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

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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 "unheralded happy places." The result is this book, equal parts laugh-out-loud funny and philosophical, a journey into both the definition of and the destination for true contentment.

Apparently, the happiest places on earth include, somewhat unexpectedly, Iceland, Bhutan, and India. Weiner also visits the country deemed most malcontent, Moldova, and finds real merit in the claim.

But the question remains: What makes people happy? Is it the freedom of the West or the myriad restrictions of Singapore? The simple ashrams of India or the glittering shopping malls of Qatar?
From the youthful drunkenness of Iceland to the despond of Slough, a sad but resilient town in Heathrow's flight path, Weiner offers wry yet profound observations about the way people relate to circumstance and fate.

Both revealing and inspirational, perhaps the best thing about this hilarious trip across four continents is that for the reader, the "geography of bliss" is wherever they happen to find themselves while reading it.

335 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2008

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About the author

Eric Weiner

5 books647 followers
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 Award.

As a long-time foreign correspondent for NPR, Eric reported from more than 30 nations, from Iraq to Indonesia, covering some of the major international events of recent times.

The Wall Street Journal said of Eric: "There are some writers whose company is worth keeping, whatever the subject… And Mr. Weiner is blessed with this gift. He is a prober and questioner, a big-hearted humanist..."

Eric is a regular contributor to The Washington Post and AFAR magazine. His work also appears in The Los Angeles Times, and other publications, as well as on the BBC and NPR’s Morning Edition. He is a popular speaker and lecturer.

When not writing, or thinking about writing, Eric is an avid cyclist and consumer of sushi (Tekka maki, in particular). He lives in in the Washington, DC area, with his wife and daughter and a menageries of rambunctious animals.

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Profile Image for Adina.
796 reviews3,065 followers
December 12, 2019
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 most unhappy country in the world according to the University of Happiness in Netherlands, namely Moldavia.

Weiner spent a few weeks in each country interviewing its citizens and expats, trying to identify what made each place happy. Every country was different, the sources of happiness went from the love for nature in Switzerland, spirituality in Bhutan and India to the importance of not being envios and collaboration in Iceland and less thinking in Thailand. The bottom line though, is that people are happier with other people, as the author concludes below

"The self-help industrial complex hasn’t helped. By telling us that happiness lives inside us, it’s turned us inward just when we should be looking outward. Not to money but to other people, to community and to the kind of human bonds that so clearly are the sources of our happiness."

I enjoyed the writing style, it was both funny and informative, ironic but also hopeful. I enjoyed listening to the author reading his own book while I was stuck in traffic, it immediately lifted my spirits. Except for the chapter about Moldavia, more on that below

"I’m not sure,” I reply. “How do you define it?” Sara thinks for a moment then says, “Happiness is your state of mind and the way you pursue that state of mind.” Aristotle said more or less the same thing, though he didn’t say it in a smoky Icelandic bar frequented by androgynous women. How we pursue the goal of happiness matters at least as much, perhaps more, than the goal itself. They are, in fact, one and the same, means and ends. A virtuous life necessarily leads to a happy life."

I have to talk a bit more about the chapter on Moldavia because I could find so many common points with us Romanians, a fact also mentioned by the author. It is common sense because Moldova was part of Romania, most of them speak my language and we all enjoyed the friendly caress of communism.

"The next order of business: finding Moldova on the map. This proves trickier than expected. I scan my atlas several times before finally locating it, sandwiched between Romania and the Ukraine, two significantly unhappy countries in their own right. Misery loves company."

"My favorite, though, the expression that sums up this country, ties it into a neat little package and sticks a bow on it, is: “Nu este problema mea.” Not my problem. A country with so many problems yet nobody’s problem. Nobody takes ownership. Luba’s apartment building, for instance, desperately needs a new water pump. (That explains the strange noises.) She tried to get people to pitch in—it would benefit everyone—but nobody would. No one is willing to contribute money to something that will benefit others as well as themselves."
– yup, I hear this way too often. Recently we started to realize that yes, it is actually our problem as the author writes later: The bullet hit you as well. You just don’t feel the pain yet. Or as Ruut Veenhoven told me: “The quality of a society is more important than your place in that society.” In other words, better to be a small fish in a clean pond than a big fish in a polluted lake.

Envy, that enemy of happiness, is rife in Moldova. It’s an especially virulent strain, one devoid of the driving ambition that usually accompanies envy. So the Moldovans get all of the downsides of envy without any of its benefits—namely, the thriving businesses and towering buildings erected by ambitious men and women out to prove they are better than everyone else. Moldovans derive more pleasure from their neighbor’s failure than their own success. I can’t imagine anything less happy. – very familiar again, some say that it was better under the communist regime because then at least nobody had anything. Which wasn’t entirely true. If you knew how to get by, you were cunning enough and kissed the right asses you had more. Unfortunately, that spirit is still very much alive in my country.

Moldovans, it seems, treat the dead better than the living. You should see our funerals and all the rituals after that. It makes one go insane.

