Friday, September 25, 2009

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

A blurb on the title page describes this book as “One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World.” Doesn’t sound too exciting, and I admit I had some trepidation, but if ever the warning not to judge a book by its cover should be heeded, this one provides a perfect example.

Eric Weiner, a foreign correspondent for NPR, traveled the world visiting places indexed by a Dutch researcher as “the happiest places on earth.” For control, he visits one country near the bottom of the list. At each place he stopped, he gathered some clues as to what makes those inhabitants feel a certain level of euphoria about their country. One interesting feature of this journey concerns the wide variety of terms he uses to express happiness. Needless to say, he comes to some rather unusual conclusions. For example, Eric must have some personal bias toward chocolate, since it pops up over and over.

The delightful style of Weiner’s (pronounced “Whiner” he tells us) reminds me of so many detailed stories on NPR, although some of these might be rated PG-13. This wonderful book will make you want to pack up and head off to your idea of a happy place. Also, have your PC warmed up and ready to Google many of the places, food, restaurants, coffee houses, and museums he mentions. One member of our book club said Weiner needed pictures. She then proceeded to pass around a dozen or so images associated with the book. “Bliss” will give your reading group as much fun as ours had last night. 6 stars out of 5

--Chiron, 9/24/09

1 comment:

MargaretBeth said...

I actually tried to listen to this as an audio book, read by the author. His narration was so lacking in light and shade, and so quick, it was totally unlistenable. (Is that even a word? It is now!)

But he's a writer, not an actor. Maybe I'll read it instead.