The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton

I highly recommend this book for those who love travel and art (or both). Whether you’re a traveler or a dreamer this book will have something for you. The book contains two themes. The first is travel itself. How we experience it, our memories of it, where we travel, and what we encounter. The other theme is about art and how it shapes our travels, how artists have traveled and viewed/dreamed of travel.

I found the book very original. The author juxtaposes his own experiences with those of famous artists, poets, and thinkers. Each chapter is devoted to an aspect of travel. Whether it be experiencing the sublime, disappointment, meeting the exotic, or the method of your transport.

The book is not overbearing and neither is the author. You can tell he has traveled, but this is not a “look at all the countries I have collected in my travels” type of read. His involvement is to introduce the same or contrasted feelings or experiences someone more famous has encountered. Each essay/chapter contains a place(s) and a guide(s). For example, in #2 (On Travelling Places), the guides are French poet Charles Baudelaire and American painter Edward Hopper. Using quotes from the former and paintings from the latter, de Botton evokes the romance of airports and train stations and other places of arrival & departure and how they are the stuff of hopes, dreams, inspirations.

He also writes of the joy of the journey itself, where one is transported not only away from the physical familiarity of home, but into a state of suspension, where for a time the worries and complaints of everyday living don’t exist. The Art of Travel is a pointed, powerful reminder of how rich your life can be, right where you are. Look around. Don’t see it? Then read this book.

Find this book in our catalog.

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