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Thoroughly enjoyed it. I haven't listened to many books - but the author does a great job here. His narration was fun, fluid, and when he makes attempts to replicate accents, it's funny. He does Arab accents, new york accents, Thai, British, and it's not always good, but always funny.
The book starts strong and starts to lose it's intensity toward the end. The first countries seem to take hours to investigate, but he seems to rush through the last few places which include; Florida, North Carolina, England and India.
Basically, Weiner, uses an academically based "Happy Scale" to find the happiest places on earth. The scale is measured on a number of attributes. These attributes are given good exploration at the beginning. If anything, it is the basis for the entire book. Each visit, incidentally, seems to confirm the scale's validity.
It starts in the Netherlands at a hash bar and just gets more colorful from there.
In his search for happy people, he decides to visit an unhappy place; Maldova. supposedly Maldova is one of the worlds unhappiest places. Indeed, the country seems so miserable that I caught myself laughing out loud a number times. Even the Peace Corp volunteers agree (they're interviewed). The worst place was a highlight for me and the happiest places seemed far less colorful (like Switzerland). Ugliness and misery make for character I guess.
In the end, I felt as confused as the author. It was refreshing that he spared us a sanctimonious lecture on happiness and instead seemed to honestly theorize that happiness is more about basics, general rules of thumb, then anything else.
Then it ended and, man, I was sad for a few minutes..
35 of 35 people found this review helpful
One grump's search for happiness leads Eric Weiner, the author and narrator, to various countries where people are happy, or where one might at least expect people to be happy, and, for contrast, to some places where people seem to strive to be pissy and glum. The author is very knowledgeable about and shares some of the scientific research on happiness, and he learns during his travels about philosophical perspectives on happiness. Still, he does not let authoritative views get in the way of his conveying different cultural viewpoints and how others around the globe feel about the world and their place in it. Many of the people he interviews are transplants to these societies, but he mostly strives to understand why the native milieu is the way is.
Listening to this book may be preferable to reading it, since it allows Weiner's sometimes subtle, but often times blunt, wit to shine through. I found the book entertaining, informative and it broadened my understanding of different cultures. It will make you a just little more hopeful and maybe a little less miserable than you are right now.
19 of 19 people found this review helpful