The Geography of Bliss

As a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, Eric Weiner has spent much of his career traveling to some of the world's least happy places -- Iraq and Afghanistan among them. With his first book, The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World, he decided it was time for a change of approach. "What if, I wondered, I spent a year traveling the globe, seeking out not the world's well-trodden trouble spots but, rather, its unheralded happy places?" he writes. "Places that possess, in spades, one or more of the ingredients that we consider essential to the hearty stew of happiness: money, pleasure, spirituality, family, and chocolate, among others..." So he set about seeking a variety of Shangri-Las: testing tolerance and Moroccan hashish in the Netherlands; learning to accept loss and relinquish regret in Bhutan; marveling at the darkness, drunkenness and remarkable creativity in Iceland; eschewing introspection and embracing fun in Thailand; looking for contrast in miserable Moldova, "the world's least happy country." Along the way, Weiner gathers insights from many wise and well-traveled people, relates the latest findings in the field of happiness research, and turns enough pleasing phrases to keep even the surliest reader ? happy. -

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.