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The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  34,123 ratings  ·  3,635 reviews
Weiner spent a decade as a foreign correspondent reporting from such discontented locales as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Indonesia. Unhappy people living in profoundly unstable states, he notes, inspire pathos and make for good copy, but not for good karma. So Weiner, admitted grump and self-help book aficionado, undertook a year's research to travel the globe, looking for the ...more
Paperback, 335 pages
Published January 28th 2008 by Twelve (first published 2008)
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Adina (taking a break from literary fiction)
Eric Weiner used to work as a conflict zone reporter which meant he was usually sent to less fortunate places. Moreover, he wasn't a happy person himself, more on the opposite side. One day he decides to visit the happiest countries in the world in order to find the sources of bliss, write a book about it and maybe find the key to his own elation.

The country he visited in his journey were The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Thailand, Great Britain, India. He also visited the m
May 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jenny by: travelers, self-help, geography buffs
This was a very interesting book. It's about happiness, a subject that I never realized I thought about so much. Most of my thinking is subconscious, but throughout this book I kept questioning myself and trying to decide if I agreed with most of the major ideas. I did. Here's a few of the highlights:

"Extroverts are happier than introverts; optimists are happier than pessimists (shocking!); married people are happier than singles (certainly in Utah), though people with children are no happier th
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: geography, nonfiction
Okay, not really fair to post a review, since I'm just more than halfway through (it has to go back to the library now). But: I've read enough to know that I find the book too superficial for my taste. The author covers several countries (so far: Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar), but there is nothing probing in his method. He stays a few weeks, talks to natives and to ex-pats and forms conclusions. Maybe the topic itself is irritating to me: talk enough about it, and it disappears. This ...more
Jason Koivu
Dec 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, humor
A sourpuss Weiner travels the world and wonders why the frick everyone's so dang happy. And I thought I was a grump!

This was actually a very fun way to "travel the world," by piggybacking Weiner on his quest to discover what might be the reason(s) one nation of people is generally happier or more depressed than another.

A good deal of the book is about the author's own discovery. Some of that is personal and un-relatable, but unless you're the most worldly person of all-time, there will be corne
Sep 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
I wanted to throw this book in a lake (unfortunately, it's a library book). At times it was funny, sure, and it was kind of interesting. But I couldn't get over its shortcomings and so I didn't finish it (maybe you think that makes me unqualified to form an opinion of it, but I don't). First off, a real gripe I have with this these pop science (I use science loosely here, because I couldn't think of another way to describe the genre) books is that they never seem to have a bibliography, or alway ...more
The subtitle of this book is One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, and I am going to cut to the chase and discuss his conclusions. You're going to want to read the book anyway, to figure out how it can be true that a very unlikely country comes in first in the happiness lottery. But do get the audio of this book. The author reads it, and as an NPR commentator, talking is his trade. He is very good at it, and is as funny as David Sedaris in parts of this reading.

"Happiness is
Mar 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I will admit that I was initially put off by the title of NPR correspondent Eric Weiner’s engaging, highly readable travelogue, The Geography of Bliss. That conjunction of the global and the delightful conjured visions of a frequently flying chick lit heroine named, without irony – you guessed it. Thankfully (happily?), the book’s title is a minor bump along the road to an otherwise largely satisfying read.

While the author’s self-confessed grumpiness kills any chance of a candy-colored happily e
Feb 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone
I laughed my way--out loud--through most of this book. It was clever, very funny, and totally enjoyable. It's written by an NPR correspondent who travels the globe searching for the place, or source, of happiness. What makes us happy, and what doesn't make us happy? It was insightful and hilarious, peppered with quotes from philosophers (from Russell to Nietzsche), scholars, and spiritual leaders.