The seeds of Moldovan unhappiness are planted in their culture. A culture that belittles the value of trust and friendship. A culture that rewards mean-spiritedness and deceit. A culture that carves out no space for unrequited kindness, no space for what St. Augustine called (long before Bill Clinton came along) “the happiness of hope.” Or as the ancient Indian text the Mahabharata says: “Hope is the sheet anchor of every man. When hope is destroyed, great grief follows, which is almost equal to death itself.” In a nutshell that’s what living under communism does to a nation’s soul.

Profile Image for Jenny.
327 reviews24 followers
June 26, 2008
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 than childless couples (surprising); Republicans are happier than Democrats (I'll have to ask Jeff about that one); people who attend religious services are happier than those who do not; people with college degrees are happier than those without, though people with advanced degrees are less happy than those with just a BA (damn that MBA); people with an active sex life are happier than those without (no comment); women and men are equally happy, though women have a wider emotional range; having an affair will make you happy but will not compensate for the massive loss of happiness that you will incur when your spouse finds out and leaves you; people are the least happy when they're commuting to work (I could have told you that); busy people are happier than those with too little to do (could have told you that too); wealthy people are happier than poor ones, but only slightly (surprising)."

Most of all this book made me want to travel. I'd love to really spend some time in different countries, and get to know the people and their culture. My brief stay in London taught me invaluable lessons (some of which shall not be named here), but one major lesson I learned was that people in foreign countries think differently. I knew they dressed differently, ate differently, talked differently, but realizing that they THOUGHT differently was an important revelation. It's made me more tolerant.

Another particular point that stood out was the concept of thinking. We certainly believe that thinking and analysis are important, but the Thais don't think so. One of their expressions is "Don't think too much." I like this concept. I know, I'm a teacher, I should encourage thinking. And I do. I think that examining ideas, literature, cultures, politics, etc. is very important. I'm grateful to my higher level math classes for helping me to think through complex topics. However, I think many of us have taken it too far. Think just a minute about Seinfeld. The show drives me crazy. I know everyone everywhere loves this show, but it just makes me tense. They spend the entire show talking about nothing, nitpicking every detail of everything. And they're miserable. You know they are. We're told that the examined life is a good life, but I think that can go too far. I'm not advocating ignorance, stupidity, or small-mindness; I'm just saying that most of what we spend our lives thinking and worrying about doesn't really matter. As a side note, they don't sell a lot of self-help books in Thailand, or England, or anywhere else really other than the U.S.

Here were Weiner's conclusions: "Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude....Our happiness is completely and utterly intertwined with other people: family and friends and neighbors and the woman you hardly notice who cleans your office. Happiness is not a noun or a verb. It's a conjunction. Connective tissue."

I like that. I put this book down with a sigh and thought "That was a good book." I'll try not to overthink it now.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 1 book18 followers
October 19, 2009
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 always cite their sources. I mean, the author is no researcher, but still he quotes a whole lot of other works, which it would be nice if he had collected them at the back (and not, dare I say, too hard). In addition, he showed moments of extreme cultural insensitivity. Clearly, the question "are you happy" is not always an appropriate one to ask. Take when he was in Qatar. He even knew it was an inappropriate question, but asked it anyway.

Weiner is also ridiculously ethnocentric. When he talks about culture, he is referring to the American definition of 'high culture', not the definition that you should be using when doing cross-cultural research. The claim that Qatar has no culture is absurd! There is no place without a culture. Sure, it might not have its own arts, literature, music, etc., but those things are not equivalent to culture. He criticizes, ridicules even, parts of some of the cultures he visits. For instance, he sees the Bhutanese use of phalluses as an apotropaic symbol (they ward off evil spirits) and makes fun of it. This would be uncalled for and really offensive even if it was a uniquely Bhutanese custom. But no, he doesn't seem to realize that the use of the phallus to ward off evil is fairly common, and dates back at least as far as the ancient Romans.

Finally, Weiner expects to know all there is to know about a culture's view of happiness by going for a week or two and talking to a few people. This is completely outrageous and presumptious. You can't come to such broad conclusions after a week as a tourist. Basically, thanks to my being an anthropology major, I could not take anymore of this. So, I urge you to be suspicious while reading this book. If you can enjoy it, by all means, do. But don't believe that it's necessarily very true.
Profile Image for Jessica.
Author 9 books192 followers
February 7, 2009
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 has always been the case for me with analyzing humor, and maybe it's the same with happiness. Probe it, analyze it, and lo and behold: we're not so happy anymore. Or perhaps it's that his conclusions seem pretty obvious to me. In any case, Weiner's jaunty tone isn't witty or interesting enough for me, so....there you have it: I'm a grump when it comes to this book. I expected more enlightenment.
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,209 followers
February 19, 2015
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 corners of the globe touched upon here that will no doubt enlighten a musty-cave portion of your mind. For instance, I thought I knew a thing or two about Iceland, but discovered it was more minimal than I realized. I was sure I didn't know a damn thing about Bhutan or Moldova, but thanks to The Geography of Bliss I got a better sense of day-to-day life in these places.

Again, these claims of national joy and sorrow are generalizations, therefore much of this should be taken with a grain of salt. Having said that, when you are faced with stats that proclaim a country has a big problem, like say my paternal ancestors' of Finland and their issue with alcoholism and suicide (WE'RE #1!!!), it leads one to lend such studies a certain amount of credibility.

