This book by H.H. the Dalai Lama may be read by those wishing an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism and by those wishing to begin or develop their practice.
The Dalai Lama attempts to answer the basic question: "How can people be happy?" His answer outlines a path of spiritual growth and practice. Although based upon Tibetan Buddhism, there is wisdom in the book for anybody seeking spiritual growth, within or without any specific religious practice.
The book consists of six short sections. It begins with a brief discussion of the life of the Buddha which, as the Dalai Lama points out, encompasses the basic teachings of the Buddhist path: morality, concentrated meditation and wisdom. The Dalai Lama then explains the basis of each teaching in short chapters. It is good that the book gives its focus to moral practice -- curing anger, lust, hatred, and agression and wishing well to oneself and others.
Chapter III of the book discusses meditation practices and will introduce the beginner to the value of meditation and to several meditation techniques. The Dalai Lama stresses the need for consistent practice and for patience and for the need of controlling one's expectations.
There are several chapters which discuss the difficult but key Buddhist teaching of independent origination. Much of this material the Dalai Lama also covers in an earlier book called "The Meaning of Life."
There is a concluding section on Tantra, a uniquely Tibetan practice. I think it is better for the average person to remain with the practices of morality and concentration described earlier in the book.
Some of the unique features of this book are the Dalai Lama's anecdotes of his life in Tibet before the Chinese Invasion of 1950 and of his teachers. There is a substantial discussion of sexuality in the book and of how it may be used (and abused) in the search for peace and kindness. (pages 192-196) There is a translation of the Heart Sutra, a key Buddhist text with a commentary by the Dalai Lama. (159-163)
I found the Dalai Lama's concluding paragraph captures much of the tenor and the value of this book (page 223):
"Though my own knowledge is limited and my experience is also very poor, I have tried my best to help you understand the full breadth of the Buddha's teaching. Please implement whatever in these pages appears to be helpful. If you follow another religion, please adopt whatever might assist you. If you do not think it would be helpful, just leave it alone."
Don't think that you should be interested in Buddism to read this book. This book is for people from all cultures, all religions, and ideologies. His Holiness The Dalai Lama is one of the more enlightened spiritual leaders we have in this world today. In his tireless work toward world peace, he has risen above the boundaries of religion, culture, race, and ideologies. In this book, the Dalai Lama has provided an instruction manual to live a meaningful and happy life. It is not quite a self-help book for people who are lost. It is more a direction for people who wants to explore deeper into this live that we are living. To me, it is more a philosophy than a religion. Read it, and come back to it a few years later. With your life experience expanding, you will find different things in this book to inspire you.