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The Geography of Bliss: 08/18/08
Inspired by research done in the Netherlands on the World Database of Happiness (page 7), NPR correspondent and self proclaimed grump Eric Weiner decided to travel to the happiest countries in the world to see if he could figure out the secret of happiness.
Weiner's tour included The Netherlands, Switzerland, Bhutan, Qatar, Iceland, Moldova, Thailand, Great Britain, India and home to the United States (Florida). Like so many recent travelogues the book quickly stops being about the research and becomes a blow by blow account of the journey. When Weiner pulls himself out of the picture and focuses on the culture of the place he's visiting the book is fascinating. Unfortunately, as he becomes more jet lagged he spends more of his time grousing.
The first hundred pages or so are interesting. I especially liked the chapter set in Bhutan and how it contrasted to Qatar. By Iceland, things started to wind down an his observations on human nature began getting repetitive.
To learn more about the Eric Weiner, please see his website.