Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ad Hoc Book Group Discusses The Geography of Bliss

I had folks over tonight for the "Ad Hoc Book Group" to discuss "The Geography of Bliss" by Eric Weiner. Trish, Teresa, Julie, Jan, Nancy and Martha were here. I think it's fair to say we all loved this book.

One of the things I enjoyed about it is the depth of knowledge he displays in it. He may be talking about "flow" on one page, and the "hedonic treadmill" on another. His use of language is amazing.

Of the countries he went to, I think his description of Iceland was my favorite. To tell you the truth, I imagined what it would be like to live there. This will be very odd to people who know me well, and know I'm one of those people who is always cold. So, why would I want to go to a place where it's cold all the time, and dark six months of the year?

The way he described Iceland made it seem like a place where a person could be accepted for who they are and dwell in the "twilight of half belief." In Iceland, the author meets Jared, who started over in Iceland, and has a long list of things he loves about it there. I have a feeling I'd like Jared. We share some attitudes, including no matter how bleak life seems, it will always work out.

One of the themes that keeps coming up in the book is the differences in cultures that appreciate the individual - like in the US, versus those who appreciate the collective - like in Japan. At one point he makes a reference to a Japanese saying about hammering in the nail that sticks out. But, of course, in the US, the nail that sticks out would become the American Idol, which oddly enough happened tonight while we were discussing this book.

I encourage you to give this book a try. I found it enthralling, and so did Martha. I think everyone really liked it. Martha and I were amazed at how often we had both noted the exact same parts of the book. There are many gems of wisdom in these pages, I think.

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