Whether scientifical or simply silly, Weiner does at least provide a good deal of entertainment value in the telling of his world-wide trek. If you've read any J. Maarten Troost, especially The Sex Lives of Cannibals: Adrift in the Equatorial Pacific, and enjoyed it, The Geography of Bliss will be right up your alley.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,396 followers
December 4, 2009
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 one hundred percent relational," is the conclusion of the author, who quotes Karma Ura, Bhutanese scholar and cancer survivor. We can only be happy with other people, because happiness does not exist in a vacuum. We knew this, but we need to be reminded, perhaps. And there may be basic ingredients that compose happiness, but the final composition will vary around the globe. The author compares happiness to the atom carbon: arrange it one way and it is coal. Arrange it another, and it is a diamond.

I think this (audio)book is a great gift. It makes one laugh and think. It's cheaper than a therapist, safer than drugs or alcohol, and a lot more fun, perhaps, than doing the trip oneself. Although I just might buy a ticket to that place I wouldn't have expected to find on top of the list...
Profile Image for Andy.
9 reviews1 follower
March 20, 2008
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 ever after, the nature of Weiner’s project insures against the opposite extreme: “What if,” Weiner writes in his introduction, “I spent a year traveling the globe, seeking out not the world’s well-trodden trouble spots but, rather, its unheralded happy places?” Candace Bushnell might not have signed up for the journey, but neither would William T. Vollmann have.

That year of traveling keeps Weiner zigzagging over an impressive swath of the Northern hemisphere, with junkets to nine countries spread across various geographic regions of Asia and Europe before return to the United States. Along the way, Weiner examines the pithy conventional wisdom on happiness – that it can’t be bought, and so on – and recent findings on the emotional state. Though Weiner hits enough global-travel clichés (a hashish bar in the Netherlands, a sex show in Thailand, an ashram in India) to make his journey recognizable, the best passages aren’t the ones that evoke place or custom but those in which the author taps locals’ minds for interpretation of their cultures’ emotional well-being. In the chapter on Switzerland, “Happiness Is Boredom,” the ongoing dialogue the author conducts with himself, his Swiss contacts and the more canonical wisdom of such thinkers as Bertrand Russell leads to these insights: the urbane Swiss owe no small part of their collective happiness to their relationship with nature, their lack of envy and ostentation to the small town-like close knitting of their social fabric. Whether or not Swiss happiness truly is boredom is another question, one whose cultural components are indirectly alluded to in the image of an ex-pat Hollywood agent nervously thumbing her Blackberry, and surprise from the Swiss that, statistically speaking, they are happy.

The further Weiner travels, geographically and culturally, the more perspicacious his book seems to become about happiness in the United States. This is partly due to the range of farther flung countries he visits. In India, though Weiner does visit that ashram and socialize among the Indian middle class, he of course glimpses that country’s endemic poverty – and concludes that, in certain fundamental ways, it is less grinding than extreme poverty in the United States, the Indian “houseless” (as Weiner refers to the indigent of India) maintaining strong social and familial ties all but unknown among the American homeless. On the other hand, the oil kingdom of Qatar is, in Weiner’s analysis, a Wahhabite Brave New World whose dry cultural well is greased with Starbucks coffee. Happiness isn’t, it seems, a reserve of iced mocha vast enough to caffeinate the world for the next hundred years.

But Weiner’s a-ha moment in an exotic country comes during a conversation with Karma Ura, who runs Bhutan’s most important think tank (which, as Weiner notes, “also happens to be Bhutan’s only think tank”). “I have achieved happiness,” Ura tells Weiner, “because I don’t have unrealistic expectations.” This perspective is so opposite Weiner’s own (“In America,” he writes, “high expectations are…the force behind our dreams and, by extension, our pursuit of happiness”) that Ura’s expounding temporarily disarms Weiner of his personal guardedness. He drops his guard to tell Ura the story of a recent visit to the hospital, scheduled by the author after be began experiencing numbness in his extremities and shortness of breath; MRI results confirmed that these symptoms were brought on by a panic attack, by hypochondria. “You need to think about death for five minutes every day,” Ura responds. “It will cure you, sanitize you.” His rationale? Human beings must be prepared for death, as most Westerners are not. Ura then reveals that he was once a cancer patient.

“Ask yourself whether you are happy and you cease to be so,” wrote John Stuart Mill. Indeed, Weiner’s findings mostly confirm the old adage about the preferability of existing as a happy Forrest Gump rather than as an unhappy Socrates. Weiner relates the story of his firing from the New York Times, which came a few weeks after the paper’s executive editor labeled his work “naïve and unsophisticated.” It is only in Iceland, where “being naïve is okay because you can always start over,” as it’s put by a relatively young music producer on his career, that Weiner finally gets over the insult. “The world, I now conclude, would be a far better place with a bit more naïveté,” writes Weiner.

