This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick

A chronic mover seeks to settle down, and offers practical, accessible steps for readers to follow.

this is where you belong

When Melody Warnick, her husband and their two children moved for the sixth time in 13 years, from Austin, Tex. to Blacksburg, Va., she started to wonder if this new town would be a panacea, or if perhaps she was chasing an impossible dream. Had her family’s search for happiness via mobility been a form of magical thinking? So began the work of This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live.

Warnick approaches the goal of settling, or of loving where she lives, enthusiastically and broadmindedly. Research is a major component of her work, but it never feels that way. Warnick consults social sciences studies and conducts myriad interviews, and distills what she learns into conversational musings that make the reader feel a part of the process. In the opening chapter, she identifies 10 “place attachment behaviors,” which form the chapters that follow. These include walking more, volunteering, exploring nature and creating something new. For each behavior, she sets a goal and records her progress; each chapter ends with a “love your city checklist” of suggested actions. This Is Where You Belong is a carefully documented experiment, explicitly designed for readers to replicate in their own lives.

By the end, Warnick has established herself as a fallible, likable everywoman, and her struggle to love Blacksburg comes to represent a universal concern. Her journey to feeling attached to where she lives is scientific and packed with research, but also feels like an old friend’s casual banter. This practical exercise in intentional place-based happiness is for the homesick and the optimistic alike.

This review originally ran in the June 24, 2016 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish news.

Rating: 8 ticks on a list.

One Response

  1. […] Hustle by Amy Haimerl and This Is Where You Belong by Melody Warnick, two rather different books, for their work with place, which resonates with […]

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