"I was always looking at the world as a laboratory of ideas," author Eric Weiner told an audience of 180 people who gathered at the library on November 3 to hear the award-winning journalist and NPR contributor speak about his latest book, The Geography of Genius: A Search for the Worlds' Most Creative Places, from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley, the 2016 One Book, One Village (OBOV) selection.
In an interview-style program moderated by guest interviewer Mary Luckritz, Head of the English and Fine Arts Division at Rolling Meadows High School, Weiner spoke candidly about his writing career which has evolved from veteran war correspondent covering Middle East conflicts to that of nonfiction travel writer.
"I'd come back from reporting on places like Afghanistan and people would ask me 'but what was it really like over there,'" said Weiner. "I realized that what people wanted to know or really wanted to hear were the stories of locals talking in bars or cafes and what their lives were like."
These encounters gave rise to Weiner's current assignment of "travel with a purpose," and three award-winning books which intimately explore places around the globe and cleverly connect them with ideas like bliss, divinity and the theme of this year's OBOV selection - genius and creativity.
"One trait all geniuses or places of genius share is an openness to experience," said Weiner citing cities like Athens, Vienna and Florence then adding, "Geniuses are the people who look at something that everyone else sees and they see something different."
Following the 50-minute conversation on-stage, the author fielded questions from the audience with Weiner jokingly describing the perfect suitcase "bulletproof and easy to grab my phone and notebook" to offering advice on nurturing creativity.
"Take breaks from your work, go for a walk...encourage messiness, have conversations, lots of conversations," Weiner reflected, "You have to be willing to take a detour and realize the destination may not be where you expected."
An Evening with Author Eric Weiner event capped off a day-long exchange between the Washington, D.C.-based author and the Arlington Heights community about The Geography of Genius
. Earlier in the day, he spoke to 130 students at Rolling Meadows High School. Read more in the Daily Herald.