But Weiner’s book suffers less from simplicity than from not treading certain paths. His travels begin in the Netherlands, with a visit to the Dutch professor who compiles the World Database of Happiness. The ostensibly scientific focus is, for all intents and purposes, mostly forgotten once the WDH has been left behind. And that’s a shame. Some of the most interesting, and promising, recent neurology research has focused on the relationship between the brain’s structure and its functioning. Could happiness be a well-wired brain? Is it possible to rewire one’s brain and thus recalibrate the happiness gauge of one’s psyche? That Weiner devotes almost no space to such questions is understandable on the one hand – it’s the geography, not the neurology, he’s after – and puzzling on the other: as Sharon Begley describes in her book Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, neuroscientists are now beginning how meditation practice actually changes the brain’s physiology; two of the nine countries Weiner visits are predominantly Buddhist; another the birthplace of the Buddha himself. And geography, like all received stimuli, influences the way we think.

The Geography of Bliss ultimately begs larger questions about the nature of happiness. To what extent is happiness a function of culture, and vice versa? And does happiness translate easily from one culture to another? Weiner’s findings suggest a negative answer to the latter, as he admits that much of what accounts for the happiness of other cultures would be an acquired taste for most in the United States.

It’s not a giveaway to say that nowhere does Weiner find utopia. The happiness he does encounter reflects in the book itself: imperfect but charming, and as stimulating for the questions it raises as for those it answers.
Profile Image for Kalin.
Author 71 books261 followers
December 10, 2013
Цялата книга получава добро обобщение в епилога си:

Парите имат значение, но не колкото си мислим, и не по начина, по който си мислим. Семейството е важно. Също и приятелите. Завистта е отрова. Също и прекаленото мислене. Плажовете не са задължителни. Но доверието е. Както и благодарността.


„Няма такова нещо като лично щастие (...). Щастието е сто процента свързано с другите хора.“ (...) Щастието не е съществително или глагол. То е съюз. Съединителна тъкан.

Ето и личните ми открития (или преоткрития), заради които я харесах със звездичка повече от обичайното:

- Чувствам се щастлив, когато ми разказват истории. Ерик Уайнър е събрал доста в странстванията си – и умее да разказва.

Горният цитат би бил едни кухи общи приказки, ако зад всяко негово твърдение не се криеха по 3-4 истории. Вместо да четете тоя отзив и кухите общи приказки в него, грабвайте „Географията“.

- Чувствам се щастлив, като се смея. Без майтап. *смея се* Ерик Уайнър притежава дар да разсмива.

(Притежава и още един, по-рядък: чувство за самоирония.)

- Чувствам се щастлив в България. След като видях, че не сме най-големите мрънкалници в Европа. След като НЕ видях страна, сред изброените десет, която да ме привлича с нещо, дето да не мога да си го открия и наоколо. След като си дадох сметка как ние тук сме тръгнали по пътя на онова щастие, което е възможно само с общи сили; което прави Исландия толкова чудесно място (стига 500 години да сте калявали гените си на оцеляване без слънце), а Молдова – толкова натъжаващо.

- Чувствам се щастлив, че съм свободен. Да спра да пиша – в този миг, сега – и да се прехвърля към финалните редакции по превода на Man Seeks God, и да ми е хубаво.

Хубаво ми е. :)
Profile Image for Karen.
837 reviews122 followers
February 11, 2009
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 with a loud, self-obsessed dinner guest who was ruining my ability to experience the food and interferring with my ability to connect with the other dinner guests.

An interesting premise, but I wish someone would write this book in a direct, clear, snark-free manner.
Profile Image for David.
865 reviews1,283 followers
February 14, 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 presentation of the experimental work and its conclusions, he packages his whole investigation as a travel memoir. As a correspondent for NPR, Weiner spent ample time reporting from the world’s trouble spots. He bases his exploration of happiness on the following hypothetical question:

“What if I spent a year traveling the globe seeking out ... the world’s ... unheralded happy places? Places that possess one or more of the ingredients that we consider essential to the hearty stew of happiness: money, pleasure, spirituality, family, and chocolate, among others.”

So he began by traveling to Rotterdam to meet with Ruut Verhoeven, “Professor of Happiness Studies”, who grants him access to the “World Database of Happiness”, the largest and most comprehensive repository of quantitative data about the relative happiness of people in different countries around the world. Weiner describes the research findings as “alternatively obvious and counterintuitive, expected and surprising”. He proceeds with a thumbnail sketch of the effects of key factors on happiness:
“Extroverts are happier than introverts; optimists are happier than pessimists; married people are happier than singles... ; Republicans are happier than Democrats; ... people with college degrees are happier than those without, though people with advanced degrees are less happy than those with just a BA; people with an active sex life are happier...; women and men are equally happy, though women have a wider emotional range; having an affair will make you happy but will not compensate for the massive loss of happiness you will incur when your spouse finds out and leaves you; wealthy people are happier than poor ones, but only slightly.”

