‘Geography of Bliss’ writer greets fans

Former National Public Radio correspondent and New York Times reporter Eric Weiner signs a copy of his book “The Geography of Bliss,”  the 2009 selection for One Book, One Mesa County, a program of the Mesa County Public Library District.

Your happy place isn’t likely to be featured in a book many residents of Mesa County have been reading this past year.

That’s because Eric Weiner, the author of “The Geography of Bliss,” didn’t set out to write your grandfather’s travel book. Instead, he searched the globe on a mission to find happiness.

It took him from Iceland to Qatar to Vietnam. Each place had its varying levels of happiness, he said.

Weiner said he has received positive comments from people whose countries he writes about, except Moldova, a place he describes as not being very happy at all.

“I received death threats from Moldova,” he told readers at Mesa County Public Library on Saturday. “Well, I guess they weren’t actual threats. It was more like, ‘Why don’t you just kill yourself.’ I guess that’s really just a suggestion.”

Weiner’s book was the One Book, One Mesa County selection for 2009. He spoke to readers at two book-signing sessions in Grand Junction on Saturday.

“I like writing about strange places and strange people to try to make them seem less strange,” he said. “I think we’re creatures of geography. We’re affected by a place.”

Weiner is a former foreign correspondent for National Public Radio who has spent several years traveling to places around the world where few others would venture.

Over the past decade, he visited more than 30 countries in the course of his work, but he didn’t spend much time in tourist spots. During his career, he has been to Iraq when Saddam Hussein was still in power and traveled through Afghanistan when the Taliban regime fell.

Grand Junction resident Bonnie Steele said Weiner’s book points out aspects of people’s lives from across the globe, and it helps readers better understand other cultures.

“He points out the value to having different approaches to life, and it expresses a sense of what it means to be part of the world,” she said.

On his Web site, Weiner describes why he decided to write the book.

“I roam the world in search of answers to the pressing questions of our time: What are the essential ingredients for the good life?” he writes.

The former reporter for the New York Times is a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. He won a Peabody award in 1994 for his investigative reports on the U.S. tobacco industry. The Baltimore native now lives with his wife and daughter just outside of Washington, D.C.


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