book review: the geography of bliss by eric weiner

 The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner Description from Goodreads.com:

“What makes people happy? Is it the freedom of the West or the myriad restrictions of Singapore? The simple ashrams of India or the glittering shopping malls of Qatar? From the youthful drunkenness of Iceland to the despond of Slough, a sad but resilient town in Heathrow’s flight path, Weiner offers wry yet profound observations about the way people relate to circumstance and fate.”

What makes you happy? This is a question a lot of us ask ourselves often. But author Eric Weiner posed a different question, “Where makes you happy?” Or rather, are there places where people are happier – countries whose laws and culture and lifestyle make people happier and would we be happier if we moved there?

I thought this was a really interesting premise for a sort of travel memoir / self help book. I have a pretty serious case of wanderlust teemed with an inability to live in the moment, always planning for the next big thing. Perhaps it’s a case of the American Pioneering Spirit or a side effect from a childhood spent moving often – maybe it’s just part of what makes me human. Regardless, I was very interested to see the result of his travels – to perhaps discover the Magic Land of Happiness. Instead I think I learned a few lessons about being happy where I am – and finding happiness through people instead of places or objects.

Apart from reading about different cultures and lifestyles, I really enjoyed Weiner’s writing style. He may be a self professed grump but he’s also terrifically funny and his writing was easy to digest. Stories from his life and observations made during his travels were always poignant and fun even when they maybe shouldn’t have been. A relatively light hearted read with a lot of really fascinating information – I can recommend this one safely to anyone interested in happiness or travel.

Is there a place you’ve visited or lived that you found made you happier? If you could move anywhere tomorrow, where would you go?