It seems that Weiner was really suffering from severe wanderlust, because he provides only a perfunctory discussion of the results summarized above, focusing instead on trying to get a geographical handle on happiness, that is, to identify countries at the high and low extremes of the distribution of happiness scores. This leads him to the choice of countries he reports on in the book: Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India, and the U.S. These particular destinations seem to have been chosen partly for their utility in helping to illustrate key results gleaned from happiness research, partly for their desirability as places to visit. (It’s obvious that Weiner had a longstanding yen to visit Bhutan; one can hardly grudge him this small pleasure, if only to compensate him for the miserable weeks in Moldova).

Most of the book then is structured as a chronological account of the places he visited, and what he learned in each. It’s a standard travel narrative, with little didactic chunks pasted in at various points (usually towards the end of the chapter devoted to a particular destination). During his stay at each location, he generally tries to interview a variety of people to ask about their thoughts on happiness; typically these subjects include one or more “experts”, random “wo(man) on the street” interviews, and any available U.S. expats. This gives him the chance to revisit the academic findings, and to discuss various aspects at greater length as the book progresses. As gimmicks go, it’s not a bad one, and the result is quite readable, without being exceptional.

It suffers from the kinds of minor defects you might expect. Not everyone he meets while engaged in his happiness tourism is interesting, or has anything useful to add, and at times you wish that he’d been a little more selective in his reporting. A more distracting flaw is that Weiner shares a weakness exhibited by many memoirists – he has a compulsive, almost pathological, need to be liked. Not just by the locals in the places he visits, but also by his readers. This leads him, on far too many occasions, to lapse into what I can only describe as a very regrettable cutesiness in his writing, which goes from just slightly annoying to fingernails-on-the-blackboard irritating as the book progresses. Discipline is not a hallmark of his style; for instance, we get sentences like this:

The prize wasn’t much ... but the event marked a major shift, what I might call a paradigm shift if I were the kind of person who used terms like “paradigm shift”.

Don’t they have editors to save writers from themselves (and readers from sentences like the one above)? Evidently not. But there are compensating moments of charm:

Its name, like all Icelandic words, is impossible for foreigners to pronounce lest they risk total and irreversible facial paralysis, so for safety reasons I will not divulge it here.

Overall, Eric Weiner is a genial, if occasionally over-eager, guide. The particular conceit that he adopts in the book, discussing the findings of happiness researchers by placing them in the context of the people and places he visits, works surprisingly well. I thought his chapter on Iceland worked particularly well. Others, such as those on Great Britain and on India, were less successful – somewhat unfocused, and lacking a coherent argument. The book would have benefited from some tighter editing. But these are minor flaws in a pretty decent book.

3.5 stars. Round as you see fit.
Profile Image for Kristen.
107 reviews4 followers
April 30, 2013
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 critical reading it with a larger group in mind.
Profile Image for sal.
171 reviews16 followers
December 15, 2008

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 this book is so positive and uplifting that many people could benefit from its message.

I really felt happier after reading certain chapters of this book. During other chapters, I just wanted to learn more.

Weiner writes with a refreshing dose of humor. He reports on the happiness scale of a handful of countries with an air of disregard--he doesn't know if it is even feasible to try to gauge a country's level of happiness. However, since someone tried to quantify happiness, he trots around the globe, interviewing happy and unhappy people from these chosen countries. He asks them why their country is happy... or why it isn't. He discusses the pros and cons of their living environment, and he does it with enough humor that the reader wants to hear more.

I really like this book. I think you will like it as well.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,062 reviews200 followers
April 11, 2018
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.
Profile Image for Bettie.
9,988 reviews15 followers
March 6, 2014
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!

Profile Image for Sarah.
90 reviews
August 11, 2016
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 easier to 'be' and therefore 'be happy.'"

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

"Recording life is a poor substitute for living it."

"Several studies, in fact, have found that trust - more than income or even health - is the biggest factor in determining our happiness."

"All of the moments in my life, everyone I have met, every trip I have taken, every success I have enjoyed, every blunder I have made, every loss I have endured has been just right. I'm not saying they were all good or that they happened for a reason - I don't buy that - but they have been right. They have been... Okay. Okay is not bliss, or even happiness. Okay is not the basis for a new religion or self-help movement. But okay is a start, and for that I am grateful."

"Travel, at its best, transforms us in ways that aren't always apparent until we're back home."

"Social scientists estimate that about 70 percent of our happiness stems from our relationships, both quantity and quality, with friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors. During life's difficult patches, camaraderie blunts our misery; during the good times, it boosts our happiness."

"Benjamin Franklin, America's first self-help author, once wrote that happiness is 'produced not so much by great pieces of good fortune that seldom happen as by little advantages that occur every day.'"

"Anything too big to be swept under the carpet is automatically counted as furniture."

"Don't expect perfection, or even consistency."

"Maybe this is how enlightenment happens. Not with a thunderclap or a bolt of lightning but as a steady drip, drip, drip until one day you realize your bucket is full."

