Review The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner, Twelve 2008, 331 pages
MOTIVATION for READING: I saw a few reviews that intrigued me, I like nonfiction, one of my favorite words is ‘bliss,’ and it was on the BOGO Half Price Table at Borders.
WHAT’s it ABOUT: A guy who describes himself as grumpy decides to travel the world looking for the happiest places. He visits a few of the not-so-happy places, too, just for even more comparisons. It’s not a highly scientific endeavor, but it was fun, interesting, light and very entertaining.
WHAT’s GOOD: I enjoyed the quips and comments of the author as he asks questions, gets personal answers and then attempts to relate to it all by bouncing his own happiness-meter reading off the situations and philosophies. He then manages to make general sweeping claims that may or not apply that particular country. After the first few chapters, I really wanted to visit the countries and experience the attitudes and lifestyles of the inhabitants. I particularly want to visit Iceland and Switzerland. Maybe even Bhutan!
What’s NOT so GOOD: He does generalize, a lot. Nothing is in depth, all is very personal and yet not too invasive. I was surprised that he doesn’t bring up any (or did I miss it?) mention that people with pets are happier than people without. But maybe I’ve only imagined THAT general happy statement.
Don’t we look happy?
He does state that people who volunteer regularly are, statistically, happier than those who don’t. So I got that going for me.
FINAL THOUGHTS: I really got a kick out of this book and truly do believe that I experienced some kind of reading happiness by traveling to the destinations described in this humorous, gently sarcastic yet hopeful book. I wish – and the book mentions that the research isn’t all in yet – that we had a list of the happiest states in the U.S. I’m curious where that would be and if I’ve ever been there. But overall, I do think I agree with something Abe Lincoln once said, that people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. If (like they recommend in Thailand), if I don’t think about it too much, I am on most days quite happy. Then again, if I do think full circle and with a grateful heart, I can’t think of any reasons not to be happy.
RATING: Four Pies
Another review that I agree with: Melissa – the Book Nut
and another review that offers a different opinion: Rhapsody in Books
and the one review (I think) that I can blame for my buying this book: Christine at Stacked