The Geography of Genius

(Simon & Schuster)

 

Following up his New York Times bestseller, The Geography of Bliss, journalist Eric Weiner embarks on a trip around the globe to discover and explore the world’s most creative places.

 

Author: Eric Weiner

Genre: Travel Memoir / History

Reader Appeal: Young Adult and Parents

 

The first thing that struck me about The Geography of Genius was a little petty, I admit. This is a book digging deeply into the roots and expressions of creativity…so why did Eric Weiner’s publisher insist on simply copying the title of his previous bestseller to use for this book? I guess in the end, market recognition trumps creativity—sorry Eric.

 

But I digress…

 

The Geography of Genius returns Weiner to his strengths, traveling the world, offering wry (often very funny) commentary on his experiences, and delivering unique insight into the pursuit of knowledge. In the case, the author is obsessed with understanding why—and where—creativity flourishes in our world, and in our times. As he says, “Certain places, at certain times, produced a bumper crop of brilliant minds and good ideas. They question is why.” His result is an extended exploratory essay/memoir on the topic, which (as we’ve mentioned) is unimaginatively titled, The Geography of Genius.

 

Now here’s my disclaimer: I’m actually a fan of Eric Weiner. I find his writing to be droll, insightful, and thought-provoking. At least I most often find that. With The Geography of Genius, there are moments that continue that tradition. (Weiner’s exploration and commentary on Calcutta and Silicon Valley come to mind in this regard.) Unfortunately, I didn’t find the book overall as captivating as a previous work like The Geography of Bliss. Maybe that’s my problem; after all, The Geography of Bliss was groundbreaking and unique, whereas the Geography of Genius is a follow-up that suffers by comparison to the past. The sequel is never as creative and captivating as the original, right?

 

Regardless, anyone in your family who enjoys philosophy and history within a travel journal/memoir will find much to like about The Geography of Genius. Parents in a creative career would also find this interesting and applicable. Also it’s a solid book club choice, worth picking up, if only for a chance to see what good writing looks like.

 

Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this book:

 

• Eric Weiner’s travels have led him to conclude, “It takes a city to raise a genius.” Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Why?

• Who do you think are today’s creative geniuses? What do they teach us about creativity?

• What do you think it would take for you to become a creative genius? What’s keeping you from that?

 

--MN

 

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