"Only a fool or philosopher would make sweeping generalizations about the nature of happiness. I am no philosopher, so here goes: Money matters, but less than we think and not in the way we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude."
976 reviews15 followers
November 7, 2021
Well, friends, save your time and money. This is a boring book. It a random travelogue about several places that the author visited. He has written a lot of stuff, mostly about his travels and who he meets. Weiner claims he is looking for the area/place that has the most bliss but he really just travels to places that have an institute or study lab or some loose coordination about bliss. He is really talking about happiness and that has been measured for decades, maybe centuries. This would not hold us for a senior thesis/term paper.
He likes to describe the people he meets and his activities (eating, being in a lab or office, or walking) with them. At the end, he says that he is not quite happy yet. Big deal. I wonder how this got published. My book club is going to "discuss" it and that is how it fell into my hands.
Skip it.
Profile Image for ♥ Sandi ❣	.
1,244 reviews1 follower
October 3, 2020
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, the answer to which identifies your true home. That question is: 'Where do you want to die?'"

A person's answer may not be the happiest place in the world - but most likely - will be home.
22 reviews
May 18, 2017
Пиша този си отзив доста време след като съм затворила последната страница на тази книга и това се поражда най-вече заради факта, че чувам само положителни отзиви от приятели. Ами не- на мен не ми хареса!
Във всяка изписана страница си личеше журналистическия подход. Въпреки, че се разглежда начина на живот в различни страни и се търси мястото, където хората са най- щастливи , което само ��о себе си предизвиква интерес, за мен беше скучновата, не добре написана, повърхностна и на много места невярна, което лично ме подразни.
Като под невярна имам предвид, че създава и описва една наистина грешна представа за живота в някои страни.
За пример давам Холандия, понеже съм живяла там ,живея и пътувам до там често, абсолютно не съм съгласна с изложеното в книгата -- все едно в Холандия само се друсаме и ходим в кварталите с червените фенери и видите ли това ни прави адски щастливи. Типично американско отношение съзрях аз. Повечето от описаните страни съм посещавала и съм се опитала да опозная до известна степен различни аспекти от живота там , и смея да твърдя, че горепосоченото отношение не важи само за Холандия.
Как можеш да твърдиш , че в Молдова хората били най- нещастни? Та на автора като журналист би трябвало да му известно, че това е пълен абсурд, колко по-бедни страни има , където хората наистина едва оцеляват. А да не говорим, че положението в повечето соц страни е едно и също. Спокойно на мястото на Молдова, можеше да бъде и България. И изобщо с какво се измерва щастието?
Единствено представата ми за Швейцария съвпадна до голяма степен с представеното в книгата.
Много наивитет лъхаше и чувството му за хумор не съвпадаше с моето. По-добре щях да го възприема, ако бяха само споделени впечатления от пътеписите му, а не опи�� за оригиналничене в търсене на щастието по света.
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
489 reviews256 followers
October 10, 2020
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.

Profile Image for Петър Стойков.
Author 3 books264 followers
May 13, 2017
Щастието е измамна гад и не е лесно да се определи не само какво те прави щастлив, ами и кога си щастлив и дали изобщо. Различните държави имат различни думи за щастие, но и тия думи имат често различно значение - докато за някои то може да е експлозивна, интензивна емоция като когато се влюбиш или ти се роди дете, за други е по-скоро спокойното задоволство всичко да ти е наред.

Ерик Уайнър преглежда класацията на най-щастливите държави по света, която някакъв професор е направил и се заема да посети поне някои от тях, за да разбере и да ни каже защо и в какво те са по-щастливи от Америка.

Наред с обичайните заподозрени - северноевропейските държави, авторът посещава Бутан, която е една бедна, забутана в Хималаите държавица, която му е интересна с това, че управляващият я крал е поставил щастието на първо място като национален преоритет. Там той се среща с главния му съветник по щастието, който му обяснява надълго и нашироко за отвореното съзнание, нирваната и т.н. без да засяга темата дали бедните и прости поданици в държавата са съгласни с него относно източника на ултимативно щастие.

Катар е интересен случай, тъй като за практически едно поколение хората там се превръщат от пустинни овчари в мултимилиардери. Да, щастието може очевидно да не е в Бутан, дето са бедни но "духовно просветлени", но го няма никакво и в Катар, дето мегалуксозните хотели и лимузини носят усещането за луксозни гробници, а суперзадоволените хора нямат никакви стремежи и смисъл в живота.

Най-очевидно щастието го няма и в Молдова, която Ерик Уайнър посещава като държавата, в която хората се определят за най-нещастни (всъщност, в повечето световни класации по този показател, България се бори за първото място с Молдова) и наблюденията му за това как живеят молдовците и как мислят удрят доста близо до болните места на българите. Да, много, много са свежи и вкусни зеленчуците в Молдова. А с нещо смислено и значимо да се похвалите?

