Wednesday, January 7, 2009

From Grumpy to Blissful???

Just out in paperback is The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, by NPR correspondent Eric Weiner. As a foreign correspondent for two decades, Weiner (pronounced, interestingly, WHINER) has traveled to 30 mostly unhappy countries, chronicling catastrophes and maladies wherever he goes. In this book, however, he chronicles his travels to some of the world's most contented places, including Switzerland, Bhutan, and Qatar. Henry Alford (author of the just-published How to Live: A Search for Wisdom from Old People) says of this book "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." And Tony Horwitz, author of Confederates in the Attic and most recently A Voyage Long Strange, says "Think Don Quixote with a dark sense of humor and a taste for hashish and you begin to grasp Eric Weiner, the modern knight-errant of this mad, sad, wise, and witty quest across four continents. I won't spoil the fun by telling if his mission succeeds, except to say that happiness is reading a book as entertaining as this."

This is what the author has to say:
"Is this a travel book? Yes, but not a typical one. While I do log thousands of miles in researching this book, it is really a travelogue of ideas. I roam the world in search of answers to the pressing questions of our time: What are the essential ingredients for a good life? Why are some places happier than others? How are we shaped by our surroundings? Why can't airlines serve a decent meal?"

"Place. That is what The Geography of Bliss is about. How place -- in every aspect of the word -- shapes us, defines us. Change your place, I believe, and you can change your life."

As for the subtitle, is he really grumpy? "Yes. I'm not particularly happy, and in that way I'm typical of my profession. Journalists are a sullen lot, perhaps understandably so, given the misery we're exposed to on a regular basis. Still, I've always had a hidden buoyancy. I'm a closet optimist. Please don't tell anyone." But through writing the book, that grumpiness has abated somewhat through the morsels of wisdom he gathered: "One of my favorites is the Thai notion of "mai pen lai." It means basically just let it go. You don't have to solve every problem right now. A simple idea, but a tremendously liberating one. I'm not exactly the Dalai Lama, but I'm definitely less grumpy than I used to be."

Give us a call (503-284-1726) if you want us to save a copy for you!

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