Homer's Travels: Book: Eric Weiner's "The Geography of Bliss"

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Book: Eric Weiner's "The Geography of Bliss"

When I think of happiness, I generally don't associate it with a place. True, a place can facilitate happiness but happiness, and unhappiness, can occur everywhere. With this preconception I read about NPR reporter Eric Weiner's search in his book "
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World."

Weiner starts his search in the Netherlands where a professor has compiled a database of happiness and has
ranked nations by their level of happiness. The author proceeds to travel to different countries to ask the question "Are you happy?" He picks different countries based on their happiness level and the apparent reason for their happiness to illustrate the different things that make us happy. Freedom, drugs, orderliness, philosophy, religion, money - all things that contribute to the happiness of people but, as expected, all these things make it easier to be happy but doesn't really make us happy. In the end, happiness is home, family, and friends.

Each chapter covers a different country. The most interesting of the chapters was a contrary one - Moldova, a country near the bottom of the happiness scale. Weiner went there figuring that he would feel happier once he'd experienced the Moldova Gloom but Moldova just drug him down into a deeper pit of curmudgeoniness. After reading this chapter, I can safely remove Moldova from my list of places to go.

I like Weiner's style. He is a grump with a sense of humor and I was smiling through most of the book. I like curmudgeon humor. I can't say I learned much about happiness from this book but I was entertained and my happiness level, for a brief moment, was boosted.

Mildly recommended when in need of light reading.


  1. I liked it too. You'd probably enjoy Paul Theroux's travel books - he's a great grump

  2. Great, another book to add to the list... ;)

  3. BM: I'll have to check them out.

    GH: Your book list can never be short but the time to read is always too short.