Така книгата става по-скоро пътепис, разбъркан с леки философски разсъждения относно човешкото съзнание и битие. Забавна е и не е лоша, но май един от редакторите на Ню Хорк Таймс, който уволнил автора на младини от там с думите, че текстовете му са "наивни и повърхностни", която история авторът разказва в книгата, като цяло е бил доста прав и Уайнър не е променил стила си от тогава.
Profile Image for Margarita Garova.
418 reviews162 followers
July 12, 2019
Чудесно се забавлявах с тази книга, докато се опитвах да си намеря "модел" от страните, които Ерик Уайнър е пребродил в търсене на щастливи места. Едва ли някой ще занемее от почуда като му кажат, че такова място няма, или по-скоро има различни типове щастие. Някои го свързват със спокойното швейцарско благополучие, други го намират в тайландския непукизъм, а за трети това е прегръщането на източните религии и философии. Най-малко се идентифицирах с Катар и неприлично богатите му граждани, може би защото ексцесивните прояви на богатство винаги са ми изглеждали леко просташки. Допадна ми обаче исландското разбиране - да се провалиш е ок, да си меланхоличен също е ок, въпросът е в това да прегърнеш красотата на меланхолията и да се научиш да живееш с нея.
Книгата оборва някои доста популярни консуматорски митове, че повече пари и луксозни вещи са еквивалентни на повече щастие, и че човешките индивиди трябва да се стремят към самоцелен оптимизъм. Приемането на тъгата, заедно с другите състояния от негативния спектър с емоции, ми изглежда по-здравословния (и реалистичен) подход. Хуморът в книгата също е на ниво, многобройните цитати, препратки и референции към други изследователи на щастието, философи, мислители и учени, макар че са в изобилие, не ме подразниха. Струва ми се, че Уайнър е искал по-солидно да обоснове изводите, до които стига, и затова прибягва до тази интелектуална "патерица".
Най-много ме покърти главата за Молдова, която плашещо напомни за българската действителност. Дезориентацията на посстоциалистическите държави, примиренческият манталитет, липсата на елементарни нива на доверие, завист и пасивност са по-големи врагове на щастието от хроничната бедност.
Ще е пресилено да нарека "География на блаженството" "просветляваща", но определено си струваше да я прочета и да сверя с вътрешния си компас и разбиране за щастие.
Profile Image for Shay.
310 reviews38 followers
April 28, 2019
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 stranger on the bus / van. He goes to a Thai club, with naked women dancing on stage, and "doing things with ping-pong balls". The person who picks him up in Moldova is like nineteen, and he describes her as sexy, although he's probably almost fifty (although I don't know, he doesn't actually say his age).

This is a quote:

"Nearly all Qatari women cover themselves in public... they practice 'Wahhabi-lite' and have more fun than the Saudis. The women in Qatar, for instance, can drive and even vote."

AND (on the other end of the spectrum):

"-many others, all wearing the same microskirts, with the same raccoon makeup. My god, I think, is every woman in Moldova a prostitute? ... then it dawns on me. They are not prostitutes. They just dress that way. It's the national uniform." -pg 189 (Moldova)

Which brings into question the way he describes entire cultures by merely glancing at them:

"Qataris have no culture." -pg 117 (Qatar)

"You can tell a lot about a country by the way people drive... take the Swiss. Normally, they are upright and boring, but get them behind the wheel of a car and they become... upright and boring. Oh well. Sometimes people are exactly what they seem." - pg 103 (Qatar)

"The cops, like all Moldovan men, have a thuggish quality and look like they could use a bath." - pg 192 (Moldova)

Note: I didn't start recording quotes until Bhutan, but trust me, he said plenty of mean things about the people of Switzerland and the Netherlands as well.

Other negative things:

He views America as a savior, despite constantly mentioning we are 23rd on the happiness scale (18 as of now), he says things like:

"Their mission [the Peace Corps] is to spread a bit of American happiness around the world... that's what it is: an attempt to remake the world in our own happy image." - pg 206 (Moldova)

And he describes other languages like this:

"... pleasant hum of Icelandic chatter, funny, I think, it sounds exactly like seals barking."

I couldn't stand Eric. His character drove me crazy, very, very judgemental. As a NPR journalist, I thought he would be more down to Earth and accepting. I love NPR. I like the way they bring cultures together, how they make radio journalism interesting. But Eric is ANNOYING . What started out as funny quickly became depreciating, both of Eric himself and the others around him. There were some truly funny statements, but these were overwhelmed with negative comments. Eric tries to pass it off as sarcasm, but it's not. In countries he likes (Iceland and India) the amount of negativity drops noticeably. In countries he doesn't like (Moldova) the negativity is at frustratingly high levels.

I still give it three stars, because there were interesting characters (outside of Eric). Also, there were a lot of facts about happiness, and I love facts.

I may come back later and change to a two-star rating. I don't know.

Profile Image for K.D. Absolutely.
1,820 reviews
November 5, 2010
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 National Public Radio and has been assigned to more than 30 countries (What a job!). So, he knows what he talks about. In this book, he goes to the happiest countries in the world, i.e., Switzerland, Iceland, Bhutan, Qatar, Thailand, etc. as well as to the least, Moldovia. He also incorporated insights from: India, where happiness and misery live side-by-side; Great Britain, where happiness is in the making and USA (for he has to talk about his own country).

I bought this book thinking that Philippines was included. Most of the Filipinos I know are proud to have our country always rank high in happiest country in the world survey. Anything positive about our country in the world's eyes is something that we are always or should be proud of. After finishing 352 pages of this book, however, the only mention about Filipinos are those baristas in Qatar with no indication whether they were happy while grinding coffee or not (at least, nothing negative!). Weiner, however, included Thailand and India whose concepts of happiness, in my opinion, are similar to us Filipinos'. For example, in Thailand, like in the Philippines, we take things lightly. "We can call our fat officemate a hippo. We may get a slap, curse or a frown. But at the end of the day, we are still friends. Jokes make things light in the office" says the Thai in Weiner's interview.

