The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World

Synopsis:  A cynical writer searches for the world’s happiest place

You might like this if you liked:  Eat, Pray, Love (Elizabeth Gilbert)

Recommended to: Grumpy people

What I loved about it:  This was my first Weiner book, so I wasn’t sure whether I would like it or not.  Truth be told, he seems like a bit of an ass, but he had me at the first mention of a PET scan. I’m one of those people who enjoy reading books peppered with sound-bites of science, culture, history, and philosophy.  Like right here on page 41, in a chapter on Switzerland, he manages to work Einstein AND Bertrand Russell into a passage. Later on page 183, he combines Iceland, Aristotle, and Nietzsche. Gosh—it just makes me feel all heady and smart in the same way that sprinkling wheat germ in pancake batter makes me feel healthy, even if I do wind up drenching it all with butter and syrup.

So yes, I will be reading him again.  Plus, I now have added two new places to my bucket list: Bhutan and Moldova.

What was unexpected:  Weiner was a little mean to the Moldovans. 

Best Quotes: There were so many fabulous descriptions of places and people, so I will give you a few:

In Bangkok, the sacred and the profane exist side by side, like a divorced couple who, for financial reasons, decide to continue living together.

Watching Brits shed their inhibitions is like watching elephants mate. You know it happens, it must, but it’s noisy, awkward as hell, and you can’t help but wonder: Is this something I really need to see?

India does not disappoint. It captivates, infuriates, and occasionally, contaminates.  It never disappoints.

Qataris have no culture.  Frankly, I can’t blame them.  If you spent a few thousand years scraping by in the desert, fending off the solid heat, not to mention various invading tribes, you wouldn’t have time for culture either.

 

Three Weeks with My Brother

Synopsis: Nicholas takes a trip around the world with his brother and the two reminisce about their family.

You might like this if you liked: Message in a Bottle, The Rescue, The Notebook, A Walk to Remember (Nicholas Sparks)

Recommended to: Fans of Nicholas Sparks, people trying to make sense of loss

What I loved about it:  In his fictional work, Nicholas Sparks writes sweet stories of love, family, and loss.  His memoir moved along the same themes and provided insight into why he tells the stories he tells.  The speech-language pathologist in me was also particularly interested in the intense work Sparks described doing with his son, Ryan, to help him learn to communicate.

What was unexpected: This book is not so much about the places traveled in real time as it is the places traveled in the past.  That said, Sparks does deliver enough descriptions of places they visited that I added a few destinations to my bucket list (e.g., Machu Picchu, Peru and Phnom Pehn, Cambodia).

Best Quote:

Standing next to Micah, I realized that there were times when we talked not because we needed to communicate anything important, but simply because we each drew comfort from the other’s voice.

Advertisements