The Geography of Bliss

Earlier this year I read a review of a book about a self-described “grump” that travels the world looking for happiness.

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World
The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner was a perfect mix of travel writing, humor and psychology. For the most part, I don’t like travel writing. It tends to be too positive and respectful, which to me means boring. The author not only told the good and bad, but he did it honestly through the eyes of an American Grump.

When I returned from Parati, Brazil, I wrote some snide blog about how this historical town had the modern smell of raw sewage. Well I received an angry comment on how I was a stupid American seeing the world through my rose-colored Southern California lenses. I took down the comment. Seems travel writing is only supposed to be positive.

Bad travel writing:

The city was a cesspool of crime.

Good travel writing:

Had my kidnapper not dropped me off at the top of that road, I would have never got to see the beautiful sunrise from the top of the favelas during my trip to Rio de Janeiro.

The author visited the following places in search of happiness:

  1. Netherlands
  2. Switzerland
  3. Bhutan
  4. Qatar
  5. Iceland
  6. Moldova
  7. Thailand
  8. Great Britain
  9. India
  10. America

Before reading this book, Thailand was in my top 5 places to visit. It is now clearly number one. India has dropped a few slots.

This is not the best travel book. That honor goes to Robert Young Peltons The Worlds Most Dangerous Places (RYP: please write a 6th edition). This is not the best book on the psychology of happiness. That honor goes to Daniel Gilbert’s Stumbling on Happiness. But this book is a brilliant balance of travel, humor and psychology. I highly recommend it.

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MAS

Critical MAS is the blog for Michael Allen Smith of Seattle, Washington. My interests include traditional food, fitness, economics, and web development.