Andrew O’Hagan takes aim at the happiness industry:

I don’t know if people had ‘personal goals’ in previous centuries. People certainly had ambitions, perhaps even, though I doubt it, the ambition to live a happy life. But since the 1990s it’s the idea of having ‘one shot’ at happiness that has taken hold. Only One Shot makes it plain that a failure to grab that chance is nobody’s fault but one’s own. ‘According to the World Health Organisation,’ the book’s author, Randall Scott Rogers, reports, every year in the US ‘33,000+ people commit suicide, 400,000+ people attempt suicide, 17 million suffer depression, 27 million suffer alcohol and drug addiction, 60 million suffer some form of mental illness, and $11 billion is spent on self-improvement books, CDs, seminars, coaching and stress-management programmes.’

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