Book Review: Geography of Genius

Full Title: The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World's Most Creative Places From Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley, by Eric Weiner

4 out of 5 stars | Read the summary on Goodreads

What I loved about Eric Weiner's travelogue wasn't just the quirky, self-deprecating travel writing. The real reason to pick up this book is that it weaves together the why. Why does a Renaissance happen? What are the common elements, if any, about a place that causes an outburst of creativity?

Each Renaissance Weiner explores—from Florence to Huangzuou—offers differing explanations of how your environment can cultivate genius and innovation.

Weiner takes the reader on a chronological journey to places you've definitely learned about in school, but in a whole new way. I learned that Socrates believed ideas were best found in movement and that in Calcutta, it was all about coincidence. 

Related: Want to Be Innovative? Travel.

One of the biggest misperceptions about places of genius, I’m discovering, is that they are akin to paradise. They are not. Paradise is antithetical to genius. Paradise makes no demands, and creative genius takes root through meeting demands in new and imaginative ways. “The Athenians matured because they were challenged on all fronts,” said Nietzsche, in a variation of his famous “what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger” line.

If you're looking for a thoroughly entertaining read, and to immerse yourself in new places and new ways of thinking without leaving your armchair, this one's for you.