2015. Israel/USA. Dir: Natalie Portman. With Portman, Amir Tessler. 95 min.
Portman’s directorial debut adapts the memoir of Amos Oz, who spent his post-WWII youth in what was then Mandatory Palestine, a region on the cusp of partition and civil war. Young Amos reflects on his mother (Portman), a European immigrant whose grimly recounted stories signal a deepening depression.
It’s a tough thing to make an 8:30 am class happy, even the cheery subject of International Politics. But the other day, one of my classmates brought in this little composition book and passed it around. And you know what? It cheered me up, and the rest of the class too.
That classmate was Samara Prywes ’17, and the composition book was her “Happy Book”— which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Each line of the books is filled – or almost filled – with a simple statement or item that a person said made them happy. And a person maybe contributed a page, or only had a few points to add, then passed it on to the next person in class, and so on and so forth. By the end, it’s pretty much just a crowdsourced list of what improves people’s mood, or makes them smile, or makes their day, or fills them with that sense of fuzzy warmth. Just the little things, you know?
I asked Samara about the book, how she came up with the idea, and also some of her favorite inclusions:
I got the idea for it 2 summers ago at sleep-away camp. It was a camp fad. I ask pretty much all my friends to write in it, as well as anyone else who wants to. I don’t even know how many people have written in it so far, but it’s in the 6000s. [Writer’s note: I’m pretty sure my entries started round #6600.]
I think it’s great because people don’t think about what makes them happy enough. I’m talking about the simple things. Like: 1898: “when my dog falls asleep feet up” 2174: “waffle fries” 3146: “80s rock n’ roll music” 4519: “drake and josh” 4650: “when my house smells like brownies”