and most forgiving self.
But because Ms. Hannah really does believe in self-improvement, she wants to have her cake and eat it too: Her book celebrates grudges, but also goes into detail about how to study one’s own resentments and learn from them. For all its playfulness, this is a book about how to handle anger. And, for the most part, she pulls it off ... Ms. Hannah offers a rich array of resentment stories, mostly from her own life. They’re a lot of fun to read, in the way that advice columns are fun to read, because they remind us of ourselves ... the less-than-honest thing about this book: Ms. Hannah assures her readers that examining their grudges will bring not only insight but a kind of joy.
This is [Hannah's] first venture into nonfiction, and is — though she will inevitably bear me a grudge for saying so — an odd thing: a concept stretched to its limits, three quarters jolly, chatty self-help jargon and one quarter a personal story straining to escape. I wish she’d just written a memoir instead ... Stripped down, it’s standard pop psychology to empower and protect sensitive people from hurt. To turn pain into strength ... Is it, though, a deft psychological exercise pretending to be superficial? Or just light life-coaching for her many Twitter followers, whose grudges she sought online and used as case studies? I don’t know. I found the format too irritating, the examples of petty slights and fall-outs as tedious as TV soap opera.
The excellence of Hannah’s compendium of bones to pick is that she’d allow us to feel, like Bellow’s Herzog, that ‘If I am out of my mind, it’s all right with me’ — and bearing grudges shouldn’t make us feel that we are cracked: they should give our confidence a boost, they remind us we are alive and alert, our senses still attuned ... this is also where I began to find How to Hold a Grudge confusing. Is it a self-help book, or a parody of a self-help book? I can never tell with this genre at the best of times ... Sophie Hannah is culpable of some of this cod enlightenment, especially when she says things like ‘a sunflower isn’t a grudge, and neither is a tortoise’. Can anyone not on drugs follow what that may mean?