The Geography of Bliss
by Eric Weiner

Weiner 2013-03-07 at 8.30.51 PM“One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World” combines travel, psychology, science, and humor to investigate where the most contented people in the world live.

Opening paragraph:  It is a fact of human nature that we derive pleasure from watching others engage in pleasurable acts.  This explains the popularity of two enterprises:  pornography and cafés.  Americans excel at the former, but Europeans do a better job at the latter.  I once heard of a café in Tel Aviv that dispensed with food and drink altogether; it served customers empty plates and cups yet charged real money.

Quotes by critics:  “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); “Laugh. Think. Repeat. Repeatedly. If someone told me this book was this good, I wouldn’t have believed them.” (author Po Bronson); “With one single book, Eric Weiner has flushed Bill Bryson down a proverbial toilet, and I say that lovingly. By turns hilarious and profound, this is the kind of book that could change your life. The Geography of Bliss is no smiley-face emoticon, it’s a Winslow Homer.” (author Henry Alford)

Bio:  Eric Weiner, a former correspondent for NPR and The New York Times, has reported from more than three dozen countries. His work has appeared in the New Republic, Slate, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and The New York Times Magazine.  He is also the author of the anthology Best American Travel Writing.