This book uses a beguiling mixture of travel, psychology, science and humor to investigate not what happiness is, but where it is. Are people in Switzerland happier because it is the most democratic country in the world? Do citizens of Singapore benefit psychologically by having their options limited by the government? Is the King of Bhutan a visionary for his initiative to calculate Gross National Happiness? Why is Asheville, North Carolina so damn happy?
With engaging wit and surprising insights, Eric Weiner answers those questions and many others, offering travelers of all moods some interesting new ideas for sunnier destinations and dispositions.
©2008 Eric Weiner; (P)2008 Hachette Audio
"In the end, Weiner's travel tales - eating rotten shark meat in Iceland, smoking hashish in Rotterdam, trying to meditate at an Indian ashram - provide great happiness for his readers." (Publishers Weekly)
Thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven't listened to many books - but the author does a great job here. His narration was fun, fluid, and when he makes attempts to replicate accents, it's funny. He does Arab accents, new york accents, Thai, British, and it's not always good, but always funny.
The book starts strong and starts to lose it's intensity toward the end. The first countries seem to take hours to investigate, but he seems to rush through the last few places which include; Florida, North Carolina, England and India.
Basically, Weiner, uses an academically based "Happy Scale" to find the happiest places on earth. The scale is measured on a number of attributes. These attributes are given good exploration at the beginning. If anything, it is the basis for the entire book. Each visit, incidentally, seems to confirm the scale's validity.
It starts in the Netherlands at a hash bar and just gets more colorful from there.
In his search for happy people, he decides to visit an unhappy place; Maldova. supposedly Maldova is one of the worlds unhappiest places. Indeed, the country seems so miserable that I caught myself laughing out loud a number times. Even the Peace Corp volunteers agree (they're interviewed). The worst place was a highlight for me and the happiest places seemed far less colorful (like Switzerland). Ugliness and misery make for character I guess.
In the end, I felt as confused as the author. It was refreshing that he spared us a sanctimonious lecture on happiness and instead seemed to honestly theorize that happiness is more about basics, general rules of thumb, then anything else.
Then it ended and, man, I was sad for a few minutes..
I'm a non-fiction sort of guy, but not 100%.
One grump's search for happiness leads Eric Weiner, the author and narrator, to various countries where people are happy, or where one might at least expect people to be happy, and, for contrast, to some places where people seem to strive to be pissy and glum. The author is very knowledgeable about and shares some of the scientific research on happiness, and he learns during his travels about philosophical perspectives on happiness. Still, he does not let authoritative views get in the way of his conveying different cultural viewpoints and how others around the globe feel about the world and their place in it. Many of the people he interviews are transplants to these societies, but he mostly strives to understand why the native milieu is the way is.
Listening to this book may be preferable to reading it, since it allows Weiner's sometimes subtle, but often times blunt, wit to shine through. I found the book entertaining, informative and it broadened my understanding of different cultures. It will make you a just little more hopeful and maybe a little less miserable than you are right now.
Audible books read by their authors can be particularly enjoyable, and Eric Weiner, being a NPR correspondent, is as good as they get. He is funny, creative, and occasionally scholarly. The pace is very good and slow spots are rare and brief. If you like Bill Bryson, or just about any other social humorist, this is not to be missed.
This is a highly entertaining book - the author presents humorous snapshots of a variety of people in locations all over the world and does this in a witty and clever way. It's David Sedaris without the crude edge - and very much along the lines of Bill Bryson - the author has a good eye and a gift for sharing his observations in a way that is never dull. I loved it!
This book is a skillful blend of travelogue (short vivid impressions of the physical place, lots of recounted conversations with the people who live there) and research into the science of happiness. The research is presented clearly and simply and is integrated smoothly, always tied directly to the author's experience in whatever country he is in. The author calls himself a grump, but in truth, I didn't find him all that grumpy: he was self-deprecating and usually quite funny and open to the people he meets along the way.
Nicely-paced, expressive narration by the author. A small point: I loved the music at the start of every chapter!
What a great read. The Geography of Bliss is a really fun book covering several exciting travel destinations. Eric is a great narrator and provides some interesting and often amusing insights to different cultures around the world. Lots of ideas for future travel plans!
I was looking for a light and entertaining listen and was not disappointed. What the extra benefit turned out to be was some very insightful glimpses of human nature in other cultures. The insights were not too heavy but thrown in as a light salting of the main dish. Well done.
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
If I had money, I think this is the quest I might undertake for myself. But as I don't have money, I picked up this book instead.
There is a lot of wisdom and a lot of ironic humor packed into this book. There's something about the accounts of personal experience that will always fascinate us, and the idea that happiness is something that can be attained "out there" is one of those great common misconceptions. The quest for personal happiness is different for everyone. Being on this quest myself, I took a lot out of the author's journey. I don't know that I'm any closer to happiness, but I was thoroughly entertained and even a bit enlightened.
It's the next best thing to being there! He describes a little about each country he visits, as well as ruminating on why things are as they are, and then a little about why we are what we are. I have listened to it several times, and it's always good. And I've had a little taste of Qatar, and the other places, just in case I never get there!
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