Dont Be A Cant - A Manual for Happiness

'Dont Be A Cant (A Manual for Happiness)' is Frank Bastow's first book. It's also the first book I've read that comes with a money-back guarantee if you don't get anything out of it!

Dont Be A Cant attempts to cover an entire ethos for life (in this case, taking responsibility for your own happiness) in a fun and accessible way. Hence the lack of punctuation, presumably.

Describing the book as a manual is fitting. It is essentially a step-by-step guide to building a new, happier you – an ambitious goal for any book, but ultimately it succeeds. Bastow creates reader check-points along the way which he actually requests you 'tick-off' as you complete them, like a workbook.

Any tome (however brief) that purports to be life-changing is traditionally associated with hard work and application on the part of the reader. But Bastow breaks the mold here contending that there are essentially only nine rules you need to follow to achieve personal and business happiness. To support this claim, the book is clearly made to be as succinct (and therefore brief) as possible. Bastow peppers the 'working' text with famous (and not-so-famous) quotations, humorous anecdotes from his own life and uses David Watts' light-hearted illustrations as bread to ease the digestion of the rich sandwich-filling.

He's certainly confident, - hence that money-back guarantee.

So what about that all-important sandwich-filling? Interestingly, Bastow readily acknowledges that everything contained in the book is 'bought, borrowed or stolen'. It would appear, therefore, that he has curated the contents from his own life's experiences and learnings – and in writing this book has made them more palatable than the source material so that they are easily digested.

It interests me that I'm using the humble sandwich as a metaphor for this review, as Bastow uses it himself. Perhaps the book has affected me more than I realise, as I'm now borrowing!

Realistically, the lessons Bastow shares are large ones, and therefore initially challenging to embrace. Essentially, the book encourages the reader to change, and change is often painful and scary. So to make the lessons fun is a smart move. That said, to check the tick-boxes that Bastow playfully provides, I personally feel you'll need to focus on chapters more than once. But with the evident fun and illustrations, I didn't feel that ask was too big.

The dust sheet describes 'Dont be a Cant' as "bite-size inspiration", and I think that's fair, and is also the USP of the product. So I won't be asking for my money back.

Review by: Gordon Bromley. Chairman, Academy for Chief Executives, Surrey