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Next time you’re planning a trip abroad, you may want to look past a country’s famous sites to its people. That’s what New York Times bestseller and former NPR foreign correspondent Eric Weiner did while trying discover the happiest places in the world.

His insightful book, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World, is equal parts travel guide and cultural anthropology, with many humorous character sketches for good measure.

With a little help from the World Happiness Database (the field of “subjective well-being” is, believe it or not, a quantitative science), Weiner pinpoints locations that fall on both ends of the happiness scale. Although the common ingredients for happiness—money, peace, spirituality, family—seem essential, Weiner inevitably discovers some unusual paths to happiness.

Bhutan’s king, for example, has mandated that Gross Domestic Happiness (GDH) be measured. The ever-efficient Swiss have a thing for clean bathrooms, and Iceland is one of the happiest countries, even in the midst of nearly perpetual darkness and drunkenness.

Weiner writes in the introduction, “I’ve always believed that happiness is just around the corner. The trick is finding the right corner.” This book might help you do just that.


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