Just read it again for book club and enjoyed it the second time, though I was much more
Feb 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2009
This is a late entry in the glut of “science of happiness” books that peaked a couple of years ago. The best among those books was Daniel Gilbert’s “Stumbling on Happiness” and, while this book is not without a certain charm of its own, it poses no serious threat to Gilbert’s supremacy. It might seem as if this ground has already been covered more than adequately, but Weiner is smart enough to have come up with a reasonably appealing, and effective, gimmick. Instead of just giving yet another pr ...more
Susan Johnson
Apr 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was surprised at some of the happiest places on Earth and not surprised at others. I remember when I first read Alexander McCall Smith's Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency and was surprised at how happy they were in Botswana. It just goes to show that there are many factors that make people happy. I mean both Qatar and Bhutan are two of the happiest places and they are very different. Its an interesting perspective. ...more
Feb 09, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: unfinished
I could not finish this book. Weiner takes a tone that grated on my nerves. Yes, the topic of happiness is fairly high stakes, and instead of treating it with gentleness and respect, he takes a flippant tone. He seems less interested in educating us about the various cultures he studies and more interested in showing off how witty, well traveled, sarcastic and self-deprecating he can be. After reading the intro chapter and the chapter on the Swiss, I felt as though I was stuck at a dinner party ...more
Dec 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing

I want to be Eric Weiner and travel the world and talk to people and learn about happiness and learn about culture (and lack there of) and learn about ... everything.
I don't want this book to end, I love it so much. And that's saying something, considering it's nonfiction.

I am contemplating buying 10 or so copies of this book, wrapping them with a ribbon, and passing them out to people I encounter as an altruistic Christmas present. I think t
Jul 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. Not only is Weiner brutally honest (and laugh-out-loud funny because of it), he is a great storyteller but never, ever tells you what to think. There were times that I questioned my own beliefs and wanted to have a bigger conversation. This is a good read for anyone. Highly recommend!

A few words of wisdom gleaned from the pages:

"Maybe happiness is like this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else. Maybe it is simply easie
Mar 14, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: room-101
What's the chances of this - three raspberries in a row!

How can the only stop in Holland be Rotterdam to give an anaylsis that the Netherlands is not where you would find bliss!

♥ Sandi ❣
3 stars

I don't think I found this book as enjoyable as some others did, but I did find bites and pieces of it amusing and/or educational.

I definitely agree with one quote from the book however...

"We may be fairly happy now, but there's always tomorrow and the prospect of a happier place, a happier life. We never fully commit. That, I think, is a dangerous thing. We can't love a place, or a person, if we always have one foot out the door."

I also liked this quote...

"There is one simple question,
Timothy Urges
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
There are some insightful comments about happiness and the human condition made throughout this book, but there are also several off-putting comments. Weiner can come off as too critical of other cultures and makes xenophobic statements. I did not appreciate that.

Read for class.

Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
I loved American journalist Eric Weiner's dry humor as he describes his recent romp around the world researching different societies and their philosophies on happiness. During his travels to the Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Quatar (Persian Gulf), Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, India, Great Britain and finally back to the USA, he learns so much about various ethnic groups and what is and is not important to their overall contentment. My favorite chapter happened to be the visit to Iceland whe ...more
Shay Dawn
Apr 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
There are a lot of good things about this non-fiction book. The reader travels through many different countries and experiences many different cultures. The people that Eric Weiner talks to are interesting, with complex pasts.

But there are many, many negatives. It's hard to like Eric Weiner (pronounced Whiner), who also travels to these countries with you. The way he talks about women... his wife probably read the book a blushed in multiple parts. He describes, very detailed, the breasts of a s
K.D. Absolutely
What makes people happy?

This basically is what this book tries to answer. It does not offer solution to unhappiness. As the author Eric Weiner puts it, he only hopes his reader to have something to "chew on". Boy, Weiner offers a lot of stuff that his readers could chew and afterwards either swallow or spit out. They are so many that I did not know which to one to pick, remember or forget.

The reason why they are so many is that Eric Weiner, an American, is a foreign correspondent for Natio
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Hilda by: Michelle
I really enjoyed "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner. In the book Weiner, an NPR correspondent, travels across the world to understand why people are happy or unhappy. In the process he ponders on his own happiness or lack thereof. You will do the same when you read it.