So, what makes people happy? Is it money? Does culture have anything to do with it? Does living in a tropical country or a house by a beach make its people happy? Does a well-run government have an effect on its citizenry's happiness? Are religious countries more happy than others?

For me, happiness is a state of mind and it is a confluence of personal emotions. One's happiness can be a factor of his/her personal beliefs brought about by his/her upbringing, religion, education, family, dreams, etc. It is so complex to understand that I tend to agree with the Indian in the book who says that "the more you think about happiness, the more unhappy you get. Happiness should not be taken seriously"

Most of my family members and friends here in the Philippines, would probably say that money means happiness. This is what Weiner says about it: "Money matters but less than we think and not in the way that we think. Family is important. So are friends. Envy is toxic. So is excessive thinking. Beaches are optional. Trust is not. Neither is gratitude."

I agree 100% to the above Weiner formula. That's why I drop down my book whenever my wife or daughter talks to me ignoring that I am engrossed with what I am reading. Family is important. That's why I take time off just to make friends here in Goodreads. So are friends. I don't envy people getting more "likes" in their book reviews Envy is toxic ha ha!

That's why I am happy! Well, most of the time.
Profile Image for Helynne.
Author 3 books42 followers
March 13, 2009
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 where, despite the months of neverending darkness, the people are upbeat and creative, great contributors to their culture in terms of writing and music, and fiercely proud of their language ("the pure speech of the Vikings") and identity. In short, there is a correlation between creativity and happiness. The most downbeat chapter is the discussion of Moldova, a poor country between Romania and the Ukraine, which has virtually no culture, no optimism, and no desire to reach out to make other people's lives better. The one thread that runs through this psychological study is that there is a definite link between altruism and happiness. "The part of the brain linked to altrusim is also the part linked to food and sex," Weiner notes. "We're hardwired for altruism, not just faking it (202-203). He also states that "People engaged in the highest altruistic professions--nurses, clergy, physical therapists, and firemen report the greatest happiness (211). While in Quatar, Weiner says that Jean-Paul Sartre was wrong in his famous quote from "No Exit" that "Hell is other people." He says, "Hell isn't other people. Seventy percent of our happiness rests on our relationships with other people" (114). He also notes that materialistic people are not as happy as non-materialistic people. As for us Americans, we have more money today than Americans ever have had, yet we are not as happy. The self-help movement actually makes this worse "by telling us that happiness lives inside of us just when we should be looking outward; not to money, but to other people, to commmunity and to the human bonds that so clearly are the sources of happiness" (310). Lots to be learned here from a cultural and psychological point of view!
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
July 25, 2011
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 more about people, culture and history of these countries than I ever imagined I would, and ultimately, this book really made me think. If you're a traveler or have ever wondered what makes people tick, you'll really want to read this book!
Profile Image for Christina.
41 reviews1 follower
January 21, 2013
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 the next hour; but for now, I'm in the moment and it feels good.
Profile Image for Chrissie.
2,694 reviews1,478 followers
February 19, 2008
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 or in Iceland, will it work for me?! Did it work for the author? The book offers lots to think about, but of course no definite answers, although I was not looking for that anyway!

Furthermore it was amusingly written - you laugh a lot! It is also interesting to learn more about the cultures of the countries discussed - this being one of the prime reasons I chose to read the book. It was a very good book, but too get the most out of this book I think it is best to discuss it with others. I have suggested that it be discussed in the GoodReads group "Books I Want to Talk About".

I LOVED the chapter on Bhutan...... I don't think I could convert to Buddhism, but perhaps I can change how I look at things a teeny bit!
Profile Image for Megha.
222 reviews119 followers
October 22, 2020
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 little differently. I mean there is a lot that India has to offer that wasn't unpacked. Maybe that's how citizens of the other countries felt too.

I finished the book and I don't have an answer to the happiness question. But I did gain a lot of perspective on how other people view happiness - and it gave me a lot to introspect. Give me a book that makes me think and I'm a happy camper!

If you're reading this, I hope you find happiness. I hope you dance while you still can. Because what you have danced, can't be taken away!
Profile Image for Sarah Sammis.
7,185 reviews215 followers
August 19, 2008
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 becomes a blow by blow account of the journey. When Weiner pulls himself out of the picture and focuses on the culture of the place he's visiting the book is fascinating. Unfortunately, as he becomes more jet lagged he spends more of his time grousing.

The first hundred pages or so are interesting. I especially liked the chapter set in Bhutan and how it contrasted to Qatar. By Iceland, things started to wind down an his observations on human nature began getting repetitive.
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109 reviews1 follower
May 7, 2015
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 big secret, no matter where in the world one lives. Spoiler alert: bliss is not about money. Like Weiner, I too believe in “the transformative promise of geography.” All in all, it’s a good read, offering a snapshot of places in the world that I may or may not want to visit but I hope to better understand.
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