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The Geography of Bliss


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The grumpiest man on the planet goes in search of the happiest place in the world

About the Author

Eric Weiner spent a decade as a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio in the US. He has been based in New Dehli, Jerusalem and Tokyo and has reported from more than thirty countries. He's also served as a correspondent for NPR in New York, Miami and, currently, Washington D.C. Weiner is a former reporter for the New York Times and a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. After travelling the world, he has settled quasi-happily, in the Washington area, where he divides his time between his living room and his kitchen.


Fortified with Eeyoreish fatalism-"I'm already unhappy. I have nothing to lose"-Weiner set out on a yearlong quest to find the world's "unheralded happy places." Having worked for years as an NPR foreign correspondent, he'd gone to many obscure spots, but usually to report bad news or terrible tragedies. Now he'd travel to countries like Iceland, Bhutan, Qatar, Holland, Switzerland, Thailand and India to try to figure out why residents tell "positive psychology" researchers that they're actually quite happy. At his first stop, Rotterdam's World Database of Happiness, Weiner is confronted with a few inconvenient truths. Contrary to expectations, neither greater social equality nor greater cultural diversity is associated with greater happiness. Iceland and Denmark are very homogeneous, but very happy; Qatar is extremely wealthy, but Weiner, at least, found it rather depressing. He wasn't too fond of the Swiss, either, uncomfortable with their "quiet satisfaction, tinged with just a trace of smugness." In the end, he realized happiness isn't about economics or geography. Maybe it's not even personal so much as "relational." 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. (Jan.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"Part travelogue, part personal-discovery memoir and all sustained delight, this wise, witty ramble reads like Paul Theroux channeling David Sedaris on a particularly good day...Fresh and beguiling."" * Kirkus Reviews *

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