The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner

   Review by: Chris

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

Author: Eric Weiner

Collection: Adult Non-Fiction

Eric Weiner, a foreign correspondent for NPR, has certainly lived in and visited some exciting places, but none of them were particularly happy places.  A self-confessed grump, Weiner (pronounced whiner) decides to visit some happy places to see if he can figure out exactly what role environment plays in happiness.  It’s a clever premise.  Geography of Bliss is not about a certain place or a particular journey.  In fact, while Weiner does describe the appearance of most of the places he visits, it is not his focus nor are his efforts to get there.  Rather, Weiner covers a variety of obscure locations with very little in common other than the relative happiness, or unhappiness in one instance, of their populations, and his focus is on the people and their state of mind.  Each chapter of the book explores a single destination and what Weiner discerns as the general cause of its happiness.  The tone of the narrative is simultaneously witty, sarcastic, introspective, and exploratory.  I never thought I would enjoy reading about places like Qatar and Moldova, but Weiner’s approach makes them interesting, despite my very slight dislike of Weiner himself.

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