This is not your average travel novel by any means. It's more a travelogue of finding ideas about happiness through the ten countries that Weiner trav...moreThis is not your average travel novel by any means. It's more a travelogue of finding ideas about happiness through the ten countries that Weiner travels through. At each stop, he learns something different about how people perceive happiness. And while it may be true that some places are happier than others, Weiner strives to show the reader that its where we are that effects who we are and how happy we are
Weiner begins his journey in the Netherlands, where he checks happiness facts at the World Database of Happiness and learns how countries are ranked in happiness. The Bhutanese teach him that our personal achievements and failures are insignificant, and that true happiness can be found by being a person who works for the greater good of someone else, and in Qatar, he learns that happiness is equated with wealth. The Thais teach him the simple concept of mai pen lai, which basically means to just let things go, and in India he visits gurus and learns that many people seek their happiness through spirituality.
I have a healthy respect for a journalist that can write a tongue in cheek and humorous account of his travels by visiting happy places in the world. Weiner's writing style is a comfortable blend of fact and observation, and while I didn't absolutely love the book, it certainly was an eye opening look at how cultures view happiness around the world.
Weiner sums up his journey by quoting Henry Miller - “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things”.
In other words, it's not the places that he visited that made him happy, but the journeys that he took to get there.
A collection of travel essays written by a group of male travel authors. I guess women had nothing important to offer this year. I found a lot of thes...moreA collection of travel essays written by a group of male travel authors. I guess women had nothing important to offer this year. I found a lot of these essays hit and miss, as the essays weren't traditional travel narratives by any means. Nevertheless, there were some key pieces that stand out in my mind. My favorites were:
Henry Shukman's Chernobyl, My Primeval, Teeming, Irradiated Eden - A rich tale of a modern-day Chernobyl and its decline into an ancient garden of oddities.
Elliot D. Woods Garbage City - The story of a group of people called the Zabbaleens, who have worked as Cairo's informal garbage collectors for the past 70 to 80 years. They support themselves by going from door to door to collect trash for no charge. They recycle up to 80 percent of what they collect by using their pigs to eat all the organic trash. Everything else is reused and recycled.
Robin Kirk's City of Walls - A terrific read on Northern Ireland and the IRA. I read this essay out loud to my husband while we were road-tripping and we were both fascinated with the history behind the piece.
Pico Iyer's Maximum India - Exloring Varanasi, the City of the Dead, in India. Located on the banks of the Ganges in Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism. Hindus believe that death at Varanasi brings salvation.
Luke Dittrich's Walking the Border - A hike along the US-Mexican border. What a great idea for a story!