Far from a dry, scholarly sociology study, the book is totally readable and at times very, very funny. In addition to the "happiness studies" we learn a little history and a lot of culture about the various countries. We also
Larry H
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
I don't know what appealed to me most about this book--the concept of a traveler scouring the globe for the happiest places in the world, or the fact that the author is a self-labeled "grump." This was a terrific concept, well-researched and captivating from start to finish. Eric Weiner thoroughly investigates what makes people happy in a number of different countries, from the Netherlands and Switzerland to Bhutan and Thailand, and even stops in a "miserable" country along the way. I learned mo ...more
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A book everyone should read. It's not sappy, lame or filled with useless information. It's not the kind of book where for ten minutes I feel awesome and then forget about it. It's a re-evaluation of happiness. Happiness is transient and complicated. It's fleeting, yet in our field of vision at all times. If I may use such a cliché, this is a profound study of what makes us happy; and right now, it's a cup of coffee and my dog. That's all I need at this very moment. Who knows what it will be in t ...more
Oct 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Megha by: Ritika Gupta
This was a delightfully funny read. (It made me realise that I don't have any shelf here for books that made me laugh. Says a lot about my usual choices of books I guess!)

It's a book that tries to figure out one of those insurmountable questions of life. Are you happy? And if you are, what makes you happy? As a reader you're taken around the world from Switzerland to Bhutan to Qatar to Moldova, among other places. India features as the penultimate country, and how I wish this chapter was done a
Sarah Sammis
Jul 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: released
Inspired by research done in the Netherlands on the World Database of Happiness (page 7), NPR correspondent and self proclaimed grump Eric Weiner decided to travel to the happiest countries in the world to see if he could figure out the secret of happiness.

Weiner's tour included The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India and home to the United States (Florida). Like so many recent travelogues the book quickly stops being about the research and
Julie Reynolds
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this book not to find the happiest place on Earth but to try and improve my abysmal grasp of world geography. I ended up learning something about both the world and happiness. I even underlined things. The grouchy, world-weary Eric Weiner is clearly searching for his own bliss and this is sometimes tiresome, but often very funny and occasionally inspirational (hence the underlining). There is some science in this book, and it turns out the secret to happiness isn’t really a very ...more
Jan 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Thanks GR for reminding me about this. I don't remember much, but I do remember it was interesting.

ETA 2012 - ironically, I do remember even now some general principles that Bliss discusses that I wish more people understood and implied. Some of the ideas keep coming up in many of the psych books I've been reading since. For example, 'the paradox of choice' principle - we get frustrated if there's more stuff out there than we can use, because of the feeling that we must be missing out on somethi
Jan 22, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel, humor, kirkus
This book makes an attempt to figure out what makes people happy and if perhaps some countries are more conductive to happiness than others. Can happiness be equated with living in a democratic, safe societies? How does money, power, family and friends, religion, trust, homogeneous versus heterogeneous cultural surroundings influence happiness. Some of the conclusions are not as straightforward as one would think. To what extent are people influenced differently? What seems to works in Thailand ...more
Being a cynic myself, I loved the title of the book. The author, an NPR correspondent, provides a humorous and witty account of his travels around the world in search of the happiest places in which people live. His goal was not to find what makes people happy but rather locating the geographic area where there appears to be an abundance of happiness. The author's witty sarcasm is better appreciated listening to the audio version. I found it a laugh out loud informative book. ...more
I so enjoyed reading this book that I slowed in my reading of it so I could savor it and make it last longer - I guess it made me happy?.?.
Now I'm going back through the book to all the sticky notes I placed to read further on various topics, including more by this author - I appreciate his candidness and humor and look forward to reading more.
Dec 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, non-fiction
This travel memoir had me laughing. It was interesting hearing how different cultures in the world define and seek happiness.
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Eric Weiner is best-selling author of such books as THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS, THE GEOGRAPHY OF GENIUS and the just-released THE SOCRATES EXPRESS.

His books have been translated into more than 20 languages. A number of high schools and universities have incorporated them into their curricula. Weiner is the recipient of the Borders Original Voices Award, and a finalist for the Barnes & Noble Discover

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