The Geography of Bliss

Review  tgobbyew 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.

Photo 5Don’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



30 thoughts on “The Geography of Bliss

  1. Yay! I inspired someone to pick up a specific book! I really liked the hope aspect of the book as well – happiness is always there if you choose to be. Now I have to re-read my own post though! I remember some of the discussion my book club had about it and just thinking about being happy makes me happy!

  2. I read this one a couple of months ago and agree with everything you said! I liked it, but I was a little disappointed with how he handled some chapters. Especially the US chapter! I wanted so much more!

  3. And I think that soon your review will be the cause of me buying this book. 😀 It sounds wonderfully light and fun and well, happy! And I’m all for happy…one of the many reasons I like hanging out here. Your happy spirit and positive attitude always leave me feeling happy! 😀

    And I LOVE that photo!!!!!!

  4. I hope I get to read this one, soon. It’s on the towering TBRs.

    Yes, you do look happy! And, I think there’s actually some scientific evidence that people who have pets are calmer, happier and live longer.

  5. Aww, this book sounds great. I need something happier at the moment, I think. Also, I’m a major sucker for the half price table at Borders (and probably every other bookstore). I get some good books there!

  6. “Humorous, gently sarcastic yet hopeful” –> I cannot resist there words combined! And things like poverty, illness, violence, loss of loved ones and other misfortunes I’m probably forgetting aside, I agree that we’re as happy as we decide to be.

    Love the photo. You DO look happy 😀

    1. Nymeth, I think that’s the power of a strong belief in the right to be happy – an acknowledgement that life is HARD and yet we have the power not to let it get us down. Not to ignore and pretend that bad stuff happens but to confidently work towards making the world a better place. and it has to start with a positive attitude. At least, I think that’s the point…

  7. You do look very happy 🙂

    I do hate the generalizing of people who have pets are happier. I don’t like pets and that means I’ll never be happier than some of the other happy people. I don’t like the thought of that…hmmm.

  8. That is a fantastic photo! “Bliss” is a great word … I’m not a big fan of Joseph Campbell, but didn’t he popularize (commercialize?) the saying “follow your bliss” (which I do like)

    I’ll take a closer look at THE GEOGRAPHY OF BLISS; thanks for your review, and for linking to others (in agreement and not-so-much) for other opinions.

    1. Dawn, I have no idea if Joe Campbell said anything of the sort. I do like the BLISS chocolate candies… Thanks for the comment and the compliment.

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  10. I just read this on my cross-country road-trip and wondered which states were the happiest as well! I’ll post a review soon. I’m glad you enjoyed the book!

    1. Celia, I know – it fascinates me. I wonder – based on the cold hard climate idea if Minnesota is a happy place? or Alaska? Looking forward to your review.

  11. nuttyphilosopher

    I’m currently reading this book and also blogged about it. I absolutely just love his sense of humor and it does educate you on the geography and culture of the countries that he visited. Like, Bhutan just recently got TV in 1999…wow…

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  14. Ok well now I read this and you do say you want to visit Bhutan in here! For some reason I always thought it some Northern European country that was the happiest, like Sweden, because they got so many government benefits?

    1. I seriously doubt if many govt benefits makes somebody happy. Maybe that is my Republican-tendencies (cynicism) coming through. And no, I don’t necessarily vote Republican… 😛

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