The Geography of Bliss

Eric Weiner

The Geography of Bliss

What makes a nation happy? Is one country's sense of happiness the same as another's? In the last two decades, psychologists and economists have learned a lot about who's happy and who isn't. The Dutch are, the Romanians aren't, and Americans are somewhere in between...After years of going to the world's least happy countries, Eric Weiner, a veteran foreign correspondent, decided to travel and evaluate each country's different sense of happiness and discover the nation that seemed happiest of all.Eric Weiner discovers the relationship between money and happiness in tiny and extremely wealthy Qatar (and it's not a good one). He goes to Thailand, and finds that not thinking is a contented way of life. He goes to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and discovers they have an official policy of Gross National Happiness! He asks himself why the British don't do happiness? In Weiner's quest to find the world's happiest places, he eats rotten Icelandic shark, meditates in Bangalore, visits strip clubs in Bangkok and drinks himself into a stupor in Reykjavik. 3.6 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
The Geography of Bliss

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Travel, Psychology & Psychiatry
Format Paperback
Pages 416
RRP £7.99
Date of Publication July 2008
ISBN 978-0552775083
Publisher Black Swan
 

What makes a nation happy? Is one country's sense of happiness the same as another's? In the last two decades, psychologists and economists have learned a lot about who's happy and who isn't. The Dutch are, the Romanians aren't, and Americans are somewhere in between...After years of going to the world's least happy countries, Eric Weiner, a veteran foreign correspondent, decided to travel and evaluate each country's different sense of happiness and discover the nation that seemed happiest of all.Eric Weiner discovers the relationship between money and happiness in tiny and extremely wealthy Qatar (and it's not a good one). He goes to Thailand, and finds that not thinking is a contented way of life. He goes to the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, and discovers they have an official policy of Gross National Happiness! He asks himself why the British don't do happiness? In Weiner's quest to find the world's happiest places, he eats rotten Icelandic shark, meditates in Bangalore, visits strip clubs in Bangkok and drinks himself into a stupor in Reykjavik.

First published in January 2008.

Reviews

The Guardian

David Newnham

Weiner is an American journalist - a globetrotting foreign correspondent. Yet he has an endearing line in self-deprecation, and is unhappily aware of the shortcomings of both his homeland (excessive introspection and ambition mire the road to bliss) and his profession (so much gloomy input distorts our outlook)... this travelogue of the human psyche is a joy to read.

19/07/2008

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The Washington Post

Daniel Gilbert

A charming, funny and illuminating travelogue... Weiner's book is so good that its occasional flaws stand out in sharp relief. He is smart and funny but doesn't always trust his readers to know that, which leads him to step on his punch lines and belabor his conclusions... One of the ineluctable laws of travel is that most companions are beguiling at the beginning and annoying by the end. Weiner's company wears surprisingly well...

20/01/2008

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The New Statesman

Salil Tripathi

Where Weiner excels is in identifying slices of life - moments of bliss - which indicate why a particular society could be happy... By the end of the book, Weiner has taken the readers on a breathtaking journey from familiar ancient philosophers such as Aristotle and Plato to relatively modern ones such as Schopenhauer and Heidegger, psychoanalysts such as Freud, pleasure-giving substances and services such as Moroccan hash and Thai massage, calming experiences in ashrams and on mountaintops... This book won't make you rich, slim, or enlightened. But, as Vladimir told Estragon, it will pass the time.

17/01/2008

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The Economist

The Economist

"Mr Weiner offers colourful observations, even when he samples hakarl, or rotten shark, an Icelandic speciality. Yet he chronicles his travels with a wearying feather-light jocularity, prizing one-liners over lucid analysis. And he fails to provide footnotes to his sources, despite relying simply on his “journalist's instincts”. Still, there is insight amid the anecdotes..."

24/04/2009

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The New York Times

Pamela Paul

The problem with “The Geography of Bliss” is one of tone....There’s a kind of forced jocularity to Weiner’s writing, as if the author were trying to affect the appropriate persona for his subject... The book is also weakened by the disconcerting fact that Weiner sometimes spends as little as two weeks in a given country... Fascinating nuggets of information are too often wedged between thunderingly obvious generalizations; pithiness occasionally veers into the trite...

30/12/2007

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