Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner

Paperback, 345 pgs, Pub Jan 5th 2009 by Twelve (first published 2008), ISBN13: 9780446698894, Lit Awards: Borders Original Voices Award for Nonfiction (2008)

The subtitle of this book is One Man's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, and I am going to cut to the chase and discuss his conclusions. You're going to want to read the book anyway, to figure out how it can be true that a very unlikely country comes in first in the happiness lottery. But do get the audio of this book. The author reads it, and as an NPR commentator, talking is his trade. He is very good at it, and is as funny as David Sedaris in parts of this reading.

"Happiness is one hundred percent relational," is the conclusion of the author, who quotes Karma Ura, Bhutanese scholar and cancer survivor. We can only be happy with other people, because happiness does not exist in a vacuum. We knew this, but we need to be reminded, perhaps. And there may be basic ingredients that compose happiness, but the final composition will vary around the globe. The author compares happiness to the atom carbon: arrange it one way and it is coal. Arrange it another, and it is a diamond.

I think this (audio)book is a great gift. It makes one laugh and think. It's cheaper than a therapist, safer than drugs or alcohol, and a lot more fun, perhaps, than doing the trip oneself. Although I just might buy a ticket to that place I wouldn't have expected to find on top of the list...

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